Every once and a while, people will stop me and ask, “So, if you couldn't live in Canada, where in the world would you choose to live?”
All right, all right, no, people don't randomly stop me and ask this. But columns can be hard to open sometimes and this was all I could come up with on short notice, okay? It's the pressure, it gets to me after a while, I tell you, the pressure!
As I was saying, IF someone asked me this question, I'd probably say Japan. That's because Japan is the land of Very Cool Gadgets, and I have a deep and abiding love affair with such things.
For example, the Japanese have discovered that if you coat something with nanoparticles of titanium dioxide a pigment commonly used in cosmetics and white chocolate it stays really, really clean.
My first thought when I read this was: Just what the heck are nanoparticles and why I can't I buy a jar of them at my local hardware store? Apparently, 'nano' is just a scientific way of saying, “Really, really, very, very tiny. Itsy bitsy, actually.” The term was first coined by “Mork” played by Robin Williams, from “The Mork and Mindy” show.
My second thought was, “The Japanese have learned to coat things with white chocolate! It must be like heaven there!” Then I stopped drooling and reread the article.
The substance uses light and oxygen to break down organic compounds and produces carbon dioxide and water. This means that if you coated the outside of your house with this stuff, street dirt and grime would hit the house and quickly get converted to water vapour and carbon dioxide. Not only would your house stay clean, but all the neighbourhood plants would be leaning in your direction and inhaling deeply.
Just think of the possible applications here. Given a vat of this stuff, I would first coat the kitchen floor. I don't know about you, but my kitchen floor stays clean for approximately three minutes, which is the length of time it takes for it to dry after I've washed it. Not only have I inherited a white floor in this house, the linoleum is textured. The only point I can see to having “texture” in a kitchen floor is to collect dirt in a pattern of patches that can be seen from two houses away.
I would also laminate the bathroom with the nanoparticles. With any luck, this will not only get rid of soap scum and mildew, but eliminate the need for annoying commercials about this and other icky bathroom things during that romantic movie.
The family dog would probably get sprayed with the stuff too. On one hand (er, or paw), this might result in a severely frustrated dog, because as everyone knows, a dog has two main goals in life: A) Eat everything; and B) Roll in as many smelly things as possible. On the other hand, the dog wouldn't have to go into the bath as often and it would be spared the indignities of things like the rubber booties some people make their dogs wear.
Of course, children would have to be dunked in the material just about daily, because kids have three main goals in life: A) Attempt to eat everything, but end up wearing most of it; B) Hug the dog each time he has rolled in something smelly; and C) Seek out and jump into every mud puddle in a 20-block radius. Indeed, given the amount of dirt children generally attract, coating them in titanium dioxide would not only keep them clean, but they'd be releasing so much water vapour, they'd act as natural humidifiers in your house.
Now if only the Japanese would invent a housecleaning robot, I'd be all set.
To read more of Chandra's work, visit www.ChandraKClarke.com.