Microsoft tycoon Bill Gates is working on an unsinkable metal, which could be used to make boats or even floating cities.
Ships float by displacing water; to remain afloat, a ship must weigh less than the volume of water it displaces. When the Titanic's compartments flooded, the ship became heavier than the displaced water and started sinking.
To prevent their metal structure from suffering the same fate, the Rochester researchers had to design a method to constantly push water away.
The scientists used lasers to carve tiny grooves into the surface of an aluminum disk. These etchings trapped air, forming a protective barrier that caused water droplets to slide off the metal surface.
Edgar Rice Burroughs' fans may recall an ultralight metal called "Harbenite":
Erich von Harben is something of a scientist and explorer himself, and the last time that I saw him he had just returned from a second expedition into the Wiramwazi Mountains, where he told me that he had discovered a lake-dwelling tribe using canoes made of a metal that was apparently as light as cork and stronger than steel. He brought some samples of the metal back with him..."
(Read more about Harbenite)