"The first thing that's wrong with being a science-fiction writer today is that the present has caught up with the future and surpassed it."
It seems clear that what Stephenson is describing here is a shear thickening fluid, also called "dilatant" fluid.
It turns out that others use this material as well:
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Star Trek Voyager Replica Tricorder And Galaxy Quest
'They designed those controls after watching you...take her out!'
Rolls Royce Electric Airplane Breaks Records
'A white electric plane approached at great speed...'
Chang'e-5 Lunar Lander Seeks Water
'... get out the solar power apparatus and send it down to us from the air-lock by the crane.'
I Really Want A Folding Computer
'...A paper thin polycarbon screen unfurled.'
A Kill Switch For Your Car?
'The car faltered as the external command came to brake...'
Scientifiction, Searchlight of Science
'And science goes on, with scientifiction as its searchlight.'
Wearable Biomedical Sensors Printed Directly On Your Skin
'The dragon is a skin computer... People put it on their arms and exchange personal data.'
Artificial, Implantable Kidney Prototype
'George Walt's corporate existence proved the workability of wholly mechanical organs...'
Ultra-short Pulse Laser Kills Bacteria In Vivo
'...coherent beams at precise wave-lengths passing through her flesh to zap foreign molecules within her body.'
Bioprint Prototype Handheld Bioprinter
'He turned the little art-derm nozzle...'
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