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"I've come across more and more people who've actually tried reading science fiction and can't make it make sense."
- Samuel R. Delany

Chromoplastic Dew Collector  
  A small, egg-shaped device that uses a special surface to collect morning dew on the desert planet of Arrakis.  

Used by Arrakeen natives to line concave planting holes where they provide a small but reliable source of water to small plants.

She glanced back as they passed beyond the arch, said: "They hurry to finish the quota in the plastics shop before we flee. We need many dew collectors for the planting."

"Flee?"

"Until the butchers stop hunting us or are driven from our land..."

"What're dew collectors?" he asked.

The glance she turned on him was full of surprise. "Don't they teach you anything in the . . . wherever it is you come from?"

"Not about dew collectors."

"Hai!" she said, and there was a whole conversation in the one word.

"Well, what are they?"

"Each bush, each weed you see out there in the erg," she said, "how do you suppose it lives when we leave it? Each is planted most tenderly in its own little pit. The pits are filled with smooth ovals of chromoplastic. Light turns them white. You can see them glistening in the dawn if you look down from a high place. White reflects. But when Old Father Sun departs, the chromoplastic reverts to transparency in the dark. It cools with extreme rapidity. The surface condenses moisture out of the air. That moisture trickles down to keep our plants alive."

"Dew collectors," he muttered, enchanted by the simple beauty of such a scheme.

From Dune, by Frank Herbert.
Published by Putnam in 1965
Additional resources -

The technical description is thoughtfully provided in the glossary to Dune:

Egg-shaped devices about four centimeters on the long axis. They are made of chromoplastic that turns a reflecting white when subjected to light, and reverts to transparency in darkness. The collector forms a markedly cold surface upon which dawn dew will precipitate.

Dew really is an excellent source of water; it is pure H2O that has condensed from the atmosphere. Grass covered with dew is an important source of water for grazing animals and insects. To learn more about harnessing the power of dew, see the home page for OPUR (Organisation Pour l'Utilisation de la Rosée), a non-profit organization dedicated to the utilization of dew as a potable water source. See also the vaporator from the world of Star Wars.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Dune
  More Ideas and Technology by Frank Herbert
  Tech news articles related to Dune
  Tech news articles related to works by Frank Herbert

Chromoplastic Dew Collector-related news articles:
  - Global Water Crisis
  - Namib Desert Beetle-based Dune Dew Collectors
  - WatAir Dew-Harvesting 'Web' Kit
  - Thermeleon Roof Tiles Change Color To Save Energy
  - Chaac Ha Dew Collector ala Dune
  - Cool Chaac Ha Dew Collector Video
  - Self-Filling Water Bottle Is Beetle-Based
  - CloudFisher - Moroccan Fog Farmers Harvest Moisture From The Air
  - Dune Fans! Metal-Organic Frameworks Make Science Fiction Real

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Has Climate Change Already Been Solved By Aliens?

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