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"I can remember when the first pulsars were discovered. I was able to go and sit down and listen to graduate students talking about what their theories, to explain what pulsars really were."
- Vernor Vinge

Transparent, Frictionless Coating  
  An absolutely frictionless, impenetrable coating.  

In the book, the Way Station is a galactic transfer point that has been built into an existing building. In this case, an old cabin belonging to a Civil War veteran. The entire exterior surface of the cabin is protected by an impenetrable, frictionless coating.

It was as if the knob was covered with some hard, slick coating, like a coat of brittle ice, on which the fingers slipped without exerting any pressure on the knob.

He bent his head close to the knob and tried to see if there were any evidence of coating, and there was no evidence...

He tried a thumbnail on it, and the thumbnail slipped but left no mark behind it... The rubbing of his palm set up no friction.

There was something covering this house which made it slick and smooth - so smooth that dust could not cling upon its surface nor could weather stain it.

He pounded the clapboard with his fist, and it was like the pounding of a rock...

From Way Station, by Clifford Simak.
Published by Doubleday in 1963
Additional resources -

The concept of a frictionless surface is relatively modern. In the 4th century BC, the natural philosopher Aristotle postulated that, to keep a body in motion, a constant force must be applied. Given our daily experience, this seems to be true - nothing keeps moving forever. Following the work of Newton and others, however, the idea of a frictionless surface or environment (like airless space) came to be widely discussed in science.

What solid has the lowest coefficient of friction? As far as anyone knows, polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), a polymer of fluorinated ethylene, is the slipperiest solid material. PFTE is better known under its brand name - Teflon. It was discovered in 1938 by Roy J. Plunkett at DuPont; it was made available as a commercial product after WWII in 1946.

Compare to telelubricator from The Exalted (1940) by L. Sprague de Camp.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Way Station
  More Ideas and Technology by Clifford Simak
  Tech news articles related to Way Station
  Tech news articles related to works by Clifford Simak

Transparent, Frictionless Coating-related news articles:
  - Anti-Adhesive Surfaces Of Plants
  - Ion Mask - Plasma Coating Waterproofs Electronics, Fabrics
  - BAM! It's More Slippery Than Teflon (And Greener)
  - Liquid Glass Universal Spray-On Protectant
  - Shatterproof Phone Screens Coming Soon

Articles related to Material
New Material Absorbs and Stores Solar Energy
3D Printed Damascus Steel Now Possible
3D Printing Of Metallic Glass
Draw Circuits With Conductive Ink

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