paper towels were invented in 1907 by Arthur Scott. They are made from cellulose, and the cellulose fibers are woven together very loosely. Why are they absorbent? Partly because of the quilting pattern on them. The pattern is not just for decoration, the pattern forms air pockets and those air pockets trap water. Remember the cellulose? Well, cellulose is pretty much like sugar, and sugar clings to water molecules, so that helps the absorbtion, too.