The Science of OrigamiIt's neat to find that those fun paper folding activities we did in pre-school may one day be an important part of aerospace engineering!Aeronautics and Astronautics professor Jinkyu "JK" Yang of University of Washington explains how origami - the art of paper folding - is helping us solve complex engineering problems.#origami #aerospace #paperfolding #engineering
Pac-Man Shaped Xenobots are Lab-Made Living Robots that Can Replicate ThemselvesXenobots are these interesting entities created by scientists just a couple of years ago. Made out of stem cells from frogs and built according to AI-created blueprints, these can knit themselves into small spheres and move around lab dishes. But scientists found something even more interesting about xenobots a few months ago. As it turns out, they can self-replicate, and they do so by moving.Xenobots, according to study co-author Douglas Blackiston, find loose, "sort of like robotic parts" in their environment, and they cobble them together. The result from these cobbled parts is a new generation of xenobots. Blackiston and the other researchers called this reproduction method by movement "kinematic self-replication."​Generally, the spheroid xenobots can only create one generation before they die out. Scientists, however, helped the xenobots spawn to up to four generations through the use of an AI program that predicted the optimal shape a progenitor xenobot should have — a C-shape (or a hungry Pac-Man).Kirstin Petersen, an engineer who studies groups of robots, describes this as an "incredibly exciting breakthrough." He points out the possible use of xenobots in biomedicine and therapeutics.(Image Credit: Douglas Blackiston and Sam Kriegman)#Xenobots #Robotics #Engineering #Reproduction #Engineering #PacMan #Biomedicine #AI
Another Step Towards Unlimited Energy: Joint European Torus (JET) Reactor Produced 59 Megajoules of Sustained Mini Sun-Like Fusion Reaction for 5 SecondsFor decades, scientists have been trying to create a fusion reactor that can produce more energy than it takes in. If successful, fusion power plants could help solve the impending energy crisis and slow down climate change.The most recent experiment in the Joint European Torus (JET) Reactor has demonstrated a promising future of delivering sustainable low-carbon fusion energy worldwide. The JET is said to have produced a record-breaking 59 megajoules of sustained fusion energy over a five-second period. This previous record set by JET in 1997 was only 22 megajoules of heat energy. The recent achievement is a "huge step closer to conquering" one of the biggest challenges in science and engineering, says UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) CEO Ian Chapman. Meanwhile, EUROfusion Programme Manager Tony Donné says that this experiment shows that they were on the right path. To him, if they were able to do it for five seconds, then they could do it for a much longer period of time.(Video Credit: Culham Centre for Fusion Energy/ UK Atomic Energy Authority)#Energy #Engineering #Science #NuclearFusion #JointEuropeanTorus
MIT Chemical Engineers Created New Kind of Plastic That's Twice as Strong as SteelChemical engineers from MIT produced a new material that is tougher than steel and as light as plastic. It can also be easily manufactured in bulk.“We don’t usually think of plastics as being something that you could use to support a building, but with this material, you can enable new things, it has very unusual properties and we’re very excited about that,” says Michael Strano, senior author of the new study.In the research, Strano and his colleagues devised a new polymerization process that permitted them to create a two-dimensional sheet of polyaramide — something that scientists in the past had tried to make for decades and thus concluded wrongly that such a structure was impossible to create. They used melamine as monomer building blocks. Under the right conditions, these monomers grew in two dimensional-sheets and formed disks which make the structure very strong.The MIT researchers proceeded to coat surfaces with films of the new material, which they called 2DPA-1. They found 2DPA-1 to be four to six times harder to be deformed (elastic modulus) than bulletproof glass. It is also twice as hard to break (yield strength) than steel — while having only one-sixth the density of the latter. The material is also impermeable to gases. “This could allow us to create ultrathin coatings that can completely prevent water or gases from getting through. This kind of barrier coating could be used to protect metal in cars and other vehicles, or steel structures,” Strano says.The Center for Enhanced Nanofluidic Transport (CENT) funded this research.Image credit: polymer film courtesy of the researchers; Christine Daniloff, MIT#research #plastic #engineering #MIT #newmaterial #steel
Now We're Cooking with Lasers: Engineers Cook 3D-Printed Chicken with Multiwavelength LasersColumbia engineers have been working on a machine that 3D prints meat and cooks it using lasers. It is said to be a potential personal chef in anyone’s home that only needs a little bit of tapping on its buttons before the food is ready to be made.The team of researchers also hope that in the future people can design and share their own food, similar to sharing music. They call it a ‘Food CAD’ where softwares can be used to tweak their own food according to their own taste.Jonathan Blutinger, a PhD student in Columbia University and the lead author of this study, said, “Food is something that we all interact with and personalize on a daily basis – it seems only natural to infuse software into our cooking to make meal creation more customizable.”Image: Jonathan Blutinger/Columbia University#food #technology #cooking #lasers #engineering
Chainmail-Inspired 3D Printed Material Transforms From Flexible to Rigid on CommandIn the 2005 movie Batman Begins, Batman's cape is flexible but can be made into a rigid glider. Now, engineers at Caltech and JPL have developed a material that can transform from flexible to rigid on command."We wanted to make materials that can change stiffness on command," said Chiara Daraio of Caltech, "We'd like to create a fabric that goes from soft and foldable to rigid and load-bearing in a controllable way."A material that can transform from flexible to rigid isn't as unusual as one would think. In fact, Daraio added, many people have something that works like that in their pantries: a bag of vacuum-sealed coffee. When coffee grounds are packed, they are solid as the individual particles are jammed against each other. But when the package is opened, then the coffee grounds are no longer jammed and can pour out as if they were liquid.To create a new material that has both flexible and rigid properties, Daraio and colleagues designed various configurations of linked particles, including linking rings, linking cubes and finally linking octahedrons (which look like two pyramids connected at the base).The linked octahedron material is then 3D printed out of plastic polymers and even metal, resulting in a chainmail-like fabric."Granular materials are a beautiful example of complex systems, where simple interactions at a grain scale can lead to complex behavior structurally. In this chain mail application, the ability to carry tensile loads at the grain scale is game changer. It's like having a string that can carry compressive loads. The ability to simulate such complex behavior opens the door to extraordinary structural design and performance," said José E. Andrade of Caltech.When it is compressed, the chainmail material is able to support more than 50 times the fabric's weight."These fabrics have potential applications in smart wearable equipment: when unjammed, they are lightweight, compliant, and comfortable to wear; after the jamming transition, they become a supportive and protective layer on the wearer's body," said the study's co-lead author Yifan Wang now at Nanyang University.Images: Caltech and Nanyang University#chainmail #materialscience #engineering #octahedron #3Dprinting #Caltech #JPL
This Self-Righting Drone Uses Ladybug Inspired Wings to Get Back Up“When life knocks you down, you’ve got to get back up.”Ladybugs stand by this quote, and quite literally. When knocked down and stuck on their backs, ladybugs are capable of self-righting themselves by utilizing their strong outer wings, known as elytra, and by thrusting their legs or hind wings in order to reorient themselves.These little creatures have existed for a very long time and Charalampos Vourtsis—a doctoral assistant at the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland—notes that “Over that time, they have developed several survival mechanisms that we found to be a source of inspiration for applications in modern robotics.” Inspired by this, researchers have developed self-righting drones, equipped with artificial elytra for the same purpose. This allows the drones to stabilize and reorient themselves when caught in awkward positions and even improves their aerodynamic capabilities during flight, as tests and experiments by researchers have shown. For example, long elytra, which they found were the most effective, were tested by the team on different inclines of 10°, 20°, and 30°. The drones were successful in self-righting themselves in all scenarios except for the steepest incline. The drones were also able to reorient themselves on several different terrains, namely: pavement, coarse sand, rocks, shells, and wood chips. While the drones were unable to do so in fine sand and grass, the researchers believe that further optimization may help the drones to accomplish this. A non-negligible lift offsetting the weight of the drone was also noted by the team, regarding it as a bonus.Image: EPFL-LIS#drones #ladybug #elytra #aerodynamics #insects #science #engineering #entomology #stabilization
Mark Rober Created a World Record Domino Robot That Sets 100,000 Dominoes in 24 HoursMark Rober proved to the whole world that he is the king of dominoes by setting up a hundred thousand of them in just 24 hours. How did he do it?Here’s what he had to say to his rival domino queen Lily Havish about this feat, “I suck at dominoes, Lily, but I’m good at engineering which means I’m actually really good at dominoes.”Engineering! Wow! What can’t we do with technology, right? As it turns out, Rober engineered a robot to set up dominoes like no one else can. Now, this robot he named “Dom” holds the world record for being the fastest to arrange 100K dominoes.So it’s not really Rober but actually Dom who did all the work, or is it the other way around? So mind-boggling! What do you think?#dominoes #engineering #domino #robot #worldrecord #AI #MarkRober #LilyHavish #ArtificialIntelligence #machines #programming