Saturday, March 18, 2023

Feeling Cramped? In A Tight Place?

Environmental & Science Education, STEM

The following is an answer to the questions in the title but at a much different scale

"A millimeter-sized robot made from a mix of liquid metal and microscopic magnetic pieces can stretch, move or melt (even reform). Perhaps someday it will be used to fix electronics or remove objects from the body.

You can watch - on an endless loop while you are on the page, a robot made of the material, shift its shape "liquefy itself and reform, allowing it to escape its cage-like cell" in a clip from an article in the January 25, 2023 New Scientist by Karmela Padavic-Callaghan. (Free registration is required which took me longer than the robot escaping the cell but worth it.)

Padavic-Callaghan tells us how it is made, describe what causes it to behave this way, and shows two uses which are always on, of  soldering in a simulated manufacturing process and an experiment in an experimental stomach "approach an object, melt over it and drag it out." The latter requires additional methods to ensure patient safety before it can be used in a clinic or physician's office. About that shape-shifting robot escape - the robot can return to its original, solid shape when it is allowed to dribble and spill into a mold

Finally, its use for an emergency-fix is described, e.g., to "replace a lost screw on a spacecraft by flowing into its place and then solidifying.

In the event you have trouble registering with New Scientist, here is a 1 m clip from the UK's The Telegraph. There is also a brief explanation below the video.

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