Liquid Metal Brings Soft Robotics One Step Closer to Terminator 2
In 1991, Terminator 2 introduced us to a “soft” robot made from then-futuristic shape-shifting technology arrived from the future — seemingly impervious to all weapons.
The special effects were stunning; the morphing metal shone like chrome and flowed like water. Bullets passed through the self-healing material as if it were butter.
Fast-forward to March 2018. Researchers at the University of Sussex in England have applied electrical charges to “liquid metal” allowing them to manipulate the material into 2-D shapes — so far, simple numbers and letters.
A computer controls the electrical activity so that the metal is programmable and dynamic. Simple, but with far-reaching implications for the soft robotics field.
Professor Sriram Subramanian, project head, said,“Liquid metal technologies are an extremely promising class of materials for deformable applications. One of our long-term visions is a programmable liquid metal that changes the physical shape, appearance and functionality of any object through digital control to create intelligent, dexterous and useful objects that exceed the functionality of any current display or robot.”
While a liquid metal terminator androids are a good ways off, researchers are considering possibilities like re-programmable circuit boards and conductive ink.
“The compelling evidence of detailed 2D control of liquid metals excites us to explore more potential applications in computer graphics, smart electronics, soft robotics and flexible displays,” said Research Associate Yutaka Tokuda.
Is The Universe One Big Interconnected Neural Network?
Is the universe an interconnected neural network? A new way of thinking is emerging about how different areas of physics and the universe could be connected to create a model that ties together traditional scientific thought with new ideas in quantum physics.
For years physicists have tried to unify classical and quantum physics. Classical physics goes back to the time of Sir Isaac Newton and is based on mechanical, physical equations; that everything operates like clockwork, predictably and knowably.
Quantum physics, on the other hand, looks at microscopic, subatomic scales and how they interact at the levels of particles, waves, and forcefields. But the fundamental laws of physics at this quantum level are the antithesis of their behavior at the classical level. Instead of certainty, you have uncertainty. So how do we connect these different views with a so-called “Theory of Everything”?
A recent paper by University of Minnesota Duluth Physics Professor Vitaly Vanchurin, argues that this seeming paradox can exist if the universe is connected in a neural network.