NOVA “Making Stuff Smarter”
Feb. 9, 2011
What can nature teach us about building smarter materials? Can we create materials that sense and respond? “When describing ‘smart materials,' one analogy scientists give is the evolution from the first Terminator robot, a machine made of metal and circuitry, to the shape-shifting ‘liquid guy' in Terminator 2 ,” said Making Stuff producer Chris Schmidt. “Smarter” looks into the growing number of materials that almost seem alive–able to react, change and even learn. An Army tanker truck that heals its own bullet wounds. An airplane wing that changes shape as it flies. For inspirations and ideas, scientists are turning to nature and biology and producing some innovative new developments in materials science. Knowledge and inspiration drawn from nature are showing scientists new ways to give our materials amazing new abilities. By understanding how geckos climb even smooth walls, scientists have created a gecko adhesive that let's robots do the same. Studying the properties of skin has led to the development of self-healing protective foam. And Pogue literally goes swimming with sharks to understand a different kind of skin that is intriguing scientists. Scientists are modeling a material after sharkskin to develop an antibacterial film that, when sprayed in hospitals, could eliminate MRSA and other anti-biotic resistant bacteria. Pogue concludes “Smarter” with a visit to a scientist who has created a material that may make Harry potter's invisibility cloak a reality! “Making Stuff Smarter” airs Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011 at 9 p.m. on Eight, Arizona PBS.
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