We've seen hydrogels--the squishy material of the future--do some neat tricks before. Researchers, for example, have already tried to make them autonomous self-healers, ready to repair themselves when they break. But what if they just didn't break at all under strain? Then you'd get something like this video, which shows a new, super-strong hydrogel shrugging off a ball of metal.
By Michael MyserPosted 09.04.2012 at 5:52 pm 3 Comments
About 40 percent of U.S. trade—some $1.4 trillion a year—passes through the country's 360 ports and waterways. (The rest arrives via truck, rail or plane.) And despite increased protection since 9/11, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security says that these ports remain especially vulnerable to attack from small vessels carrying improvised explosive devices, including radioactive dirty bombs.
We've been waiting on the prospect of a bionic eye for a while now; being able to surgically give sight to the sightless would be a medical breakthrough, and we're right on the cusp. Exhibit A: In a world first, scientists have successfully implanted a prototype bionic eye that has helped a woman see shapes.
Almost all mammals have a network of veins near a hairless part of their skin that controls rapid temperature management--and it's no different for people. For us it's the palms (as opposed to, say, a dog's dangling tongue). But like some other biological processes, the technique can be gamed, with engineering topping physiology. That's the case with a body-cooling glove out of Stanford that researchers say might be more potent--and obviously much more legal--than steroids.
Stitches deserve a makeover. We've been using them in some form for thousands of years. So while they've stood the test of time, a researcher from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is wrestling surgical sutures into the future by creating "smart" electronic versions. They can monitor sutured sites for infection, and even help in the healing process.
The synchronized left-right-left-right neck swivel that's the hallmark of tennis spectation can be tough on the cameraman, too. Even in professional hands, capturing the perfect sequence is difficult when done manually. But a new project is aiming to autonomize a camera to perfectly capture close-up, dead-center video of fast-moving objects. And, at least when chasing a ping-pong ball, it looks good.
We've had dozens of Invention Award winners over the years, and we found ourselves wondering: what's going on with some of those past winners? We tracked down five of our favorites to find out their current statuses.
One evening last fall in Heiskell, Tennessee, Michael Robinson was battling a house fire when he saw a fellow firefighter struggling to pick himself up off the ground. The man, who was wearing 70 pounds of gear, was delirious from heat and overexertion. Robinson rushed to his side, removed him from the area, and cooled him down as best he could with wet towels. Very slowly, the firefighter’s core temperature returned to normal, and eventually he recovered. But, Robinson says, the outcome could have been much worse.
While serving as an army medic during Operation Desert Storm, Richard Schwartz became all too familiar with gunshot wounds, particularly shots to the pelvis and upper legs. Enemies would target that region because body armor doesn’t always cover it. Conventional tourniquets don’t work around the abdomen—it’s impossible to tie them tight enough to cut off blood flow from the aorta. Soldiers with “junctional hemorrhages” may have only a few minutes before they bleed to death.
For the better part of Frank Will’s life, he has been consumed with improving engine performance. He started racing motorcycles as a teenager in Germany in the 1970s, winning a world championship race in 1991, and later became an automotive engineer at Ford in Australia. When he left his job in 2008, he applied his passion to a new endeavor: Over7, a system that by redirecting and then heating an engine’s oil, cuts gas consumption by 7 percent and emissions by up to 30 percent.