Case Wester Reserver University researchers are developing a new plastic inspired by sea cucumber skin that could lead to safer brain implants or even clothing that hardens into armor with the flick of a switch. Sea cucumbers have skin that can switch between soft and rigid in seconds thanks to enzymes that bind the proteins fiber, and others that cause those binds to release. The new material is triggered by water but doesn't soak up the liquid like sponges or cardboard. From New Scientist:
"We have the elastic polymer, so that's the mimic for the sea cucumber skin, and then we put in the cellulose whiskers," (Stuart) Rowan says. "You can get these from paper pulp, but we got ours from another little sea creature called a tunicate."
When dry, the cellulose fibres keep the material rigid by forming a scaffold held together by hydrogen bonds. But water molecules are better at forming such bonds, so when wet, the fibres lose their grip on one another and bond to the water molecules instead...
The rigid material could easily be inserted into brain tissue, before softening into its floppy state. That would reduce the problems with inflammation solid electrodes can cause.
Rowan says they're now working on versions of the material that switch stiffness in response to a pulse of electricity.
Where are our petabyte drives? Brian Hayes takes us through the reasons storage is “stuck” in the low terabytes. The tl;dr is that we got such exceptional capacity growth in the late 90s and early 00s we don’t need much more right now, so the focus since then has been on SSDs, networking, interfaces, etc, […]
Amélie Lamont, a former staffer at website-hosting startup Squarespace, writes that she often found herself disregarded and disrespected by her colleagues. One comment in particular, though, set her reeling — and came to exemplify her experiences there.
In this episode of the Flash Forward podcast we travel to a future where humans have decided to eradicate the most dangerous animal on the planet: mosquitos. How would we do it? Is it even possible? And what are the consequences? Flash Forward: RSS | iTunes | Twitter | Facebook | Web | Patreon We […]
Jared Sinclair developed the RSS reader app Unread, which made $10,000 in its first 24 hours on the iOS market. And we’ve all heard the story of Flappy Bird developer Dong Nguyen, whose creation was reportedly earning $50,000 a day at the height of its 2013 explosion. While those are rare examples, they’re also testament to the […]
If you or your company’s IT system are besieged by black hat cyber attacks, an ethical hacker might be all that stands between crippling damage and a company’s long-term prosperity. It’s no wonder that the market for IT security specialists is exploding. Certification is the key – so learn the tenets of ethical hacking and get […]
Your laptop and mobile devices are top of the line…so why are you trotting out that raggedy decades-old suitcase when you go somewhere? Time to up your travel game with a complete 5-piece Herschel Travel Luggage bundle…and we’ll even give it to you for free!Of course, you’ve got to win the Ultimate Herschel Travel Bundle […]