Chinese Scientists Invent Liquid Metal Machines That Move by ‘Eating’ Substances

Chinese scientists from the Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the medical school of Tsinghua University have reportedly invented liquid metal machines that can change shape similar to the T-1000 robot in the Terminator 2 movie by ‘eating’ substances.

The machines are stated to ‘eat’ small pieces of aluminium and move spontaneously in various solutions and structured channels for more than an hour at a speed of 5 centimeters per second.

“The biomimetic mollusk is highly self-adaptive and closely conforms to the geometrical space it is in,” scientists wrote.

The power for the liquid metal motor comes from the endogenous electric field of liquid alloys, metal and hydrogen generated by the electrochemical reactions. Based on the latter theory, the researchers then developed several liquid metal machines that move in alkalescent, acidic or neutral electrolytes.

“Such liquid metal transformers and locomotors could provide on-demand use given specific designs,” according to the researchers’ paper

Scientists and engineers alike share the dream of advanced intelligent machines that are flexible and are able to spontaneously shape-shift, therefore real-world application possibilities granted from the prototypes developed by the Chinese researchers are infinite.

Thank you English.news.cn for providing us with this information

Geologists Say that Earth-like Soils on Mars Could Lead to Microbial Life Discovery

Some geologists have analysed a few sample images captured by the ‘Curiosity’ rover from Mars and tell that there might be Earth-like soils on the red planet. The images show that there might be some ancient fossilized soils deep within an impact crater, which could eventually lead to the discovery of microbial life.

While Mars is filled with landscapes resembling catastrophic floods and rocks from impact craters, there might be signs of smooth soils and soften terrain, much like we have on Earth. Gregory Retallack from the University of Oregon has apparently analysed the mineral and chemical data from Curiosity, leading to the discovery of such soils we are used to stepping on for thousands of years.

The professors states that soils from Gale Crater, dating back to 3.7 billion years ago, appear to have cracked surfaces lined with sulfate and vesicular hollows, both features of soils found on desert terrains on Earth. In addition, the sulphate concentration are said to be comparable with Antarctic Dry Valleys and Chile’s Atacama Desert.

“The pictures were the first clue, but then all the data really nailed it,” Retallack says in a news release. “The new data show clear chemical weathering trends, and clay accumulation at the expense of the mineral olivine, as expected in soils on Earth […] Phosphorus depletion within the profiles is especially tantalizing, because it attributed to microbial activity on Earth.”

Th new soils discovered are said to offer more insight on habitable conditions previously found on Mars. Also, having them date back 3.7 billion years ago tends to put Mars’ water cycle at around the same time as the Earth started diversifying. Further studies are said to take place on geologically younger layers within craters in order to learn the planet’s life story.

Thank you IFLScience for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of IFLScience

Walking Bio-Bots Powered By Muscles Becoming a Reality

First of all, a ‘bio-bot’ is a machine which uses synthetic 3D-printed material with biological muscle tissue. Having stated the latter, researchers from the University of Illinois have apparently developed the so-called bio-bots in question, taking us one step further into the future of technological advancements.

Some might wonder how the bio-bots work and what is so special about them. The answer lies in the muscle fibers, having them spiked with electricity in order to contract. The muscles are attached to flexible 3D-printed skeleton frameworks, resulting in bending the skeleton when the muscles contract and reverting back to its original state when they relax. This in the end produces movement, combining biological and synthetic material to achieve such an action, thus the name ‘bio-bot’.

It is said that researchers have been working on similar projects since 2012. At that time, a walking bio-bot prototype used rat heart cells in order to provide motion. However, the researchers found out that the rat cells were not responding well to the induced electricity and couldn’t control when they fired. However, it appears that the ‘new version’ has solved this problem.

“Skeletal muscles cells are very attractive because you can pace them using external signals,” head researcher Rashid Bashir said. “We want to have different options that could be used by engineers to design these things.”

The group of researchers from Illinois sees bio-bots potentially useful for surgical aids and drug delivery vehicles. The group also emphasized that, having their own neurons, they could even recognize and respond to light and chemical stimuli. The group has apparently published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which is a good place to get more details about the bio-bots in question.

Thank you Mashable for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of The University of Illinois and Nature World News