Walking Gel Caterpillar Like The Blob!

A walking gel created by (mad?) scientists at Japan's Waseda University is able to move along like a caterpillar or inchworm. Take a look at this scientific video:

I hope you'll excuse the exclamation point in my title, but you're always supposed to used them whenever mentioning The Blob!

You see, Fifties moviegoers needed the extra excitement of an exclamation point, even when faced with an intrinsically scary scenario such as a mysterious gel that can move on its own, however nonsensical and unlikely such a scenario might be. Take a look at this video clip:

And now, well-meaning researcher Shingo Maeda and his colleagues have made use of an oscillating chemical reaction called the Belousov–Zhabotinsky (BZ) reaction. The motile gel caterpillar consists of combined polymers that change in size depending on their chemical environment.

Polymers used in the gel shrink and grow in response to ruthenium bipyridine ions, alternately losing and gaining electrons in the cyclical reaction. That effect has been known for some time, but hasn't been used to make a self-locomoting material on such a scale before, says Maeda.

"In previous work, the displacement of the mechanical oscillation of the gel was very small in comparison with the gel size," he told New Scientist.

Maeda and colleagues created a gel that magnifies the small changes in size by building tension into it. That produces its curved shape as well as amplifying the material's response to the oscillating reaction inside itself.

If the exclamation point has done its work, you're no doubt hoping that one aspect of The Blob! that still eludes scientists is the creation of an intelligent motile gel.

Sorry to disappoint you.

It turns out that scientists at University of the West of England in Bristol, UK, have created a dish of chemicals that use the BZ effect.

Its "thoughts" are waves of ions that form spontaneously and diffuse through the mix. And occasionally, when things get too sluggish, the brain instructs a robotic hand to dip its fingers into the dish and wiggle them about, literally stirring the creative juices.

Well - at least we don't have to put exclamation points on phrases like "gel caterpillar" or "BZ polymer inchworm".

Yet.

Read more at Chemical 'caterpillar' and Introducing the glooper computer (subscription required).

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 4/29/2009)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 1 )

Related News Stories - (" Engineering ")

Implosion Fabrication Shrinks 3D Objects To Nanoscale
'Carter had watched miniaturization a hundred times...' - Isaac Asimov, 1965.

ODYSSEUS Solar-Powered Stratospheric Plane Flies Forever
'The planes flew continuously, twenty-four hours a day...' - EB White, 1950.

Phil Nuyttnn's City Under The Sea
''Under the lower roof there was no water, but a clear and luminous atmosphere...' - Andre Laurie, 1895.

Stick-On Tape Speakers, As Predicted By Bruce Sterling
Flexible tape speakers, someday.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Spicy Tomatoes Created With Genetic Engineering
How about mashed potatoes and brown gravy?

Driverless Hotel Rooms Predicted In 1828
'Did you never see a moving house before?'

Yandex Self-Driving Taxi Is Very Smooth
'The big car was slowing down, its computer brain sensing an exit ahead.'

Shrimp Actually Made Of Algae Is A New Wave Food
Bring in that crop algae.

Cosplay Style Wings Could Work On Moon
'They're lovely! - titanalloy struts as light and strong as bird-bones...'

Tesla Model 3 Has Outside Speaker Grille
Robert Heinlein does it again.

Arizona Luddites Attack Self-Driving Vehicles
'Trucks don't drive by themselves...' Or do they?

Organaut! Russians 3D Print Living Tissue In Space
'For a while your colonists will have to come up [to orbit] to the Hospital...'

WINE Spacecraft To Extract Water From Asteroids
'Yes, strangely enough there was still sufficient water beneath the surface of Vesta.'

Japanese Swordsmiths Take On Asteroids
'... a tiny, rocket-powered projectile, drove towards the mysterious bulk.'

Saturn's Rings To Vanish, Let's Mine Them While We Can
'...the valuable shards of what had once been satellites.'

Humans Could Take Up A LOT Less Space
We'd have a lot more room for gardening...

Implosion Fabrication Shrinks 3D Objects To Nanoscale
'Carter had watched miniaturization a hundred times...'

GMO Houseplant Cleans Your Air
Removes compounds too small to be captured by a HEPA filter.

Nova Meat Can 3D Print Your Dinner
Printing out chicken nuggets.

MIT Scientists Create 'Peek-a-Boo Prober' From Jetsons
Well, George, it's the latest thing.

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.