Obtaining Unobtainium at DARPAtech 2004

Engineers are not usually happy about using the term "unobtainium" - a reference to a material that outperforms anything known (and is therefore unobtainable).

But at DARPA, obtaining unobtainium is an everyday goal - and they are succeeding:

  • In the Stealth program DARPA developed materials that do, in fact, make aircraft invisible to radar.
  • Amorphous metals - metals without grain boundaries - promise to make ship hulls that are corrosion resistant and nonmagnetic.
  • Inexpensive titanium - new processes that may result in low cost titanium, perhaps as low as $2 per pound
In his declassified talk available on the DARPAtech 2004 website, Dr. John Main talks about The Pursuit of Unobtainium.

Here's a taste of projects under development:

  • A naturally-inspired multifunctional UAV skeleton has already been developed that combines a load-bearing structure with electrical energy storage (a micro air vehicle fuselage that is also a battery).
  • "Soft" actuation is a truly challenging problem - to gently grasp and lift heavy objects has never been reproduced in a synthetic system. DARPA's multifunctional materials program has already successfully demonstrated compliant actuators based on electro-elastomers designed to act as both extensor and flexor muscles.

Read more about Materials Science Engineering Careers and DARPA Defense Sciences Office - Ultra-Lightweight Materials.

Science fiction is, of course, replete with examples of unobtainium. Consider smart material, a wall covering that eats any graffiti written upon it. Or inexpensive talking tape short lengths of which contain wireless networking capability and speakers allowing buildings to almost build themselves (with some help from willing humans.

Can you think of other examples of "unobtainium" from sf?

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 4/10/2004)

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 ( 6 )

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.