6) Molecules Created By Laser Beams –
In a research, recently published in the Physical Review Letters journal, a team of scientists, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and the Germany-based University of Kassel, has successfully altered the chemical bonding between atoms, using the coherent light from lasers. In essence, they were able to bombard a selected group of magnesium atoms by using ultrashort laser pulses. This ray instigated the atoms to combine, which in turn resulted in the formation of a new molecular complex known as magnesium dimer (Mg2).
Interestingly, the quantity of this magnesium dimer was increased by altering the shape of the incoming pulse – thus signifying the successful use of light for manipulating the bond-forming process between atoms (as opposed to just tearing the constituent atoms apart). So, the question naturally arises – what could be the commercial application of such a momentous science fiction-esque achievement? Well, according to the scientists, on further development, the technology could help reduce processing costs of the chemical industry, as well as pave the way for an entirely new arena of photochemistry.
7) Nano Drones For Repairing Human Heart –
A collaborative effort from Colombia University Medical Center (CUMC), Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School have led to an science fiction-esque research scope that can allow drone-like nanoparticles to repair arterial plaque and inflammation. Envisioned as an effective prevention mode for atherosclerosis – a condition that often leads to heart attacks and strokes due to the deposition of white blood cells along the artery walls (thus reducing their flexibility), these ‘nano-drones’ are made of biodegradable polymeric building blocks. They are also specifically designed to carry anti-inflammatory peptides, and as such could be directly injected into the bloodstream. So, once injected, these tiny particles would autonomously make their way to the heart to deliver their payload of drugs, and also block plaque rupture and thrombosis.
Now, in terms of the technology’s development, the drone-like nanoparticles were already tested on mice, with encouraging results that entailed not only healing of mouse arteries but also boosting of their collagen output (that strengthens the fibrous tissues). And, considering that atherosclerosis is arguably the most dangerous health condition for humans (it alone accounts for one out of every four deaths in the US), the technology might just make its mark in the coming years, alongside conventional treatment scopes.
8) Nano-Scale Memory Cells For Bionic Brain –
Researchers at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) have given wings to the science fiction-esque notion of artificially-made memories – by creating one of world’s first multi-state memory cells with entirely electronic credentials. These nano-scale cells were made from an ultra-thin film of functional oxide material which is 10,000 times thinner than a human hair! But beyond their tiny sizes, the memristive devices can simultaneously process and then store multiple segments of information, much like the actual human brain.
In fact, this so-called ‘memristive’ effect pertains to the capacity of the nano-scale memory cells to remember and revert to previous information (i.e., past experiences), thus going beyond the limitation of digital memory (which is based on 0s and 1s). So, in many ways, the scientists are looking forth to design these cells as precursors to the ‘memory blocks’ of an artificial intelligence network that would be crucial for creating actual bionic brains. As for more immediate applicable scenarios, the multi-state cells can be used for mimicking the human brain outside of the body – thus making it possible to study the organ’s neurological intricacies while eschewing the ethical issues involved in treating and experimenting on an actual brain. This in turn can lead to effective treatments for various neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
9) Plasma Shield For Nullifying Shock Waves –
Cloaking devices have always been the cheap tropes of science fiction and fantasy. But Boeing scientists have possibly found an incredible side to the technology, and it could crucially shield soldiers from actual explosions. Envisioned like a futuristic force-field, the company is working towards creating a layer of heated, ionized air that can guard against shock waves emanating from an explosion. Simply put, this layer will not prevent objects like shrapnel and debris flying from the explosion; rather it will be able to physically ‘deflect’ shock waves that are often not shielded by armor systems of contemporary military vehicles.
The scope in itself will work via a set of sensors that can pick up on the explosion, and then activate an arc generator. This arc generator in turn can fire laser pulses at the direction of the incoming blasts, which would lead to the ionization of the parcel of air (between the blast and the vehicle). This would create a laser-induced plasma field with vastly different density and temperature than the surrounding air – thus helping it to deflect shock waves from the explosion (due to refraction effect).
10) Remotely Controlled Cyborg Insects –
A team of scientists from University of California, Berkeley and Nanyang Technological University (NTU), have devised an ingenious technique that allows them to remotely control giant flower beetles. This was done by strapping a tiny 1.5 g electronic contraption to the insect’s back, which was powered by a 3.9-volt micro lithium battery. This wireless setup comprised a tiny microcontroller and an embedded transmitter and receiver, while its six electrodes were connected to the beetle’s optic lobes and flight muscles. So, as the researchers sent radio signals, these muscles were stimulated – thus leading to the controlling of the flight of the insect.
In fact, the scientist were able to send various kinds directives (like taking off, steering left or right, or even hovering) to the insect via these radio signals. This allowed them to study and even discover newer biological functions related to insect flight. As for the cool ‘science fiction’ scope, this is what NTU’s Professor Hirotaka Sato, had to say –
Beetles are ideal study subjects because they can carry relatively heavy payloads. We could easily add a small microphone and thermal sensors for applications in search-and-rescue missions. With this technology, we could safely explore areas not accessible before, such as the small nooks and crevices in a collapsed building.