Agriculture
Watching out for vultures
Treating peanut allergy bit by bit
Flush-Free Fertilizer
Amphibians
Toads
Tree Frogs
Frogs and Toads
Animals
Roboroach and Company
Koalas, Up Close and Personal
Jay Watch
Behavior
How Much Babies Know
Hitting the redo button on evolution
The Disappearing Newspaper
Birds
Pelicans
Mockingbirds
Swans
Chemistry and Materials
Diamond Glow
Graphene's superstrength
The Incredible Shrunken Kids
Computers
It's a Small E-mail World After All
Supersonic Splash
Batteries built by Viruses
Dinosaurs and Fossils
Winged Insects May Go Way Back
Battling Mastodons
Hunting by Sucking, Long Ago
E Learning Jamaica
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
Earth
A Volcano Wakes Up
A Grim Future for Some Killer Whales
Earth Rocks On
Environment
Power of the Wind
Toxic Cleanups Get a Microbe Boost
Inspired by Nature
Finding the Past
Fakes in the museum
Preserving Ancient Warrior Paint
Digging Up Stone Age Art
Fish
Goldfish
Mahi-Mahi
Lungfish
Food and Nutrition
How Super Are Superfruits?
In Search of the Perfect French Fry
Turning to Sweets, Fats to Calm the Brain
GSAT English Rules
Adjectives and Adverbs
Subject and Verb Agreement
Finding Subjects and Verbs
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
10 Common Mistakes When Preparing for the GSAT Math Test
42,000 students will sit for the GSAT Exam in two weeks
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
42,000 students will sit for the GSAT Exam in two weeks
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
GSAT Scholarship
GSAT Mathematics
How to Slice a Cake Fairly
Deep-space dancers
Math and our number sense: PassGSAT.com
Human Body
Music in the Brain
Smiles Turn Away Colds
Nature's Medicines
Invertebrates
Millipedes
Tarantula
Krill
Mammals
Opposum
Koalas
Bears
Parents
What Not to Say to Emerging Readers
Choosing a Preschool: What to Consider
How children learn
Physics
Gaining a Swift Lift
Extra Strings for New Sounds
Hold on to your stars, ladies and gentlemen
Plants
The algae invasion
When Fungi and Algae Marry
Tracking the Sun Improves Plant Pollen
Reptiles
Garter Snakes
Copperhead Snakes
Boa Constrictors
Space and Astronomy
Tossing Out a Black Hole Life Preserver
A Whole Lot of Nothing
A Smashing Display
Technology and Engineering
A Micro-Dose of Your Own Medicine
Shape Shifting
Searching for Alien Life
The Parts of Speech
What is a Preposition?
Countable and Uncountable Nouns
Problems with Prepositions
Transportation
Morphing a Wing to Save Fuel
Ready, unplug, drive
Middle school science adventures
Weather
Science loses out when ice caps melt
Watering the Air
A Dire Shortage of Water
Add your Article

Shape Shifting

Using a cell phone, you can hear your friend when she calls. With a video camera or picture phone, you can also see her. But what if you could have a technology that made it seem as if your friend were sitting across from you, even if she's actually at home in another state? That's the crazy idea behind the claytronics project at Carnegie Mellon University and Intel Research in Pittsburgh. Claytronics is the term that project researchers use for a form of programmable matter. The idea is to have a huge bunch of microscopic, robotic units that can arrange themselves into different three-dimensional objects. Find that idea hard to grasp? If so, just picture a pile of minuscule beads that can arrange themselves to look like your faraway friend at one moment, a chair the next moment, and maybe a mechanical dog after that. That's what claytronics might make it possible to do. If you've ever played with modeling clay, you know that this new concept is aptly named. "It's hard to wrap your head around the idea," Seth Goldstein admits. A computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon, he and Todd Mowry of Intel came up with the idea for claytronics several years ago. Claytronics is so far out that computer scientist Peter Lee, who's also at Carnegie Mellon, was dumbfounded when Goldstein told him about it. "It's a completely crazy idea, but it's also a really great idea," he says. "I think it's bound to lead to a lot of new discoveries." If it works, claytronics could transform communication, entertainment, medicine, and more. The research may help scientists learn how to better manage networks that consist of millions of computers. It will also advance their understanding of nanotechnology—how to make tiny, tiny parts do useful things. Programmable atoms Signals from a video camera light up a screen in just the right way to create an image of whatever the camera captures. With claytronics, the imaging system would make a three-dimensional copy of whatever it detects. So, when a friend called you, a moving, sensing copy of your friend would take shape in your room, assembled out of a pile of special beads, each one a microscopic robot. You could talk with and touch this look-alike friend, and she could do the same. It would almost be as if you and your friend were in the same room. But getting from today's technology to tomorrow's 3-D images isn't going to be easy. The robot beads needed for such a system not only have to be extremely small but also need to know what to do. At Carnegie Mellon, researchers are working on the miniature robot beads that would rearrange themselves into an object. They call these units catoms. Right now, the units are pretty big—44 millimeters wide. Eventually, they'll be less than a millimeter across. Each catom will have a little computer, or processor, access to power, a communication system, sensors, and a way to stick to other catoms and even change color. Goldstein and his coworkers are currently focusing on catoms that move about only on a flat surface. Each catom is a cylinder with electromagnets all along its rounded side. Magnetic attraction and repulsion allow the catoms to move about and respond to each other. When a programmer sends a command, catoms are supposed to work together to create a particular shape. "When in contact with other catoms," Lee says, "they share [electrical] power and become a computer network." But figuring out how to make the catoms arrange themselves into the right shapes is a tough problem, even when they're allowed to move only on a flat surface instead of in three dimensions. And the more units there are, the tougher it gets. For claytronics to work, millions of these microrobots will have to work together. Endless possibilities If and when scientists figure it all out, the possibilities are pretty amazing. Your toys could change shape day by day. You could play video games with people whose claytronics look-alikes interact with you, even though the players themselves live elsewhere. If you had a medical emergency, a claytronics version of you could form in your doctor's office, and a version of your doctor could appear in your home. Using a phone or an Internet link, the doctor could examine you. Even if these virtual doctors never make it from the drawing board, developments in claytronics could lead to improvements in communication systems. For example, a claytronics antenna could change its shape to improve its ability to receive different radio frequencies. The ability to get claytronics units to work together could also lead to improved communication among large numbers of computers in huge networks. Within the next 20 years, Goldstein predicts, claytronics could enable biologists to make large, 3-D models of complex molecules called proteins. Using these models, researchers could see how the proteins fold and interact with one another. Architects could use catoms to make miniature models of bridges and buildings. Some of the more fantastic applications may never happen, Lee says. Then again, a claytronics world may arrive in your lifetime. Crazy ideas have a way of becoming reality. A generation or two ago, few people could imagine singing greeting cards, DVD players, iPods, and PlayStation systems. Now, they're everywhere.

Shape Shifting
Shape Shifting








Designed and Powered by HBJamaica.com™