What can nature teach us about building smarter materials? Can we create materials that sense and respond? “When describing ‘smart materials,' one analogy scientists give is the evolution from the first Terminator robot, a machine made of metal and circuitry, to the shape-shifting ‘liquid guy' in Terminator 2 ,” said Making Stuff producer Chris Schmidt. “Smarter” looks into the growing number of materials that almost seem alive–able to react, change and even learn. An Army tanker truck that heals its own bullet wounds. An airplane wing that changes shape as it flies. For inspirations and ideas, scientists are turning to nature and biology and producing some innovative new developments in materials science. Knowledge and inspiration drawn from nature are showing scientists new ways to give our materials amazing new abilities. By understanding how geckos climb even smooth walls, scientists have created a gecko adhesive that let's robots do the same. Studying the properties of skin has led to the development of self-healing protective foam. And Pogue literally goes swimming with sharks to understand a different kind of skin that is intriguing scientists. Scientists are modeling a material after sharkskin to develop an antibacterial film that, when sprayed in hospitals, could eliminate MRSA and other anti-biotic resistant bacteria. Pogue concludes “Smarter” with a visit to a scientist who has created a material that may make Harry potter's invisibility cloak a reality! “Making Stuff Smarter” airs Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011 at 9 p.m. on Eight, Arizona PBS.
About Eight, Arizona PBS
Eight, Arizona PBS specializes in the education of children, in-depth news and public affairs, lifelong learning, and the celebration of arts and culture -- utilizing the power of noncommercial television, the Internet, educational outreach services, and community-based initiatives. The PBS station began broadcasting from the campus of Arizona State University on January 30, 1961. Now more than 80 percent of Arizonans receive the signal through a network of translators, cable and satellite systems. With more than 1 million viewers each week, Eight consistently ranks among the most-viewed public television stations per capita in the country. Arizonans provide more than 60 percent of the station's annual budget.
Eight is a member-supported service of Arizona State University.