MIT Builds Self-Replicating Machines
MIT engineers have programmed small magnetic cubes to assume the shape of an object they come into contact with. The technology could be scaled down to sand-sized particles.
What's the Latest Development?
Engineers at MIT have programmed small magnetic cubes to assume the shape of other objects, allowing machines to essentially replicate themselves with minimal human interaction. When a solid object is placed among a group of the little cubes, each cube magnetically senses whether it is touching another cube or the border of a foreign object. The cubes then communicate with each other to form the shape of the foreign object, filling in the space inside the border to create an identical object. Because of the cubes' limited size and processing power, the researchers are currently working with 2D objects.
What's the Big Idea?
Eventually, engineers want to scale the cubes down to the size of sand grains, enabling the precise replication of 3D objects. Practical applications of the technology, however, will not have to wait that long. To repair a broken fan belt, for example, the owner could tape the split ends together and place the belt into a box containing the robotic cubes. The cubes would imitate the form and serve as a belt until the owner reached an auto parts store. Afterwards, the cubes could be deconstructed and used to duplicate another shape when the need arises. Follow the jump for a video that shows the cubes at work!
Photo credit: shutterstock.com
Don't underestimate the power of play when it comes to problem-solving.
- As we get older, the work we consistently do builds "rivers of thinking." These give us a rich knowledge of a certain kind of area.
- The problem with this, however, is that as those patterns get deeper, we get locked into them. When this happens it becomes a challenge to think differently — to break from the past and generate new ideas.
- How do we get out of this rut? One way is to bring play and game mechanics into workshops. When we approach problem-solving from a perspective of fun, we lose our fear of failure, allowing us to think boldly and overcome built patterns.
- Just 100 companies produce 71 percent of the world's greenhouse gases.
- This map lists their names and locations, and their CEOs.
The surprising results come from a new GLAAD survey.
- The survey found that 18- to 34-year-old non-LGBTQ Americans reported feeling less comfortable around LGBTQ people in a variety of hypothetical situations.
- The attitudes of older non-LGBTQ Americans have remained basically constant over the past few years.
- Overall, about 80 percent of Americans support equal rights for LGBTQ people.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.