Cornell creates the world’s tiniest self-folding origami bird

The bird demonstrates cutting-edge technology for devising self-folding nanoscale robots.

Credit: Cornell University
  • Scientists at Cornell University have developed a self-folding origami bird that's just 60 microns wide.
  • The bird is just one of many tiny robots roaming Cornell's labs.
  • One day, microscopic robots will be able to autonomously form themselves and get to work in all sort of itty-bitty spaces.
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    Scientists use chaos to build the optimal laser beam

    Researchers find a way to distort laser light to survive a trip through disordered obstacles.

    Credit: TU Wien
    • Lasers are great for measuring—if they can get a clear view of their target.
    • In biomedical applications, there's often disordered stuff in the way of objects needing measurement.
    • A new technique leverages that disorder to formulate a custom-made, optimal laser light beam.
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    The incredible physics behind quantum computing

    Can computers do calculations in multiple universes? Scientists are working on it. Step into the world of quantum computing.

    • While today's computers—referred to as classical computers—continue to become more and more powerful, there is a ceiling to their advancement due to the physical limits of the materials used to make them. Quantum computing allows physicists and researchers to exponentially increase computation power, harnessing potential parallel realities to do so.
    • Quantum computer chips are astoundingly small, about the size of a fingernail. Scientists have to not only build the computer itself but also the ultra-protected environment in which they operate. Total isolation is required to eliminate vibrations and other external influences on synchronized atoms; if the atoms become 'decoherent' the quantum computer cannot function.
    • "You need to create a very quiet, clean, cold environment for these chips to work in," says quantum computing expert Vern Brownell. The coldest temperature possible in physics is -273.15 degrees C. The rooms required for quantum computing are -273.14 degrees C, which is 150 times colder than outer space. It is complex and mind-boggling work, but the potential for computation that harnesses the power of parallel universes is worth the chase.
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    Image source: Rene Böhmer/Unsplash
    • The clothing of the future will look nothing like what we wear today. Or maybe it will.
    • A hunger for sustainability is leading researchers to new organic materials from which to design clothing.
    • Other visionaries are working to make our future outfits as smart as we want to look.
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    Scientists create an "eye on reality" camera that sees invisible light

    Harvard engineers make a breakthrough polarization camera.

    • Harvard researchers create a tiny camera that can see polarization.
    • Seeing the invisible light can help in numerous applications, from self-driving cars to satellites.
    • The scientists used nanotechnology to achieve this feat.
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