14 November 2012

Cool inventions

2 very cool inventions this week and the shades of sci-fi that surround them: an inner ear implant that uses biology to recharge, & self-fixing concrete.

Technology that uses people as power - shades of The Matrix anyone?   :)
No we haven't quite got that far yet, but we have got to a place that should make huge breakthroughs in medical science.
"A team of surgeons, neuroscientists, and electrical engineers has developed a cochlea chip that extracts electrical signals from the inner ear to power itself.
The chip is the latest in a series of inventions aimed at creating entirely self-sufficient, self-powering implants that will remove the need for external power and enable permanent surgical implantation in some cases. This year alone, Stanford University announced the creation of its radio wave-powered heart implant and infrared light-powered retinal implants."
 Ever seen someone who looks a bit embarrassed about their hearing aid - that could soon be a thing of the past. Get these things small enough and soon no one will know you're wearing one.
On a different sci-fi tack, where does this leave us for things like super-soldiers with super hearing?

From ears to concrete. There is now experimental concrete that self-heals it's own cracks.
"The concrete contains limestone-producing bacteria, which are activated by corrosive rainwater working its way into the structure... Micro-cracks are an expected part of the hardening process and do not directly cause strength loss. Fractures with a width of about 0.2mm are allowed under norms used by the concrete industry. But over time, water - along with aggressive chemicals in it - gets into these cracks and corrodes the concrete...
"So the spores remain dormant until rainwater works its way into the cracks and activates them. The harmless bacteria - belonging to the Bacillus genus - then feed on the nutrients to produce limestone.
The bacterial food incorporated into the healing agent is calcium lactate - a component of milk. The microbes used in the granules are able to tolerate the highly alkaline environment of the concrete.
"In the lab we have been able to show healing of cracks with a width of 0.5mm - two to three times higher than the norms state," Dr Jonkers explained."
What about the sci-fi overtones you ask? Well, as I read this article images from sci-fi movies with cities in decay came to mind. If the concrete self-healed those cities would look quite different.
How eerie if the city is far more perfectly preserved – although I imagine the plants would still get involved.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very interesting. Im hopeful for the near future of the medical field with it's growing technology.