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[10 Jan 2012 | No Comment | 10,534 views]
Radiant Light Film: Learning to Make Rainbows from Butterflies

 
Sometimes the beginning of the year is a little bit … well … boring. Everyone is working out at the gym and eating healthy green foods, and even though the sun still sets at an ungodly hour, all the festive holiday parties are over.  This admirably disciplined January attitude is great for working off all the pfeffernüsse you shoved in your face and chased with rum-laced egg nog at your Aunt Betty’s house in December, but if you’re not careful all of this new-found rigidity and focus could negatively affect …

WOOD »

[4 Dec 2011 | No Comment | 17,550 views]
Q&A Special: How to Bend Bamboo

 
Every once in a while someone sends me a materials-related question and I get to sit at a local wing joint on a rainy day, my non-typing hand covered in piquant buffalo sauce and stringy, ranch-coated celery fragments, watching multiple football games simultaneously while happily dispensing advice on subjects about which I may or may not have any expertise … and it is glorious. In the interest of sharing knowledge and offering a forum for people with actual experience and/or information concerning the question to contribute what they know (which …

FIRE, WATER, WOOD »

[10 Nov 2011 | No Comment | 11,930 views]
New Fully Stretchable OLED Will Make You Crave Taffy

 
Yesterday I bent over in the attempt to tie the absurdly bright purple shoe laces on my almost offensively bright purple sneakers and made a startling discovery: I’m not as flexible as I used to be.  In fact, the overwhelming tightness of my hamstrings makes your standard British upper lip look positively floppy; and as I fired up my smartphone to schedule some emergency yoga I was reminded that I had yet to share an amazing new fully stretchable OLED display recently developed at the University of California, Los Angeles, …

WOOD »

[12 Oct 2011 | No Comment | 6,216 views]
Paper Foam: It’s Foam … Made of Paper.

 
There’s this place where I live called “Jimmy’s Food Store” and it is, as you might expect, a store where food is sold.  But oh what food it is!  Italian comestibles dripping with Italian deliciousness, sold with Italian gusto to Italians and non-Italians alike.  At Jimmy’s Food Store you can get an Italian meatball sandwich that will bring tears to your eyes. You will literally be crying as you eat it because it is so tasty, and you’ll be crying after you’ve eaten it because you’ll be so sad it’s …

WATER, WOOD »

[14 Sep 2011 | One Comment | 23,296 views]
Spider Glue Investigation Yields Smart Materials Insight

 
There are three types of people in the world: those who carefully transport insects and arachnids out of the building on sheets of paper, releasing them into the wild to roam free, bite innocent people, and reproduce; those who whip off their hard-soled shoes and gleefully smash anything with an exoskeleton that happens to wander within range; and those for whom the thought of a particularly nasty bug is enough to inspire a scream-enhanced instinctive high-speed run headlong into another room.
I belong to the last category, and thus it is …

WOOD »

[5 Sep 2011 | One Comment | 7,754 views]
Actuated Matter Workshop Part 2: Glass Fiber Reinforced Plastic

 
Even thinking about glass fiber reinforced plastic (GFRP) makes me itchy. The reason for this is that the glass strands involved with this material are so fine (by which I mean that they are extremely thin and tiny, rather than that they are really really ridiculously good looking) that they get caught in your skin and clothes and become profoundly irritating, after the manner of a wood splinter or Brett Favre.

Image courtesy taiwan.xpshou.com
At the Actuated Matter Workshop in Zurich, we were introduced to a particular configuration of GFRP developed by …

WOOD »

[21 Jul 2011 | No Comment | 2,890 views]
New Squishy Memristor Device: Friends Don’t Let Friends go Binary

First of all, let me tell you that I’m so glad you could make it today and that you’re willing to listen to what I’m about to say to you – what I’m saying as your friend.  We’ve known each other a long time, and I’ve been thinking about how best to communicate my concern for a while now.  I guess I’ve come to the conclusion that the best way to say this is to be blunt and forthright and just come out with it: I think you are working …

FIRE, WOOD »

[19 Jul 2011 | 3 Comments | 7,226 views]
Color-Change Tech for Lenses could turn Buildings into Chameleons!

Say what you will about the 1990’s, the decade produced some severely under-appreciated and entirely too short-lived cultural moments: I mean, Hammer pants? Titanic? Come on – you know you loved it!  Another phenomenon of the 1990’s that in some ways is slightly less exciting than the OJ Simpson trial, but which has stayed with us to this day is: green-tinted glass.

Image courtesy metaefficient.com
No one knows exactly how it started, but I imagine that sometime in the 1990’s, an architect somewhere in the world specified green-tinted glass for the …

WATER, WOOD »

[13 Jul 2011 | One Comment | 4,257 views]
I Heart MIT’s New Flexible, Printable Solar Cells

My desk at work sits across from an ancient beige laser printer the size of a Volkswagen, which pretty much unceasingly spews toner particles, artfully arranged on tabloid- and letter-sized sheets of paper, out of its graceless plastic maw. I bring this up because the adjacency has driven me to resent general workday printing even more than the occasional trip to the plotter (which, if you have never tangled with a large-format printer, makes a fourteen hour trip on Aeroflot sound appealing by comparison).
I resent the noise of the printer, …

WOOD »

[8 Jun 2011 | No Comment | 5,928 views]
Tensotherm with Nanogel: for Light, Insulated Tensile Roof Structures

Despite the fact that I usually run away screaming when faced with difficult calculations, I loved my structures classes in school. I liked building and destroying model bridges and learning how to manage earthquakes, but what I loved the most was thinking about tension and compression because I could feel those forces act on my body.
No really – it isn’t like learning about the War of Jenkins Ear, where you have to imagine being alive in the 1700’s and fighting with a large group of Spanish and British soldiers and …

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