MAKING STUFF SMARTER

Here’s a recap of “Making Stuff Smarter,” the last episode in New York Times columnist David Pogue’s excellent four-part series, in case you missed it.

Pogue starts by swimming with sharks. We watch as a shark goes into a trance because its nose is stroked. Then we hear about its skin. A new sharkskin-like material is the latest and greatest hope for hospitals fighting infectious diseases such as the dreaded “MRSA” or flesh-eating bacteria.The new material, called “sharklet,” is a plastic film similar to sharkskin, that prevents bacteria from growing and spreading. ¬†Though it’s still undergoing tests in hospitals, (it’s been tested by sharks for 50 million years) Pogue said we’ll soon see it in bedside rails, medical devices and on doorknobs.

Next we saw a robot gecko climb walls carrying 45 pounds. It works like a gecko. A gecko has millions of microscopic hairs on its toes. Each hair is one-tenth the size of a human hair and has billions of split ends. As each toe goes up the wall, the billions of hairs make contact, sticking to the wall. To come down the wall, the feet must face up, or the gecko will come unstuck. Uses for a robotic gecko include window washing, rescue missions and surveillance.

Dr. John Pendry’s invisibility cloak was the final show stopper. He’s only got it working on the microwave level. Using “meta materials,” he is able to make an object disappear.

To watch the show click here.

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