Attack of the Robojelly (or, Real Things that Belong in Books)
Here’s the thing about science. And I say this as someone with an extensive background with the dear mistress of hypotheses and hypotenuses, but science, well… it does some truly wackadoodle* stuff.
Of course, I say the word ‘science’ like it’s a thing in itself, rather than a community of nerd-minded folk trying to explore the world. I mean it in both ways, actually. After seeing enough of it, you really do start to believe that no matter what insane fantastical things we may write about, science is truly stranger than fiction. There are some things that just belong in books. Maybe your next WIP could use a dash of the bizarre?
Case in point?
Yes. As in, robotic jellyfish. If that doesn’t belong in a book, well, then I’m Abe Lincoln. Here’s what the news said of this delightfully bizarre invention:
“Developed for the U.S. Office of Naval Research in 2009, this vehicle was designed to conduct ocean underwater surveillance, enabling it potentially to detect chemical spills, monitor the presence of ships and submarines, and observe the migration of schools of fish.“
So basically these things bomb around the sea in the cover of aquatic darkness, shattering everything you thought you knew about robots. One small step for man, one giant leap for invertebrate kind, no less. All I can picture is an army of these things taking over the water ducts in the Pentagon or something.
For more about this aquatic insanity, check out the link at sciencedaily.
Okay, so this one doesn’t sound that impressive, until you realize it challenges a very basic assumption that we’ve made for hundreds of years. We have assumed (possibly, until now), that life forms must be carbon-based. You, me, popcorn, petunias, elephants – we’re all made of carbon. So naturally we start to think that ‘okay, this carbon thing is a must’ for living things.
Enter Lee Cronin of the University of Glasgow. He decides “No, I bet I can make life using another material.”
And then he actually did it. The cells are made of metal. But they’re not just globs of material sitting there. He’s shown that they can actually behave in ways that are cell-like. He’s even hinted that he is going to be able to show evolution and replication in his metal cells.
The take home message here, kids – there may be other life forms in the universe that are not based on carbon. Do I believe it? Stranger things have happened…
To check out Cronin’s
Frankenstein metal cells, go here.
FINALLY: VIBRATING TATTOOS
I always wondered when the day would come when our headsets and phones were just wired directly into our brains, and it looks like the day might be arriving soon.
Nokia has just patented a product that lets you connect wirelessly to your phone, and receive vibrating messages THROUGH YOUR SKIN.
Not only is this ideal for incredibly lazy people and those who have always wanted vibrating skin (??), I can only imagine that it’s a very small step from here to one where we’re getting pinpointed by our tattoo and interviewed by Big Brother in Room 101.That is, if Big Brother really cared that we put some picture of a funny llama** on FB.
Check our vibrating tattoos, at your own risk.
If you’ve come across some wackadoodle science that belongs in our WIPs, drop them in the comments!
* Yes, ‘wackadoodle’ is the scientific term.
** It’s a shame 1984 didn’t feature any llamas.