A Scientist’s Way of Making Super-Strong iPhone Cases

By Anupum Pant

Bulk Metallic Glasses (BMGs) A.K.A Amorphous metals, give you the goodness of both metals and glasses. They literally are glasses made out of metal. Unlike the most crystalline metals, BMGs are made by cooling certain liquid metals very quickly to lock the disordered glassy structure in place. They aren’t crystalline like your everyday metals and instead have a structure like that of glasses – disordered.

Some of these BMGs have amazing properties. Like super high hardness, about 3 times the hardness of steel is one of the most alluring properties they have.

They’ve been around since the 60s, and mass producing them has always been tough. Until now, BMGs were never used for something as ordinary as a smartphone case. But the recent innovation in manufacturing coming from a Materials scientist at Yale will probably soon bring to the market these new iPhone covers that’d be 50 times harder than plastic, or 10 times harder than Aluminium, and almost three times the hardness of steel.

A Simple and Elegant Cloaking Device

By Anupum Pant

In the year 2011, UTD NanoTech unveiled their carbon nanotube invisibility cloak, making us move one more step closer to realizing a piece of magical cloth which fictional characters often use to turn themselves invisible. And then there was a 3D printed invisibility cloak too.

A few researchers at the University of Rochester have now created their own elegant version of an invisibility cloak. It’s, in principle, a fairly simple optical device which uses just four lenses to cloak objects behind it, keeping the image behind it still visible.

In fact, whatever it does, it does it in 3 dimensions. That means, the viewer looking through the device can actually pan to change the viewing angle and can still see the image of the background, undistorted, as if there were no lenses in between, in real-time. And it is probably the first ever cloaking device to be able to do that.

The device has a blind spot (sort of). In a way that It doesn’t cloak anything that lies in the axis of the lens system. The cloaking area is in the shape of a dough nut. Any part of the object that accidentally enters the axis area becomes visible and conceals the background. The device is simple and cheap enough to be easily scaled to cover greater area, as long as lenses of that size can be made. The video explains it better.

via [Quarks to Quasars]

Nightvision Eye Drops

By Anupum Pant

A deep sea dragonfish, or specifically Malacosteus niger, has a special pigment in its eyes which helps it see better in the deep  dark sea. This pigment, isolated from the eyes of this dragonfish, in the year 1990, was found to be a derivative of Chlorophyll.

The marine biologist Ron Douglas of City University London, who was able to isolate it then, found that the pigment gave this fish an ability to absorb red light. Of course It did seem abnormal to find a chlorophyll derivative inside an animal’s eye. Moreover, the animal had learned to use it to enhance its vision! At that time it was conjectured that the chlorophyll came to the fish through some bacteria, and it somehow found a way to put it to good use.

A couple of years later (in 2004) an ophthalmic scientist at Columbia University Medical Centre read about it and started testing the derivative on other animal’s eyes. Recently, by using it on mice and rabbit eyes, the researcher has been able to enhance their night vision, by enhancing their eye’s ability to absorb red light.

It is highly possible that, in the near future, the pigment could somehow be made safe for human eyes, and be used to enhance their nightvision. Soon a better nightvision could be as easy as ingesting a pill, or using eye drops made out of this derivative. How great would it be for the special ops team! Of course, the U.S. Department of Defence is very interested, and has started funding his research now.

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