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Space Technology

Introducing Magnet-Responsive Memory Foam 69

Roland Piquepaille writes "The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) has recently reported that two research teams have developed a new porous foam of an alloy that changes shape when exposed to a magnetic field. The NSF states that this new material is able to remember its original shape after it's been deformed by a physical or magnetic force. This polycrystalline nickel-manganese-gallium alloy is potentially cheaper and lighter than other materials currently used in devices ranging from sonar to precision valves. It also could be used to design biomedical pumps without moving parts and even for space applications and automobiles."
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Introducing Magnet-Responsive Memory Foam

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  • by Kupfernigk ( 1190345 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @04:45AM (#21880408)
    From the summary: "It also could be used to design biomedical pumps without moving parts"

    Well, such pumps do exist - you can pump liquid metals by passing a current through them, and applying a magnetic field at 90 degrees to the current as per high school physics - but I doubt they'll be pumping molten sodium through people any time soon. You could build a diaphragm pump with this approach, presumably using a two-phase magnetic circuit to very the length of the magnetic actuator, and this would probably be a lot better than passing airlines into people to operate conventional diaphragm pumps, as is done at present. But the pump has at least two moving parts, i.e. the actuator and the diaphragm.

    I suspect the author meant "no rotating parts".

    • by BigHungryJoe ( 737554 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @05:59AM (#21880648) Homepage
      applying a magnetic field at 90 degrees to the current as per high school physics

      you went to a much better high school than I did
      • You never got to build a basic electric motor or put a bent wire carrying a current in a magnetic field?

        Sheesh, if that's the case it's not surprising there's a Republican presidential candidate who doesn't accept the idea of Evolution.

        • Yeah, heaven knows the US would be a better place if we all knew how to build motors. Then the Democrats would rule forever!
          • by rbanffy ( 584143 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @07:19AM (#21880900) Homepage Journal
            The world would be a better place if people were given proper scientific education.

            You know... That where you observe facts, formulate hypotheses and try to invalidate them through experiments.

            • by Kupfernigk ( 1190345 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @07:41AM (#21880966)
              It wasn't a jibe at Republicans. It was a jibe at a world in which the most advanced technological power can produce people who don't seem to have the least idea of the basis on which that power rests, and don't seem to care. It may be that if GWB had had a proper scientific education he might have tended to, say, believe the weapons inspectors and his own military rather than the spin merchants, though we can't be sure. It might be that he would, say, read Scientific American or National Geographic, and this would inspire him to leave a legacy of a serious attempt to solve world problems through the encouragement of science and technology

              I'd be almost equally happy if future politicians got a really good grounding in history, instead of being told that it is irrelevant.

              • by ArcherB ( 796902 ) *

                Sheesh, if that's the case it's not surprising there's a Republican presidential candidate who doesn't accept the idea of Evolution.

                It wasn't a jibe at Republicans.

                Uh, yeah it was. Otherwise, you wouldn't have said, Republicans. Let's see what Bush has to say about whether evolution should be taught in schools []:

                "Both sides ought to be properly taught . . . so people can understand what the debate is about," he said, according to an official transcript of the session. Bush added: "Part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought. . . . You're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, and the answer is yes."

                I guess if people want to see a view other than your own, then they must be wrong.

                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by Torvaun ( 1040898 )
                  I have no issue with both sides being taught in schools, as long as we make sure that only the one that conforms to the scientific method gets called science. Intelligent design can go in a religion or philosophy class.
                  • by rbanffy ( 584143 )
                    I have no problem with religions being taught in schools, but only as far as they are no treated as science and only as long the curriculum provides an unbiased view of as many as possible different religions and compares their differences, similarities and explains why humans seem to feel the urge to try to understand the universe around them by resorting to supersti^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hreligious explanations.

                    • I was about to complain about a public school sponsoring a class on religion, but yours sounds sufficiently subversive that i think it would be beneficial. Good luck finding good teachers for it however.
                    • by rbanffy ( 584143 )
                      Thanks. I thoroughly enjoy being called subversive. :-)
                  • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                    by ArcherB ( 796902 ) *
                    I have no issue with both sides being taught in schools, as long as we make sure that only the one that conforms to the scientific method gets called science. Intelligent design can go in a religion or philosophy class.

                    I don't know if I would even go that far. All most Christians want is that the theory of evolution be taught as a theory. As a Christian student, evolution fascinated me. I always felt that a slow evolution of species was much more a miracle than God simply saying "let there be X... and th
                    • Have you actually seen this "Teaching Darwin as a counter to religion" happen? Because I don't think religion should be brought up at all in science class. Religion exists outside the context of empirical science.

                      The reality is that high-school science teaching must happen within very tight time and money constraints. We can't present every crackpot notion because there is barely time to present the basics of the scientific consensus. As everything creationists say has been shown to be false time and time

                    • I see it as proof that God DOES exist as the odds of each evolutionary step happening as it does are so slim to be qualified as a miracle, IMHO.

                      This is a common misunderstanding. Looked at the same way, the various events you experienced since waking up this morning were all extremely unlikely, when you look at the details and not just the broad patterns. What are the odds, for example, that you would wake up the precise nanosecond that you did? However, none of the alternatives were significantly more

                    • Look, I don't normally reply to God-botherers, but I'm so sick of hearing such people saying "Well, science is allowed to be wrong and make mistakes, so I'm allowed to believe whatever I want without any proof." Which would be fine if they kept their stupidity to themselves, but then they have to start posting on the internets with "They should also teach God in science school because God invented science."

                      I can't believe that people are that stupid.
                      I just can't.

                  • Intelligent design does not belong in either a religion or a philosophy class. It's been exploded over and over again for hundreds of years because it creates an infinite regress (i.e. if a God designed the Universe, what designed the God? Clearly a bigger and better God who had to be able to design a God that could design the Universe. And what designed that Hawking puts it, it's turtles all the way down). Theologians classify the "argument from design" as just one of about 7 flawed arguments for
              • No you have this the wrong way round. GWB already knew the outcome he wanted and the spin merchants were needed to create the supporting evidence.

                Unfortunately even National Geographic is far from being impartial and is heavily skewed in favor of pandering to patriotic or other themes. This is nothing new either: they were doing this during WW2 too.

            • I'd rather observer people, formulate a hypotheses to control them the try to force that belief onto everyone. Perhaps some all seeing father figure that judges you and threatens some kind of reward/punishment system that doesn't happen until after one dies. That way no one can prove otherwise.
    • Whether there are moving or rotating parts is not as interesting as whether there is wear, tear or fatigue. Pumps exist where the rotating parts are magnetically suspended and thus they can theoretically work forever. TFA doesn't mention any real life test, so in essence it's vapourware.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I can think of a lot of better things to pass through people instead of airlines.

      Honestly, I can't imaging anything about an airline that would be good to put through a person. Not the planes themselves, the baggage handlers, the cleaning crews, pilots, "
      snacks and refreshments" or whatever passes for a "meal" on most flights, and not even the pilots. And forget the awful airline debt load.

      Flight attendants, maybe. Some of them are ok.

      Other than than, nope. I don't want an airline passing through me.
  • They forgot (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Smordnys s'regrepsA ( 1160895 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @04:47AM (#21880416) Journal
    To mention that production of any theorized applications will take 5-10 years. Yeesh, the editors usually remember to add that bit of useless info when they add the useless list of possible uses!
  • by frinkacheese ( 790787 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @04:50AM (#21880424) Journal
    This would be cool for bumpers (I think some of the colonies call them fenders). You could park your car, shunt the other card out of the way and then apply your magnetic field and say "Nar it wasn't me, mate. Look, my car is OK. Must have been some other bloke".

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I think some colonies would have said "man" instead of "mate", and "dude" instead of "bloke".
      • I think some colonies would have said "man" instead of "mate", and "dude" instead of "bloke".

        How many Boffins died to bring you that information?
    • by rrp ( 537287 )
      Fenders are the pieces that go around the wheels, while bumpers are what go in front and behind the car... even in the other "colonies"
  • I can see the commercials now...
    Introducing the Magnetic Memory Foam Mattress, molds to your body with adjustable magnetic fields.
  • Moving parts (Score:5, Insightful)

    by michaelmalak ( 91262 ) <> on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @05:04AM (#21880470) Homepage
    biomedical pumps without moving partsThat should read "without rubbing parts". And even with that increased language precision, we still don't know the answer to the important question, which is whether this willow allow pumps "without fatiguing parts". (I suspect this will not be possible without biological-like microscopic self-healing.)
  • ... liquid medal.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      I applaud your mettle for using the word medal when you should have used metal. I love words, they're so much fun to play with...maybe I should get a pet.
  • ...A giant fluffy USB-memory Pillow that can store my dreams!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    We had some of this stuff at Roswell and it took us forever to find out how to make it ourselves. Those crafty alien bastards.


  • Hmmmm... (Score:4, Funny)

    by tgd ( 2822 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @09:00AM (#21881294)
    *notices banner ad for fleshlight*

    I may just have an idea here...
  • It's not merely "biomedical". The proper term to describe such pumps is Peristaltic []. It has its uses in a wide variety of industrial applications as well.


  • Sure. And we could use it in nuclear fusion reactors, flying cars, and holographic memory, and possibly even in Duke Nukem Forever ...
  • I'd like to see some version of these electromagnetic "shape memory" materials in a cheap transparent form that can coat touchscreens. If they could be switched from smooth to a raised bump quickly, with very little power, and at high rez (about the size of a display pixel), they'd make for great feedback devices for "GUIs". Raised edges of GUI widgets, even vibrating areas indicating active buttons and their state. That would compensate quite a lot for how our fingers obscure the GUIs while we're operating

Computer programs expand so as to fill the core available.