NOVA: Making Stuff: Smarter
Airs Saturday, October 5, 2013 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV
Originally published February 7, 2011 at 3:57 p.m., updated October 3, 2013 at 3:10 p.m.
Invisibility cloaks. Spider silk that is stronger than steel. Plastics made of sugar that dissolve in landfills. Self-healing military vehicles. Smart pills and micro-robots that zap diseases. Clothes that monitor your mood. What will the future bring, and what will it be made of?
Get a behind-the-scenes look at scientific innovations ushering in a new generation of materials that are stronger, smaller, cleaner, and smarter than anything we've ever seen.
"Making Stuff Smarter" looks at materials that respond to their environments and even learn, such as an airplane wing that changes shape as it flies.
Scientists are turning to nature in developing such "smart" stuff. Sharkskin, for instance, has inspired a substance that, when sprayed in hospitals, could eliminate antibiotic-resistant bacteria. David Pogue visits a scientist who has even created a material that can render objects invisible.
"Smarter" concludes with a vision of the ultimate in "life-like" stuff: programmable matter that could create a duplicate of a human being.