Category Archives: Technology

Liquid Metal? In A Watch?

Yes. In a watch. Not just any watch, but an Omega.

In any case, watch. I mean the video at that link, and you’ll love the slogan: “Sometimes, the most unlikely partnerships are the most enduring.” And I guess we could add, “the most expensive.”

Here’s the short description from that page on the bulk metallic glass that goes by its trade name “Liquidmetal®”:

Liquidmetal®: seamless bonding, remarkable hardness

The Liquidmetal® alloy is an amorphous metal – a metallic material with a disordered, non-crystalline atomic structure. Its fusion temperature is half that of conventional titanium alloys but when it is cooled, its hardness is three times as great as that of stainless steel. Its amorphous structure allows it to bond seamlessly with the ceramic bezel.

The Liquidmetal® is a bulk metallic glass alloy consisting of five elements: zirconium, titanium, copper, nickel and beryllium. A bulk metallic glass can, by virtue of its low critical cooling rate, be formed into a structure with a thickness of more than a tenth of a millimetre. Zirconium is an important constituent part both of the Liquidmetal® alloy and of the ceramic material which is made of zirconium dioxide (Zr02).

Thanks for the pointer to my friend and colleague Ram (Prof. U. Ramamurty), who is well known for his studies of mechanical behaviour of bulk metallic glasses.

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BTW, this blog has had a chance to post about Liquidmetal® sometime ago.

Some links …

Exon points us to this Science Roll post with a compilation of science-oriented video archives.

Philip Ball has a post recounting the history (and the key person) behind the development of goggles that filter out UV and IR radiation.

Guru points us to some of the classic papers from the previous centuries that Philosophical Magazine has published on its website along with some commentary.

This article in the Hindu is about a study on the saddle point configuration for nucleation of a bubble in superheated water. It claims that this study overturns a conventional view; I am yet to figure out how!

Manhattan Project in energy saving technologies

Wired has an article (with links) about on-going research in energy-saving technologies in MIT. Check this one out!

The research is applying new materials, new technologies and new ideas to radically improve an old concept — thermophotovoltaic (TPV) conversion of light into electricity. Rather than using the engine to turn a generator or alternator in a car, for example, the new TPV system would burn a little fuel to create super-bright light. Efficient photo diodes (which are similar to solar cells) would then harvest the energy and send the electricity off to run the various lighting, electrical and electronic systems in the car.

Such a light-based system would not replace the car’s engine. Instead it would supply enough electricity to run subsystems, consuming far less fuel than is needed to keep a heavy, multi-cylinder engine running, even at low speed. Also, the TPV system would have no moving parts; no cams, no bearings, no spinning shafts, so no energy would be spent just to keep an engine turning over, even at idle.

Ten emerging technologies

… from the great innovation machine, also known as MIT. Do take a look at the latest issue of Technology Review.

The technolgies include nanomedicine and nanobiomechanics. In fact, the latter describes the work of Prof. Subra Suresh of MIT’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

… [Since] 2003, Suresh’s laboratory has spent more and more time applying nanomeasurement techniques to living cells. He’s now among a pioneering group of materials scientists who work closely with microbiologists and medical researchers to learn more about how our cells react to tiny forces and how their physical form is affected by disease. “We bring to the table expertise in measuring the strength of materials at the smallest of scales,” says Suresh.

One of Suresh’s recent studies measured mechanical differences between healthy red blood cells and cells infected with malaria parasites. Suresh and his collaborators knew that infected blood cells become more rigid, losing the ability to reduce their width from eight micrometers down to two or three micrometers, which they need to do to slip through capillaries. Rigid cells, on the other hand, can clog capillaries and cause cerebral hemorrhages. Though others had tried to determine exactly how rigid malarial cells become, Suresh’s instruments were able to bring greater accuracy to the measurements. Using optical tweezers, which employ intensely focused laser light to exert a tiny force on objects attached to cells, Suresh and his collaborators showed that red blood cells infected with malaria become 10 times stiffer than healthy cells — three to four times stiffer than was previously estimated.

Prof. Suresh’s publications are here.

100 Dollar laptop, Niagara, and browser birthday

… all of them made possible by the great folks at digg.com.

A really, truly, absolutely amazing picture of the Niagara falls from a satellite up above the world so high; it actually looks as if it was taken from a helicopter flying at a low altitude. It’s awsome. [via]

You must feast your eyes on the new beauty that was unveiled by MIT’s Media Lab: the 100 dollar laptop from the ‘One Laptop Per Child’ program. I don’t like its marketing strategy, but I certainly like these pictures. [via]

The browser was born on the Christmas day 15 years ago. e-week has a story commemorating the event. [via]

For as much as Berners-Lee seems proud that the browser has come as far as it has, growing from an underground academic phenomenon to a vitally important tool in millions of people’s lives, he still believes browsers are too limiting in how they allow people to input and consume information.

[…]

The W3C head said that he’s encouraged by the new wave of interest in self-publishing technologies such as blogs, RSS feeds and wikis, as those interactive Web applications are closer to what he’d originally imagined, versus a network of tightly-controlled browsers and sites largely owned by businesses.

As part of a tightrope act that people exchanging information online must learn how to balance better, he said, Web browsers and sites will need to become more adaptive in allowing users to manipulate information online, while also getting more secure and trustworthy.