Inspiration comes in many forms, whether movies and books, nature, or just out of necessity. Regardless of the source, today scientists are coming up with many developments that really could turn us into superhumans. Things that were previously unheard of may now be a reality in the not-too-distant future.
Ten years ago, touch-screen phones were the tales of science fiction films, and bionic limbs were only just surfacing – but now, they have changed the way our very lives work. Here we survey four developments that really could change the way we live in the future.
Now you see it, now you donâ??t!
Ever since Harry Potter donned his invisibility cloak in the famous series by JK Rowling, reports have surfaced that scientists had created a real-life cloak that could render objects (and maybe people!) invisible. In late 2012, a Nature Materials studyÂ made a breakthrough, with Professor David Smith and his colleague Nathan Landy, both of Duke University, succeeding in “cloaking” an object perfectly for the first time. For now, the illusion only works from one direction, but you can be sure that they will develop it for other wavelengths too. Superhuman, perhaps not, but wizards, definitely yes!
Not only are scientists making things in Harry Potter come to reality, but theyâ??re also making the stuff of comic books come true. Inspired by how geckos can scale walls and even hang upside down from polished glass, scientists have been looking closely at the mechanisms needed in order to make synthetic adhesives like the kind on the geckoâ??s feet. Such synthetic adhesives could yield transformative results in the fields of robotics, industry, medicine, sports, and clothing. A Spider-Man suit in the not-too-distant future is one very real possibility!
Weâ??ve got self-chargingâ?¦how about self-replacing?
How good would it be if your phone could repair its own cracks, your shoes never wear out, and your tennis racket replace itself? In 2001, a study led by Scott White from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign revealed that liquid healing agents could help electric circuits and materials heal themselves when damaged, restoring electrical conductivity. This development holds great promise for the military field as well as for space systems. Scientists are continuing to work on re-healable polymers and composites. Who knows what they might discover next!
Just apply thisâ?¦and itâ??ll disappear!
According to research published in the journal Science in 2012, ultra-thin electronics that dissolve in the body are now indeed a thing of reality. Made of silicon and magnesium oxide and and placed in a protective layer of silk, these electronics have already been trialled on small wounds to heat them and keep free of bacteria. What does this mean for the medical world? Ultra-thin electronics present many exciting opportunities, not limited to healing wounds after surgery, slowly releasing drugs into the body, and building sensors for the brain and heart. It might even be used as an environmentally friendly preference over dumping computers and phones in landfill – we bet environmentalists are delighting over this one!
Amanda Shelby is a university student and freelance writer who is interested in all things health and technology. You can find her reading up aboutÂ silicone mouldingÂ in her spare time.
Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net /Â Jeroen van Oostrom