5 Materials That Will Make The World as We Know It Obsolete

#2. Near-Invincible (and Invisible) Soldiers

Ever since the first warrior realized that if he wore thicker skins than the other guy his chances of coming out the winner improved significantly, mankind has had only one dream: to be able to kill others with impunity.

They're getting close. Researchers working for DARPA and several universities have been coming up with a wide array of materials that will allow our soldiers to walk around invisible, absorb grenade blasts like Iron Man or simply laugh off gunshots.

Holy Shit! With What?

Sheer Thickening Fluids, Carbon Nanotubes, Biosteel and Metamaterials

The U.S. military has developed a liquid-filled material intended to be both lightweight and bulletproof. The substance is a non-Newtonian fluid called a "sheer thickening fluid," or dilatant. It's a liquid when you're walking around, but when struck with an impact (like say, from a bullet) it hardens into a bulletproof plate in a microsecond.

Meanwhile, remember when we said earlier that clothes made from carbon nanotubes would be nearly indestructible? Well, Cambridge University is putting their money on fabric made out of the stuff, figuring down the road you could replace the current bulky, hot body armor with a T-shirt that bullets bounce off of. What could be better than that?


OK, we'll tell you; how about bending the fucking bullets around you, Matrix-style? Oh, and also, you're invisible.

Yeah, welcome to the deeply weird world of metamaterials. These are materials that, due to their unique structure, can theoretically bend any type of wave in the electromagnetic spectrum. The same shit that has already given us a prototype invisibility cloak. Researchers say metamaterials could eventually be used to divert matter the same way the invisibility cloak redirects light waves (feel free to read researcher Shuang Zhang's paper on the matter). At that point pretty much anybody who wears it is a wizard.

How Will it Change the World?

The U.S. military is already testing their non-Newtonian liquid body armor. With the invisibility and matter-bending stuff, clearly the goals is that decades from now each U.S. Marine will be an invisible death-dealing poltergeist.

#1. A Star Trek-Style Replicator and Gadgets that Transform

Have you ever wished you could print an object with your computer? Maybe it was after a long night of World Of Warcraft and Red Bull and you suddenly wished you had a battle axe you could use on the head of your neighbor's dog who won't stop barking at the sky?

Sure, you've probably heard tales of crude rapid prototyping machines they have now, that can download instructions and quickly manufacture plastic parts. But we're not talking about that. Those are huge, multi-million dollar machines, and only make object molds out of resin.

We're talking about a gadget that makes other gadgets on the fly. Oh, and those gadgets can transform into other gadgets.

Like this, only useful.

Holy Shit! With What?

Programmable Matter.

Did you go see that movie Virtuosity? Russell Crowe as a cybernetic serial killer? Denzel Washington as Denzel Washington? OK, do you remember the commercials for the movie at least?

The idea was that a serial killing computer program (?) had slipped the surly bonds of the computer to become an android in the real world. The android was made up of a self replicating material that used glass to rebuild itself.

As incredibly retarded as everything we typed up there is, the "programmable matter" part at least is based in reality. Or soon will be.

Intel recently teased the world by demonstrating how the matter would work. It is made up of tiny glass spheres with the ability to process like a microchip. They're also photovoltaic, meaning that each sphere would also be a solar cell. They would be able to take any instructions you sent from a computer and make themselves into that device. No jokes about this one, just holy shit.

How Will it Change the World?

The demonstration video up there shows them using early versions of the stuff like putty, making solid models that shift and morph in real-time from a pool of the raw material.

So it's really a question of how advanced they can make the material itself, which would just involve shrinking the "beads" that are the building blocks of the matter to smaller and smaller sizes. After that, it's just a question of how quickly they can scale it up, from a cell phone that transforms into a Bluetooth headset to, well, a T-1000 killbot.

See? Like we said. Baby steps.

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