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Morphing Metals 121

aarondubrow writes "Imagine a metal that 'remembers' its original, cold-forged shape, and can return to that shape when exposed to heat or a magnetic pulse. Like magic out of a Harry Potter novel, such a metal could contract on command, or swing back and forth like a pendulum. Believe it or not, such metals already exist. First discovered in 1931, they belong to a class of materials called 'shape memory alloys (SMA),' whose unique atomic make-up allows them to return to their initial form, or alternate between forms through a phase change."
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Morphing Metals

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  • Re:Anyone read TFA? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lxs ( 131946 ) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @06:11AM (#33597660)

    I remember the exact same claims back in to '70s and '90s. Apart from expensive muscles for tiny robots and your fancy glasses, nothing new has come of it in all this time.

  • Slow news day (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Stooshie ( 993666 ) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @08:21AM (#33598214) Journal
    Wow, slow news day. All the way back to 1931 for this story!
  • Re:Yes and? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by radtea ( 464814 ) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @09:13AM (#33598582)

    To ensure we all know that aarondubrow and/or the /. editors are incapable of imagining that almost everyone is familiar with an 80-year-old technology that they happen to have never heard of before.

    This is a common phenomenon: people generally project their own state of mind on everyone else. They are also incredibly touchy when you point this out, which tells you how deeply internalized this tendency is.

    I was going to make a crack here about all the religious people who think that non-religious people have non-religion as their religion, but thinking that was too inflamatory I then considered describing my recent experience with configuring printing on an embedded Debian system, and how the documentation still fails utterly to allow the user what Eric Raymond calls "the luxury of ignorance", instead approaching the problem from an expert's point of view that is completely useless to a n00b like me, but realized that would probably be even more inflamatory, and I honestly can't think of a case that wouldn't really piss someone off, which suggests how universal the phenomenon is and how sensitive people are when you call them on it.

  • by dr_leviathan ( 653441 ) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @10:50AM (#33599666)

    I knew a machinist in the physics machine shop at my university who claimed memory metal was really hard to work with. It gums up the cutting tools and creates burrs like crazy. If you try to drill a hole in the stuff you have to be really careful or you'll break the bit.

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