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New Shape Born From Rubber Bands 120

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Physicists playing with rubber bands have discovered a new shape. In an attempt to create a spring that replicates the light-bending properties of cuttlefish ink sacs, a team of researchers suspended two rubber strips of different lengths. Connecting the bottoms of the two strips to a cup of water, the shorter band stretched to the same length as the longer one. After gluing the two stretched strips together, the researchers gradually drained the water from the cup. As the bands retracted and twisted from the reduced strain, the researchers were shocked to see the formation of a hemihelix with multiple rainbow-shaped boundaries called perversions. The team hopes their work inspires nanodevices and molecules that twist and transform from flat strips into predetermined 3D shapes on demand." There are several videos attached to the original paper, and all can be viewed without flash.
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New Shape Born From Rubber Bands

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  • Old phone cords? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 24, 2014 @02:36PM (#46834667)

    Back when I used corded handsets a lot one could strech them out far enough and then when they retracted you would get a very similar shape....

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 24, 2014 @02:53PM (#46834807)

      People have started to rediscover things that were perfectly ordinary 20 years ago. If it is not mentioned anywhere on the Internet or you cannot find it because there is no word for it, then it becomes a new invention when stumbled upon.

      I have just filed a patent for a sound storage device that consists of two spools. The sound is stored in direct form so that it can be sent to a sound emitting device without DAC. I call it Direct Sound(tm).

      • You can't trademark Direct Sound. Microsoft already has DirectSound.

    • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Thursday April 24, 2014 @02:56PM (#46834833) Homepage

      No, it's a new shape, dammit!

      I have also invented several new shapes. One of them, I draw part of a circle, and then it turns into a squiggly line for a while, and then a quarter of a square, followed by a third of an asymptote. Another time, I drew 3 squiggly lines connected to a 4th line that was almost straight but still a little squiggly. I call it a squiggle-square.

    • They spent a fortune on getting someone to CAD that up instead of just taking a picture of a telephone cord.

    • by gatkinso ( 15975 )

      That is exactly what I thought the moment I saw this.

      Kids these days.... sheesh.

    • by jovius ( 974690 )

      Now re-create that technological relic with two joined flat and straight surfaces by simulating a natural growth pattern, and maybe apply what you found to study plant root formation for example. The summary is a bit over the top, but the science is sound in the experiment anyway. This deepens understanding how nature has worked out the mechanics of the helical forms.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The "New Shape" part is the overstatement. Fortunately the absurd part is limited only to the Slashdot title; the actual paper seems pretty level headed and interesting. Sound science I agree.

    • And I always had a hell of a time getting that little kink out...

    • by vux984 ( 928602 )

      Yeah, that's exactly what i was thinking. It looks exactly like the tangles my corded desk phone gets.

    • Re:Old phone cords? (Score:5, Informative)

      by guruevi ( 827432 ) <evi AT evcircuits DOT com> on Thursday April 24, 2014 @04:34PM (#46835677) Homepage

      You're missing the point of the paper. The paper is not there to show "new shapes" that is the reporter that clearly doesn't understand what's going on saying that.

      The paper explains HOW these things happen and HOW specific shapes can be modeled (aka calculated or created on purpose) in function of various forces and aspect ratios. They for example, show how to consistently get such a 'kink' (perversion) like the one in your phone cord on every "turn".

    • by Anonymous Coward

      and I thought you were just being an asshole

      until I looked at the pics.

    • I'm glad this was the first response. It's the first thing I thought of too when seeing the image on FB. (From "I fing love science")

    • Also rubber band airplanes. Wind them up, at one point you get exactly that shape. IDK if the math of the shape was ever explored though. Oftentimes 'discoveries' are things that we, the great unwashed, saw all the time but never noticed. And that's OK - we need people who say, "That's funny..."

    • by sjames ( 1099 )

      And just think of all that time people spent trying to 'un-pervert' their phone cord. Of course it seemed more annoying than perverted at the time.

    • by Barryke ( 772876 )

      Same for curled garden hoses. This is no new shape, ROFLOL.

  • New? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ntshma ( 864614 ) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @02:36PM (#46834669)
    My telephone cord at work has been like this for years.
  • Somehow I don't think a perversion is a new shape.
  • From looking at the picture, it looks like what the telephone cord would eventually look like on the kitchen extension when I was a kid. (before everyone had cordless phones). Older people here might recall seeing mom get tangled up in the thing while gabbing away and cooking at the same time, she would eventually have to twirl around to extricate herself and hang up the phone.

  • by ArcadeMan ( 2766669 ) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @02:41PM (#46834713)

    My old phone cord.... never mind.

  • This will be a little easier to view. []

    Not seeing anything groundbreaking off the top of my head...

  • So, I was doing this myself when I spent hours and hours trying to be caller #3 to the radio station tangling up my parents phone cord? And there is an easier way to remove that perversion than unwinding the hole thing? Next somebody is going to tell me I was making graphene when I first used the big boy pottie.
    • So, I was doing this myself when I spent hours and hours trying to be caller #3 to the radio station tangling up my parents phone cord?

      Unfortunately, TFA looks slashdotted. I assume 'new shape' means a new geometry nobody has cataloged before? Maybe it never occurred to someone that it was a distinct shape? That or the phone cord analogy I'm seeing here isn't quite accurate.

      Next somebody is going to tell me I was making graphene when I first used the big boy pottie.

      No, more like dark matter []. ;-)

  • by PNutts ( 199112 ) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @02:51PM (#46834791)

    No thanks.

  • by tomhath ( 637240 ) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @02:57PM (#46834835)
    Maybe I'm missing something here too. Looks like a twisted up rubber band to me. Although I'm pretty sure I invented a new shape the first time I used monofilament fishing line.
  • Sure looks like the same shape squid tentacles make when you bread and deep fry them. Have these guys never had calamari? Or maybe just the crappy "rings only" stuff you get at most "trying to be more upscale" chain restaurants?
  • Windows Media Video 9 files without any identifying suffix in the downloadable archive. Good going.


  • Bacon started this.

    And underwear elastic furthered it.
  • by OneAhead ( 1495535 ) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @03:05PM (#46834901)
    Handily in time to contend for the 2014 Ig Nobel price [].
  • by jbmartin6 ( 1232050 ) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @03:08PM (#46834917)
    I don't see anything in the paper claiming to have found "a new shape". It also isn't clear why the word "shocked" is used, other than perhaps the results was unexpected. I guess an excerpt from the paper sums it best:

    A recent, simple experiment using elastomer strips reveals that hemihelices with multiple reversals of chirality can also occur, a richness not anticipated by existing analyses. Here, we show through analysis and experiments that the transition from a helical to a hemihelical shape, as well as the number of perversions, depends on the height to width ratio of the strip's cross-section. Our findings provides the basis for the deterministic manufacture of a variety of complex three-dimensional shapes from flat strips.

    • by gsslay ( 807818 )

      They were "shocked" because the submitter thought it sounded jazzier than "stunned". "Amazed" would have done the same job, but it's a bit old hat.

      To be honest, we really need a new word to convey over-hyped excitement and surprise in news-speak. Something like "incredulated".

  • by magsol ( 1406749 ) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @03:43PM (#46835227) Journal
    literally ruins slinkys.
  • by wjcofkc ( 964165 ) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @03:50PM (#46835287)
    So it's safe to say that the summary is botched, however, that does not mean that the article is not still interesting enough to be deserving. What we have is an unexpected outcome to an experiment. They created a known structure using a new method, where the method of creation may make the shape promising to engineering applications.
  • I swear I remember doing this exact thing when I was a kid.

  • Hemihelix Perversion. That sounds so ... dirty.

    My mind is a raging torrent of possible meanings. But I will spare you all.

  • Then you too have seen this shape.
  • by aaronb1138 ( 2035478 ) on Friday April 25, 2014 @12:09AM (#46838453)
    I was getting shapes like that from rubber band powered balsa wood airplanes back in the 80's during both winding and unwinding. Regarding the unwinding, I used to love testing the thrust a few times to see if there was a magical way to wind it to get more airflow and for longer. I'm sure older people have witnessed similar many years prior. Nothing new here.
  • They're gonna give it back .. when?

It is not for me to attempt to fathom the inscrutable workings of Providence. -- The Earl of Birkenhead