I’m going to throw some words out at you. See if you can pick what they all have in common:
If you answered, "they are all AWESOME!", then you would be... correct.
If you answered, "they are all so HOT right now", you would also be correct.
Robots – Steven Spielberg’s doing another film about them,
, the Pentagon is trying to make Avatar real life
with them, some of them are sexy.
3D Printers – the new horizon for copyright infringement.
And Dinosaurs – face it, they were the coolest thing ever when you were six years old and and they still are.
Now. Brace yourself. Because I’m about to blow your mind:
There are scientists who are going to combine them.
I’ll repeat. Scientists want to make robot dinosaurs using miniature 3D prints of their bones in order to study how they actually moved and interacted with their environment.
The plan is to produce a working robotic dinosaur limb by the end of this year, and have a complete WORKING ROBOT DINOSAUR by 2013 or 2014.
That’s right, Transformers fans, Grimlock will become a reality.
Who are these visionary geniuses… um, genii?
Paleontologist Dr. Kenneth Lacovara and mechanical engineer Dr. James Tangorra of Drexel University, Philadelphia.
“I came to James, who was introduced through a mutual friend, and I wanted a way that I could replicate the material I was working with in the laboratory,” Lacovara told io9.
“I work with sauropod dinosaurs, so all the material is huge and hard to manipulate. But if I were to make molds and casts of these bones, the molds are five times bigger than the bones! It's a cost problem, it's a space problem, when you make a mold you only get so many pulls from it before it degrades.”
“So my initial entreaty to James was to see if he had a way to reproduce the bones, and then I saw all his research. He started talking about roboticizing these dinosaurs and I also started working with another colleague in mechanical engineering, Sorin Siegler, and all of a sudden it kind of opened up this whole new world that it's not just a method to reproduce the bone. It's a way to let the bones tell us how they worked.”
What Lacovara and Tangorra may have singlehandedly done is open up a whole new branch of palaeontology.
Plus, and I think more importantly, we may very soon have real, working mini-robot-dinosaurs.
Honestly, is there anything you could have wished for more as a child?
Thanks science, for making our Sci Fi dreams, a Sci Fact reality.