In the Future, Airplanes Will Be Built of Bleeding, Self-Healing Plastics
An intriguing post on the site of the American Chemical Societyof all placesgot the attention of the futuristic bloggers at io9. The post described a new kind of plastic that mimics nature, reacting to scrapes and punctures by "bleeding" red and then healing itself. The technology was originally presented at the 243rd National Meeting of the ACS, where participants heard about how the plastics could "change color to warn of wounds and heal themselves when exposed to light."
io9 picked up the story and contacted the inventors to learn more about this new development in self-healing plastics. The scientists explained how the specific structure of the plastic allows it to self-heal not just once but over and over again, and then launched into a discussion about what kind of applications are on the horizon.
Surprisingly the answer is not "Terminator-style robots who will, to our woe, be utterly indestructible," although that's obviously true. Instead the idea in the near-term is to use the technology in airplanes and cars.
Right now, of course, we live in primitive times. If you're an airline company and you want to check for holes in your airplanes, you have to send somebody into the hanger to inspect everything minutely (ditto if you're the Department of Defense, which helped fund the study). But soon we'll all be living in the future, where the outside of an airplane will turn red and "bleed" when the airplane body gets hurt.
And then soon after that we'll all be banished into the salt mines by self-healing robots, which will suck but at least in the meantime we will have gotten to see some really cool stuff.
[Photo: puuikibeach / Flickr]