Tag Archive: ABC Science

  1. Fishing Line Muscles – Polymer Fibers with Shape-Memory Mimic Muscle Fibers

    Leave a Comment

    Researchers are using the structure of polymer fibers and their shape-memory characteristics to mimic muscle fibers.  This story is from ABC Science, reporting on the article published in Science:

    Using household tools such as an electric drill and hair dryer, researchers have turned nylon fibres into artificial muscles that can lift 100 times more weight than human muscles.

    The work, published today in Science, shows that extensive twisting of common fishing line and sewing thread leads to a spring-like coil with super-strength qualities.

    Collaborator Professor Geoff Spinks says it is a much-sought breakthrough that could open the door to the use of artificial muscles in clothing and prosthetic manufacture, robotics, and as a green energy source.

    Spinks, from the Australian Research Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science at the University of Wollongong, says the discovery is “almost embarrassing”.

    “It is ironic that we spent all these years looking at exotic materials — and of course the lessons we learned from those years led us to this dramatic discovery — but it is remarkable that such ordinary materials can do such amazing things,” he says.

    The breakthrough is the result of a 15-year international collaboration led by scientists at the University of Texas.

    “We knew from our previous work with carbon nanotube artificial muscles that having a particular geometry was critical, and that was a helically twisted fibrous structure,” says Spinks.

    “We knew in nylon fibres the molecules are aligned within that solid fibrous structure, so we just wondered whether the individual polymer molecules would act in the same way that was happening with the carbon nanotube system.”

    “So it was just a matter of getting these commercially available polymer fibres from the fishing store and twisting them and seeing what happened.”

    Read more at ABC Science.

    twisted fishing line

  2. The Methuselah of Discs

    Leave a Comment


    This story was reported on ABC Science about a data disc that can last one million years or longer.  This would create a data record that lasts far longer than technology we have used thus far in recorded human history, surpassing archival paper (500 years) and even rock carvings which are subject to erosion over time.

    Jeroen de Vries from the University of Twente, The Netherlands, and colleagues write, “If we want to preserve anything about the human race which can outlast the human race itself, we require a data storage medium designed to last for one million to one billion years.”

    A lot can happen in one million years – where and how the disc is stored will be as important as the data integrity.  I found the testing procedure fascinating, however.  (Don’t try this at home.)