Most of us are familiar with sore muscles after a workout. But for the first time, what is actually going on when you're aching - at a cell level - has been discovered.
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We strive to make robots in our own likeness because, as far as we can tell, humans are best adapted to deal with our world. And thanks to researchers at MIT, who've found a way to use cheap, nylon plastic as an artificial muscle, we're now one step closer to creating artificial humans — and opulent fantasy theme parks.
Using pneumatic pistons and servos to power robots makes them fast and strong, but also bulky and extremely heavy. No one is going to mistake ATLAS for a real human being. To eventually create humanoid-looking robots like the Terminator, we need to mechanically replicate every part of the human anatomy — starting with the muscles.
The world may be oohing and awing over all the wonderful uses we're finding for graphene, but there's another super-material vying for the spotlight. Vanadium dioxide might eventually become a household name because in addition to revolutionising electronics, researchers have now discovered it can be used as an artificial muscle 1000 times stronger than our own.
When delivered through a vibrating motor in a controller or smartphone, force feedback isn't particularly realistic. So researchers at Germany's Hasso Plattner Institute have developed a new system for smartphones that uses electrical muscle stimulation to physically move the player's hands and forearms in response to the action happening on screen.