Published on 14 September 2011
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"Imagine a poly-morph material but which take on different properties of metal, rubber, cloth, glass etc.
depending on what you want them to behave like"
Technology Review: Super 8
Namaste folks, this week we come to you with a review of the movie Super 8. When I first heard that this was a movie based on aliens with Steven Spielberg as the executive producer I was a little excited as Spielberg usually makes fantastic alien movies.
The movie is decidedly different from his usual fare and reminded me very strongly of E.T. Well, now that you can guess what the plot is, let us discuss the space related aspects of the movie.
Beware, spoilers ahead. Go see the movie first in case you don't us to spoil it for you. By the way, this is a fantastic movie, especially for children and teenagers, so if you can, definitely watch it.
There were two very bold ideas proposed in the movie and one that is quietly understated. Let us examine them one by one.
The first idea proposed in the movie is about a material that is metamorphic. Essentially, there is a synthetic material which in its natural form appears something like a Rubik's cube. The spaceship of the alien is composed of this material.
So imagine a car in which the engine, the tyres, the seats, the windshield and even the lamps are made out of one single material but which take on different properties of metal, rubber, cloth, glass etc. depending on what you want them to behave like.
This concept is not novel. Remember the villain in Terminator 2? (https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/T-1000).
Turns out there has been a search for this kind of material for a long time. However, the best we can do today is something called Liquid Metal (http://www.liquidmetal.com/) which is a metal that behaves like a plastic. Plastic as we all know comes in different forms and can be made to look even like glass. Would it not be great if we could create a metamorphic material like that of the alien in Super-8?
It may not turn out to be economical but it would greatly simplify the manufacturing processes of star-ships designed to travel great distances. Plus, it would reduce the quantities of different materials that a spaceship or something like the International Space Station would have to keep stock of for repairs and maintenance.
Well, let us hope some bright Indian is able to invent this material someday.