Ladies and Gentlemen, the future is here. A lot of science fiction has objects that seem to repair or grow themselves even after being utterly destroyed, much like the robot we saw in Terminator 2 (as pointed out by the good folks over at FastCoDesign). A team at MIT has developed a similar substance that they like to call “Smart Sand.”
This material is still very much in its academic phase, but it has already started showing promise. A model developed by the team shows how the sand dropped into a vessel could sense its contours and presence, and then be able to replicate the holding vessel by itself.
Currently, the team is developing an algorithm for its approach, and as prototypes, they are making use of tiny pebbles that are about 10mm across and each have their own processor and magnetic components to align. Of course, that ain’t exactly magical and a challenge faced by the team would be to comprehensively reduce the size of these pebbles, so they could actually be put in widespread use. Of course, the implications of such technology are immense and a very intriguing trigger to the imagination.