Apparently* they call the process for shaping metal ‘beat and heat’. I love that because it so precisely describes the process and it has a great sound. It deserves a poem but not today. We’ve been beating and heating for millennia and now scientists at Cornell have come up with an alternative, self-assembling metal which is also porous. There’s a detailed description of the processes involved here in Nanotechnology Now (NN) and more information in the June 27, 2008 issue of Science. The quick version: they’ve found a way to coat metal nanoparticles (2 nm in diameter, roughly) with something called a ligand. Described in my first source (NN) as an organic material, it can also be described as a biomolecule. Hmmm, this suggests some interesting questions about crossing boundaries (scientists may not view them as boundaries but a lot of regular folks do). It’s a question that Richard Jones raised in the last chapters of his book, Soft Machines, what is our relationship to nature? It’s not a new question, we’ve been asking it for millenia.*
* ‘hApparently’ was changed to ‘Apparently’ and a period was added to the final sentence on Dec. 14, 2014.