Chemists and computer scientists have created people-sized "molecules" at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) by using chemical data, NIST software, special eyewear, and floor-to-ceiling displays. Such a three-dimensional immersion allows researchers to understand molecular behavior in minutes instead of the weeks required using traditional techniques. The materials being studied are the inexpensive smart gels, which can expand or contract to external stimuli. Applications include an artificial pancreas that might release insulin inside the body in response to high sugar levels. But scientists must know more about the molecular behavior of the gels before they can be applied for specific products. To learn more, go to http://nist.gov.
The amount of plastic clogging the ocean continues to grow. Some startling, not-so-good news has come out recently about the roles plastic is playing in the ocean, as well as more heartening news about efforts to collect and reuse it.
Some of our culture's most enduring robots appeared in the 80s. The Aliens series produced another evil android, and we saw light robot fare in the form of Short Circuit. Two of the great robots of all time also showed up: The Terminator and RoboCop.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.