The Department of Outstanding Origami is dying to get its hands on one of these tiny origami robots. A team of MIT scientists just unveiled their awesome Untethered Miniature Origami Robot at the 2015 International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) in Seattle.

The itty-bitty robot is made of a sheet of heat-sensitive material and a tiny cubic neodymium magnet. When placed on a heating element it’s able to self-assemble, walk on different surfaces, climb, swim, burrow, and carry objects up to twice its own weight.

From the MIT research paper:

“The robot is controlled using an external magnetic field exerted by embedded coils underneath the robot. Equipped with just one permanent magnet, the robot features a lightweight body yet can perform many tasks reliably despite its simplicity. The minimal body materials enable the robot to completely dissolve in a liquid environment, a difficult challenge to accomplish if the robot had a more complex architecture. This study is the first to demonstrate that a functional robotic device can be created and operated from the material level, promising versatile applications including use in vivo.”

A miniature robot that can self-assemble, move about, and dissolve itself has great potential for medical applications inside the human body. Imagine an even tinier version with additional sensors that could be used to seek out and clean clogged arteries or treat cancer cells. Science is awesome.

To learn more about this amazing project visit IEEE or read the MIT research paper.

You can read more about it over at IEEE and in this research paper.

[via Colossal, Nerdist, and Twisted Sifter]

Coloured X-ray of a sagittal section through a human skull.

“The skull has been sliced in half down the centre, revealing details of the internal structures. These include the delicate bones and spaces of the paranasal sinuses (around the nose and eyes, centre left). The fused bones of the cranium encase and protect the brain. 

The nasal, cheek and upper jaw bones are fused to the cranium to form the facial skeleton (left). The lower jaw bone (mandible, lower left), is attached at flexible joints, allowing it to move. The upper and lower jaw bones contain 32 permanent teeth (lower left). The eye sockets (one at far left) house the eyes.”

Credit: D. Roberts

Text: Daily Anatomy

Most animals that spend their lives in caves are blind and pale. Without light, eyes are useless, as are skin pigments, so animal populations that move into caves often lose these traits, evolving new qualities that are better suited for life in the dark. For instance, the olm, a long, thin salamander that lives in underground streams, is pigmentless and virtually blind, but possesses an acute sense of smell, sharp hearing, and organs that sense bioelectricity. It also boasts a line of specialized cells running the length of its body that can detect other animals moving in the water.
Meet more amazing creatures in Life at the Limits: Stories of Amazing Species, now open! 

This is pretty huge!

Missing link found between brain, immune system – with major disease implications

  • Vessels directly connecting brain, lymphatic system exist despite decades of doctrine that they don’t
  • Finding may have substantial implications for major neurological diseases
  • Game-changing discovery opens new areas of research, transforms existing ones
  • Major gap in understanding of the human body revealed
  • ‘They’ll have to change the textbooks’

In a stunning discovery that overturns decades of textbook teaching, researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have determined that the brain is directly connected to the immune system by vessels previously thought not to exist. That such vessels could have escaped detection when the lymphatic system has been so thoroughly mapped throughout the body is surprising on its own, but the true significance of the discovery lies in the effects it could have on the study and treatment of neurological diseases ranging from autism to Alzheimer’s disease to multiple sclerosis

“We believe that for every neurological disease that has an immune component to it, these vessels may play a major role,” Kipnis said. “Hard to imagine that these vessels would not be involved in a [neurological] disease with an immune component.”

Caption: Maps of the lymphatic system: old (left) and updated to reflect UVA’s discovery. Credit: University of Virginia Health System