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MIT boffins exhibit self-forming 'programmable matter'

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Vid Almost unbelievably lazy boffins at Harvard and MIT, fatigued no doubt by the onerous task of fashioning paper planes for use during academic debates, have developed electrically powered self-folding paper able to do this without human input.

Here's a vid:

"Smart sheets are Origami Robots that will make any shape on demand for their user," says Daniela Rus of MIT's CSAIL Center for Robotics (well, as long as the shape required is a boat/hat or paper plane, for now).

"A big achievement was discovering the theoretical foundations and universality of folding and fold planning, which provide the brain and the decision making system for the smart sheet," adds Rus.

Rus and her Harvard colleague Robert Wood apparently drew heavily on the work of their collaborator Erik Demaine, described as "one of the world's most recognized experts on computational origami".

The boffins believe that their electro-folding paper is the first step on the road to so-called "programmable matter" able to take on many different forms as the user may require. Possibilities include a "smart cup" able to adjust its size and a "Swiss Army knife" multitool block-o-stuff able to form into "tools ranging from wrenches to tripods".

"Programmable matter", indeed. This stuff is clearly none other than the earliest version of the mimetic polyalloy from which the Terminator T-1000 was/will be made, able as any moviegoer knows to form itself into "knives and stabbing weapons".

It will come as no surprise to most readers that the boffins acknowledge the help of renegade military tech bureau DARPA in their research. As most observers of the agency have long suspected, it is plainly controlled by cybernetic assassins despatched from the future by time machine with the mission of funding the research which will give birth to their machine progenitors.

The scholarly paper in question can be read by subscribers to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences here. ®

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