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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Smart Dust

Scientists and others have discussed "smart dust" throughout the years and suggested many applications -- such as mixing them into concrete to monitor structure health, battlefield reconnaissance, and now planetary exploration.

Dr. John Barker of the University of Glasgow presented details to attendees of the National Astronomy Meeting.  By using an electronic charge, polymer sheathings over dust-sized circuitry could change shape, allowing the controller to "steer" or direct it to certain points.  The particles would be carried on the wind and by wrinkling or smoothing their covering, they could be steered and even "swarmed," which would allow them to pass information to one another and even make formations which could broadcast the data back to another point (such as the space station or Earth).

This reminded me of the many UFO reports of smaller UFOs which come together to form one object.  Obviously, these reports involve objects much larger than dust particles and the objects are far more directional than suggested here for "smart dust."  These UFOs also suggest some independent means of propulsion, but the concept of "swarming" made me think of this first-off.

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