MIT has played home to a number of off-the-wall discoveries, so it takes something truly unexpected to throw the researchers there for a loop. The recent discovery of the self-healing properties of metal, however, did just that. If their discovery means what we think it means, we could just have witnessed to the birth of the T-1000.
To MIT's credit, the concept that a hunk of metal could heal its own fractures does sound kinda preposterous. That goes double when you take into consideration what you need to do to the metal to make its healing properties show up. For a fracture to repair itself in a piece of metal, it turns out you need to stretch it. In other words, the exact type of force that could end up snapping a piece of metal in half can also be used o repair it. Here's what MIT professor Michael Demkowicz had to say when he saw the data:
“We had to go back and check. Instead of extending, [the crack] was closing up. First, we figured out that, indeed, nothing was wrong. The next question was: ‘Why is this happening?’”
In revisiting their findings, Demkowicz and MIT grad student Guoqiang Xu actually discovered that their discovery was just the tip of the iceberg. Their experiment wasn't just saying that metal can sometimes heal itself to some small extent. Instead, their findings suggested that there is a mechanism through which metal can actually heal its cracks under any applied stress.
That's a statement that's both amazing and terrifying, being that we've seen the kind of damage that a hunk of self-healing metal can do when it has a mind to. Granted, MIT's discovery is in its gestational stages, so if we're worried about them creating an army of T-1000s, we've got a little while to prepare. Check out the phenomenon yourself in the computer simulation created by MIT below.
Via MIT News