Materials Science

Explore how the use of natural and manmade materials further technology. Read articles on subjects such as nanotechnology, iron steel and reverse osmosis.

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For a process that simply bonds two pieces of metal, welding affects a lot of our world and some stuff that's out of this world, like the International Space Station. What's it like to man the torch?

By Jonathan Atteberry

Wouldn't it be cool to blow past that swimmer in the next lane who always leaves you eating her watery dust? Could a bathing suit help you do it?

By Susan L. Nasr

Charles Goodyear was obsessed with this stretchy material, and we are, too. It's weatherproof, shockproof and entertaining, and it's found in more products than you can shoot a rubber band at.

By Craig Freudenrich, Ph.D.

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Turning saltwater into tasty, drinkable H20 at desalination plants like this one is probably the biggest selling point of reverse osmosis, but let's back up a minute. What's osmosis, and why -- and how -- is reversing it useful to us?

By Kate Kershner

Steam technology powered the Industrial Revolution, transformed the global shipping industry and revolutionized modern warfare. But how do steam engines actually harness the power of steam?

By Robert Lamb

Plastics can be shaped or molded into any form, and they're everywhere -- in your car, computer, toys and even bubble gum. But because they don't degrade, they cause big problems when it's time to throw them out.

By Craig Freudenrich, Ph.D.

Welcome to the wonderful and weird world of nanowires. Scientists can adapt this incredibly thin material for a number of uses, whether as a fiber-optic nanowire or to build increasingly smaller microprocessors. They're even used in medical implants.

By Jonathan Strickland

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Nanotechnology is so new, no one is really sure what will come of it. Even so, predictions range from the ability to reproduce things like diamonds and food to the world being devoured by self-replicating nanorobots.

By Kevin Bonsor & Jonathan Strickland

As an invention, Cold Heat seems to have everything. But reviewers -- both professionals and average users -- either love the tool or hate it, and some people question whether it's really "new" at all.

By Tracy V. Wilson

The centuries-old art of sword making involves incredibly intricate metal work, and it's still being practiced today. Get a rare glimpse into the creation of this ancient weaponry.

By Jeff Tyson

The refining of iron ore is one of our most historically significant achievements. The element is so important that primitive societies are measured by the point at which they learn how to refine it.

By Marshall Brain & Robert Lamb