Scientists Create Origami That Can Fold Itself Using Light

Rob Felt, Georgia Tech
Rob Felt, Georgia Tech

Scientists at Georgia Tech have figured out how to create origami from light, no hands required. All the technique uses is a PowerPoint slide, a projector, and some resin. Georgia Tech mechanical engineer Jerry Qi and his colleagues exposed photo-absorbent resin to light patterns to get the material to bend into specific shapes, as they write in a paper in Science Advances.

The researchers put the designs they wanted to fold into a PowerPoint slide and projected that in grayscale onto resin in a Petri dish using a commercial projector, producing resin that folded itself into flowers, cranes, and a Miura fold.

a petri dish with orange resin in the shape of a flower sits on a desk next to a computer showing the same design on a grayscale slide
Rob Felt, Georgia Tech

The bending of the liquid resin is affected by both the time it’s exposed to light and the intensity of that light. Qi explains to ResearchGate that when the layer of liquid resin is exposed to the light, it shrinks the layers of resin at different rates. The layer hit directly by the light cures faster than the layers farther down. Because the different sides of the resin aren’t curing at the same rate, it creates what he calls “nonuniform shrinkage stress,” bending the resin along that path of light as it solidifies.

Since the layers of resin are so thin, it's very difficult to make larger objects using this technique. The resin origami figures they've made so far are smaller than the face of a quarter.

an origami crane made of orange resin sitting on a quarter on a white table
Rob Felt, Georgia Tech

The Georgia Tech team suggests that this technique could be used to make soft origami machines, among other applications. They aren’t the only ones working on this technology, though. Recently, scientists at North Carolina State University created similar self-folding polymers that were controlled by different colored lights. Those researchers hoped to be able to remotely manipulate materials on satellites in space or for medical uses.

[h/t ResearchGate]

The 'Pet First Aid' App From the Red Cross Prepares Pet Parents for Almost Any Situation


People who have owned a cat or dog for years know intimate facts about their pet's health—like how many pairs of shoes they can eat without getting sick, or how many hours a day they can sleep without warranting a trip to the vet. But pet parents just starting out are often left in the dark when it comes to decoding their fur baby's behaviors. The Red Cross aims to demystify the process of raising a pet with a new app called Pet First Aid.

As Life Hacker reports, the first aid app is designed to prepare pet parents for a range of situations regarding their pet's health. If your dog is panting particularly hard after a long walk, the app will tell you if their breathing rate is normal; if your cat looks dehydrated, it can show you how to test its capillary refill time.

The resource is best used as a study tool, so if a pet health emergency does occur, you'll be prepared for it. After reading up on guides detailing pet CPR and how to treat a pet that's bleeding, you can test your animal-care knowledge with built-in quizzes.

The Red Cross makes it clear that its app is no replacement for a licensed medical professional, and even gives you the option to upload your vet's phone number or search for nearby animal hospitals within the app. Hopefully, the app's features for non-emergency situations, like its pet-friendly hotel locator, will get the most use.

You can download Pet First Aid for free from the Google Play store.

[h/t Life Hacker]

5 Ways You Can Register to Vote in Less Than 5 Minutes


Not registered to vote? Time is running out. On Tuesday, November 6, U.S. citizens will have the opportunity to vote in hundreds of Congressional, gubernatorial, state, and local races, but most states require residents to register well before Election Day. If you’re super busy, rest assured—getting authorized to cast your ballot doesn’t need to be a tedious or time-consuming process. Once you’ve confirmed your local deadline, consider one of the simple registration tactics below.


National Voter Registration Day falls on September 25, 2018, and Google has rolled out a special new Doodle to celebrate the occasion. Click on the image, and you’ll be led to a Google search page for “how to register to vote,” with information on requirements for your state and links to sites that can help you register, like USAGov and Rock the Vote.


This year, Instagram has partnered with TurboVote, a voter registration app by the nonprofit Democracy Works, to help voters look up their state’s voting rules, register, and update their information. When you see one of the ads in your Instagram Feed or Stories, swipe up, and you’ll be led to TurboVote’s mobile webpage to register.

Once Election Day comes, Instagram will also have a special “I Voted” sticker that you can use in your own posts. When your followers click on the sticker, they’ll be taken to Get to the Polls, a site where they can find out where their local polling place is located.


Beginning September 25, U.S. Snapchat users who are 18 years or older can access voter registration information directly from their profile pages. When you click on your profile, you'll see a link to TurboVote on prompting you to register to vote. The message will also appear on the Snapchat Discover page and on the company's own Story. Tap the link and you’ll be taken to the TurboVote mobile site, where you can enter in your info and get started. If you want to share your registration status, you can use the special National Voter Registration Day filter on your posts.


Twitter is teaming up with TurboVote to get in on the election action, too. As part of the social network’s #BeAVoter campaign, when you log in to the site, you will see a prompt at the top of your timeline asking you if you've registered—and if you have, asking you to tweet about it. You’ll also see promoted tweets from @TwitterGov encouraging you to register. Click on either the timeline prompt or the promoted tweets and you’ll be taken to TurboVote’s site to complete the process.


Thanks to HelloVote—which bills itself as the first text message-based voter registration tool—you can now register to vote by text as well. Just text HELLO to (844) 344-3556 or go to in Facebook Messenger. The bot will ask you a series of questions to help you register. If your state allows instant registration, HelloVote will submit the electronic paperwork for you based on your answers. If not, don’t sweat it. You’ll receive the form in the mail along with a pre-addressed stamped envelope. Sign it, send it in to your local Board of Elections, and voila!—you’re all set to vote this November.