When we talk about the capabilities of a rubber block that can count to 10, it seems like a fantastic idea. After all, even many animals cannot count beyond three or four. However, Leiden University graduate student Lennard Kwackernaack has created a unique device that can perform mathematical operations without complex circuit boards or even fingers and toes.
The ray counter, as Kvakernaak himself calls it, is a piece of rubber with several holes that can be used for counting. In doing so, the size of the counter can be adjusted according to the number required. And while the first prototype has 22 beams, allowing counting up to 10, it can easily be resized for more complex tasks.
One area in which this rubber counter can find use is in bridge design. It can be used to measure the forces and pressures that act on the bridge structure, allowing engineers to more accurately calculate the load and safety of the structure.
But how does this amazing meter work? When pressure is exerted on the top of the post, the beams bend to the left, except for the first, which bends in the opposite direction. At the same time, each successive beam bulges and exerts pressure on the next beam, extending the sequence. It is important to note that the rubber is stiff enough not to sag, but to keep a record of how many times it has been sent.
It turns out that it’s not just rubber that can do the math. Venus flycatchers also have the ability to count, but their capacity is limited to five. A rubber counter, on the other hand, can handle much larger numbers.
Lennard Kvakernaak calls his creation a metamaterial, a material with unique properties that are rarely or never found in nature. He notes that different pressures can be used to induce different reactions in rubber, making it possible to create metamaterials that count only under certain conditions. This opens up new possibilities for developing materials with unique properties and their applications in various fields.
Undoubtedly, the Lennard Kwackernaack rubber meter represents a significant breakthrough in materials development and opens up new horizons in design and engineering. Its capabilities and potential have yet to be fully explored, but we can already say that this device could be the basis for more complex and functional systems.