Somewhere in the near future, hostile cybernetic organisms hatched by Cyberdyne Systems are celebrating the moment in time when their existence was set into motion. While far removed from the T-1000's mimetic polyalloy as seen in the Terminator films, this scientific discovery is shockingly simple and hints at further advancements in self-aware compounds: Researchers at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, have created a self-propelled liquid metal made from a compound of gallium, indium and tin. When drops of this liquid metal are immersed in a solution of sodium hydroxide and kept in contact with a flake of aluminum as fuel, the mixture moves about on its own for nearly an hour, traveling in circles, straight lines and even squeezing through complex shapes.
"The soft machine looks rather intelligent and can deform itself according to the space it voyages in, just like Terminator does from the science-fiction film," explained Tsinghua University scientist Jing Liu. "These unusual behaviors perfectly resemble the living organisms in nature."
Liu's team postulated that the gallium drop experiment proves it could have immediate applications as a self-powered pump to move liquid through a cooling device in the absence of an external power source. Their ongoing research is part of a long-term project to eventually create intelligent robots that are non-rigid and can be altered and manipulated into a variety of shapes, similar to the T-1000's terrifying transformations. Converting chemical enegery into mechanical energy is one step closer to creating a shape-shifting liquid robot of the future, but for now we can all rest assured it's just harmless scientific amusement ... we hope!