Say the word “popcorn,” and you’ll likely think of a tasty theater treat. But these little kernels are capable of doing much more than just cutting the muted tension of a John Krasinski film. They contain a deployable reservoir of force. With the addition of heat, the process of popping unleashes a Pandora’s box of energy that, if harnessed, can be put to work.
Steven Ceron, a mechanical engineer at Cornell University (and, we assume, popcorn devotee), decided to do just that in series of experiments. In May, he presented the tantalizing findings at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation: popcorn-powered robots. Now, Ceron has written up his results in a paper—and it’s caused quite the robotics ruckus. Read more at Smithsonianmag.com