We're Kobel and Nathan. Our friend, Adam, took a skateboarding spill and is stuck with a cast on his leg for weeks. At the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, we learned that scientists are using nanotechnology to help regenerate nerves and bones. We caught up with a scientist named Tom from Brown University who is working on a solution of nanotubes and minerals (like calcium) that could be injected into a broken bone and heal it almost instantly! The nanomaterial keeps the bone together (without a cast) and slowly disappears as new bone grows and takes its place. Our question: What's the best nanomixture to make the strongest bone repair?
What did we do?
We experimented with different mixtures and put our sponge bones to the test in our bone crusher to find out which mix made the strongest repair. We tested the following mixtures: all nanotubes, all minerals, 10% minerals, 30% minerals and 50% minerals.
What did we find out?
We found out that you definitely needed both minerals AND nanotubes to keep the sponge bones together. 30% minerals is about the same as what is in real human bones, but we found that 50% minerals was even stronger than that! That's probably why people keep telling us to drink our milk and keep active, so that are bones have lots of minerals and stay strong.
- Plaster of Paris has a lot of calcium in it and can be used to mimic the bone repair solution from the show. Experiment by mixing a heaping teaspoon of Plaster of Paris with about 1 teaspoon of water, salt water and vinegar. Drop your concoctions on some wax paper to dry. Observe over time. What makes the strongest mixture?
- Your bones contain collagen (bendy and flexible) and minerals like calcium, which give bone its strength. Can you think of why we need both parts? Why can't bones just be made of minerals? What would happen to you if your bones had no flexibility? no strength?