Get Your Science On: Muscle Memory
Beau shares one last experiment with Heather before he heads off to medical school. “Muscle Memory” uses nitinol wire; sometimes called memory wire, nitinol is a nickel-titanium alloy that “remembers” its previous shape and reverts back to it when heated. The mechanism is an unusual phase change in the metal.
The nitinol wires are connected to the skeleton in opposing pairs, just like the muscles in your body. Muscles can pull but never push, so they always come in pairs. An electric current through the wires (and the lightbulb which acts as resistor to limit the current) warms the nitinol and causes it to change shape. The wire pulls on the skeleton and makes it move.