We've started the filming for Making Stuff: Smarter, and there's no better way to burst onto the scene than as we did, testing our host David Pogue's nerve with a 10-day block of filming and a couple of extreme sports.

But first, what does it mean for a material to "smart"? Scientists, often inspired by nature, have come up with an increasingly surprising array of smart materials--materials that sense and respond to stimuli. On our filming adventures, David will be discovering just what makes these materials more like the versatile and impressive ones found in nature.

David and the Making Stuff crew recently jetted into Grand Bahama Island, where David took a dive with an animal that is often misunderstood...the shark. He didn't have too much to worry about--he was diving with Caribbean Reef Sharks and not Great Whites. On top of that, he was in the safe hands of expert shark handler Cristina Zenato, who can hypnotize sharks by rubbing their noses. The phenomenon, known as tonic immobilization, causes the shark to fall asleep. 

David and shark.jpg
Photo Courtesy of Powderhouse Productions - David touching a reef shark

(David also happened to be reviewing underwater cameras for his day gig at the NYTimes during our shoot.)

What do sharks have to do with smart materials? The secret is in their skin, which has a number of properties that scientists are trying to imitate. Professor Anthony Brennan at the University of Florida has already developed a chemical-free anti-bacterial material based on shark's skin.

Minna Kane

Minna is an Associate Producer working on the Making Stuff series at Powderhouse Productions. Before this, she was building military decoys, learning how to make snow in a laboratory and finding out who would fair best (men or women) if she got them lost in a wood, all this for the good cause of TV. Minna is naturally inquisitive has always had an interest in science--she completed a BSc in Biochemistry and an MSc in Science Communication, both from Imperial College London, before moving on to work on shows for the BBC, National Geographic and Discovery. The Making Stuff series is well into production and Minna is excited about sharing insider updates with you on this blog.

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