Category: Science

Scientists prove 3D printers can build objects from Moon rocks


Scientists working on how to facilitate humans living on non-Earth-like planetary bodies have been focused on ways to use their local resources to sustain potential colonies. Now, a new study indicates that 3D printers could be the key to manufacturing tools and equipment on new planets.

In a paper published in the Rapid Prototyping Journal, scientists from Washington State University have indicated that it would be possible to use the Moon’s own rocks to create tools and spare parts.

Read the complete article at DVice.


Videogame simulates “a slower speed of light”

Read the accompanying article at Boing Boing.

NASA using 3D printing technology to build parts for Mars-bound rocket

NASA’s getting in on the 3D printing scene with new selective laser melting technology which is being used to build parts for future space rockets.

When it comes to 3D printing, it’s almost as if there’s a game of one-upmanship going on as to what can be created using this emerging technology. We’ve seen an acoustic guitar (novel) knocked together using 3D printing technology, a titanium jaw (impressive), an electric racing car (it’s getting interesting now), a plane (amazing) and even ‘magic’ arms (interesting and amazing).

Evidently not wanting to be outdone, and mindful of having access to some of the most advanced technology in the world, NASA recently piped up to say it’s currently using a kind of 3D printing technology to help build parts for future rockets that could one day carry humans to Mars. Top that, 3D printing fanatics.

Read more at Digital Trends.

Molecular 3D bioprinting could mean getting drugs through email

What happens when you combine advances in 3D printing with biosynthesis and molecular construction? Eventually, it might just lead to printers that can manufacture vaccines and other drugs from scratch: email your doc, download some medicine, print it out and you’re cured.

This concept (which is surely being worked on as we speak) comes from Craig Venter, whose idea of synthesizing DNA on Mars we posted about last week. You may remember a mention of the possibility of synthesizing Martian DNA back here on Earth, too: Venter says that we can do that simply by having the spacecraft email us genetic information on whatever it finds on Mars, and then recreate it in a lab by mixing together nucleotides in just the right way. This sort of thing has already essentially been done by Ventner, who created the world’s first synthetic life form back in 2010.

Read the complete article at DVice.

Spectacular 3D astrophotos add depth to space

Space. It’s big, and it’s deep, but as far as we humans here on Earth are concerned, it may as well be a perfectly flat picture painted up there across the sky. It’s hard to get much in the way of depth through a telescope, but with a little bit of creativity and artistic license, it’s possible to 3D-ify some truly beautiful nebulae.

Read the complete article at DVice.

Stem cell pioneers win Nobel prize

The 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to Britain’s Sir John Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka of Japan for their discovery that mature, specialised cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent stem cells.

He discovered in 1962 that the specialisation of cells is reversible. He replaced the immature cell nucleus in an egg cell of a frog with the nucleus from a mature intestinal cell, and found that the modified egg cell developed into a normal tadpole.

Read the complete article at TG Daily.

Exploring the moon in 3D

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has acquired stereo images of the moon in high resolution (0.5 to 2 meters/pixel) that provide highly detailed 3D views of the surface.

The LRO Camera Narrow Angle Camera (LROC NAC) team at the University of Arizona and Arizona State University are currently developing a processing system to automatically generate anaglyphs from most of these stereo pairs.  For the uninitiated, an anaglyph is an image that can be viewed in 3D using red-blue/green glasses.

LROC acquires stereo images by targeting a location on the ground and taking an image from one angle on one orbit and from a different angle on a subsequent orbit.

Read the complete article at TG Daily.

New Software Makes Synthesizing DNA As Easy As ‘Drag and Drop’ With Icons

Omri Amirav-Drory wants to be the Bill Gates of the DNA world. Windows revolutionized personal computers by providing a graphic user interface for MS-DOS. Afterwards people didn’t need to be trained in the arcane logic of computer language to be able to use computers.

In an analogous way, Amirav-Drory wants to create a graphic user interface that would empower people to manipulate the arcane logic of DNA. His new software, Genome Compiler (free and available for download at, converts the various parts of a DNA sequence into easy-to-understand, and easily manipulable, icons. The software turns the complex task of DNA design into an easy drag-and-drop exercise. I caught up with Amirav-Drory recently at Singularity University where he took me through a demo of the program and told me how it might be used by researchers, biology hackers, and what sorts of risks are involved in bringing genetic design into the DIY space.

Trained as a biochemist at Tel Aviv University, Amirav-Drory knows firsthand that designing and constructing the DNA tools used for experiments is labor-intensive and plagued with too many fatal errors. “I hated cloning,” he admits. “It seemed silly to me.”

As a former ‘gene jockey’ myself, I can relate.

To get a sense of the convenience that Genome Compiler could potentially offer requires a general idea of what goes into building a bit of DNA in the lab. Typically, designing an experimental piece of DNA containing the gene you’re interested in starts with manually going through the actual genetic sequence – thousands of A’s, T’s, G’s, and C’s – and, if you were in my lab, using several different colored highlighters to label the important parts on pages in a three-ring binder. The next step would be to design the little stretches of DNA called ‘primers’ to run a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to amplify your sections of interest. Then you would add enzymes to your amplified DNA to cut out those sections, and later add enzymes to paste them into the newly constructed DNA. Finally, your new little molecular masterpiece is injected into bacteria so that, as the bacteria multiply, so does your DNA. The entire process takes a few days.

Read the complete article at Singularity Hub.

NASA puts Augmented Reality on Mars

You read that right; NASA just put a piece of Augmented Reality technology on the surface of Mars! Needless to say, this spread around the Wikitude office like wildfire.

So what happens when you have a group of space enthused Augmented Reality technology developers and a new product update release that includes the ability to incorporate Image Recognition capabilities? Well, one longer-than-usual lunch break later, a duo of our developers returned with a message from Mars.\

Read the complete story at Wikitude

Penny-sized thrusters for microsatellites


MIT researchers used micro-manufacturing technologies to build ion thrusters smaller than a penny that could propel CubeSats in space. Smaller than a milk carton, CubSats are relatively inexpensive and several can be delivered into orbit on a single rocket. From MIT News:

Read the complete article at BoingBoing.