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Joe, an engineer from Wisconsin, modified the (now censored) designs for Defense Distributed's 3D printed gun, the Liberator, and printed a working model on a Lulzbot A0-101, a $1,725 consumer printer that is much cheaper and more widely available than the Stratasys Dimension SST printer used by Defense Distributed.
The gun printed by Joe, which he’s nicknamed the “Lulz Liberator,” was printed over 48 hours with just $25 of plastic on a desktop machine affordable to many consumers, and was fired far more times. “People think this takes an $8,000 machine and that it blows up on the first shot. I want to dispel that,” says Joe. “This does work, and I want that to be known.”
Eight of Joe’s test-fires were performed using a single barrel before swapping it out for a new one on the ninth. After all those shots, the weapon’s main components remained intact–even the spiraled rifling inside of the barrel’s bore. “The only reason we stopped firing is because the sun went down,” he says....
...Still, Joe’s cheap homemade gun isn’t without its bugs. Over the course of its test firing, Joe and Guslick say it misfired several times, and some of its screws and its firing pin had to be replaced. After each firing, the ammo cartridges expanded enough that they had to be pounded out with a hammer. “Other than that, it’s pretty much confirming that yes, Defense Distributed is correct that this functions,” says Guslick. “And it’s possible to make one on a much lower cost printer.”
$25 Gun Created With Cheap 3D Printer Fires Nine Shots (Video) [Andy Greenberg/Forbes]
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Robocop director Paul Verhoeven, noted for his films' ultraviolence and politically-tinged black humor, wishes to direct Arnold Schwarzenegger as an older, grayer Conan. 65-year-old Schwarzenegger starred under Verhoeven in the original version of Total Recall; no director has officially been selected for the new project, provisionally titled Conan The Legend.
Here are the top 5 movies that should have been directed by Paul Verhoeven, but were not.
1. Dredd (2012)
2. Hunger Games (2012)
3. Machete (2010)
4. Avatar (2009)
5. Hollow Man (2000)
Just think how awesome those movies would have been if Paul Verhoeven had directed them.
Scientific American has a great video that quickly explains the basics of tornado formation — facts that also help explain why some parts of the country, including Oklahoma, are more prone to tornadoes than others. You'll also learn about worst tornado in recorded history, which killed more than 700 people.
The photo above was taken near Moore, Oklahoma yesterday. My father lives in Oklahoma City (thankfully, outside the path of this monster), and this shot comes from a friend of a friend of his, who wished to remain anonymous.
I have a personal Facebook account, which I use to keep up with friends and family. Like many of you, I've also discovered that this gives me a peek inside the psyche of those friends and family — and one of the things that I saw was an interest (and sometimes belief in) conspiracy theories. It wasn't limited to the Right or the Left. And it definitely wasn't limited to people I love but consider a little "off", if you know what I'm saying.* Over and over, I saw perfectly rational, sane people, supporting and spreading ideas that, to me, seemed a little nuts.
And that made me curious: Where do conspiracy theories come from? The answer, according to psychologists and sociologists, is not "Glenn Beck's fevered imagination." In fact, the category "people who believe in conspiracy theories" can't even really be separated into The Other in a nice, neat way. If you look at the data, the people who believe in conspiracy theories are us. And those theories grow out of both historical context, our feelings about ourselves and the wider world, and the way that our brains respond to feelings of powerlessness and uncertainty. Here's a short excerpt from my most recent column for The New York Times Magazine:
While psychologists can’t know exactly what goes on inside our heads, they have, through surveys and laboratory studies, come up with a set of traits that correlate well with conspiracy belief. In 2010, Swami and a co-author summarized this research in The Psychologist, a scientific journal. They found, perhaps surprisingly, that believers are more likely to be cynical about the world in general and politics in particular. Conspiracy theories also seem to be more compelling to those with low self-worth, especially with regard to their sense of agency in the world at large. Conspiracy theories appear to be a way of reacting to uncertainty and powerlessness.
Economic recessions, terrorist attacks and natural disasters are massive, looming threats, but we have little power over when they occur or how or what happens afterward. In these moments of powerlessness and uncertainty, a part of the brain called the amygdala kicks into action. Paul Whalen, a scientist at Dartmouth College who studies the amygdala, says it doesn’t exactly do anything on its own. Instead, the amygdala jump-starts the rest of the brain into analytical overdrive — prompting repeated reassessments of information in an attempt to create a coherent and understandable narrative, to understand what just happened, what threats still exist and what should be done now. This may be a useful way to understand how, writ large, the brain’s capacity for generating new narratives after shocking events can contribute to so much paranoia in this country.
*This joke is totally going to get me into trouble. Dear friends and family: Trust me, you are not the one I'm referring to here.
Yitang Zhang is a largely unknown mathematician who has struggled to find an academic job after he got his PhD, working at a Subway sandwich shop before getting a gig as a lecturer at the University of New Hampshire. He's just had a paper accepted for publication in Annals of Mathematics, which appears to make a breakthrough towards proving one of mathematics' oldest, most difficult, and most significant conjectures, concerning "twin" prime numbers. According to the Simons Science News article, Zhang is shy, but is a very good, clear writer and lecturer.
For hundreds of years, mathematicians have speculated that there are infinitely many twin prime pairs. In 1849, French mathematician Alphonse de Polignac extended this conjecture to the idea that there should be infinitely many prime pairs for any possible finite gap, not just 2.
Since that time, the intrinsic appeal of these conjectures has given them the status of a mathematical holy grail, even though they have no known applications. But despite many efforts at proving them, mathematicians weren’t able to rule out the possibility that the gaps between primes grow and grow, eventually exceeding any particular bound.
Now Zhang has broken through this barrier. His paper shows that there is some number N smaller than 70 million such that there are infinitely many pairs of primes that differ by N. No matter how far you go into the deserts of the truly gargantuan prime numbers — no matter how sparse the primes become — you will keep finding prime pairs that differ by less than 70 million.
The result is “astounding,” said Daniel Goldston, a number theorist at San Jose State University. “It’s one of those problems you weren’t sure people would ever be able to solve.”
Unknown Mathematician Proves Elusive Property of Prime Numbers [Erica Klarreich/Wired/Simons Science News]
(Photo: University of New Hampshire)
Shapeways interviews the amazing Bathsheba Grossman, a sculptor who creates mathematics-inspired 3D printed objects that can be bought on the Shapeways store. I own a bunch of her pieces, and I never tire of staring at them and handling them.
I was originally a math major interested in geometry and topology, when as a college senior I met the remarkable sculptor Erwin Hauer, and suddenly it was obvious that what I had in mind was more art than math. Symmetry is the foundation of what I do: there are many more ways to be symmetrical in 3-space than the familiar ones, but not so many that you can't explore them all and delve into the most interesting ones. Over the years I've moved away from literal math -- as the field has grown I no longer feel called on to make nifty math models simply because no one else is doing it! -- and into more freewheeling biomorphic shapes. But although now I play more with suggesting and breaking it, now I believe I'll always be working in some way with symmetry.
... Let's start by saying that I love 3D printing the way it is. Before technology I worked with lost-wax casting, machining, fabricating, all by hand; since then I've watched artistic 3D printing grow from crude cornstarch parts to the sleek metal models that we see now, and I'm still over the moon about it. It's better and cheaper and more flexible than I ever hoped, and while I believe it will get better, if it never does I'll be perfectly happy doing just what I'm doing now.
Personally I'm most interested in archival materials, like metals, glass and ceramic as opposed to plastics and resins. Art buyers like them which is pretty important! In that area it seems like the last frontier is multi-materials: interlacing different metals, maybe metal with glass? Progress is slow because material science is hard. We wait in hope.
Late-breaking news from Guatemala City: Impunity reigns in Guatemala tonight.
The Constitutional Court, the highest court in Guatemala (like the US Supreme Court), has just voted to annul the proceedings in the Rios Montt genocide trial from April 19th onward. That was the date on which the trial was temporarily suspended, when defense attorneys initiated a conflict between courts over which judge should oversee the case.
On May 10, Rios Montt was found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity, and sentenced to 80 years in prison. That verdict and sentence were today thrown out by the Constitutional Court.
Three Constitutional Court judges voted in favor of the annulment. Two voted against. The court today also upheld the not-guilty verdict in the case of Rios Montt's former head of intelligence (the director of the notorious G-2 unit), José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez.
Lawyers for Ferrero, SpA (makers of the Nutella spread) have sent a legal threat to Sara Rosso, who founded and maintains the World Nutella Day site, where they promote Nutella through recipes, tweets, stories, and (obviously) an annual day devoted to the sugary gloop. Rosso has capitulated and will no longer promote their products for them.
Seven years after the first World Nutella Day in 2007, I never thought the idea of dedicating a day to come together for the love of a certain hazelnut spread would be embraced by so many people! I’ve seen the event grow from a few hundred food bloggers posting recipes to thousands of people Tweeting about it, pinning recipes on Pinterest, and posting their own contributions on Facebook! There have been songs sung about it, short films created for it, poems written for it, recipes tested for it, and photos taken for it.
The cease-and-desist letter was a bit of a surprise and a disappointment, as over the years I’ve had contact and positive experiences with several employees of Ferrero, SpA., and with their public relations and brand strategy consultants, and I’ve always tried to collaborate and work together in the spirit and goodwill of a fan-run celebration of a spread I (to this day) still eat.
Michael Gove is the UK Secretary of State for Education, the subject of a vote of no confidence from the nation's head teacher's conference that ran 99% opposed to his ideas for educational reform. The major motif of Gove's reforms is an emphasis on rote memorisation and linear learning. Gove insists that he loves creativity, but says that creativity is only possible once you've mastered the basics ("You cannot be creative unless you understand how sentences are constructed, what words mean and how to use grammar.")
Writing in the Guardian, Ken Robinson thoroughly and blazingly rebuts this proposition, and presents a stirring manifesto for embracing creativity in education:
First, creativity, like learning in general, is a highly personal process. We all have different talents and aptitudes and different ways of getting to understand things. Raising achievement in schools means leaving room for these differences and not prescribing a standard steeplechase for everyone to complete at the same time and in the same way.
Second, creativity is not a linear process, in which you have to learn all the necessary skills before you get started. It is true that creative work in any field involves a growing mastery of skills and concepts. It is not true that they have to be mastered before the creative work can begin. Focusing on skills in isolation can kill interest in any discipline. Many people have been put off mathematics for life by endless rote tasks that did nothing to inspire them with the beauty of numbers. Many have spent years grudgingly practicing scales for music examinations only to abandon the instrument altogether once they've made the grade.
The real driver of creativity is an appetite for discovery and a passion for the work itself. When students are motivated to learn, they naturally acquire the skills they need to get the work done. Their mastery of them grows as their creative ambitions expand. You'll find evidence of this process in great teaching in every discipline from football to chemistry.
Third, facilitating this process takes connoisseurship, judgment – and, yes, creativity, on the part of teachers. One concern about the revised national curriculum is that it will be too linear and prescriptive. For creativity to flourish, schools have to feel free to innovate without the constant fear of being penalised for not keeping with the programme. Too much prescription is a dead hand on the creative pulse of teachers and students alike.