Analog computers could bring massive efficiency gains to machine learning

In The Next Generation of Deep Learning Hardware: Analog Computing *Sci-Hub mirror), a trio of IBM researchers discuss how new materials could allow them to build analog computers that vastly improved the energy/computing efficiency in training machine-learning networks. Read the rest

Acoustic meta-material: a shape that reflects sound but passes light and air

A Boston University team have developed an acoustic, 3D-printed metamaterial whose topology is such that it reflects 94% of human-audible sound; the researchers' demonstration involves inserting a ring of this stuff in a PVC pipe and blasting a speaker down one end: light and air emerges from the other end, but sound does not. Read the rest

A pull-out bed made of accordioning paper

Pro Idee's £369 Paper Bed is made of folds of rigid paper that collapse to a narrow sliver and then expand to 200cm length when needed; the materials are lightweight (total weight, 14.5k) and it can support up to 300kg, and the manufacturer claims it's comfortable, albeit with the addition of a foam pad. (via Yanko Design) Read the rest

In DHS tests, prototypes of Trump's chosen barrier posts were easily defeated by hacksaws

Trump isn't America's most anti-immigrant president; that honor goes to Obama, the great deporter, who also extensively tested border wall technologies while deporting 2MM undocumented people. Read the rest

Paintings of everyday objects, sashimi-sliced

Yoko Eda, a recent grad from Musashino Art University's Science of Design department, has produced a series of gorgeous, hyperealistic acrylic paintings showing everyday objects (glue bottles, toothpaste tubes, packages of plastic tubs, cleaning brushes, boxes of matches, lip balm tubes) sliced and arrayed like sashimi. Spoon and Tamago has lots more of Eda's outstanding work. Read the rest

3D printed origami robots that crawl and grab when activated by magnets

A team at MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering have created a set of foldable, 3D printed robots that are doped with magnetic particles that are precisely aligned during printing; when triggered by a control-magnet they engage in precise movements: grabbing, jumping, rolling, squeezing, etc. Read the rest

3D printing arbitrary shapes without sprues, by embedding them in 3D-printed clear plastic

3D printing complex shapes is hard; the additive nature of most 3D printing means that the printer has to create sprues (struts that support parts of the structure during printing, which have to be removed later), or add in material that can be dissolved in a solvent bath after main production. Read the rest

I'm speaking at UCSD on Feb 9!

I'm appearing at UCSD on February 9, with a talk called "Scarcity, Abundance and the Finite Planet: Nothing Exceeds Like Excess," in which I'll discuss the potentials for scarcity and abundance -- and bright-green vs austere-green futurism -- drawing on my novels Walkaway, Makers and Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. Read the rest

3D printed electronics that fold themselves into "origami" shapes as they cool

MIT and Amherst material science researchers have published a paper in ACS Applied Material & Interfaces that describes an untouched-by-human-hands method for making self-folding circuits with a 3D printer; the materials are laid down precisely so that as it cools, differential rates of contraction cause it to bend into dimensional forms that are ready for use in a finished device. Read the rest

Crime funnies: helmeted robbers' sledgehammers can't break jewelry store glass

There's a wealth of found-comedy in watching this gang of armed, helmeted robbers try in vain to smash the glass in this Malaysian jewelry store in Jalan Besar, Sungai Buloh: the hammers bounce off the fantastically tough glass, whose resilience is positively otherworldly, while the otherwise beautifully choreographed robbery (which includes some pretty snazzy outfits!) founders. Read the rest

1922 house and furnishings made entirely from varnished paper

Having successfully invented the paperclip-bending machine, engineer Elis F. Stenman set out to build a new summer home for himself in Rockport, Mass in 1922, entirely from paper. Read the rest

Anish Kapoor banned from using world's pinkest pink in retaliation for hoarding the blackest black

Anish Kapoor -- last seen in these parts when he apparently insisted that it was illegal for people in Chicago to take pictures in their public park if they captured a sculpture that had been donated to the city -- got a nanotech company called Nanosystems to promise him the exclusive right to paint with their Vantablack pigment, which uses carbon nanotubes to absorb 99.96% of visible light. Read the rest

Zippo's amazing, weird new colors

Zippo went a bit crazy with its lighter colors, introducing a rainbow of material-science wonders that, alas, I have no more use for, being a 15-year ex-smoker with the muscle-memory of an entire repertoire of obsolete Zippo tricks. Read the rest

Guerilla Furniture Design: making your home beautiful with waste materials

Will Holman is a maker's maker whose HOWTOs have graced Make, Instructables, Readymade and other hotbeds of DIY; his new book Guerilla Furniture Design is a beautifully written and inspiring design manifesto disguised as a project book,

Clear coating five times more impact-resistant than Gorilla Glass 2

Rhino Shield is a clear coating for Gorilla Glass (used in most smart phones) that was developed from a Kickstarter fundraising effort.

Rhino Shield is the product of Cambridge University spin-off company Evolutive Labs. It's made from an impact-dispersing "custom-formulated polymer" that is also highly transparent (it has a transmission rate of over 95 percent), scratch-resistant, and that features an oleophobic coating – that means it repels fingerprints and other oils.

One multi-layer sheet is 0.29 mm thick, and can reportedly be applied to a phone's screen without creating air bubbles or leaving sticky residue. The screen's touchscreen functionality remains intact.

Rhino Shield could save your Gorilla's glass Read the rest

Pop-up assembly of micro-robots and other devices

As multiple researchers continue their efforts to make micro-robotic flying insects, Harvard's Robert Wood has made strides in self-assembling systems with the robobee above. Inspired by his child's pop-up books, Wood's device starts flat on a scaffold. More than 100 hinges enable the 3D structure to "pop up" into the robot seen here. This is only one of the Origami-like approaches that researchers at Harvard, MIT, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaig, and elsewhere are using to create small, complex objects at scale, from drug delivery systems to solar cells. Science News surveys the field. "Into the Fold" Read the rest

Automated system to identify and repair potential weak-spots in 3D models before they're printed

"Stress Relief: Improving Structural Strength of 3-D Printable Objects," a paper presented at SIGGRAPH 2012 from Purdue University's Bedrich Benes demonstrated an automated system for predicting when 3D models would produce structural weaknesses if they were fed to 3D printers, and to automatically modify the models to make them more hardy.

Findings were detailed in a paper presented during the SIGGRAPH 2012 conference in August. Former Purdue doctoral student Ondrej Stava created the software application, which automatically strengthens objects either by increasing the thickness of key structural elements or by adding struts. The tool also uses a third option, reducing the stress on structural elements by hollowing out overweight elements.

"We not only make the objects structurally better, but we also make them much more inexpensive," Mech said. "We have demonstrated a weight and cost savings of 80 percent."

The new tool automatically identifies "grip positions" where a person is likely to grasp the object. A "lightweight structural analysis solver" analyzes the object using a mesh-based simulation. It requires less computing power than traditional finite-element modeling tools, which are used in high-precision work such as designing jet engine turbine blades.

New Tool Gives Structural Strength to 3-D Printed Works Read the rest

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