Archive for December, 2015

What Are You Printing Today?

With the advance in 3D printing technology some of the most unlikely things have ended up being printed. A sample of a fossil, fake one of course. Parts of the body that can be attached for the handicapped and a whole lot more interesting stuff.

Now if you got to thinking about what was the largest thing that had ever been printed, you may be pleased to know that it is actually a full room in a Canal House in Amsterdam. The printer which made the room possible is called “Kamermaker” which literally translates in Dutch into room maker.

The printing device is a scaled up version of the Ultimaker 3D printer. It is 6 meters high and is capable of fabricating entire sections for the room up to 3 meters high and 2 meters thick. It essentially uses melted plastic for its basic building block and layers the components by squeezing them together to form the final product.

Another large scale 3D printer is the Tennessee firm Branch Technology. They use a 3.5 meter robotic arm loaded on a 10 meter rail to attach the printer head to conduct their printing. This printer uses carbon fiber and plastic as its raw material. With more science projects coming out of the 3D printing stables, it will be interesting to see what you are printing next!

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Why is Gold so Coveted?

There is a tendency to consider that which is not easily available as precious. And gold is a rare metal. While a large amount of gold has been successfully mined and documented in the past, the quantity of gold now available in the Earth’s crust is just a few parts per billion as suggested by geological surveys.

Gold has been considered precious by older civilizations for its lusterous beauty as well its malleability which made it an easy metal to work with. As per the World Gold Council about 184,000 tonnes of gold is currently to be found in people’s personal collections, stored in banks and government reserves as of now.

If that seems a great deal, try this image. All that gold could be laid out on a football ground and will only be about a meter high. So yes, it’s rare. While hopeful optimists once thought about mining gold from sea water they were thwarted.

This was because a liter of sea water has just 13 billionth of a gram of gold. Extracting that just isn’t commercially viable. No, it may be alchemy that finally solves the problem. After all if you find the perfect science experiment to make gold out of normal metals, it is hardly going to be rare anymore.

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Ring Around the Sun

When ancient man looked up into the sky and saw sights that he was unable to understand, he felt a strong need to be able to explain them. This is how the various myths about different pagan gods and goddesses began. Each natural phenomenon managed to produce yet another celestial being to be worshiped and at times feared.

A great many things that they believed in have since been explained by science and technology. Still every once in a while a natural sight takes your breath away and you again begin to think of the powers that could create it. One such sight was the perfectly circular halo seen surrounding the sun in Mexico earlier this year.

Halo around the sun or the moon is not really anything to do with pagan gods or witchcraft. Even though it may have you thinking about angels visiting the earth, there is a perfectly reasonable scientific explanation for the phenomenon.  It is created by the hexagonal crystals of ice in the upper atmosphere as the sunlight is refracted through them.

A similar sight may also be created by water droplets in the atmosphere, but that halo will be smaller and have a whole lot more color in it. So that’s one more ancient mystery solved by the marvels of scientific experimentation.

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Cola is Bad for You But So Are Sugar Free Soft Drinks

When you drink something which claims to have zero calories, are you feeling somewhat self righteous and smug for not drinking sugary cold drinks? Guess what, you may still be harming your body. Apparently even the so called sugar free drinks have chemicals that can cause measurable damage to your teeth enamel.

A group of researchers at the University of Melbourne tested 23 different types of soft drinks for the Oral Health Cooperative Research Center. The findings of the study indicated that drinks with a low pH level even when the acidic additives were minimal still managed to damage dental enamel. The fact that they were sugar free didn’t seem to matter that much.

Now you know that just about any kind of cola, soda, soft drink and even sport drinks are really not that great for your teeth. No matter what claims the manufacturer may make. If you want to keep hydrated, it would seem that there was nothing quite as healthy as good old water. Considering that our bodies are made up predominantly of fluids, water is amongst the healthiest drinks that you could treat yourself with.

While the gimmicks of advertising tease you to try out new soft drinks and promise all kinds of outrageous things for your social life, they are really not healthy for you. Science experiments conducted by researchers all over the world have repeatedly come up with the fact that anything synthetically manufactured in a cold drink factory, will never be as healthy as a simple glass of water.

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Robot Guide for Airport

Navigating through a large and unfamiliar airport can be the cause of a number of hassles for passengers. Lost connections, unavailable instructions and generally a whole pile of frustration can put paid to the jolly holiday you were expecting. The researchers at the Orebro University are hoping to make this just a little bit easier at the Schiphol International Airport at Amsterdam.

They are coming up with a friendly robot who can help lost passengers find their way around the airport. Nicknamed the Spencer project, the robot needs to be tested in real time at the airport since the navigating constantly changes. The parked luggage trolleys, movement of passengers and suitcases are all temporary obstructions that the robot must learn to navigate through successfully. This means the team behind the robot needs to really make it flexible and good at navigating sudden, unexpected obstacles.

That is not a simple task and the collaboration between the University researchers as well as important business houses in five different countries know that extensive testing will be required before it is anywhere near ready for daily operations.

However as and when the robot can successfully guide passengers from one gate to the other, it will make life much easier for them. The initial tests have been scheduled for the month of March for this science project. It will be interesting to see how the robot fares in them. A dedicated guide at a busy airport would make the lives of a large number of people very much easier while travelling.

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