MIT’s Cornucopia: 3D printing with food

Paul Raven @ 18-01-2010

Ah, those crazy geeks and boffins at MIT – is there any idea they can’t run with so far and long that it ceases to make any sense whatsoever? Here’s your trajectory: you already know about 3D printing, right? And that there’s a 3d printer called the CandyFab, which specialises in fabbing objects using the tooth-rottingly delectable medium of edible sugars?

So why not go all the way and propose the Cornucopia – a 3D printer that can output almost any sort of food ingredient you can imagine in almost any three-dimensional matrix, plus make sure it’s all cooked properly? [initial tip from @BLDGBLOG, whence a long chain of relinks takes us to Shapeways; image courtesy MIT Fluid Interfaces group]

As a thought-experiment into the possible uses of fabrication technology, it’s a pretty neat idea… but it’s taken me about two minutes to create a ten-strong list of impracticalities that make it an utterly pointless endeavour. I suppose the justification would be that the interim research into fluid dynamics, microscopic fabrication/extrusion, focussed heating and complex programming would produce a whole raft of new avenues for development… but come on, MIT guys’n’girls! Couldn’t you be turning those big brains to developing something we actually need?


Scaled-elextric: slot cars for transport

Tom James @ 11-08-2009

slot-carToday’s dose of technocratic mass-transport conceptual design is brought to you by German designer Christian Förg. His Speedway Transport System is inspired by slot cars of his youth:

Förg’s Speedway Transport System concept uses a network of linear electric motors to propel cars along the highway.

He sees us driving around in futuristic dual-mode electric cars with small motors for city driving. When we’re ready to leave town, a contact-free linear motor would propel the car over long distances with a drifting magnetic field. Förg says linear motors would work under our existing roadways, complementing – not replacing – existing automotive technology.

“This means that you can use the roads with normal cars and also at the same time for the Speedway system,”

If this ever gets taken up it’ll be interesting to see what alternative uses the street finds for this technology.

A slight non-sequitur: Will Hutton writes in the Guardian on the dire state of the UK rail network, and how in order to remain economically competitive, Britain must invest in the kind of high-speed rail they have in Europe.

[via Wired][image from Wired]


A life on the ocean wave: more seasteading concepts

Paul Raven @ 26-05-2009

Opinions differ as to whether seasteading is a plausible libertarian utopia or an unfeasible dream aimed at prising investment out of those whose desire to escape government control isn’t tempered by political realism, or something in between the two.

But one thing’s for sure – it’s an idea that catches people’s imaginations. National Geographic has images of the five winning entries of the Seasteading Institute’s design competition, and all of them have that science fictional *snap* – they look cool, futuristic and (most importantly) plausible, even though they are not intended as actual blueprint designs. This one is titled “Rendering Freedom”, by Brazilian architecture student Anthony Ling:

"Rendering Freedom" seasteading concept

Leaving political and logistical realism aside for a moment, wouldn’t it be awesome living on that thing? For a month or two, at least… until the first big storm brews up, inundating you with rain for weeks on end and keeping the supply ships from coming near enough to deliver food that isn’t fish…

Sarcasm aside, I expect sea-borne micronations are something of an inevitablity – though I doubt they’ll be luxuriously purpose-built and instigated by successful businessmen like the Seasteading Institute imagines them. I think they’re more likely to form themselves out of groups of nomads and refugees, and to use hardware that’s already available – abandoned oil rigs or tankers, for example, or lashed-up flotillas of smaller vessels floating Sargasso-like in regions with little legitimate traffic. To be honest, I’d not be at all surprised to find there are a few of them already. [via grinding.be; image by Anthony Ling courtesy of Seasteading Institute, ganked from linked NatGeog article and published here under Fair Use terms, contact if take-down required, etc.]