From Star Trek to honeybees

United States design patent 307,923This year’s Science Literacy Week really does have it all, starting with two amazing library exhibits:

  1. The Science of Star Trek at Schulich Library
  2. Knowing Blood, Medical Observations, Fluid Meanings at Osler Library of the History of Medicine.

If you can’t make it up to Osler Library, we have a touch table coming to Schulich Library tomorrow that will allow you to explore the Knowing Blood exhibit from Tuesday to Friday.

The fun with technology does not stop there, however, because we have 3D printing and learn to code workshops. You can also explore virtual reality technologies with the Oculus Rift. I will definitely be there for that.

I haven’t forgotten about the bees…we have hives on the roof of Schulich Library and they make the best honey. Take a visit up there with an experienced beekeeper.

There is more happening than I can mention here but I don’t want to leave out Wednesday’s Wikipedia edit-a-thon on women in science, or the talk from Dr. Joe Schwarcz on the facts and myths of eating right on Thursday afternoon.

I will leave you with the calendar of events to explore. Now if only we had transporter rooms… Well, there is always next year!

Download, create or share your own 3D models

The U.S National Institutes of Health has launched a 3D print exchange website that allows users to download, edit and share models of anatomy, bacteria and lab equipment. Among the current available selections: a frog dissection kit, the base of a cervical spine, a bust of a Macaque, the influenza virus, a microscope, a DNA playset and a “three-dimensional structure of the toxin-delivery particle antifeeding prophage of Serratia entomophila.”

Fail early | Fail often

According to Jason Dunn, fail early and fail often should be the mantra for private industry in order to learn and move forward. He is an engineer and a cofounder of Made in Space, a company with a NASA contract to take 3D printer technology and apply it to space missions.

We have posted before on 3D printers in The Turret, and lately articles on the application of 3D printing in the world of food are everywhere: spooky meat-like bio-pastes, chocolate(!), and NASA’s hopes of using 3D printing to make space food. Made in Space is taking this further and proposing that rather than build equipment needed in space on Earth, and spend decades getting it right, it is possible to build everything in space with 3D printers. We can email hardware to space.

After you watch the video from TEDxTalks, you may want to read the book that inspired Jason Dunn to want to build colonies in space – The high frontier: Human colonies in space by Gerard K O’Neillvideo – that he discussed in a previous TEDxTalk.

Cooler than your average 3D printer

James McGill statue in ice

James McGill statue printed in ice

April’s recent posts about affordable 3D printers reminded me of a post I read on BoingBoing (coincidentally posted by Cory Doctorow) back in 2010 about a project at McGill that used temperature-controlled water to 3D-print ice sculptures.

“At McGill University (Montreal, Quebec) engineers and architects are working together to explore the possibilities of rapid prototyping (RP) systems for construction with ice.”

New Architecture of Phase Change, Computer-Assisted Ice Construction


Image: Detail from “James McGill statue: original in bronze, STL model, and RFP-constructed ice model” at New Architecture of Phase Change

3D printing (revisited)

As promised in a previous post on 3D printing, I took some pics of the MakerBot Replicator at the Access conference last month. To the right is me holding a record made for toy players. I had a Fisher Price machine when I was a kid and I would have gone nuts if I could have made my own records – on my Christmas list this year: a 3D printer for cutting vinyl.


There is apparently a universe of things to discover in THINGIVERSE, if you’d like to discover more things. If you are interested in modeling and 3D visualization, take a look at SketchUp.


3D printers for the masses

The latest Wired magazine arrived at my door today and on the cover: a MakerBot three-dimensional printer, slated to change the world. There are actually two new machines available for under three thousand dollars that can create objects in bioplastic from CAD files. A 3D printer in 4-6 weeks? Crazy, right?

The Wired article brought to mind Cory Doctorow’s story, Printcrime, originally published in 2006 in Nature. It is a short story and a good one so I won’t give away the ending here but it is about a man who goes to prison for building and operating a 3D printer.

I admit that I have been day dreaming about 3D printers ever since I noticed that there is the possibility of a live demonstration on October 20 at the Access 2012 library technology conference, from folks at Dalhousie Libraries. I’ll be there with camera in hand and I’ll check back in with you afterwards!

Image from Makerbot Industries