MONAD Industries’ 3D Printed Futuristic Violin

I really wish this would be accompanied by a video so we could hear what this instrument sounds like! Hopefully, there will be a recording of the four 3D instruments being played later this month. I could definitely see this being played on stage with Diva Plavalaguna from The Fifth Element fame. This instrument is definitely “Nerd Approved“.

What you’re looking at is a crazy futuristic looking 3D printed instrument called a two-string piezoelectric violin. It was created by MONAD industries of Miami, Florida and will be on display at the 3D Print Design Show in New York City on April 16th and 17th along with four other 3D instruments. All of the instruments will be played by musicians during the event.


Greenscreen Fluffer Ninjas (

This is just all kinds of awesome. I had no idea this was even a thing! That must provide the most awkward facial responses at dinner parties once you share what you’ve been up to in your day (or night) job. Thanks BoingBoing.

An actual job is to be a greenscreen fluffer, dressed in a chromakey gimpsuit, hidden in the background for shampoo commercials, tasked with artfully flicking models’ hair. If you’re very good at that job, you can level up to gimpsuited Superman cape-puppeteer.

Google Adds Quantum Physics To Minecraft (

This is the climax of nerdgasms everywhere: Minecraft + Google + Quantum Physics.

It’s as trippy as you suspect.

Minecraft,” the Lego-style, build-your-own-game game, has been the canvas for some awesome projects. (For just one example: this gigantic scientific graphing calculator.) Now Google’s Quantum A.I. Lab is taking it in an even weirder direction: quantum physics.

The team created a modified version of the game, called qCraft, that lets players explore the fundamentals of the field by playing in a world based on quantum principles. From a post on Google+ announcing the game:

We talked to our friends at MinecraftEdu and Caltech’s Institute for Quantum Information and Matter and came up with a fun idea: a Minecraft modpack called qCraft. It lets players experiment with quantum behaviors inside Minecraft’s world, with new blocks that exhibit quantum entanglement, superposition, and observer dependency.

Is it a true simulacrum of a blocky quantum universe? Ha, no. But considering just how strange the field is, that probably wouldn’t make for a fun game. Instead, it’s just a way of teaching the basics, and Google admits as much:

Of course, qCraft isn’t a perfect scientific simulation, but it’s a fun way for players to experience a few parts of quantum mechanics outside of thought experiments or dense textbook examples.

You can download the game here.

Terrafugia Launches Flying Car

By “2015”, they expect to have both of their flying car models available. Of course, given you’d probably need a pilot’s license before you could start up the plane-car, it’ll be a while before regular folk can get their hands on this vehicle. However, their prototype works and that’s all that matters at this point. (The TF-X model is the picture below. The Transition is featured in the flight video.)

The Transition® First Public Demonstrations: Driving and Flying at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2013

Terrafugia made a dream come true at this year’s EAA AirVenture Oshkosh!  The Transition® performed its first public demonstrations for the aviation community during the show. Flown and driven by Phil Meteer, our Chief Test Pilot and Flight Test Coordinator, the Transition® showed the crowd what it’s capable of on Monday afternoon and Wednesday evening.  The 20 minute demonstrations included flight maneuvers over show center, converting from airplane to car, and driving along the flight line.  Whether you missed it and want to see the flight for yourself for the first time, or you were there and want to relive the moment (we have been!), we hope you’ll enjoy the video!

– See more at:

Hungry? Try A 3-D Printed Extra Cheese Pizza For Dinner (

I can’t imagine this tastes that great, but it’s probably better than some of the bargain basement brands in the grocery store. This would also open the door to essentially most baked and pastry-type items since they’ve managed the basic “dough with toppings” delivery system.


Researchers have been talking about 3D printing food for a long time, but when NASA decided it was time to find new ways to provide food to astronauts on long trips (like to Mars), 3D printed food became more relevant than ever. As earth’s population continues to grow fast, some people believe 3D printed food is the future of food. I have to admit, it sounds tastier than eating bugs for protein. This 3D printed cheese pizza actually looks pretty good.

It’s clear that in the future, we will no longer have huge grocery stores stocked with everything we could ever want to buy. We’ll have to get more creative about food as it relates to our survival. With over 7 billion people on the planet, and with more people born every day, there really is no other option. 3D printed food sounds good to me, especially when it’s a cheese pizza. According to news station KXAN:

“Powdered ingredients that can keep for years are mixed into individual vessels. A heated plate then receives a square of dough, a layer of sauce, and some cheese topping. Twelve minutes later – voila – an appetizing little pizza.”

The top layer of the printer is what melts the cheese. If NASA is able to send 3D printers into space, they’ll save a ton of room in the spaceship since they won’t have to pack all those boxes of food for the trip. Also, the astronauts would have a much more appealing diet than just eating space food for every meal.

This reminds me of the movie Matrix, and how they talked about the goop they had to eat each day. I’m sure they would have liked to have a 3D printer to make a cheese pizza instead of that juicy oatmeal stuff they ate. If you want to see a 3D printer create even more food, click over here to 3D Printing Industry and watch a printer make some pretty creative looking pancakes. Someday we might all have a food printer in our kitchen. It’s not as far-fetched as you might think.

3D Printed Cheese Pizza Looks Delish

Coke’s “Downtown In A Box” Delivers Clean Water And Wi-Fi To Africa (

Time will tell how truly useful this will be and at what cost. The benefits of having readily available refrigeration for vaccines alone could be priceless. mentions each unit can purify up to 800 liters of water per day (or about 211 gallons).

Coca-Cola’s global distribution channels are so well-developed that a Coke can get pretty much anywhere on the planet—even places where there’s no access to fresh water. But Coke is working on that, too. As part of its mission to bring drinking water to the communities it serves, the company has developed a solar-powered, Wi-Fi-equipped kiosk with a water purification system—and it plans to drop them in 20 countries by 2015.

Coke's "Downtown in a Box" Delivers Clean Water and Wi-Fi to Africa

The EKOCENTER, as it’s called, is a modified shipping container outfitted with satellite communications and a Slingshot water distiller designed by Dean Kamen (yes, of Segway fame; there’s a long list of other partners that include IBM and UPS). The solar panels on the roof not only power the purification system and the Wi-Fi, they also act as a shelter from the sun.

In addition, each EKOCENTER may provide “basic necessities” like food, refrigerated vaccination storage and health education. The images here are from a pilot program currently up and running in Heidelberg, South Africa, and there should be at least one more installed by the end of 2013. They estimate that they could provide access to safe water to 500,000 people by 2015.

Coke's "Downtown in a Box" Delivers Clean Water and Wi-Fi to Africa

The EKOCENTER is basically an expanded, semi-permanent version of the ColaLife project, where Coke uses the extra space in their crates to ship medicine. It should, of course, be part of Coke’s mandate to provide water, medicine, and healthy food to places where they’re also selling diabetes-inducing soda. But perhaps even more interesting is what Coke representative called the kiosk to New York Times reporter: “We’re calling it a downtown in a box.”

The big idea here is that improved access to basic needs plus Wi-Fi can spur economic development. In fact, this is part of another one of their grand plans: The 5by20 program (so many programs, Coke!) to empower five million women entrepreneurs by 2020 (so many goals, Coke!).

Okay, perhaps, yes—giving people Wi-Fi could help them to accept payments for their business or take classes or get a loan or something like that. At the very least, you’d hope these things had tons of outlets so they could serve as a charging station for mobile phones. But a “downtown”? Um, no. Maybe a library. But even then, it lacks the basic infrastructure (SEATING) and amenities of a true community center. Perhaps it’s up to the local residents to build these things, but to suggest that they don’t already have their own economic hubs and/or public plazas is insulting. Of course they do.

Fresh water and solar power are very nice of Coke to provide, in addition to marketing their products. But let’s just call this EKOCENTER what it is: A glorified concession stand. [Coca-Cola via New York Times]

World’s First Quantum Metamaterial Unveiled (

Quantum isn’t just for abstract theories anymore. It’s now comes in a working “metamaterial” variety.

German researchers have designed, built, and tested the first metamaterial made out of superconducting quantum resonators.

In recent years, physicists have been excitedly exploring the potential of an entirely new class of materials known as metamaterials. This stuff is built from repeating patterns of sub-wavelength-sized structures that interact with photons, steering them in ways that are impossible with naturally occuring materials.

The first metamaterials were made from split-ring resonators (C-shaped pieces of metal) the size of dimes that were designed to interact with microwaves with a wavelength of a few centimetres. These metamaterials had exotic properties such as a negative refractive index that could bend light “the wrong way”.

But they were far from perfect, not least because the split-ring resonators introduced losses because of their internal resistance.

It doesn’t take much imagination to think of a solution to this problem: use superconducting resonators that have zero internal resistance.

And that’s a good idea in theory. In practice, however, it is hugely challenging. Apart from the obvious difficulty of operating at superconducting temperatures just above absolute zero, the main problem is that superconducting resonators are quantum devices with strange  quantum properties that are fragile and difficult to handle.

In particular, these properties are exponentially sensitive to the physical shape of the resonator. So tiny differences between one resonator and another can lead to huge differences in their resonant frequency.

And since metamaterials are periodic arrays of structures with identical properties,  that’s a problem. Indeed, nobody has ever made a quantum metamaterial for precisely this reason.

Today that changes thanks to the work of Pascal Macha at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany and a few pals. These guys have built and tested the first quantum metamaterial, which they constructed as an array of 20 superconducting quantum circuits embedded in a microwave resonator.

This experiment is a significant challenge. These guys fabricated their quantum circuits out of aluminium in a niobium resonator, which they operated below 20 milliKelvin.

Their success comes from two factors. The first was in minimising the differences between each quantum circuit  so there was less than a 5 per cent difference in the current passing through each.

The second was in clever design. A quantum circuit influences an incoming photon by interacting with it. To do this as a group, the quantum circuits must also interact with each other.

The problem in the past is that physicists had arranged the circuits in series so that the combined state must be a superposition of the states of all the circuits. So if a single circuit was out of kilter, the entire experiment failed.

Macha and co got around this by embedding the quantum circuits inside a microwave resonator – a chamber about a wavelength long in which the microwaves become trapped.

To interact with a photon, each quantum circuit need only couple with the resonator itself and its nearest neighbours. That’s much easier to do with a large ensemble of quantum circuits.

And the results  show that it worked, at least in part.

The interaction with the quantum circuits changes the phase of the outgoing photons in subtle but measurable ways. So by studying this change, Macha and co were able to work out exactly what kind of interaction was occurring.

What they saw was that eight of the circuits formed a coherent group that influenced the photons. But over time, this dissociated into two separate groups of four quantum circuits.

That raises the tantalising question of why the large ensemble dissociated into two smaller ones, something that Macha and co will surely be investigating in future work.

It also raises the prospect of a new generation of devices. “Quantum circuits…based on this proof-of-principle experiment offer a wide range of prospects, from detecting single microwave photons to phase switching, quantum birefringence and superradiant phase transitions,” say Macha and co.

All in all, a significant first step for quantum metamaterials.

John McAfee’s Building $100 Gadget To Block NSA (

I guess it was only a matter of time before a top tier name tossed their hat into the recently energized privacy arena. At least with a big name behind it (and the fact that it’s just now being created), confidence will probably be high that the device will be as secure as they say.


John McAfee — the controversial founder of the anti-virus software company McAfee and has been under investigation for the shooting death of his neighbor in South America — wants to create a gadget called “D-Central” that would theoretically block the National Security Agency (NSA) from accessing your information.

During a speech at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center this weekend — and as reported by The Verge — McAfee detailed how he aims to build a $100 device that works with smartphones and other devices, so personal data can’t be accessed by the government. It would work on a small private network that others wouldn’t be able to infiltrate. “There will be no way [for the government] to tell who you are or where you are,” McAfee said.

The device would be localized and the network only covers a distance about three blocks long. Although there isn’t a prototype just yet, McAfee said it should be done in about six months and as of right now, it’s round in shape with no screens, the report said.

“We have the design in place, we’re looking for partners for development of the hardware,” he added.

The “D-Central” concept isn’t entirely new., which was developed as a part of the Occupy movement, offers a distributed network of Wi-Fi locations for people to communicate — and in its case, especially activists and supporters.

Meanwhile, FredomBox has built a secure system for connected devices and offers free and private chatting. The device, funded via Kickstarter, is priced at $50 and plugs into the wall.

IKEA Begins Selling Residential Solar Panels In The UK (

I wonder how quickly I’d recoup the $9K here in Seattle? Our energy costs are already highly reliant on efficient, cheap hydro power, and my energy bill year ’round is quite inexpensive. I think the efforts of such a well-known worldwide brand to promulgate solar energy could be exactly what’s needed for greener forms of energy to become accessible for most everyone. I think they’d find a pretty hearty market in the US as we have twice as many stores as the UK.

…Because when you think of Britain, you think of sunny skies.

Ikea has started selling solar panels for residential rooftops at its stores in the United Kingdom. The furniture outfit’s move into home solar systems (as opposed to sun-powered lighting) was apparently made attractive due the the drop in cost for solar panels, and Ikea’s initial offering will set you back £5,700 (about $9,300).

For your money, you get a 3.36 kW system, in-store consultation, installation, maintenance and energy monitoring service. Ikea’s got plans to sell solar panels in other locales, but according to Ikea Chief Sustainability Officer Steve Howard, such expansion will be done market by market (so don’t expect a worldwide rollout). Hey Steve, might we suggest your next store to start selling solar be someplace with more than two weeks of sunshine per year?

Spaceship Sizes From Across The Galaxy (

This chart is a massive undertaking. I’m not even sure how he found “specs” for the majority of these, but major kudos to Dirk (and Dan Carlson) on this effort! Super nerdy in the best way possible.

Sci-fi ship chart compares size of ships from EVE, Star Wars, and more

Have you ever been curious about the size comparisons between an Amarr Avatar-Class Titan from EVE Online and a Universe-Class Mass Conveyor from Warhammer 40K? You have?! Well, you’re in luck because DeviantArt user ~DirkLoechel has been assembling one of the largest and most comprehensive size-comparison charts for sci-fi ships.

The chart, which is still an ongoing project, spotlights the ship sizes from many of the most popular sci-fi universes out there, including Star Wars, Star Trek, Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica, and more than a dozen more. Heck, it even has the Red Dwarf on there.

Head over the ~DirkLoechel’s page to see more from this monstrous chart.

[Massively Editor’s note: Dirk Loechel has expanded on the original done by Dan Carlson.]

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