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MaCall Manor Sep 1, 2021 3:00:39 AM

The Wonder: Moon Rock Printing & Da Vinci's Bridge Design | SF AppWorks

1. After the Footprint...

NASA is now testing a device in space that 3D-prints moon dust into solid material

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moon rockPhoto by Wesley Tingey on Unsplash


Hot Take:

All I can say is, we're really leaving our prints up there.



The printing system was developed by Redwire, a space technology company innovating in the realm of space infrastructure. This impressive idea involves the use of ready materials on the moon rather than transporting burdensome equipment to space from Earth. That being said, a successful printing up in space will prove a real challenge. Engineers have apparently been toying with the notion for awhile, and although there has been a successful demonstration on Earth, researchers aren't sure exactly how printing will work without gravity, and whether the printed material will be strong enough to hold.


Testing Ground

On Earth, the printer has been tested with a simulant substance to Moon regolith (the rock to be used in the real process on the Moon), as samples of authentic moon rock are too few and precious for this kind of testing. Redwire believes that the approach to printing regolith could work for scaled up structures as complex as landing pads, foundations, or even roads and habitats for astronaut stays. 


2. Bridging the Gaps

Students at MIT proved that Leonardo Da Vinci's rejected bridge design from the early 1500s was, in fact, feasible

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Hot Take:

I don't know which is less surprising––that the bridge design was valid or that students at MIT figured it out 500 years later. 



Da Vinci's bridge design was actually a response to a request for proposal(s) from the wealthy Sultan Bayezid II of the Ottoman Empire. The Sultan wanted a bridge to connect the capital city of Constantinople with Galata, its neighboring city. Leonardo da Vinci proposed a radically modern design—one that would have been the longest bridge in the world at the time, with an unprecedented style. His bridge was innovative not only in form, but also in safety and function.


Shaping Up

Students analyzed the available literature on the bridge, considered construction materials and building methods of the period, as well as geographic conditions of the Golden Horn river estuary over which the bridge was to be built. The team constructed a highly realistic model of the bridge at the scale of 1 to 500 (coming in at three feet long). They used 3D printing to recreate what they described as the "very complex geometry" used in Leonardo's design. What's so fascinating about the bridge is that it's held together only by compression––forces transferred within the structure. While there is still significant mystery surrounding how Leonardo conceived the design, the students at MIT are certain the bridge would have held.



3. On A New Program

Texas Instruments' newest generation of calculators will now run programs written in Python in an effort to align users with the mounting importance of programming in today's world.

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Hot Take: 

The real cool kids installed Snake on their TI-84.


Good TI-ming

Interestingly, the Dallas-based company's $14 billion in yearly revenue comes from its semiconductors, not the famous TI calculators used in almost every high school in the country. But because so many young people own or use the device for required classes, Texas Instruments sees the calculator as an opportunity to broaden students' learning ability and inspire exploration of technology, science, math, and engineering. 


Never Key Bored

Features of the new TI-84 include an "alpha key" that connects the calculator's keys to alphabet letters, as well as a file manager for quick access to Python programs saved by users in the calculator. But perhaps the most interesting feature is the TI Connect CE software app, which is able to link your computer and graphing calculator for data transfers, download calculator software apps, and take screenshots of the graphing calculator's interface. 




4. Grievance-dropping

A new audio chat analysis platform uses AI to detect unsafe hostility in multiplayer gaming environments.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Photo by Florian Olivo on Unsplash


Hot Take:

Good thing this wasn't around when I used to play my brothers in Mario Kart.


Tone Sensitive

"Oto" is an acoustic intelligence platform that combines machine learning, acoustic neural networks, and automation technology to achieve its mission of creating more safety for game players. The company says it can detect 'tonal patterns, intonation, amplitude, and the expression of human emotions [even] when people aren't interacting.' The AI focuses more on the way things are said than what is being said. It's all about the sentiment that's being communicated.


AIming Higher

A poll taken by Unity (who's acquiring Oto) revealed that 7 in 10 players has experienced aggressive, verbally abusive behavior while playing games online. Assisted by Oto's AI, human moderators are alerted of flagged behavior, and can more easily sift through high volumes of online players to be of better assistance. 


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MaCall Manor

MaCall Manor is an editor and writer based in San Francisco. She has always been a storyteller by trade, seeking to inspire with the work and content she creates. Brilliantly imaginative in filling out the details of the innovation processes and design thinking, she's passionate about all things creative, dancing, nature, and books/movies.