Geek Month in Review: March 2013

by JB Sanders


More 3D-printing a Moon Base
I know, I just linked to a story about this. The difference here is two-fold. The folks here are a rival team with a better plan. First, they’re architects, so they’re taking the idea of 3D-printing buildings and running with it. Second, they have an idea to use microwaves to fuse the moon dust, which would mean the 3D printers sent to the moon wouldn’t even need binding agents. It’s a cheaper and more energy-efficient method. They think they can have the first module complete in two weeks, once their setup reaches the moon.

Video Game Charts Brain
Scientists are trying to map the connections between neurons in the brain, and to do so they’ve made their neural maps into a game. Players help work out the connections between neurons, expanding the map. They’re also helping the artificial intelligence behind the mapping program learn more about mapping.

It’s a 3D-Printed Dress
No, really! And it’s got this very 1940’s glamor vibe mixed with a sort of scifi nod.

Lord British Needs 1 Million Dollars*
Richard Garriott, creator of Ultima Online, is looking to repeat his success with a new massively multi-player online game. One of the reasons he says they’re kick-starting it (rather than just shelling out the moola himself) is so that the public has a say in how the game is built. Or maybe he’s just cheap.

* To get the full effect, you need to use a cheesy voice and a pinky finger.

Non-Newtonian Fluid on a Speaker Cone
This video will either freak you out, or give you great ideas for special effects, depending on your temperament. It’s just cornstarch and water in a 2:1 ratio (forming oobleck), plus a little blue food coloring. But add in a little stirring and an ultrasonic sound source, and boy howdy do you have some creepy action.

3D Printed Jewelry
It’s not “coming soon”, it’s “happening now”. Still a little high-end, but it looks like it could lead to an interesting trend. Personalized unique jewelry indeed!

The Un-Discovered Country
No, not the future. In this case, it’s islands that are supposed to be there – but aren’t. Including one near Australia that was supposed to be larger than Manhattan, but now has been determined to not only not exist, but to have never existed. Really.

Around the World — On Solar Power
The creators of the Solar Impulse plan on flying their entirely-solar-powered airplane around the world by 2015. It’s capable of flying day and night (on stored power). It has the wingspan of a Boeing 747, mostly to accommodate more solar cells.

Settle Mars!
There was a rumor running around that the Mars One Project (those folks planning to build a commercial settlement on Mars) was accepting applications for Mars Settlers — but no. They are going to be soon, and they reveal a few of the qualifications you’ll need to be signed on. Chief among them, of course, is being prepared to move to Mars permanently. It’s a one-way trip.

About John:
John’s a geek from way back. He’s been floating between various computer-related jobs for years, until he settled into doing tech support in higher ed. Now he rules the Macs on campus with an iron hand (really, it’s on his desk).

Geek Credentials:
RPG: Blue box D&D, lead minis, been to GenCon in Milwaukee.
Computer: TRS-80 Color Computer, Amiga 1000, UNIX system w/reel-to-reel backup tape
Card games: bought Magic cards at GenCon in 1993
Science: Met Phil Plait, got time on a mainframe for astronomy project in 1983
His Blog: