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3D Printed Layer Strength Fixed! May 14, 2020

Posted by stuffilikenet in 3D Printing, Applications, Awesome, Star Trek Technology.
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One of the many problems with the gee-whiz near-Star Trek technology of 3D printing is the sometimes poor adhesion between layers of deposited plastic; sometimes they just don’t bond as strongly as desired, resulting in a weaker part than an equivalent injection-molded part. In a paper dropped in Nano Letters, scientists at Texas A & M have found that carbon nanotubes in the mix under a plasma stream heat just the surface layers of the plastic and insure a good weld, as it were, between them. Naturally, they said it in a much more flowery way: “a dielectric barrier discharge (DBD) plasma electrode mounted concentrically around the nozzle of an ME 3D printer for in situ welding of thermoplastic parts.” That’s just the abstract; I’m sure they managed to make it sound like they earned their pay in the full document.


Homework: C. B. Sweeney et al, Dielectric Barrier Discharge Applicator for Heating Carbon Nanotube-Loaded Interfaces and Enhancing 3D-Printed Bond Strength, Nano Letters (2020). DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.9b04718

Game-changing engineered PET enzyme to break down and recycle plastic bottles April 13, 2020

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Awesome, Geek Stuff, Mutants, Science.
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Nature published a paper by researchers at Carbios and Université de Toulouse describe an enzyme that breaks down PET plastics (the kind in those clear water bottles that everyone uses…and throws away–like 800 billion tons, which is only an estimate) really, really fast and efficiently. They made the protein which “achieves, over 10 hours, a minimum of 90 per cent PET depolymerization into monomers, with a productivity of 16.7 grams of terephthalate per litre per hour (200grams per kilogram of PET suspension, with an enzyme concentration of 3milligrams per gram of PET)” with good, old-fashioned genetic engineering to solve a recycling problem two generations in the making.

Carbios plans to begin testing its enzyme in 2021 in a demonstration plant near Lyon, France.

The paper is available at Nature (not just the abstract, if using the link below), and is fairly readable by a layman.

Homework: An engineered PET depolymerase to break down and recycle plastic bottles:V. Tournier, C. M. Topham, A. Gilles, B. David, C. Folgoas, E. Moya-Leclair, E. Kamionka, M.-L. Desrousseaux, H. Texier, S. Gavalda, M. Cot2, E. Guémard, M. Dalibey J. Nomme, G. Cioci, S. Barbe, M. Chateau, I. André ✉, S. Duquesne ✉ & A. Marty


Concatenation March 31, 2020

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Uncategorizable, Video.
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3D Printed Topological Map February 27, 2020

Posted by stuffilikenet in 3D Printing, Applications, Awesome, Publishing Tools.
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One of the more retentive members of Silicon Valley 3D Printing Meetup has printed a very complex and beautiful rendering of (some of) the Earth’s topological features in glorious PLA. Thirty-two tiles, ranging in print time for four hours to twenty-two(!) hours for the taller elevations, each “pixel” is 10 KM on a side.


Artificial Intelligence Finds an Antibiotic February 20, 2020

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Awesome, Geek Stuff, Science, Star Trek Technology.
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In a news flash from M.I.T. scientists announce the discover of a (potentially) low-toxicity molecule which interferes with bacteriological cell walls’ ability to maintain electrochemical gradients, which are essential to creating ATP, the main energy molecule in, well, everything: the cells would starve. An A.I. was trained on 2,500 molecules and then scanned the Broad Institute’s Drug Repurposing Hub, a library of about 6,000 compounds. The model picked out one molecule that was predicted to have strong antibacterial activity and had a chemical structure different from any existing antibiotics. Using a different machine-learning model, the researchers also showed that this molecule would likely have low toxicity to human cells.

It worked very well in vitro and in mouse models on a bunch of stubborn microbes that are getting to be pretty resistant to everything we have: Clostridium difficileAcinetobacter baumannii, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The drug apparently worked on EVERYTHING they tested, except Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

We Are Legion (We Are Bob) February 18, 2020

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Books, Brilliant words, Geek Stuff.
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What happens when you take a slightly-brighter-than-average engineer (Bob) and give him immortality in a starship equipped with extremely advance prototyping machines, then  tell him to set up infrastructure for colonists to follow in a few decades?

In the fertile imagination of Dennis Taylor, Bob takes over guardianship of not only the whole human race but at least two other sentient species, invents FTL communication, planet-movers and nifty full-sense android bodies. It takes  quite a few decades, but Bob has made many, many clones of himself, and they all have all the time in, well the universe with which to foil the Evil Plans of man, machine and alien.

Well read by Ray Porter with excellent inflection and pacing, all three Bob books skip right along, neatly compressing the decades into digestible chunks and holding a listener’s attention well enough to keep me awake during six-hour drives that end at 2AM…like last night.[0]

The dialogue is interesting, the characters internally consistent and the technology descriptions are pretty darn good. Taylor is very obviously a sci-fi fan and geek, and we should all be glad for this: it lends credibility to his character’s engineering comments and descriptions of space, the choices of star systems (he apparently did some homework) to visit, and the tropes he chooses to infuse with credibility.

In the immortal words of Joe Bob Briggs, check it out.


[0] Goddammit.


View from the back porch February 6, 2020

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Books, Uncategorized.
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Whale Skeleton in the Sahara January 29, 2020

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Photography.
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The Wayfarers Series, by Becky Chambers January 13, 2020

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Books, Brilliant words.
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A series of three novels, the Wayfarers starts with Hugo-winning The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet and extends to two equally charming sequels, A Close and Common Orbit and Record of a Space-born Few.  The first is the one I want to tell you about, because it is a rare gem that shows all the attributes of a space adventure novel (difficult journey, pirates, armies in tense standoff, difficult crewmates, culture clash, sapient AI, star-crossed lovers, etc.) but tells enough of each character’s thoughts and feelings to establish the why of every (often terrible) action. 

This already remarkable accomplishment is even more interesting when the tone of the whole novel is so warm and friendly (and the shipmates so careful with each other’s feelings) that I felt caught up in their drama myself. when they wander into danger (here and there), I felt concern for the outcome. Suspension of disbelief apparently applies to novels as well as performances.

The other two novels share these attributes, and I recommend them also. Available at Amazon (of course), and as audiobooks from sfpl.org.

Where I Work December 27, 2019

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Geek Stuff, Toys.
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we are a hard-workin’ bunch, let me tell you:

Nanowired Brain-like Functions December 25, 2019

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Brain, Mutants, Science.
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Nation Institute of Material Science geeks have created a complex metallic nanowire structure that mimics brain-like functions, such as memorization, learning, forgetting, becoming alert and returning to calm.

"figure: (a) Micrograph of the neuromorphic network fabricated by this research team. The network contains of numerous junctions between nanowires, which operate as synaptic elements. (b) A Human brain and one of its neuronal networks." Image

This indicates that self-organizing structures can be built from random arrangements of conducting fibers. This suggests that many different types of brain-like activity can be induced from stuff other than the kind of materials from which you and I are made.
Intelligent life on other worlds might be made of very different stuff indeed.


Homework: “Emergent dynamics of neuromorphic nanowire networks” by Adrian Diaz-Alvarez, Rintaro Higuchi, Paula Sanz-Leon, Ido Marcus, Yoshitaka Shingaya, Adam Z. Stieg, James K. Gimzewski, Zdenka Kuncic and Tomonobu Nakayama, 17 October 2019, Scientific Reports.
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-51330-6

Multi-dimensional Blood Testing and A.I. December 23, 2019

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Awesome, Brain, Brilliant words, Geek Stuff, Science, Star Trek Technology.
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I suggested long ago that sufficiently-comprehensive blood tests could effectively predict a person’s risk of developing a broad array of different diseases. We would use artificial intelligence to find patterns of varying concentrations of blood proteins to predict and/or diagnose disease. Someone much better funded than me has a newly developed platform called SomaScan which can scan five thousand individual proteins from a single blood sample.

In a new study testing the efficacy of predicting 11 different health indicators using these protein expression patterns some models were much more effective than others, such as the protein expression model predicting percentage body fat. The cardiovascular risk model was cited as only modestly predictive, however, the researchers do suggest the protein-pattern-based system is generally more convenient, and cheaper, than many traditional tests currently available for evaluating health conditions.

The study in Nature Medicine was funded by SomaLogic which owns SomaScan, so grain of salt, people. But it’s exciting to see that someone is actually looking into what I feel will be the method of the future for maximizing health…also, the study used ~85 million protein measurements in 16,894 participants, which is a pretty damn good sample size.  Plenty of data there for an A.I. to examine for hidden relationships.


Plasma protein patterns as comprehensive indicators of health, Nature Medicine, Stephen A. Williams, Mika Kivimaki, Claudia Langenberg, Aroon D. Hingorani, J. P. Casas, Claude Bouchard, Christian Jonasson, Mark A. Sarzynski, Martin J. Shipley, Leigh Alexander, Jessica Ash, Tim Bauer, Jessica Chadwick, Gargi Datta, Robert Kirk DeLisle, Yolanda Hagar, Michael Hinterberg, Rachel Ostroff, Sophie Weiss, Peter Ganz & Nicholas J. Wareham

Two-headed Bearded Dragon December 23, 2019

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Mutants, Photography.
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Enchanting Furby Toy Hack December 20, 2019

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Awesome, Geek Stuff, Toys.
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I do wish I had thought of this.

Sacre Blue, by Christopher Moore December 19, 2019

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Books, Brilliant words.
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Sacré Bleu is the story of a muse, her enslaver, several Impressionist painters, multiple murders, syphilis, spelunkery, immortality, immolation and the possibly gratuitous use of the word “penis”. As with all Christopher Moore works, it has a hint of mythology which forms the center of the narrative but take off quickly from such staid constraints to a flighty soufflé featuring Henri Toulouse-Latrec as a detective hunting an impossibly ancient shaman (immolation comes into play here).

It’s hilarious. Amazon, or sfpl.org

Octobrella December 11, 2019

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Mutants, Octopus, Photography, Publishing Tools.
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Post image

Purloined from reddit.

Moore’s Law, and Progress December 11, 2019

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Brilliant words, Geek Stuff, Video.
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An Accelerated Pace of Change

Moore’s Law has translated into a faster rate of change for society as a whole.

A new idea, like the smartphone, can get immediate traction because of instantaneous communication, increased global connectivity, and the ubiquity of information. New tech advancements can now change business or culture in a heartbeat:

The accelerating rate of technology adoption

Further, since software is a “layer” built upon the foundation of computing, it means that digital products can be replicated at almost no marginal cost. This is why a phenomenon like Pokémon Go was able to captivate 50 million users in just 19 days.

Imagine this kind of scalability, when applied to things like artificial intelligence or virtual reality.

–stolen freely from Visual Capitalist. I’m sure they’ll ask me to take it down soon. But look at the possibilities, people!

Moby Duck November 9, 2019

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Toys, Uncategorizable.
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That sucker is five feet long, children. Suitable for adults of all childish ages.

Capable Modular Robots November 9, 2019

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Awesome, Geek Stuff, Science, Star Trek Technology, Toys, Video.
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 MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Laboratory’s M-Block robots can self-assemble into different structures. The little cubes (in development over the last six years) have gained the ability to jump, flip, spin, and recognize each other. A barcode-like system on each face of each cube, allowing them to identify the other cubes around them.

The engineers wanted to see if the M-Blocks could (for example) form a straight line or form a random structure using the new communication algorithms. They waited to see if the blocks could determine how they were connected, and then what direction they would need to move to create that line. They found that 90% of the block swarm knew which motion and guidance to move to accomplish the task. I’m curious to know what the other 10% did…

Engineers hope to create a more substantial swarm of blocks (>16) that can assemble to form more complex structures with new capabilities.

3D Scanning to Print (Photogrammetry) October 8, 2019

Posted by stuffilikenet in 3D Printing, Applications, Awesome, Geek Stuff, Photography, Publishing Tools, Star Trek Technology.
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Due to an unfortunate incident while moving from the ver parted lips of Hell (Greenville, CA) I have had to replace a few parts on my Casio CDP-120 piano keyboard. Basically, the highest key (C for those who need to know) was/is smashed and needs a replacement. Aha! I have this iPrusa printer and can whip up a new key post-haste using
Fusion360 to measure and design a new key.  Right?

No. It’s a part with surprisingly complex geometry, so I thought I would try photogrammetry to create a model and see how that works.  I never tried this before, so what could it hurt? Can’t be any harder than Fusion360 to master. Right?

No. There seems to be no (free as in beer) software which can do this which is simple enough for me to install (grumble, grumble) on this company Mac, and I’m not sure company policies built into the security suite on this company Mac would permit it (grumble, grumble) anyway. Since my replacement Windows box isn’t here yet (grumble, grumble) I have to pay for a cloud-based solution…Altizure.com.  So I took 56 pictures of the C key an octave down with my cellphone camera, submitted them to Altizure.com‘s loving embrace and was rewarded with a fairly competent render of my key:

Screen Shot 2019-10-08 at 11.06.36 AM.png

I say “fairly competent” because it has lots of hole in the sides.  No matter; I can probably fix it in software modify it in Fusion360 to fill in the holes.  I will likely need to use Fusion360 to get the dimensions useably correct in any case.

Now I have to steel myself to pay the subscription rate of something like $70 per project. It would be worth it if I was a company making a prototype with great prospects for the future…but I’m not (grumble, grumble).

The key costs about five bucks from Casio’s parts subcontractor, plus six or so to ship it. I know which I am going to choose.

It’s a shame, really; I was looking forward to monkeying around with it. Maybe next time.

However, I don’t give up easily; I got 3DF Zephyr and used the (limited to) 50 pictures in it at the highest defaults in the wizard to create this render:

c-key-3df zephyr

My army of loyal and discerning readers may notice a bit of degradation here and there…yeah.  I will try again, but this took an hour or so and was NOT automatically rendered, but went through stages. In all fairness it would have been shorter if my graphics card had CUDA…but I don’t have a graphics card, just whatever Lenovo thought was cheap but still enough to get by on. Still, it needs work, and it’s midnight.  Possibly updates to follow, if I get any sleep.


I got a better render with 50 pictures and the most extreme settings I could figure out:

c-3df-zephyr-2-extra tasty

It’s got the holes that Altizure’s render had, but 3DF Zephyr is free to use.  Now I have to figure out how to make the save-able form of this (an .obj file) into an .slt and thence to gcode. With luck, I will have a hideous key to use before my real one arrives.