Posts by Bill Weir

  • Finally: a 3-D Printer for Space

    Bill Weir at This Could Be Big 2 yrs ago

    Sure, 3-D printers can print pretty much any three-dimensional object you can think of - but can they print in zero gravity?

    That’s what NASA wants to find out next year when it tests a 3-D printer on the International Space Station. So far, the printer, which NASA created with Made In Space, a California-based company, has successfully printed small computer parts in parabolic flights that simulate zero gravity. But the next step is to actually test a 3-D printer in space.

    “We want to show that not only can we print, but when we print these tools they have same comparable quality as printing on Earth,” said Niki Werkheiser, project lead for 3-D printing in zero-G ISS technology demonstration at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

    The printer works like existing 3-D printers: It heats and melts plastic and then pours it, layer by layer, until the object is formed. Currently, if an astronaut loses or breaks an item on the International Space Station, he or she must wait until a scheduled launch for a replacement. Having the ability to print objects on the space station will limit costs and save time, according to Werkheiser.

    Watch the video above to see how the printer will work.

  • Steve Jobs Immortalized in Bubble Wrap Art

    Bill Weir at This Could Be Big 2 yrs ago

    Some art, just like bubble wrap, just begs for you to reach out and touch. But what if the art was bubble wrap – could you control yourself?

    That is the impulse Bradley Hart, a Canadian visual artist, seems to be triggering with his current bubble wrap art exhibition at gallery nine5 in New York City. Hart has created a series of landscape and portrait mosaics by injecting large swaths of bubble wrap with a mixture of latex and acrylic paint colors. Up close, the paintings look like multi-colored bubble wrap, albeit with each bubble hardened. But from afar, the works resemble pixilated prints of digital images.

    “I’m doing a post-modern, pointillist painting – although I don’t like to classify my work as paintings themselves,” Hart said. Rather, he views his work like a sculptor, prioritizing materials and process over the image itself.

    The centerpiece of Hart’s show is a 5x4ft rendering of a smiling Steve Jobs’ digital image. Hart said he chose to “inject” Jobs out of a personal affinity for the late Apple pioneer.

    “From cradle to grave, a painting can take anywhere from 120 [hours], upwards to my biggest piece so far, which was Dam Square – Amsterdam, [which] was 310 hours.”

  • More Than Mere Magic Mushrooms

    Bill Weir at This Could Be Big 3 yrs ago

    This week we're talking about fungus two ways. One that can survive exclusively on polyurethane and another that can replace Styrofoam.

    Both polyurethane and styrofoam are not biodegradable, so without a solution, all the plastic bottles and old toys we throw out every year will be sitting in landfills for centuries.

    Yes, you can recycle plastic, but that just means turning it into another product and recycling hasn't sufficiently slowed the production of new plastic.

    According to a Yale study, globally we produced 245 million tons of plastic in 2006, compared to only 1.5 million tons in 1950.

    One of the fungi we're looking at is called pestalotiopsis microspora . It was discovered by a group of Yale researchers on an expedition in Ecuador and can subsist on polyurethane alone in airless environments, like the bottom of a landfill.

    A future with less plastic and more mulch, all thanks to fungus.