3d Printed gunA rundown of stuff you can now make with 3d printers includes eagle’s beaks (there’s an eagle wearing one now), Escher buildings, the world’s fastest shoe, iPhone cases, and yes, pistols.

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Windstalk 825x 525New Media alumnus Rob Hussey points to this story about a proposal to tap the wind’s energy with “windstalks” rather than windmills. The idea is to harness the ability of a column made of piezoelectric material to convert the stress of bending with the wind into fossil-free electricity. Unlike a battery of conventional wind turbines, this artificial prairie would produce no friction and minimal noise. And look a mite prettier than a giant metal turbine.

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Recent research reveals that the bacteria that help us digest food also influence what’s on our minds. The discovery that these microbial partners are our collaborators in cogitation as well as digestion unfortunately coincides with a separate study suggesting antibiotics can kill off gut bacteria permanently.

The good news:

“Hundreds of species of bacteria call the human gut their home. This gut ‘microbiome’ influences our physiology and health in ways that scientists are only beginning to understand. Now, a new study suggests that gut bacteria can even mess with the mind, altering brain chemistry and changing mood and behavior (abstract).”

http://science.slashdot.org/story/11/08/29/2026226/Gut-Bacteria-Exert-Mind-Control

The bad news:

Helpful bacteria in our intestines take a pounding during an antibiotics treatment, but normally recover. Or so we thought. A new study suggests the drugs may permanently alter collections of healthy microbes in pregnant women and young children — for worse.

http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/KSqAxKXEVQg/

Donkeys, solar power, and trash are the Internet Service Providers for censored Syrians, beleaguered Afghans, and others without government-sponsored Internet.

These DIY ISPs would make great solutions to the privacy concerns about social networks cited in some recent NMDnet posts–and give new meaning to the term “data mules.”

Syrians Using Donkeys Instead of DSL After Gov’t Shuts Down Internet

“Rebelling Syrians are using all possible alternate methods to pass information to the world amidst a total blackout on the internet by the Government. Believe it or not, Donkeys are a part of the revolution now. From the article: ‘To get the news out, activists have been smuggling videos to Jordan through the desert and across a nearly 80-kilometer border Jordan shares with Syria. Some risk approaching the border with Jordanian cellphones to report to the outside world and send clips. It’s a dangerous task because the Syrian and Jordanian armies traditionally have the area under heavy surveillance to prevent the smuggling of drugs and weapons into the kingdom or further to the Gulf states.’”

http://tech.slashdot.org/story/11/05/15/1810215/Syrians-Using-Donkeys-Instead-of-DSL-After-Govt-Shuts-Down-Internet

The US military is taking note:

Move Over, Robots: Army Prefers Flesh-and-Blood Mules

The experimental four-legged, pack-hauling robots aren’t gonna be ready for frontline duty any time soon. So the Army is considering a big step backward in frontline logistics: more mules and donkeys, with a revived “Animal Corps” to oversee the four-legged recruits.

http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/ct7GAqIUi8Y/

The Afghans are at it:

Afghans Build Open Source Internet From Trash

“Residents of Jalalabad have built the FabFi network: an open-source system that uses common building materials and off-the-shelf electronics to transmit wireless ethernet signals across distances of up to several miles.”

http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/11/06/26/0322238/Afghans-Build-Open-Source-Internet-From-Trash

And there’s more:

Look Ma, No Internet! Free Software Gives Text-Messaging New Reach

Frontline SMS, an open source software that turns a laptop into an internet-free communication hub has been used in more than 50 countries by thousands of organizations.

http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/C4bjgmQ7rT8/

Berkeley’s working on solar-powered cell phone networks.

Low-Cost DIY Cell Network Runs On Solar

Shareable writes with word of the intriguing work of a Berkeley professor who has developed a “low-cost, low-power cell base station featuring easy, off-the grid deployment with solar or wind power; local services autonomous from national carriers; and an impressive portfolio of voice & data services (not just GSM). It’s designed to connect rural areas in the developing world, but could have wider application like disaster recovery.”

http://mobile.slashdot.org/story/11/08/28/0048211/Low-Cost-DIY-Cell-Network-Runs-On-Solar.

Limewire’s founder wants to distribute pedals as well as MP3s.

Peer-to-Peer Pioneer Sees New York Bicycles Pier-to-Pier

Mark Gorton founded LimeWire, but his true passion is transit — specifically, bikes — and sharply curtailing the role of cars in our cities. We sit down with him to find out why. http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/8SOZGbSiQ84/

Desert3d digital fabricators are all the rage among DIY designers, and promise to decentralize the physical economy in the way the Internet decentralized the information economy. On the other hand, many environmentalists just see the fabber as another energy-sucking contraption that fills our world with plastic gewgaws.

Now an art student has juryrigged a “solar sinter,” replacing a fabber’s high-tech laser with focused sunlight and toxic resin with sand. It all fits in a suitcase he brought to the Egyptian desert for a test run.

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Your next gourmet meal, waiting in a fishtank near you.

http://www.farmfountain.com/index.html

Farm Fountain is a system for growing edible and ornamental fish and plants in a constructed, indoor ecosystem. Based on the concept of aquaponics, this hanging garden fountain uses a simple pond pump, along with gravity to flow the nutrients from fish waste through the plant roots. The plants and bacteria in the system serve to cleanse and purify the water for the fish.

This project is an experiment in local, sustainable agriculture and recycling. It utilizes 2-liter plastic soda bottles as planters and continuously recycles the water in the system to create a symbiotic relationship between edible plants, fish and humans. The work creates an indoor healthy environment that also provides oxygen and light to the humans working and moving through the space. The sound of water trickling through the plant containers creates a peaceful, relaxing waterfall. The Koi and Tilapia fish that are part of this project also provide a focus for relaxed viewing.

The plants we are currently growing include lettuces, cilantro, mint, basil, tomatoes, chives, parsley, mizuna, watercress and tatsoi. The Tilapia fish in this work are also edible and are a variety that have been farmed for thousands of years in the Nile delta.

The controversial practice of “reconciliation ecology” tries not to restore old habitats, but to create new ones–by bringing nature back into human spaces. Its proponents think innovative software may help people get along with their new neighbors. Capstone, anyone?

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Thoreau’s simple economic calculus shows we sometimes get less out of technology than we put in.

http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/lbgq5LWy2d4/ via Byline Henry David Thoreau ['s ] distillation of a year living in relative seclusion offers deep insights not just into the natural world and humanity’s place in it, but how that relationship was being impacted — and degraded — by the Industrial Revolution. It remains to this day a trenchant criticism of the excesses of technology….

A railroad ran along Walden Pond about one-third of a mile from Thoreau’s cabin, and he could hear the rattle of the trains. But he thought a trip by rail was a bad bargain:

One says to me, “I wonder that you do not lay up money; you love to travel; you might take the cars and go to Fitchburg today and see the country.” But I am wiser than that. I have learned that the swiftest traveller is he that goes afoot. I say to my friend, Suppose we try who will get there first. The distance is thirty miles; the fare ninety cents. That is almost a day’s wages. I remember when wages were sixty cents a day for laborers on this very road. Well, I start now on foot, and get there before night; I have travelled at that rate by the week together. You will in the meanwhile have earned your fare, and arrive there some time tomorrow, or possibly this evening, if you are lucky enough to get a job in season. Instead of going to Fitchburg, you will be working here the greater part of the day. And so, if the railroad reached round the world, I think that I should keep ahead of you.

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As if Mainers needed another reason to spend time outdoors in July.

http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/XoxV0sZZO-I/Forest-Bathing-Considered-Healthful via Byline

Hugh Pickens writes “The NY Times reports that although allergies and the promise of air-conditioning tend to drive people indoors at this time of year, when people spend time in more natural surroundings — forests, parks, and other places with plenty of trees — they experience increased immune function. A study of 280 healthy people in Japan, where visiting nature parks for therapeutic effect has become a popular practice called ‘Shinrin-yoku,’ or ‘forest bathing,’ found that being among plants produced ‘lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, and lower blood pressure,’ among other things. Another study in 2007 showed that men who took two-hour walks in a forest over two days had a 50-percent spike in levels of natural killer cells, and a third study found an increase in white blood cells that lasted for a week in women exposed to phytoncides in forest air.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

As if Mainers needed another reason to spend time outdoors in July.

http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/XoxV0sZZO-I/Forest-Bathing-Considered-Healthful via Byline

Hugh Pickens writes “The NY Times reports that although allergies and the promise of air-conditioning tend to drive people indoors at this time of year, when people spend time in more natural surroundings — forests, parks, and other places with plenty of trees — they experience increased immune function. A study of 280 healthy people in Japan, where visiting nature parks for therapeutic effect has become a popular practice called ‘Shinrin-yoku,’ or ‘forest bathing,’ found that being among plants produced ‘lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, and lower blood pressure,’ among other things. Another study in 2007 showed that men who took two-hour walks in a forest over two days had a 50-percent spike in levels of natural killer cells, and a third study found an increase in white blood cells that lasted for a week in women exposed to phytoncides in forest air.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2010/01/eco-friendly-mobile-phone-runs-on-coke.php

A bio-battery running on Coke (or another such sugary drink) has the potential to run 3x as long as standard lithium batteries, while being fully biodegradable. Nice!

img1 caption=’A cell phone that runs on Coke.’

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2010/01/eco-friendly-mobile-phone-runs-on-coke.php

A bio-battery running on Coke (or another such sugary drink) has the potential to run 3x as long as standard lithium batteries, while being fully biodegradable. Nice!

img1 caption=’A cell phone that runs on Coke.’

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http://www.treehugger.com/files/2010/01/eco-friendly-mobile-phone-runs-on-coke.php

A bio-battery running on Coke (or another such sugary drink) has the potential to run 3x as long as standard lithium batteries, while being fully biodegradable. Nice!

img1 caption=’A cell phone that runs on Coke.’

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