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Top 10 must-read posts from March

Wed, 04/03/2013 - 10:47am
Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor

Here’s a rundown of the most read, most popular, most awesome articles on the web. Take a look at what you missed the first time around or check up on an old favorite to see the conversation in the comments. Keep checking out the Lead at www.ecnmag.com and follow us on Twitter @ecnonline for our most up-to-date articles.

1. Why 3D-printable guns are a terrible idea

By Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor
http://www.ecnmag.com/blogs/2013/03/why-3d-printable-guns-are-terrible-idea
3D printers are rapidly becoming a legitimate tool in the medical, industrial, cultural, and even culinary fields. But what happens when private citizens begin using the technology to make homemade guns? Nothing good. Though no one has managed to make a fully-operable printed gun, the potential is there and with the recent spotlight on regular guns, it’s an issue that needs discussing.

 

2. Forget 3D, say hello to 4D
 By Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor
Leave it to MIT to develop 4D printing, just as 3D printing seems to be really hitting its stride. They can’t just leave well enough alone, can they? While the human eye can’t technically “see” the 4th dimension, in this case, we’re just talking about a 3D design with the potential for “embedded transformation.” Basically, the possibility of robotics without the traditional mechanics.

3. NYC's terrible subway map idea
 By Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor
Sometimes, ideas that seem well-intentioned (in theory) actually fall somewhere in the realm of “worst idea ever” when it comes to real-life implementation. The most recent “we’re implementing this idea despite real-life consequences” idea comes to us from New York City, where the city has decided to add 90 47-inch touchscreen subway maps throughout various subway stations. The touchscreens will allow passengers to select a start and end point, and the map will supply a direct route. Plus, the screens will show delays, outages, schedules, and ads, and they’ll feature cameras and two-way communications so issues can be reported to and monitored by the MTA.

4. Lady brains: Dumbing down technology for women
 By Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor
Introducing the EPad Femme, tablet made “exclusively for women” by Eurostar Group. The 16GB, 8- inch tablet, with an Android OS, features an all-pink background and comes pre-loaded with several lady apps including cooking, grocery store, yoga, and shopping apps, plus a “Women’s assistant” offering weight-loss tips.  Insulting. Pre-loaded apps must appeal to a variety of interests, not just what women are "supposed" to like. Perhaps a woman likes to cook AND read up on the latest tech news.

5. Agita over 3D printed guns is absurd
By Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor
On the opposite end of the 3D printed guns spectrum is the opinion that it’s impossible to built a firearm completely out of plastic and, therefore, isn’t something we should be worried about. Because most semi-automatic weapons are gas-operated, the challenge lies in introducing the gas to plastic without the gun failing or falling apart as it’s fired.  In the meantime, DIYers should be encouraged to explore the boundaries of technology and they should be allowed to innovate.

6. Nuclear power: The future of human civilization
By Tom Ligon, Technical Contributor
ECN’s newest technical contributor, Tom Ligon, discusses the future of energy is in nuclear fusion, not higher taxes, subsidized alternative energy or any other option. As for the critics who might mock the failure of researchers who strive to make this a real-life possibility, Ligon has little to say except, “What if they fail? Should we stop trying? We should try ten times harder ... a hundred times harder. There is nothing as important as finding the power source for our future. We can’t go back to 1800. We can’t allow ourselves to accept limits.”

7. Green energy pirates
By M. Simon, Technical Contributor
The problem with alternative energy subsidies is that when they end, the companies tend to abandon wind farms because they’re unable to make money off of them.  Not only does this result in dead wind farms, which can only be described as hauntingly beautiful, it means governments  and tax payers are out the investment and subsidy money.  The clear objection here is that if it was a viable source of energy or money in the first place, it wouldn’t need to be subsidized.

8. A bug in the drone wars
By M. Simon, Technical Contributor
Drones are a complicated issue for politicians and the military and with the introduction of the Micro Drone, the topic becomes even more of a mess. Plus, when the military starts to talk about having drones on American soil—or blowing past talking and heading directly to using the drones—people tend to be a little upset. At least upset enough to have a republican Senator filibuster with the support of traditionally liberal groups.

9. The best use for Google Glass yet
 By Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor
There is something universally horrifying about that moment at a party when you meet someone briefly but you can’t recall his name when you bump into him a few minutes later. Luckily, Google Glass has a built in solution called "InSight," which uses a smart phone app to snap a series of pictures of the user, documents the clothing and movement style, creates a "fingerprint", and sends it to a cloud. Whenever the software "sees" that unique spatiogram, it will identify the person with a nametag or arrow or even with their social media handle.

10. Array fracking extracts oil safely and effectively
By M. Simon, Technical Contributor
Though the topic of fracking is controversial, there is a new type of fracking called “Array Fracking” that could produce even more oil than the traditional method. Fracking uses horizontal drilling to obtain oil in the ground and in doing so it creates wells that run parallel to each other. Array fracking would take advantage of the close positioning of the wells in that fracking done on one well might allow more oil to be extracted from the two wells running parallel to the original well.   

 

 

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