A Room-Sized 3D Printer Will Make Freeform Concrete Design Easy

Concrete is an amazing building material: cheap to create, strong when used correctly, and hard-wearing, too. But turning it into exotic and shapely forms can be prohibitively complex and expensive. Now, a 3D printer capable of producing one-off moulds as large as a phone booth could help turn architectural dreamw… » 2/27/15 6:52am Today 6:52am

This Robotic Bird Can Swoop and Dive (Kinda) Like the Real Thing

Robotic birds are notoriously difficult to make, because the complex motion required brings mechanical weight penalties that are difficult to balance with the modest thrust of the flapping wings. But this new avian bot uses lightweight 3D-printed parts to reduce weight and turn it into an acrobat. » 2/19/15 7:00pm 2/19/15 7:00pm

UMass Lifts Ban on Iranian Students in Science and Engineering

Yesterday we reported on a troubling policy at the University of Massachusetts of Amherst. The school banned Iranian nationals from enrolling as graduate students in several engineering and natural science programs. After much uproar and protest, U. Mass has backed down, and will admit Iranian students again. » 2/18/15 6:02pm 2/18/15 6:02pm

An Up-Close Look at the Monumental Task of Building a Bridge

We take giant manmade structures for granted. Whether erected in decades long gone or constructed anew from a distance, they are just there. When Joseph Blum set out to photograph the building of the new Bay Bridge connecting San Francisco and Oakland, he wanted to get face to face with action bringing such a project… » 2/05/15 9:35am 2/05/15 9:35am

This Huge Engineering Project May Be Our Best Chance At Colonizing Space

Space colonization has reached an impasse, for reasons far more fundamental than a lack of money for the Space Shuttle program. There is simply no way humans can travel easily offworld without using massive amounts of rocket fuel to escape the gravity well — and that's both expensive and environmentally… » 2/04/15 2:32pm 2/04/15 2:32pm

Inflatable Stickies Make Building Robots as Easy as Arts and Crafts

In recent years, taking a simpler approach to science and engineering has paid off handsomely in certain fields. It's part of the reason there are now rovers exploring Mars, and many feel it will be the easiest way to make robots more commonplace. After all, what could be a simpler way to build an automaton than with… » 1/28/15 9:25am 1/28/15 9:25am

A Brief History of the Rubber Band

Cheap, reliable, and strong, the rubber band is one of the world's most ubiquitous products. It holds papers together, prevents long hair from falling in a face, acts as a reminder around a wrist, is a playful weapon in a pinch, and provides a way to easily castrating baby male livestock… While rubber itself has been… » 1/20/15 7:36am 1/20/15 7:36am

Arm-Sized Bolts Keep Falling Off London's Cheesegrater Tower 

The Cheesegrater is a beautiful glass wedge of a building that rises over 700 feet into the London skyline. It unfortunately has some safety problems. This week, its owners revealed that a third bolt of high-strength steel snapped because of "hydrogen embrittlement"—an obscure term, but one that "causes fear among… » 1/16/15 1:45pm 1/16/15 1:45pm

Four Ideas to Fix Beijing's Smog Airpocalypse, And One That Will Work 

The worst smog of the year so far swept into Beijing this week, coating the city in a grainy, deep grey murk on par with what the city endured in 2013, pictured above (though you'll see it's popping up again today). China is trying, hard, to get its air quality problem under control, and is considering some seriously… » 1/15/15 1:35pm 1/15/15 1:35pm

Brooklyn's Best NYE Tradition Ends Tonight 

If Times Square is too gaudy, crowded, and frankly insane for you, then there is another New York tradition worth your New Year's Eve—one that is, in fact, ending tonight. For the past fifty years, the Pratt Institute has set out its amazing collection of big old steam whistles out on the lawn of its Brooklyn campus.… » 12/31/14 5:30pm 12/31/14 5:30pm