Time-Warp: The Unfolding Story of 4-D Printing

Image of printing press with legs holding a quill
It’s probably something like this.

4-D printing remains in its early stages, It’s certainly too early to tell if  it’s anything more than a buzzword, let alone if its promise will translate into practicality. But the sorts of people who bet on these kinds of things are betting on it.

And why not? Suppose a structure could unfold itself, like origami. Imagine if walls could flex or stiffen in response to shifting loads, or if a buried pipe could change shape to accommodate varying water flows — or to pump water via peristalsis, like your digestive system. Through 4-D printing, nothing is set in stone unless you want it to be.

How 4-D Printing Works

Education Film 38b: Zika Virus and You

The Zika-spreading mosquito Aedes aegypti takes a bloodmeal.
The Zika-spreading mosquito Aedes aegypti takes a bloodmeal. Photo courtesy CDC.

Zika virus is spreading through a hemisphere with plenty of mosquito habitat and no immunity to the disease, and summer is on its way. But what really chills the blood and drives our dread of what was once considered “dengue’s wimpy cousin” is the virus’s horrifying, yet unproven, link to infant microcephaly.

And so, even as epidemiologists struggle to contain and understand the problem, the news swarms with disturbing images and calls for wiping out the offending mosquito vectors. Clearly, if we’re going to get through this, we need to do our homework. Why not start with my article, in which I cut through the buzz to explore …

How Zika Virus Works

The DaVinci Clothes: Deciphering Care Label Symbols

A clothing care labelOur clothes-care-labeling system is a wonder of efficiency — if you speak the language. But can you honestly say that you know what every single one of those triangles, exes, squares and squiggles on your tags are telling you? If you answered “no,” then you’re in good company. You’re also in luck, because I’ve broken them all down for you in a brief and handy-dandy article called (descriptively enough) …

What’s the deal with those laundry symbols, and how do I tell them apart?

Eureka! I Have Lost It!

The original keyboard cats.

Left to our own devices and allowed to live without constant fear of death by hunger or violence, we devise some pretty startling stuff.

Sure, some of our better efforts don’t outlast our calamities, or go obsolete before their time or simply never get their chance to shine because no one yet recognizes the need for them. But you can’t keep a good idea down forever, as I explore in this list of …

10 Times Humanity Found the Answer (and Then Forgot)

You Shall Not Pass: Making the Most of Your Passport

A British biometric passport.
A British biometric passport.

The idea of a document that extends protections over subjects as they travel is old — as in, Old Testament old. But the standardized booklet that we now use for establishing identity and citizenship when crossing international borders has only been with us for about a century. More to the point, in the post-9/11 world, it’s become a lot more important.

In this article, I cover the ins and outs of how to get one, when you’ll need one, and what to do if you lose one.  Along the way, I’ll pass along some travel tips, discuss passport alternatives and help you protect your children from  abduction across national borders.

How Passports Work 

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