Magnitude and Direction, Issue #4 | 13 Apr 2018


I know that people read most of their emails on Monday morning and, as such, most email newsletters go out then. I didn't want to try to compete with other great content, so I've gone for this Friday afternoon angle with the assumption that in the last few hours of the work week you'd prefer to read cool stories than do your work

These assumptions are just that, though, so if there are some days and/or times you'd rather get this newsletter send me an email and let me know.

Hardware, Prototyping, and Fabrication.

Acrylic is for more than just laser cutting. This Hackaday project shows how you can use it with a custom-built blow oven to make transparent dome enclosures.

Laser cut your own omni wheels.

3D clay printers aren't very high-res, but they are mesmerizing to watch. NY Designs' Taekyeom has built one of his own.

Robot carpenters are making structures we could only dream of before.

Come for the legal prostitution, stay for the... 3D printed bridge?

Software and Programming. 

Is there anything more meta than a computer game about making computers?

If you ask an AI to send nudes, this is what you'll get.

An AI has just been FDA approved to diagnose diabetic retinopathy without the need for a doctor.

Science, Engineering, and Biomedicine.

Scientists at the Wyss Institute have created a platform for 3D printing tactile sensors directly into soft robotic systems.

Hops are renowned for the unique flavor they lend to beer, but they also require a lot of water and energy to cultivate. A new paper in Nature describes a solution using yeast engineered to provide that "hoppy" flavor instead.

One in 10 people have traces of cocaine or heroin on their fingerprints. BUT it's primarily due to exposure to trace amounts in the environment, not from active drug use. ALSO, don't be fooled by the click-baity title of the original article that I lead off with, the percentages weren't the same across all drugs. 13% of drug-free study subjects had traces of cocaine on their fingers, but only about 1% had a *metabolite* of heroin detected. Just another example of why you always need to read the whole article and, ideally, the primary scientific literature too.

Mapping and Data Science

What's your city's twin? Where else can you find a similar mix of jobs, residents, and civic history? The New York Times has some answers to that question. Unsurprisingly, New York's twins include the obvious candidates of Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco, but less major urban centers (like Kingston, NY) give some more interesting results.

The US Patent and Trademark Office will issue its 10 millionth patent this summer.

The island of Manhattan is just one giant noise complaint

Events and Opportunities

There are lots of really great events coming up in the next two weeks:


Map of the Month

What's the most popular type of restaurant cuisine in the US?


Odds & Ends

Drone-lit long-exposure photographs are the eeriest thing you'll see all week.

WeWork is now the second-largest private office tenant in New York City.