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Everyday science

3D printing food, 'Top 10' lists, teenage nuclear physicists and more

18 Apr 2014 Tushna Commissariat


By Tushna Commissariat

Over the past few years, 3D printing has captured the imagination and interest of scientists and the public alike. Now, a €3 million EU-funded project known as “PERFORMANCE – PERsonalised FOod using Rapid MAnufacturing for the Nutrition of elderly ConsumErs” is adapting 3D printing technology to food in order to create easily digestible sustenance that is not only nutritious but also looks and tastes like the real thing. The proposed printer would work like its conventional inkjet counterpart – except the cartridges would be filled with liquefied food instead of ink! While that may not sound like the most appetising way of eating your five-a-day, it might come as a relief for those who suffer from a condition known as “dysphagia” that makes swallowing food difficult. You can read more about the proposed scheme on the EU’s Horizon magazine website and take a look at the video above.

Elsewhere online, a list of the “Top Ten 21st Century Science Non-Fiction Writers” has generated some interesting discussion. The list itself is rather predictable, with Stephen Hawking in the top spot, but a feature that soon makes itself obvious is the lack of a single female writer on the list. Astrophysicist and writer Sean Carroll, who is himself at number two in the top 10, quickly compiled an extensive list of excellent female science writers who cover a whole host of disciplines and scientific subject areas, so make sure to take a look at his blog.

A National Geographic feature that also piqued our interest this week is about 17-year-old Taylor Wilson, who became the youngest person to achieve fusion when he was just 14. Wilson built a reactor in the basement of the University of Neveda physics lab. Find out more about what Wilson has to say about young inventors and small nuclear reactors on the TED website.

Later today the Kavli Foundation will be holding one of its “Spotlight Live” video conversations where topical results are discussed. And, of course, the topic of the month is the recent BICEP2 results. Two BICEP2 members – Abby Vieregg and Walt Ogburn – will talk about their work and the impact of their recent discoveries with experimental physicist John Carlstrom and cosmologist Michael Turner. Tune in to the live webcast at 19:00 PDT (21:00 BST).

And finally, for some long, Easter-weekend reading, find out how flushing the toilet could power your home and whether the “arrow of time” has a quantum origin.

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