The 3Doodler is a seven-inch-long stick that weighs about seven ounces and can be operated like a pen—or a magic wand, according to the inventors. A team from WobbleWorks, working at Artisan Asylum, designed the 3Doodler to operate like a pen without computer software so anyone can create 3-D designs.
ABS plastic is heated into liquid inside the pen and then ejected through a nozzle, much like hot glue from a glue gun. The plastic solidifies relatively quickly, so the user can create free-standing 3-D designs that seem to hover in the air.
WobbleWorks uploaded the 3Doodler to Kickstarter on Tuesday and crowdfunders have already pledged $1.5 million, far exceeding the original $30,000 goal, so we’ll be likely to see 3Doodlers available for order soon. If you’d like to get in on the ground floor, funding starts as low as $1.
Ping-Pong Ball Breaks the Sound Barrier
Firing a ping-pong ball at speeds that match those of a supersonic jet is an impressive feat. Even more impressive is doing so with equipment designed more than 100 years ago.
Students from Purdue University recently used a simple device to make a ping-pong ball break the sound barrier. Originally developed in 1888, the de Laval nozzle is essentially a tube sealed on both ends with a projectile inside. A pump removes the air inside the tube to create a vacuum, and when one end is unsealed, air rushes back in. Because there’s no aerodynamic drag on the ball, it shoots out at 400 mph. But design tweaks can make it even faster.
On a hunch, the team “modified the gun with a convergent-divergent nozzle, the type used in rocket engines and supersonic wind tunnels to accelerate air flow,” Popular Mechanics explains. “The revamped gun shoots pressurized air through the hourglass-shaped nozzle. As the air travels through the nozzle’s choke point, compression accelerates the air. It blasts the ping-pong ball outward at 900 mph (the speed of sound is roughly 765 mph).”
Here’s a video showing the machine in action, as well as do-it-yourself instructions on how make your own supersonic ping-pong ball cannon:
Being a Jerk is Contagious
Have you ever been the victim of rude behavior in the workplace? If so, you’re among the majority. But bad behavior usually isn’t an isolated incident, as new research shows that rudeness at work is contagious, spreading like a disease and proving costly for business.
Research published in Harvard Business Review shows that incivility is on the rise at work. Half of employees surveyed in 2011 said that they were on the receiving end of bad behavior at least once a week. There’s a hefty price for workplace incivility, as rudeness leads to retaliation, shuts down creativity, and ultimately trickles down to hurt a business’s bottom line.
Workers subjected to rudeness are not only more inclined to leave the company, but also more likely to intentionally decrease their quality of their work as resentment builds. Moreover, workers who experience incivility lose their creativity because their cognitive functioning becomes hindered and they are unable to process thoughts effectively.
What are the reasons for rudeness? “Over 60 percent of people, when we ask why people are uncivil, say that it’s because they have no time to be nice,” one of the study’s authors explained. Many others are simply overworked and some job-hop without making an effort to connect with coworkers. Having a rude boss can be another factor. A leader’s bad behavior often trickles down to employees and customers may eventually bear the brunt of impoliteness, leading to lost business.
The good news is that politeness is also contagious. In addition to having a positive attitude, the authors offer tips about what employers and employees can do to counteract bad behavior.
Close-Up with a Meteorite
In case you missed it, a giant meteorite streaked through the sky last Friday before exploding over central Russia. The space rock was the largest to hit the Earth in a century, with a diameter of 55 feet and a weight of 10,000 tons. It also provided some of the closest ever human encounters with a meteorite.
“The fireball, travelling at a speed of 30 km (19 miles) per second according to Russian space agency Roscosmos, had blazed across the horizon, leaving a long white trail that could be seen as far as 200 km (125 miles) away,” Reuters reports. “Car alarms went off, thousands of windows shattered and mobile phone networks were disrupted. The Interior Ministry said the meteorite explosion, a very rare spectacle, also unleashed a sonic boom.”
Many images of the meteorite were captured by Russian drivers with dashboard-mounted cameras. Here’s a roundup of some of the most astonishing brushes with the cosmic rock:
Have a great weekend, folks.