1:25 PM, May 9, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
Just this week, news broke that the "world’s first entirely 3D-printed gun" was successfully built and test-fired by an engineer in Texas. The technology involves a special printer that uses melted polymers to generate plastic components for a variety of uses, now including working firearms. Today, in a press release announcing a $200 million program for a "Competition for Three New Manufacturing Innovation Institutes," the White House also touted a $30 million award in a similar competition in August 2012 for the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute.
President Obama mentioned the new institute in his February State of the Union speech. The purpose of the institute is to help develop the very 3D technology used to produce the newly revealed 3D gun:
In August 2012, the Administration announced the winner of an initial $30 million Federal award to create a pilot institute, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII). Headquartered in Youngstown, Ohio, NAMII consists of a consortium of manufacturing firms, universities, community colleges, and non-profit organizations primarily from the Ohio-Pennsylvania-West Virginia ‘Tech Belt’. NAMII was selected from amongst twelve teams from around the country that applied for the award. The members of NAMII will co-invest $40 million against the initial Federal award.
Additive manufacturing, often referred to as 3D printing, is a new way of making products and components from a digital model, and will have implications in a wide range of industries including defense, aerospace, automotive, and metals manufacturing. Like an office printer that puts 2D digital files on a piece of paper, a 3D printer creates components by depositing thin layers of material one after another using a digital blueprint until the exact component required has been created. The Department of Defense envisions customizing parts on site for operational systems that would otherwise be expensive to make or ship. The Department of Energy anticipates that additive processes would be able to save more than 50% energy use compared to today’s ‘subtractive’ manufacturing processes.
This announcement comes in the midst of the ongoing gun control debate led by the White House and spearheaded by Vice President Joe Biden. Some lawmakers, including New York senator Chuck Schumer, have already called for legislation to ban the plastic guns and regulate the technology involved. Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., renewed a call to pass his recently introduced “Undetectable Firearms Modernization Act,” which renews the current ban on undetectable weapons that expires this year.
9:02 AM, Dec 18, 2012 • By ARI SCHULMAN
In December 1972, Eugene Cernan took a long climb up a short ladder on the lunar surface and became the last human being to set foot on another world. It was forty years ago this week that Apollo 17 completed its quarter million mile journey home, marking the last time to date humans have traveled more than a few hundred miles from earth.
The Blue Helix should suffice for the next few months.Nov 19, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 10 • By JOE QUEENAN
Consumers are justifiably confused when it comes to picking out a smartphone. Many high-end iPhones and Androids contain features that are not terribly useful in everyday life. Not-so-early adopters also worry that they will purchase a state-of-the-art phone for $399 and then, just a few months later, burn with envy as a less expensive unit offering many more features hits the market.
Webcraft as spycraft.Jun 11, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 37 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
Last April, the Iranian Oil Ministry and the National Iranian Oil Company noticed a problem with some of their computers: A small number of machines were spontaneously erasing themselves. Spooked by the recent Stuxnet attack, which had wrecked centrifuges in their nuclear labs, the Iranians suspected a piece of computer malware was to blame. They went to the United Nations’ International Telecommunications Union and asked for help.
4:00 PM, Mar 22, 2012 • By ETHAN GUTMANN
Investigating Chinese surveillance is a rather lonely job. For all the dissidents yammering about dramatic arrests and torture and harvesting of organs, you can’t really guarantee publication or much of an audience unless you can prove that there are links to America: brand name corporations, scary cutting-edge U.S. technology, insidious Washington collusion. That’s the trifecta—and, now, if you could somehow squeeze the elections in there somehow…
3:35 PM, Oct 6, 2011 • By ADAM J. WHITE
The passing of Steve Jobs has sparked an immense amount of reflection and appreciation—just as his retirement did months ago, and the publication of Walter Isaacson's biography of Jobs will do later this month. But for all the talk of Steve Jobs and the world that he created, attention must be paid to the world that created him: Silicon Valley.
And giving cover to tyrants.2:50 PM, Feb 15, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
This week the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold hearings on COICA (the Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeit Act). It sounds like harmless enough legislation, or at least it did to members of the committee who voted for it unanimously, 19-0, during the lame duck session last year. But it's worse than it sounds.
3:39 PM, Oct 10, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
The New York Times has published a piece on Charles Krauthammer's love of chess:
Charles Krauthaammer, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Washington Post, occasionally takes up his pen and instead of lashing liberal causes writes about one of his passions: chess.
Krauthammer, in a recent interview, said he had written many columns on chess, including one each year for 20 years in Time magazine. When he was nominated for the Pulitzer in 1986, he said one of the 10 columns submitted to the judges was about one of the world championship matches between Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov. (He did not win the Pulitzer until the following year, when all of the submitted columns were political commentary.) [...]
Another triumph of Obamanomics.Jul 19, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 41 • By ANDREW B. WILSON
The Great Obamanomic Job Creation Machine rumbled into action again over the Fourth of July weekend, promising to spend as much as $2 billion to support creation of 1,585 “permanent” jobs by two solar energy companies. That comes to a potential cost of over $1.25 million per job.
What hides behind the "Great Firewall" of China?7:30 AM, Jun 18, 2010 • By KELLEY CURRIE
Last week, the Chinese government issued a new propaganda piece in the form of a policy paper on its Internet control policies. It serves as a typical example of Beijing's Orwellian use of language and formalism to dress up its authoritarianism as legal and rational.
Can we use technology to pry open closed and semi-closed societies?8:20 AM, Jun 16, 2010 • By GABRIEL SCHOENFELD
Over in the New Republic, Jack Goldsmith has an essay that cuts through the fog surrounding the subject of cyber warfare. The piece's occasion is a new book on the subject by Richard A. Clarke and Robert K. Knake that sounds the alarm about the danger we might face one day from a concerted attack on the computer systems that underpin our economic and military infrastructure.
And beyond the law?8:25 AM, Jun 15, 2010 • By GABRIEL SCHOENFELD
Is there nothing we can do about Wikileaks? Is it really a website where anyone can post any U.S. government secret no matter how injurious it is to American security?