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Giant 3D Printer Uses Sand to "Print" Buildings

3D printers have been around for a while. They're often used when prototyping consumer products -- you can feed a CAD file (a computer rendering) into the 3D printer and it creates an object (usually made of plastic) that you can feel and fiddle around with. This is handy, because it helps you get an idea of the the "real world" size of an object -- and usually a small object at that. But Italian inventor Encrico Dini has created a printer called D-Shape that uses sand to create very large objects. Like buildings.

A PhysOrg article about D-Shape says this:

The completed material resembles marble, is stronger than concrete, and does not need iron reinforcing. The printing process can successfully create internal curves, partitions, ducting, and hollow columns.

Dini also has lunar plans for the D-shape, and is in discussions with La Scuola Normale Superiore, Norman Foster (a UK architecture firm), and Alta Space, as part of the Aurora program run by the European Space Agency (ESA), to build a modified D-Shape that could use lunar regolith (moon dust) to build a moon base. Dini will carry out trials in a vacuum chamber at Alta Space's facility in Pisa to ensure the process is possible in a low-atmosphere environment such as the moon.

Dini said his ultimate dream is to complete Guidi's Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, which has been under construction since 1882 and which is not expected to be completed until 2026 at the earliest.

Here's a video of the device in action (warning: in Italian, and with a strange intro, but interesting nonetheless):

(Via Mashable. See more at the D-Shape website.)

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Space
Can’t See the Eclipse in Person? Watch NASA’s 360° Live Stream
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Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

Depending on where you live, the historic eclipse on August 21 might not look all that impressive from your vantage point. You may be far away from the path of totality, or stuck with heartbreakingly cloudy weather. Maybe you forgot to get your eclipse glasses before they sold out, or can't get away from your desk in the middle of the day.

But fear not. NASA has you covered. The space agency is live streaming a spectacular 4K-resolution 360° live video of the celestial phenomenon on Facebook. The livestream started at 12 p.m. Eastern Time and includes commentary from NASA experts based in South Carolina. It will run until about 4:15 ET.

You can watch it below, on NASA's Facebook page, or on the Facebook video app.

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science
What Makes a 'Moon'? (The Answer Is More Complicated Than You'd Think)
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Not all moons look like the spherical glowing orb that hovers above Earth. In fact, to be a moon, a space rock technically only has to be the natural satellite of a star’s satellite.

That said, these rocks don’t all look, or act, alike. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and types, and they all have unique behaviors. For example, Jupiter has 53 known moons—including the solar system’s largest moon, Ganymede—and many of them have elliptical, backwards orbits. Meanwhile, Mars has two moons, and they're irregularly-shaped, dark satellites that orbit the planet’s equator in circles.

Since there are hundreds of moons—and even more conditional ones—in our solar system, this raises a question: Should we deem each and every one of these secondary satellites a “moon”? And if not, should the distinguishing criteria include factors like orbit, size, shape, or visibility from a planet’s surface?

MinuteEarth’s Kate Yoshida explores these questions in the video below.

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