Smithsonian Institution
Smithsonian Institution

10 Priceless Smithsonian Artifacts You Can Print Out At Home

Smithsonian Institution
Smithsonian Institution

If you have a 3D printer, the Smithsonian has a surprise for you. The institution has scanned more than 20 artifacts (with more to come), creating 3D models that you can download and print at home. Calling it the end of "do not touch," the Smithsonian says the prints are exact replicas of the objects, and are ready for you to handle and manipulate however you want. Heck, they even encourage it.

1. Wooly Mammoth Skeleton

The Wooly Mammoth went extinct 10,000 years ago. This 3D model was taken from a composite skeleton of several animals that were recovered from Alaska in 1952. This hairy relative of the African elephant stood as high as 11 feet in real life, and now you can print its skeleton out in any size your printer will allow.

2. Abraham Lincoln’s Life Masks

It’s a myth that a death mask was made of Abraham Lincoln’s face after he was killed. In fact, Lincoln had two life masks made: one in 1860 when he was 51 years old and one in 1865 when he was almost 56. Both models are near duplicates of Lincoln’s face, including lines and pockmarks. The second life mask, made only two months before Lincoln was assassinated, shows how much the Civil War aged him.

3. Vairochana, the Cosmic Buddha

In person, this Buddha from 6th century China is a life-sized statue of a monk’s body minus the head and hands, which were lost years ago. The monk is wearing a robe covered with intricate carvings of the Realms of Existence, a symbolic representation of the Buddhist universe. The laser scanner revealed details of the carvings thought worn away centuries ago, demonstrating one of the advantages of 3D modeling for researchers: It allows for deeper study of an object with no risk of harming it.

4. Cassiopeia A Supernova Remnant

You can print out a supernova remnant? Apparently so. This is a 3D model of the youngest supernova in our galaxy, which exploded 330 years ago. It’s located 10,000 light years away in the constellation Cassiopeia.

5. Dr. Livingstone’s Gun

The Scottish explorer David Livingstone wasn’t a very good shot. Once, in Africa, he tried to shoot a lion. He missed, and the lion proceeded to maul Livingstone’s left arm. Luckily for him, his assistant shot the lion down. This isn’t the same gun, but this 10-gauge shotgun was placed in Livingstone’s coffin when he died from dysentery in 1873.

6. Amelia Earhart’s Flight Suit

Amelia Earhart wore this flight suit in 1932 when she flew from Newfoundland to Ireland, setting the record as the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. The wool-lined leather suit provided essential protection from the icy air she encountered 20,000 feet up.

7. Pergolesi chair

Italian silversmith and engraver Michelangelo Pergolesi designed this side chair circa 1785. The back is elaborately carved with flowers and griffins and made out of polychromed and gilded wood. The ornamental design is meant to hearken back to classical antiquity and Renaissance decoration by the artist Raphael. Print one out for your dollhouse today.

8. Embreea Herrenhauser Orchid

This large orchid from Ecuador puts out a fragrance that the male euglossine bee uses to make itself sexier to the female euglossine bee, much like cologne is used to attract some human women. The company Sugar Lab printed out sugar versions of the orchid, which Todd Blatt at Make said “tasted a bit chalky, but much better than eating an orchid.”

9. Blue Crab

Although known as part of the Chesapeake Bay region, the blue crab’s habitat extends from as far north as Nova Scotia to as far south as Uruguay. A relative of the lobster and shrimp, they can get up to 9 inches long and are proficient swimmers. They are also quite tasty to many people. This 3D model wasn’t taken off a priceless artifact—it was taken off crabs purchased from the nearby seafood market.

10. Wright Flyer

The Wright Flyer was the first plane to take flight. The Wright brothers flew it four times on December 17, 1903 near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. This iconic vehicle is now located in the National Air and Space Museum. The Smithsonian hasn't provided a print-ready model of the Wright Brother’s plane yet, but it’s too cool not to mention here. Technically, you could open the existing 3D model in CAD software, export it to a print-ready model, and print out your own copy. But would it fly?

All images courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution.

Build Your Own Harry Potter Characters With LEGO's New BrickHeadz Set

Harry Potter is looking pretty square these days. In a testament to the enduring appeal of the boy—and the franchise—who lived, LEGO has launched a line of Harry Potter BrickHeadz.

The gang’s all here in this latest collection, which was recently revealed during the toymaker’s Fall 2018 preview in New York City. Other highlights of that show included LEGO renderings of characters from Star Wars, Incredibles 2, and several Disney films, according to Inside The Magic.

The Harry Potter BrickHeadz collection will be released in July and includes figurines of Harry, Hermione, Ron, Dumbledore, and even Hedwig. Some will be sold individually, while others come as a set.

A Ron Weasley figurine

A Hermione figurine

A Dumbledore figurine

Harry Potter fans can also look forward to a four-story, 878-piece LEGO model of the Hogwarts Great Hall, which will be available for purchase August 1. Sets depicting the Whomping Willow, Hogwarts Express, and a quidditch match will hit shelves that same day.

[h/t Inside The Magic]

Carl Court, Getty Images
Is There a Limit to How Many Balls You Can Juggle?
Carl Court, Getty Images
Carl Court, Getty Images

In 2017, a juggler named Alex Barron broke a record when he tossed 14 balls into the air and caught them each once. The feat is fascinating to watch, and it becomes even more impressive once you understand the physics behind it.

As WIRED explains in a new video, juggling any more than 14 balls at once may be physically impossible. Researchers who study the limits of juggling have found that the success of a performance relies on a number of different components. Speed, a.k.a. the juggler's capacity to move their hands in time to catch each ball as it lands, is a big one, but it's not the most important factor.

What really determines how many balls one person can juggle is their accuracy. An accurate juggler knows how to keep their balls from colliding in midair and make them land within arm's reach. If they can't pull that off, their act falls apart in seconds.

Breaking a juggling world record isn't the same as breaking a record for sprinting or shot put. With each new ball that's added to the routine, jugglers need to toss higher and move their hands faster, which means their throws need to be significantly more accurate than what's needed with just one ball fewer. And skill and hours of practice aren't always enough; according to expert jugglers, the current world records were likely made possible by a decent amount of luck.

For a closer look at the physics of juggling, check out the video below.


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