Saturday, July 25, 2015

I'm pretty much the best scientist I know, except for the part where I'm not actually a scientist and don't really know very much about science. Have I said "science" enough in this title? Science. SCIENCESCIENCESCIENCE enough.

There's a story on Geekologie this week about a 3-D printed house, which looks like this when it's almost finished:

According to Geekologie,
The company says it takes about 9 days to produce the modules. That is pretty impressive. Even more impressive considering the home is capable of withstanding a magnitude-9 earthquake and is constructed using a proprietary new building material that is "sourced from industrial and agricultural waste, is fireproof and waterproof, and is free from harmful substances such as formaldehyde, ammonia, and radon."

Now, I'm not going to do what I usually do and claim that someone stole my idea (they did) and that obviously those home-printers read my blog (they do). Instead, I'm going to point out why the existence of this house makes me a better scientist than pretty much every actual scientist, including Neil DeBuzzkill Tyson. The reason is this:


I say that because I originally envisioned using printers to build houses back in about 2009, when I wrote Santa, Godzilla & Jesus Walk Into A Bar.  That story (which you should read) told the origins of Xmas, which came about when Wenceslas built his "Xmas" machine.  The "Xmas Machine" was a version of a 'Santa Claus machine,' and either way is a machine that scientists hypothesize could be created which would take raw materials and convert it into finished products.

A 3D printer, although they didn't call it that back in 2009, when I listened to a "Stuff To Blow Your Mind" podcast about Santa Claus Machines, and learned that scientists feared Santa Claus machines, because not only were they worried they would simply replicate themselves (huh?) but also the podcast people said it would be "the end of design," that once we had machines that could make anything from simple raw materials everything would be homogenized and identical.

I thought exactly the opposite.  In an afterword to my book, I talked about Santa Claus machines and noted that once such machines existed, there would no doubt be apps that would let us print things in different styles:

Apps for our Machines would be huge, of course: You’d need an app for a ham sandwich, and an app for a car, and an app for a house, and machines of different sizes. Your average person, for example, would probably have a machine no larger than their refrigerator – for making household goods like clothes and meals and such. 

And then I said:

Contractors would have the big machines, to pre-form houses.


I love what I do.  And I love my life all the time and have almost no regrets.  But sometimes I think back on how little attention I paid in science and math classes, and wonder whether, if I could have foreseen how much I would love that stuff, how amazing it is, and I realize I might well have become a scientist if I'd done that.

For a while I seriously considered it, senior year in college.  I took an astronomy class and loved it so much I thought about changing my major and getting a degree in what would now be astrophysics.  But I was four years into a political science degree and already 26 and applying to law schools, so I didn't follow up on that.

I'm a pretty awesome lawyer.  But I think I would've been a pretty awesome scientist or engineer, too.

Here's a shot of inside the house.

There are a lot more pictures of it if you're interested; click here. Also, go buy my book. It's the only Xmas book ever to feature a sexy cop, Godzilla, homicidal elves, handsome angels, and the Secret Army Under The Bed.  You could have Xmas in July!


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