Stories tagged paper

Holy cow, this video has everything: feats of engineering, seemingly impossible flight, scientific explanations, and instructions on how to do it yourself!

It's unclear who is actually behind it, but someone at Sciencetoymaker.org has posted a video of an amazing paper glider that is so aerodynamically efficient, you can "surf" it on a wave of air generated with your hands. I can't put into words how cool this is. Check out the video, and hit up the main site for the .pdf of the template.

Feb
02
2010

Very much like this
Very much like thisCourtesy Jeff Henshaw
Chill out, everybody. I can tell you’re all stressed out about the future, and why it’s not here, and where the flying cars are, and the laser-powered washing machines, and the genetically engineered dog-faced cats, and all that other stuff we were basically promised.

You feel like you’ve been cheated. I can see it on your faces.

Well don’t worry. The future is here, and it’s called Japan. Check it out: a machine that recycles regular old office paper into brand new toilet paper! Finally! A solution to our office paper surplus/toilet paper shortage, and a great new reason to be absolutely horrified of staples!

The new machine, called “White Goat” (because, duh, like a goat, it will eat almost anything, and it excretes something you want to rub on your orifices), will turn 40 sheets of office paper into one roll of toilet paper in about 30 minutes, at a cost of about 11 cents a roll. I’m not sure if this cost includes only the paper, or also the electricity and water the machine needs. That’s sort of important.

White goat costs somewhat more than a real goat (about $100,000), and will likely be much more difficult to eat when it has outlived its usefulness. Still, it seems like a clever in-house recycling thing, and it makes me wonder what sort of similar, and perhaps more practical, devices could be made for organizations with lots of a particular kind of waste.

Here’s the White Goat in action:

Sep
17
2008

A big pyramid: Of pathetic, antiquated, and useless thought.
A big pyramid: Of pathetic, antiquated, and useless thought.Courtesy Pygo
Y’all know what a scientific paradigm is? Me neither. But I took a class about it once, and I seem to remember that it has something to do with the whole mindset with which we approach scientific questions. A paradigm frames how we might look at the whole of a scientific question—indeed, it doesn’t just determine how we ask questions, but what questions we ask in the first place.

When a paradigm shifts, something has occurred or been uncovered that completely changes the approach to the problem. With a new scientific paradigm, we don’t just ask questions that couldn’t be answered before, we ask questions that we never even considered before.

Let’s examine... oh, say, toilet paper. Thin. Usually white, or whitish. Used for wiping stuff. Two ply (sometimes one-ply, depending on the venue). What more can be done with it? Oh, I suppose we could make it softer somehow. Or make it rougher, maybe. Could we make it whiter? Larger squares? No, the discipline is dry; there is nothing new to be discovered in toilet paper now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement.

Wrong answer, chumps! How about… 3-ply toilet paper!

3-ply? 3-ply? There’s no such… Aaaaaaaaaahhhaaaaaaaaaaaahh!!!!

No, pull it together… I can get my head around this… 3-ply…Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhaaaaaaaaaahhhh!!!!

Okay… Let’s just not think directly at that for a little bit.

So, “toilet paper researchers” in Wisconsin have created toilet paper that has… three layered… They’ve made two-ply toilet paper with one more ply.

It’s like the axis of the world has shifted so that it’s running right through my brain.

The new generation of toilet paper is being touted as “extra-soft,” although, industry analysts are skeptical, pointing out that an extra ply should only make TP tougher, not softer. Not to mention that it just plain seems impossible.

Nonetheless, the Wisconsin futurnauts fully intend to pursue this new three-layered science. The target market is reported to be women 45 and older who view their bathroom as a "sanctuary for quality time."

And so I salute you, 45+ female demographic. You dare what the rest of us can hardly imagine.

Jun
10
2008

Boring ol' fashion paper: practically falling apart under its own weight. Get ready for the awesome new generation of paper (your parents probably won't understand how to use it, though).
Boring ol' fashion paper: practically falling apart under its own weight. Get ready for the awesome new generation of paper (your parents probably won't understand how to use it, though).Courtesy NathanBeach
And it’s about time, I think.

I keep expecting too much out of my paper, I guess. I can’t fry eggs on it. I can’t tie up bank robbers with it. I can’t construct a balcony out of it. I can’t even write on it (I have powerful and intense handwriting).

In short paper is weak. It’s weak as paper, and I’m sick of it.

No longer. Scientists in Sweden and Japan have developed a new type of paper that has the tensile strength of cast iron. That is to say, its ability to “resist pull before snapping” is like that of iron.

Like normal, milquetoast paper, the new material is primarily composed of cellulose, the tough cell walls of plants. This paper is altered on the nano level, however—its structure is changed on the scale of billionths of a meter by exposing it to certain chemicals.

The creators of the tough nanopaper hope that it might someday be used as strong, lightweight construction material, among other applications.

I’m thinking something along the lines of origami body armor.

We've been thinking about different ways that the resurgent craft movement has links to science (trust me there are tons). So while doing some origami this weekend I was psyched to find this cool math resource on how to fold a square into thirds, fifths, and all those other hard to eyeball fractions.

Apr
25
2005

Scientists in England have figured out a way to read ancient Greek and Roman scrolls that had previously been illegible. These scrolls were found about 100 years ago in a garbage dump. Most of the hundreds of scrolls were dirty, moldy stained or burnt, and couldn't be read.

Dead Sea Scroll FragmentPreviously invisible lettering of the Dead Sea Scrolls
Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

In the early '90s, scientists working on the Dead Sea scrolls teamed up with NASA and developed a way to photograph the ancient paper using invisible wavelengths of light. (Light comes in a wide variety of wavelengths. Our eyes only respond to some of them. But scientists can build cameras that respond to wavelengths too long or too short for our eyes to see.)

Already, scientists have discovered lost works by Sophocles, Euripides, and other famous writers of the ancient world. Some feel these discoveries could completely rewrite our understanding of ancient Greece and Rome — and the beginnings of Western civilization.