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The 3D Printed Gun, Laser Origami and Megabeast Extinction

55 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 12 May 2013

Plans for a 3D printable pistol have been widely downloaded before being removed from the web at the orders of the US State Department. But not before the gun was made and demonstrated to the BBC’s Rebecca Morelle and over 100,000 people around the world downloaded the plans.

One of the highlights from the Computer Human Interaction conference recently in Paris was laser origami. Among the delegates showing off the latest in interfaces and gesture control was a group demonstrating the virtuosity of laser cutters. The proponents of laser origami mounted a challenge to 3D print making champions, arguing that 3D printers are still slow and take a long time to fabricate objects. On the other hand there are other fabrication machines such as laser cutters which cut in 2D and the parts can be assembled into 3D objects.

For most of the Ice Age that characterized our planet for the last 2 million years or so, Australia and New Guinea formed a single landmass, Sahul, where around 90 species of giant animals roamed the land. Today, these leviathans, known as megafauna, no longer exist. What caused their extinction? This question has caused heated debate since the 19th century. Now, is mounting evidence shifting the focus from human responsibility to climate change? Dr Stephen Wroe of the University of New South Wales, puts the case for climate change’s responsibility in this week’s edition of the journal PNAS. Dr Kira Westaway of Macquarie University is an interested and involved researcher who has been following the debate.


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