The ice cream cone-shaped fluorescent light bulb was supposed to be the lamp of the future, producing just as much light as the century-old Edison incandescent at a fraction of the energy. But CFLs look terrible, enveloping rooms in an unfriendly bluish hue. LED lamps are the next future of lighting, but they have their own obstacles to overcome, including sensitive electronics that can burn out when they get warm. SWITCH, the first liquid-cooled light bulb, aims to solve that issue and light up your house with the comfortable yellow glow of the incandescent.
“A milestone for us would be to print a robot that would get up and walk out of the printer,” Professor Lipson said. “Batteries included.”
While that milestone may be more than a few miles away, 3-D printers are already doing some amazing things. See this video below, for instance, of the sub-$3,000 open-source Fab@Home project's printer cranking out one of those rubber squeeze bulb things we all know and love out of liquid silicone. Teleportation can't be too far off... —John Mahoney
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.