Commentary & Analysis
Around the Web: New Water-Repellent Textiles – A 3D Printing Playbook – CliffsNotes for Food Labels – Missile Mail! – Public Libraries’ Streaming Services – This Week in Printing History
A new process reduces the environmental impact of water-repellent textiles. Harvard Business Review looks at new possibilities for 3D printing. New health benefits of coffee. The best streaming service may just be your public library. RIP Harlan Ellison. All that and more in WhatTheyThink's weekly miscellany.
By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: July 6, 2018
Reducing Environmental Impact for Water Repellency
MIT researchers have developed a new process for creating water-repellent textiles—which also works with paper and other substrates—that promises to reduce the environmental impact of the current coatings being used. Researchers also report that current coatings are more water resistant than water repellent and can enter the human body through skin contact. It uses a different coating process, called initiated chemical vapor deposition (iCVD), which does not require submerging the fabric in a liquid. This new process will be critical to the industry as regulatory requirements tighten on the use of long polymers with perfluorinated side-chains. Read all the technical details here!
HBR Offers a “3D Printing Playbook”
From the Harvard Business Review:
A new era in additive manufacturing, or “3-D printing,” is at hand, with major implications for adoption of the technology and for business models that companies can use in taking the plunge…. [A]dditive’s growing capabilities, together with expansion in both the materials available and the supplier ecosystem, have made it possible to affordably produce a much broader range of things—from the soles of running shoes to turbine blades—often in much higher volumes. The technology provides an unprecedented ability to customize products and respond quickly to shifts in market demand. As a result, it is moving from limited applications, such as prototyping and making conventional machine tools, to a central role in manufacturing for a growing number of industries.
HBR identifies new potential and possibilities and offers a playbook for taking advantage of them.
Death Wish Coffee? Maybe Not...
Says Science Daily:
A new study shows that a caffeine concentration equivalent to four cups of coffee promotes the movement of a regulatory protein into mitochondria, enhancing their function and protecting cardiovascular cells from damage.
So eight cups would be twice as good! Right?
Labeled With Love
Although in our industry we’re more interested in the actual production of food labels than what’s actually on them, trying to use food labels to make healthy eating choices can be...er...a sticky situation. The New York Times offers some much-needed Cliff’s Notes for today’s food labels.
Random Historical Fact of the Week
Throughout its history, the Post Office has always sought to improve the delivery speed of the mail. Did you know that in the 1959, the Post Office Department, working with the U.S. Navy, attempted to deliver the mail via missile. They called it “Missile Mail.” However, it wasn’t just about delivering the mail. From Today I Found Out:
Although purported to be an altruistic endeavour designed to test the feasibility of sending mail via missile, with the Postmaster General, Arthur E Summerfield, himself at the time waxing poetic about the potential the idea had, as far as the military was concerned, this was just a “a huge flex” aimed squarely at the Soviets. You see, the Cold War was just beginning to heat up and the sending of mail hundreds of miles via guided missile was seen by the Department of Defence as a great publicity stunt to use to show off the accuracy and precision of the United States’ nuclear arsenal.
To this end, the missile chosen to carry the mail was a Regulus I- a cruise missile ordinarily tipped with a nuclear warhead that in this case had been replaced by two mail containers. Said containers were hand-loaded with the help of Summerfield. After this, he then headed off to the missile’s destination point.
Launched a little after noon on June 8, 1959, the missile landing safely after a mere 22 minute flight. As mentioned, Summerfield was waiting to hand collect the mail and from there the letters were taken to a post office in Jacksonville, Florida to be sorted like any other piece of mail.
Alas, Missile Mail never got anywhere, and Air Mail was the fastest we’d get. Maybe today’s USPS can use missiles to shoot down Amazon’s same-day delivery drones.
And You Don’t Even Have to Shush
Netflix. Hulu. Spotify. Amazon Prime. Sling TV. DirectVNow. Fubo. (Fubo?) And even more that few have even heard of. And yet, it could be argued—as Gizmodo does—that the best streaming service may actually be your local library.
[T]here’s an almost limitless world of adventure and entertainment just waiting for you to sign up. Imagine, if you will, a single service that lets you enjoy thousands of different books, movies, albums, and periodicals. It’s increasingly becoming one of the world’s best-kept secrets, and it’s called your local library.
If your knowledge of public libraries is limited to depictions in film and on television, you might think of them as the boring book places that are occasionally attacked by ghosts [or bats —Ed.]. While, by definition, libraries contain books, most libraries in America now offer a wide variety of recorded media available for your consumption, including CDs, DVDs, magazines, ebooks, and audiobooks.
Looking for movies? Your library has ‘em. Looking for music? It’s got that, too. Trying to find the Zoobooks about ostriches you spilled chocolate milk on in 1998? Good news...it’s probably there.
“Okay, sounds good,” you may be thinking. “But how much does it cost?” Honestly, that’s the wildest...part: It’s absolutely free.
At mid-year, Folio picks its favorite YTD magazine covers of 2018.
Late last week, we said goodbye to one of the most influential, prolific, and often...difficult fiction writers, Harlan Ellison (don’t call him a “science-fiction writer”). Fans of old TV scifi likely know his episodes of the original Outer Limits (“Soldier” and “Demon with the Glass Hand”) and Star Trek (“City on the Edge of Forever,” which was drastically rewritten by Gene Roddenberry, which still stuck in Ellison’s craw 50 years later). He was a creative consultant on the great 90s series Babylon 5, which, happily, just started streaming on Amazon Prime.
But short stories were where he shone; “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream,” “ ‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman,” “The Paladin of the Lost Hour,” “Shatterday”—just a scant few of his highlights. They weren’t all gems, but a higher-than-average percentage were. The 2008 documentary about Ellison, Dreams with Sharp Teeth, is a colorful portrait of the artist as an angry young (and old) man. Many of his notorious appearances on Tom Snyder’s Tomorrow show are on YouTube and make for entertaining viewing. Rest in peace, Mr. Ellison, but few think you will.
This Week in Printing, Publishing, and Media History
July 3, 1767: Norway's oldest newspaper still in print, Adresseavisen, is founded and the first edition is published.
July 3, 1886: The New-York Tribune becomes the first newspaper to use a Linotype machine, eliminating typesetting by hand. It'll never catch on.
July 3, 1883: Czech-Austrian author Franz Kafka born in Prague. Did his mother find it a Kafka-esqe experience?
July 4, 1855: The first edition of Walt Whitman's book of poems, Leaves of Grass, is published In Brooklyn.
July 4, 1950: Radio Free Europe first broadcasts.
July 4, 1883: American sculptor, cartoonist, and engineer Rube Goldberg born. It was a needlessly complicated birth.
July 5, 1687: Isaac Newton publishes Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica.
July 5, 1954: The BBC broadcasts its first television news bulletin.
July 5, 1958: American author, illustrator, and cartoonist Bill Watterson, creator of Calvin & Hobbes, born.
July 6, 1865: The first issue of The Nation magazine is published.
July 7, 1928: Sliced bread is sold for the first time by the Chillicothe Baking Company of Chillicothe, Mo. At the time, it was said to have been the greatest thing since...hmmm…
July 8, 1889: The first issue of The Wall Street Journal is published.
What caught your eye this week?