Technology Tuesday: January 15th

Welcome to Technology Tuesday! Every week The Job Shop Blog will bring you our 5 top science and technology news stories from around the web.

This week: 3D printed organs in space, a racer trained only in video games beat professional racers, a more efficient fusion drive, 3D printed space rockets, and China wants to build a permanent moon base.

HERE’S WHY NASA WANTS TO 3D PRINT HUMAN HEARTS IN SPACE

To help cut down at the horrifically-long donor organ waitlist, some scientists are looking up to outer space.

Several doctors have tried to 3D print organs in the lab, with mixed results — organs with complex internal structures, like hearts and lungs, tend to collapse under their own weight.

Now, instead of supporting them with complex scaffolding systems, some scientists are wondering if it’d be better to send the 3D printer up to the zero-gravity environment of the International Space Station (ISS) in order to print hearts in space, according to BBC News — a convergence of space and medicine that could prove either be a grim folly or shape the future of surgery.

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A GUY TRAINED ON VIDEO GAMES JUST BEAT A FORMULA 1 RACER AND AN INDY 500 CHAMPION ON REAL TRACKS

Video games and simulators are getting pretty realistic — a video game pro beat a former Formula 1 driver in a race this weekend, without decades of real-world racing experience.

In a shocking victory that left commentators speechless, 23-year-old Enzo Bonito beat Lucas di Grassi, a Formula E and ex-Formula 1 driver on a winding race track in Mexico on Jan. 19. Why does it matter? Because Bonito cut his teeth in esports, the nascent world of competitors who play video games for prizes. Esports are becoming so popular that prizes recently topped out at $100 million for a Fortnite tournament last year.

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SCIENTISTS FOUND A NEW WAY TO MAKE FUSION REACTIONS MORE EFFICIENT

For a technology that stands to revolutionize how we generate clean energy, nuclear fusion is remarkably leaky — high energy particles can sometimes escape experimental reactors, making the process much less efficient.

But new research may have found a way to keep those particles where they belong, according to U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) research published in the journal Physics of Plasmas in October. The new work could boost the efficiency of experimental fusion reactors such as ITER, a groundbreaking facility currently under construction in France.

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U.S. AIR FORCE APPROVES LAUNCH SITE FOR A 3D PRINTED ROCKET

A three-year-old startup is trying to launch rockets into space that are almost entirely 3D printed. And it just got permission from the U.S. Air Force to launch from the historic Launch Complex 16 at Cape Canaveral in Florida.

Relativity Space — a rocket-building company founded by SpaceX and Blue Origin alumni — revealed a new contract with the U.S. Air Force this week that would allow it to launch from a site that has been unused since 1988, according to Quartz. If the company manages to regularly launch rockets from the site, it could be able to extend the contract into a 20-year exclusive agreement with the Air Force.

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CHINA ANNOUNCES PLANS FOR A PERMANENT MOON BASE

A Chinese rover is currently exploring the far side of the Moon, and an official announced on Monday that the country’s space program plans to launch three more lunar missions  with the goal of laying the groundwork for an international Moon base.

“We hope that [the last of the planned missions] Chang’e-8 will help test some technologies, and do some exploring for the building of a joint lunar base shared by multiple countries,” said the deputy head of China’s space program, Wu Yanhua, during a press conference.

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