Monday, December 17, 2012

Growing the Brain in 3D!

Before launching into the real meat of this post, permit me a moment to rant about one of the claims often made by personal 3D printer manufacturers.  I cringe every time I hear a 3D printer manufacturer claim that their product can "replicate itself".  First, the claim is demonstrably false.  At present, all any personal 3D printer can do toward the goal of replicating itself is to print out a few plastic parts.  Secondly, it is such a narrowly inferior goal that it actually demeans the value of 3D printing rather than enhancing it.

Now having declared the "replicate itself" claim as false and puny.  I am going to go W-A-Y out on a limb with a claim of my own that will surely invite declarations of FALSE or MISLEADING.  I'm going to claim that a 3D printer, while not able to replicate itself, CAN contribute to something FAR more important... GROWING OUR BRAINS.

Of all the recent discoveries that should be meaningful to all of us... from youngest to oldest... it is the understanding that we can, literally, GROW our brains.  

For most of my life, it seemed to be believed that we started life with a finite brain structure that deteriorated in old age as we lost brain cells.  But, in recent years, there seems to be a growing consensus that our brains structure is NOT static and that we can actually grow our brains!

This remarkable fact first came to me through the writings of Dr. Caroline Leaf, a South African learning specialist.  Her writings launched me on a quest to either validate or repudiate her claims.  And, that turned out to be a true and remarkable adventure.  

In my last post, I alluded to the fact that I believe that the Cube 3D printer is much more than a simple gadget builder.  At some level, it is a key that helps us unlock the potential of our brains by allowing us to realize, in concrete form, the ideas that used to tantalizingly fly fleetingly by. 

Just visit the Cubify blog and scroll through some of the latest articles to witness the power of ideas made real!

How do I think the Cube (or any 3D printer) helps us grow our brains?

First,  let's start with a fun article, by Lulu Miller, that introduces the concept.   A more academic description of the new field of neurogenesis can be found at this link.   

While my own observations about the link between 3D printing and neurogenesis are completely anecdotal, I'm convinced that the link is there.  Now, that could mean that I'm simply crazy.  But, it may also mean that my own personal experience, and the experience that I've seen in others can be explained by neurogenesis in action as the brain finds a feedback path in the real world of tangible objects.

The DREAMS LAB - Virginia Tech

Now, I'm not sure that the professors at Virginia Tech would go as far as I do in claiming that there may be a connection between a 3D printer and personal neurogenesis; but, it sure is interesting that they named their Additive Manufacturing center, THE DREAMS LAB.

It's also interesting to me that every single person I met, during a recent visit to their facility, would fit my personal description of being a "Renaissance Person".   By "Renaissance Person", I mean one that has remarkably wide ranging interests and accomplishments.  While they are rare, I have been very fortunate to have been surrounded by such individuals... Dave Nutting and Bob Ogdon  while I was with Astrocade,... Don Komai with Time Life Software (Time Life Books) and Frederick "Mike" Slay with my current employer.   But, the world of 3D design and printing seems to teem with them.

The Dreams Lab - DreamVendor Kiosk

Perhaps nothing demonstrates the professor's confidence in the value of 3D printing to the creative process, for all students, than the DreamVendor kiosk which allows any Va Tech student to print out their designs completely for free.

I'll let you read more about this terrific idea on Gizmag.  Be sure to watch the video!  Very Cool.

Inviting Cube Owners or 3D Printer Users to Chime In

If you own a Cube I would love to hear if you believe that owning and/or using a 3D printers has unleashed your creativity and grown your brain.  I know that it has been true for me.  I've certainly witnessed it in others.  But, Has it been true for you?  

This should be interesting.

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