The Smithsonian recently launched an online beta site called Smithsonian X 3D, with 3D models of more than 20 artifacts from its vast collection. Visitors to the site can now examine these objects closely from any angle and click on certain pins points to learn more details. Those with 3D printers can actually create highly detailed replicas. While the educational benefits and coolness factor are obvious, it also allows scientists and historians to endlessly examine objects without potential damage—they have even scanned entire archeological sites.
If you’ve ever wanted to see every detail of a fossilized dolphin jaw or the Wright brothers’ plane, check it out. But if you print out David Livingstone’s 19th-century shotgun, it’s probably not functional.
also by Paula Newton
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