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Smithsonian Releases 3D Models of Artifacts

Soulskill posted about 10 months ago | from the creep-out-your-neighbors-with-lincoln's-face dept.

Education 47

plover writes "The Seattle Times reports, 'The Smithsonian Institution is launching a new 3D scanning and printing initiative to make more of its massive collection accessible to schools, researchers and the public worldwide. A small team has begun creating 3D models of some key objects representing the breadth of the collection at the world's largest museum complex. Some of the first 3D scans include the Wright brothers' first airplane, Amelia Earhart's flight suit, casts of President Abraham Lincoln's face during the Civil War and a Revolutionary War gunboat. Less familiar objects include a former slave's horn, a missionary's gun from the 1800s and a woolly mammoth fossil from the Ice Age. They are pieces of history some people may hear about but rarely see or touch.' So far they have posted 20 models, with the promise of many more to come." They even have a model supernova remnant.

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"A former slave's horn" (2, Funny)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about 10 months ago | (#45439233)

Well, that's a fairly sophisticated if culturally aware euphemism.

Re:"A former slave's horn" (1)

s.petry (762400) | about 10 months ago | (#45439647)

You forgot "Brought to you by Autodesk".

I have no idea why Idiocracy came to mind when looking at those ads everywhere on the site...

Re:"A former slave's horn" (1)

mhajicek (1582795) | about 10 months ago | (#45441437)

Bring me the human horn!

Time for slivers... (4, Funny)

grub (11606) | about 10 months ago | (#45439291)


I want to print a 3D model of Washington's wooden teeth and put them in my RealDoll!

Re:Time for slivers... (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about 10 months ago | (#45439323)

Play DOTT.

Re:Time for slivers... (1)

mTor (18585) | about 10 months ago | (#45440871)

Washington's wooden teeth

Actually, his teeth were not made of wood. His dentures were made of gold, hippopotamus ivory, lead, and human and animal teeth (including horse and donkey teeth).

Check out this link for more info including a pic of them: George Washington's teeth not wooden - Technology & science - Science | NBC News [nbcnews.com]

people may hear about but rarely see or touch (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45439345)

How is a 3D model supposed to help you touch the original? Oh wait, you think this has something to do with 3D printers? Well, how does a rough approximation in the wrong material get you any closer? You'll get just as close looking at a picture, but that's not the geek hobby horse of the moment...

Re:people may hear about but rarely see or touch (1)

Rakhar (2731433) | about 10 months ago | (#45439409)

The interesting bit is the possibility of schools being able to get their hands on cheap scale models of some of these things. Getting a child interested in science and history makes the learning process go a lot more smoothly than just cramming a bunch of facts down their throat. Even viewing the 3d models on the computer is actually fairly interesting. Rotating around the mold of Lincoln's face is very much different than just "looking at a picture". The same for things like the Wright brothers' plane, with all of its individual parts.

Just because you aren't interested doesn't mean that other people aren't.

Re:people may hear about but rarely see or touch (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45440141)

I'm really sorry for you being old, lonely and impotent, but JESUS FUCKING CHRIST I'm sick of your threadshitting both here and on Fark.com. Go chip yourself a nice flint spearhead, tie it to a stick, and jump on it.

Re:people may hear about but rarely see or touch (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 10 months ago | (#45442633)

Well, its better than looking at a simple picture. Most people will never make it to DC to see the original, protected behind glass. Even fewer get to physically touch it.

Yawn. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45439475)

Wake me up when they've scanned the original Enterprise.

Re:Yawn. (1)

Wintermute__ (22920) | about 10 months ago | (#45439815)

Wake me up when they've scanned the original Enterprise.

That would be quite a feat, considering that that one was burned in 1777 [wikipedia.org] to prevent it's capture by the British.

Re:Yawn. (1)

matfud (464184) | about 10 months ago | (#45440445)

History is funny like that. The George renamed the Enterprise. A whole slew of ships named after that captured ship. Some may say stolen. It was most cerainly an Enterprising appropriation :)

I want the secrets (1)

SpaceManFlip (2720507) | about 10 months ago | (#45439499)

What about the secret bones in their basement??

I hear they have bones of a long-dead race of giants with multiple rows of teeth and stuff.

Re:I want the secrets (2)

s.petry (762400) | about 10 months ago | (#45439609)

According to reports, there were over 18,000 mummies sent to the Smithsonian, one a guy in a full set of copper armor with a copper crown. The Smithsonian claimed that they don't know what happened to them when sent inquiries.

Numerous people in the 1800s started claiming that they should not send anything else to the institute lest they become "lost", but of course these city councilmen, archeologists, engineers, etc.. were just "crazy conspiracy theories".

I think they should allow volunteers to start digging through those troves and finding things. How many American Indian artifacts are collecting dust? And those don't require any conspiracy theories to determine that they have a stash.

Re:I want the secrets (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 10 months ago | (#45441529)

Take your meds.

Re:I want the secrets (1)

Skater (41976) | about 10 months ago | (#45444267)

How many American Indian artifacts are collecting dust? And those don't require any conspiracy theories to determine that they have a stash.

They apparently have many in the facility in Suitland, MD, which occasionally does do tours, usually in conjunction with "____ history month" - for example they just did one for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

Oh my... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45439509)

Just hope none of the scanned historical artifacts happen to be guns or we're up for another round of hysteria.

Re:Oh my... (1)

Hsien-Ko (1090623) | about 10 months ago | (#45439537)

David Livingstone's Gun [si.edu] isn't a gun?

Reading comprehension. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45439817)

The post above you isn't stating that there are no guns in the collection. It's jokingly suggesting that that if there are any, this will add to the fearmongering about 3d printed guns.

Re: Reading comprehension. (1)

Sigg3.net (886486) | about 10 months ago | (#45450927)

3D printed guns don't kill people, 3D printing puns kill people.

Re:Oh my... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45458465)

Don't worry....Chuck Schumer's already starting the next round of hysteria.

bad license (3, Insightful)

Kevin Fishburne (1296859) | about 10 months ago | (#45439717)

http://www.si.edu/termsofuse [si.edu]

Hopefully those models aren't covered under their site's general license (bans commercial use), as it would be awesome to be able to use these in games.

Re:bad license (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45440381)

Typically artifacts like this have such licenses to avoid culturally inappropriate misuse of the depictions of said models. Stanford release a few models themselves too, and elaborate on why they enforce such restrictions (long story short: shattering a holy statue, or decapitating buddah is going to piss some people off).

Re:bad license (1)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | about 10 months ago | (#45441537)

(long story short: shattering a holy statue, or decapitating buddah is going to piss some people off).

Of sure, but it's OK to show off Abe Lincoln's hollowed out head...
http://3d.si.edu/explorer?modelid=27 [si.edu]
even after his discisive intervention at the Battle of the Smithsonian... on the other hand he left Ben Stiller alive so now I'm conflicted...

Re:bad license (1)

game kid (805301) | about 10 months ago | (#45440695)

No need to worry about how free it is. Autodesk did it.

Re:bad license (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45441983)

Or see what people like Wendy [youtube.com] do once they get their hands on such virtual goods. Sometimes that's more entertaining than what's in videogames.

"a missionary's gun from the 1800s" (2)

sehlat (180760) | about 10 months ago | (#45439841)

These days, just bringing the STL file to school might get you expelled.

All kinds of awesome (1)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about 10 months ago | (#45439877)

Try some of the links from the article.

The system is really cool - you can rotate and view a mastodon skeleton (or supernova model) from any angle, it works in the browser, and it's really fast (on my machine, at least).

You can change the material color/texture, change the lighting properties & angle, take a slice of the 3-d image(!), put down a measuring tape, add annotations, then generate a link to that image.

I couldn't find a way to download the model, but you can file->save the web page, and it appears to store all the javascript for the editor on your local system.

The system is all kinds of awesome. Watching them add to their inventory should be very interesting.

Even more awesome (1)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about 10 months ago | (#45440115)

Okay, it's even more awesome.

On the downloads page [si.edu] you can download the models in various forms - point cloud, mesh, and so on. Different formats, depending on the method used to get the model data (cat scan, laser scan, photographic, &c).

They mention in the about page [si.edu] that it would take 247 years of work 24/7 to capture the entire collection.

We could hire 247 people and get the entire collection online in 3 years (8 hour shifts). At $50,000 per person, that's about $13 million per year(*). Compare to the cost of the Obamacare website currently estimated at around $100 million [washingtonpost.com] and it has to be redone.

They've obviously shown "proof of concept" for getting the job done. Can we somehow just give them the money to complete it? Maybe a petition on "We the People"?

(*) Back-of-the-envelope calculation doesn't include cost of scanning equipment or materials, but note that there are a *lot* of museums in this country. We could invest in the infrastructure once and keep 300 people employed for decades putting this great stuff online.

Awesome news! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45439899)

I've always wanted to be able to virtually browse exhibits like this in 3D with full historic data on the side like this. This is awesome! Way to go Smithsonian!

Can we import these into video games? (1)

Dr. Spork (142693) | about 10 months ago | (#45440001)

I think it would be pretty cool, and possibly not that difficult, if gamers could discover some of these Smithsonian objects in the dungeons of RPGs. That really could add immersion and, well... a bit of reality!

Re:Can we import these into video games? (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 10 months ago | (#45440283)

Actually . . . if we could convince the game industry that it would be a good idea . . . then maybe they could provide the funding for it . . . ?

Image Grand Theft Auto, with a character with "President Abraham Lincoln's face during the Civil War" stealing "a woolly mammoth fossil from the Ice Age"!

Re:Can we import these into video games? (1)

Ambvai (1106941) | about 10 months ago | (#45440905)

Like an open world version of Carmen Sandiego?

Re:Can we import these into video games? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45444109)

Imagine being able to blow that tyrannical murderer's head open, all over again!

HA! YOU FOOLS! (0)

hedgemage (934558) | about 10 months ago | (#45440099)

I'm going to use my 3D printer to print out my OWN artifacts and have my OWN Smithsonian and collect all that delicious entrance fee money...
What?
What do you mean its free to get in to their museums!?

Re:HA! YOU FOOLS! (2)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about 10 months ago | (#45440145)

I'm going to use my 3D printer to print out my OWN artifacts and have my OWN Smithsonian and collect all that delicious entrance fee money...

With blackjack? And hookers [youtube.com] ?

Re:HA! YOU FOOLS! (1)

Radtastic (671622) | about 10 months ago | (#45443195)

You jest, but there's probably a deeper conversation about property rights.... No one is up in arms about the wonton copying and reproduction of someone else's work since the original owners are long since dead.

But wait 100 years and see what happens when someone wants to recreate a 2013 -era Nike shoe.

"a missionary's gun from the 1800s" (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 10 months ago | (#45440169)

Back then it was fire, brimstone, and buckshot.

Any nice guns in the Smithsonian? (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 10 months ago | (#45440219)

Just saying...

One Step Further (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45440315)

3D printing ancient artifacts?

Amelia Earhart's flight suit Wasnt she wearing it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45440609)

and whats she famous for except being a failed media whore / socialite and a poor pilot?

Next Halloween... (1)

drkim (1559875) | about 10 months ago | (#45441021)

You just know next Halloween everybody with a 3D printer is going to be a very accurate Abraham Lincoln.

Re:Next Halloween... (1)

mhajicek (1582795) | about 10 months ago | (#45441461)

New face for anonymous?

Re:Next Halloween... (1)

drkim (1559875) | about 10 months ago | (#45441687)

New face for anonymous?

Naw... Every gawddamn used car dealer will be 'honest Abe' for his gawddamn awful, local, basic-cable commercial.

Collection seems incomplete (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45441981)

Remind me to update my will and make an appointment. At first, I thought I'd have to donate it death, leaving my corpse incomplete, but now I see that they can 3D scan my magnificent gargantuan cock, I'm just hoping they have scanning equipment large enough. Merely scanning a small plane and a gunboat does not inspire confidence. Once they have models of Mt Everest up, I can be reasonably sure they can handle moi.

Proprietary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45444457)

A taxpayer funded institution putting out data in a proprietary format. Even the web page says "oops, we could not detect your browser or something and now we will relegate you to browser hell even if you can display our crap." Its always interesting how, when the national labs need an operating system to run their supercomputers so that they can create new weapons/planes/ships, they run like dogs to Linux, yet when it comes to serving up data, they *always* somehow forget reality. Ingrateful Rat Bastard Smithsonian!

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