3D Einstein Book Printed In Space Unveiled At Gala

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Ron Arad, centre, unveils the prototype of the 3D printed book with, from left, astronaut Soichi Noguchi, Monette Malewski, Murray Palay and Rami Kleinmann.

One can only wonder what Albert Einstein would think. It’s a fair bet that the genius who said imagination is more important than knowledge would be delighted.

The prototype of what is being touted as the world’s first 3D printed book, crafted in the likeness of Einstein, was unveiled at a spectacular event in Montreal on Sept. 10 before an international audience of 700 that included several Nobel laureates.

And where else should the first model of such a technological wonder be produced but out of this world. The first copy of Genius: 100 Visions of the Future was printed aboard the International Space Station (ISS), 400 kilometres above the earth in zero gravity.

It came off the press, so to speak, just as the satellite passed over Canada this summer.

The book is the jewel in the crown of the Einstein Legacy Project of the Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University (CFHU), which celebrates the century since Einstein published his groundbreaking theory of relativity, and is a lead-up to Hebrew University’s centennial next year.

Einstein was a founder of the university and bequeathed his archives to it.

The book was designed by London-based Israeli industrial designer Ron Arad who was present when the prototype was ceremoniously removed from its box.

Made of a strong, but flexible, polymer, the pure white creation is outwardly a sculpture of Einstein’s mustachioed face, with only a hint of his iconic unruly hair swept back. The pages within are not discernible.

Arad demonstrated how his creation opens much like a regular book, except that the pages fan back and forth like a plant wafting in the breeze. Making sure the pages turn smoothly, given that the book is of a single piece and has no spine, was a challenge.

One hundred contemporary innovators in several fields from around the globe contributed a short essay on their thoughts about a better future to the book.

One page is devoted to each essay, the text appearing as a stencil. Each page’s laser-cut edge is in the profile of Einstein, that is, the two-dimensional pages form a three-dimensional portrait.

The book will have a limited edition, available sometime next year.

Producing the prototype on the ISS was made possible with the collaboration of NASA and co-ordinated by Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi, who was flight engineer on two ISS expeditions. Daniel Goldin, the longest-serving administrator of NASA, is among the 100 contributors to Genius.

Among the personalities contributing are former Canadian ISS commander Chris Hadfield, actress Barbra Streisand, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté, whose new innovation fund Lune Rouge, partnered with CFHU on the Montreal weekend; former world chess champion Garry Kasparov, Greenpeace founder Paul Watson, publishing magnate Michael Bloomberg, Canadian Medical Hall of Fame inductee Phil Gold, French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy, author Salman Rushdie, and Internet entrepreneur Jeff Skoll.

Proceeds from the event are going to support the planned Einstein Archives, Research and Visitor Centre at Hebrew University, which is in possession of over 80,000 documents left by the great physicist. They include the original, handwritten manuscript of his theory of general relativity.

Currently, only scholars have access to these papers. The university’s plan is to develop an attraction open to the public.

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