Gadget Lab Podcast: E-Cigarettes, a 3-D Food Printer, the Future of Digital Music

This week, Michaels Isaac and Calore discuss Facebook’s looming public stock offering, take a gander at a 3-D printer that outputs to a unique fried-food format, and dig into high-definition alternatives to MP3 audio. But the show, quite dramatically, opens with a big puff of smoke.
That’s right: Mike Isaac starts the podcast by demoing a disposable electronic cigarette. According to Square, the company that makes the device, the e-cigarette is good for 500 puffs — the number of puffs Square reckons you’d get from two packs of tobacco smokes. Each e-cigarette is a $10 purchase, which is less than the cost of two traditional cigarette packs (a commodity that’s heavily taxed in most markets).
Square also says the e-cigarette is legal to smoke on airplanes, a claim that’s met with skepticism by Mike and Mike. The system works by vaporizing what Square calls “E-juice,” a nicotine-laced mixture that produces water vapor but not any tar.
Next up, Mike Isaac riffs on Facebook’s IPO bid. The stock’s ticker code will simply be FB, Mike says, and shares could debut on the market sometime in May for as much as $30 for share — if Facebook gets its way. The big question mark? How Facebook will monetize its mobile traffic, currently a great untapped source of income.
Our two Mikes then toss to a video shot at the Cornell University Creative Machines Lab. We’re shown the amazing talents of a 3-D printer called Fab@Home. Not only can this open hardware platform print 3-D objects made of silicone and stainless steel epoxy, it can also be loaded with food media like peanut butter, cookie dough and Nutella.
In a vivid demonstration of the printer’s talents, the video shows the device crafting an elaborate 3-D model made entirely of corn batter. It’s dropped in a deep fryer, and comes out looking like a crispy, delectable spyrograph design.
In response, Michael Calore shares that he’d like to print lobster in a nacho-like form factor.
The show ends with Calore providing a primer on high-definition digital audio formats, including Apple Lossless, FLAC and Direct Stream Digital. Apparently, veteran rocker Neil Young is no fan of the MP3 format, and he made this very clear at a recent All Things Digital conference. Ever the helping hand, Calore explains what enraged audiophiles can do about the MP3 scourge.