JUDY WOODRUFF: And, finally, New York City
is known for pizza, but you have never seen a pie prepared like this one. Our science producer, Nsikan Akpan, visited
Columbia University, where engineers are lighting up new ways to cook a slice. NSIKAN AKPAN: The New York pizza slice as
the world knows it has been around since the 1930s. That’s when Frank Mastro, an Italian immigrant
and salesman, invented the gas deck oven. This simple innovation turned New York pizza
from a laborious item that could only be made in bedroom-sized coal ovens into the easy-bake,
grab-and-go food that you find on street corners worldwide. But just as New Yorkers rarely sit still,
the pizza oven continues to evolve. Uptown at Columbia University, a lab is crafting
ways to improve nutrition by 3-D printing pizza and cooking it with laser beams. That’s right, laser beams. JONATHAN BLUTINGER, Columbia University: It’s
very easy for a machine to kind of layer in different types of nutritious elements into
your food without you even knowing it and without the taste changing too much. NSIKAN AKPAN: Jonathan Blutinger is a grad
student in Hod Lipson’S Creative Machines Lab, where this tech was invented. JONATHAN BLUTINGER: So the printer has an
array of food cartridges, where, in each one of these cartridges, you can have a different
material, so, dough, sauce and cheese, for example, as three different ingredients. And then on this cartridge, our machine can
pick up one ingredient, extrude it onto a platform, that’s moving around in a 2-D way,
and then it can pick up another ingredient and do the same and follow this over and over
again. NSIKAN AKPAN: Once the cheese and tomato sauce
are spread or, should I say, squeezed onto the dough, everything gets tossed into their
mini-oven. There, lasers shine at two mirrors, which
are angled in certain directions by commands given through custom-built software. This selectively cooks parts of the food with
much greater precision. That’s good for printed food because the ingredients
are packed close together, and their final pizza is millimeters-thin. JONATHAN BLUTINGER: So the pizza you’re going
to see, yes, it is very small. It will naturally scale up as we kind of improve
the printing process and we get more efficient with it. NSIKAN AKPAN: The end result is delizioso. In truth, it tastes much more like a crunchy
pizza bagel. But in many ways, their approach mimics the
thinking behind that original pizza oven. Much like Mastro’s invention, 3-D printing
could make pizza even more personal. JONATHAN BLUTINGER: The biggest value is the
fact that you can customize nutrition for someone. A big space where this could be a great value
is in hospital settings, where people maybe have certain nutritional deficiencies, and
you can supplement that either with medicine or with certain vitamin additives. NSIKAN AKPAN: NASA has invested in 3-D printing
pizza for deep space missions, but Blutinger sees stellar prospects for this tech closer
to the ground. He thinks digitizing food can help people
stay healthy. Imagine a printer and an app that learns your
eating habits. It could schedule the preparation of meals
and improve your diet. JONATHAN BLUTINGER: In five to 10 years, we
think this could be a clear possibility. The technology’s there. It’s just a matter of time and marketing it
in the right way for people. NSIKAN AKPAN: For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m
Nsikan Akpan noshing on some za. JUDY WOODRUFF: Not sure how appetizing it
is, but thank you, Nsikan.