A Japanese glass koto made by Hario Glass is played by noted Chinese koto player Wu Fang to mark Wednesday's unveiling of the unusual instrument. This hand blown 70-kg creation is the only glass koto in the world. Twenty craftsmen took a year to produce this fine instrument which costs US $282,000.
Koto are about 180 cm long and have 13 strings that are strung tautly across 13 movable bridges along the length of the instrument. Players make base pitches by moving these bridges before playing, and use three finger picks (on thumb, forefinger, and middle finger) to pluck the strings.
An exceptionally well-preserved 65 million year-old fossilized dinosaur nest with some broken eggs exposing tiny skeletons is up for auction in Los Angeles on Sunday.
Faith D’Aluisio and Peter Menzel are authors of an amazing book titled Hungry Planet: What the World Eats. It is basically a report of dietary habits of the families that they met during their visits to 30 families in 24 countries for 600 meals in all. The most fascinating aspect of their book is the photographs taken of families with their weekly food totals. Hope to get one soon.
Using nothing but uplifting sounds, researchers suspended bugs and fish in mid-air. Most of the creatures survived unharmed, but the fish was, well, like a fish out of water.
Xie and his colleagues employed an ultrasound emitter and reflector that generated a sound pressure field between them. The emitter produced roughly 20-millimeter-wavelength sounds, meaning it could in theory levitate objects half that wavelength or less.
After the investigators got the ultrasound field going, they used tweezers to carefully place animals between the emitter and reflector. The scientists found they could float ants, beetles, spiders, ladybugs, bees, tadpoles and fish up to a little more than a third of an inch long in midair. When they levitated the fish and tadpole, the researchers added water to the ultrasound field every minute via syringe.
It was the first super predator of the ancient seas and its fearsome, jagged jaws still inspire awe 400 million years later.
Dunkleosteus terrelli, which grew up to 10m (33ft) long and weighed four tonnes, could chomp a shark in two with enough power in its bite to dwarf Tyrannosaurus rex. The monster fish, protected by its own armour plating, prowled the seas in the Devonian era 400million years ago. With its blade-like fangs, the Dunkleosteus was the world's first large predator, pre-dating the dinosaurs and other fearsome sea dwellers.
The fish's jaws snapped shut with 11,000lb (5,000kg) of biting power. Channelled into the four fang tips, this force was concentrated to exert 80,000lb per square inch. It would have been able to feast on other armoured aquatic animals living at that time, including sharks, arthropods and ammonoids.
Scientists using a mechanical model to examine the force and motion of its jaws found the unique mechanism, based on four rotating joints working in harmony, gave Dunkleosteus the strongest bite of any fish that has ever existed. Its bladed jaws, capable of ripping apart prey larger than its own mouth, did not develop in sharks for another 100 million years.
A new building powered partially by wind will be rising in Paris. The new Lighthouse skyscraper will be almost as tall as the Eiffel Tower.
It is due to be completed in 2012 and will cost an estimated 800m euros ($1.05bn) to build. Its twin structure will combine a rectangular base with a soaring, organic-shaped tower, capped by a field of wind turbines.
Last year, Thom Mayne was awarded the Pritzker prize, the world's top architecture award. "It's about an icon, and one of the major buildings in Paris," he said of the winning project. He added the building would be "a prototype for a green building" with a wind farm generating its own heating and a "double skin" of steel and glass to a self-cooling mechanism for the hotter months.
A buck mule deer relaxes in Greenmount Cemetery in Durango Colorado, with a purple coloured volleyball net wrapped around its antlers. A Colorado Division of Wildlife officer assessed the deer and determined that it would be alright the way it is until the deer sheds its antlers sometime in February.
What does this architecture reminds you of? A Cactus! It is an architectural project called “Urban Cactus” in Rotterdam, Holland, designed by UCX Architects.
The future housing project will accommodate 98 residential units within its 19 floors. Because it sits on a harbor, the architects decided that the tower needed a natural “green” image – which has manifested itself in a stacked set of rotated, swoopy plates.
The units all seem to have been given an enormous amount of exterior terrace/garden space due to the funky alternating forms. This also affords greater angles of natural sunlight to penetrate into the interior of the units themselves – something which we’re sure is greatly appreciated in the northern climate.
If you are thinking of getting a grand piano, yet your apartment is too cramped to squeeze one in, then you are in luck. A toymaker is offering a "grand piano" that can fit on a shelf.
The "Grand Pianist" has 88 keys just like the real grand piano -- except each key is only four millimeters (.15 inches) wide.
While it can theoretically be played by a musician with true slight of hand, the Grand Pianist holds in its memory a repertoire of some 100 classical, jazz and pop tunes that it can perform on its own.
"This will bring the real feel of live concerts to a household," said a statement by maker Sega Toys, part of video-game and pinball machine company Sega Sammy Holdings Inc.
The Grand Pianist, which stands 18 centimeters (about seven inches) and sits 25 centimeters (10 inches) wide, is designed for a target audience of adults 30 years and older.
It carries a price tag of 47,000 yen (400 dollars) and will hit the Japanese market in April, the company said.
Elegant in style and appearance, ice sculptures provide a touch of class to any occasion. I am always fascinated by it. A gallery of amazing ice sculptures can be found after the jump. Hurry, before it melts!
Scottish and Canadian researchers say that sitting up straight is not the best position for office workers. No, that does not mean that slouching is good. They say that leaning back at a 135-degree position is best.
In this study, the patients assumed three different sitting positions: a slouching position, in which the body is hunched forward as if they were leaning over a desk or a video game console, an upright 90-degree sitting position; and a "relaxed" position where they leaned back at 135 degrees while their feet remained on the floor.
The researchers then took measurements of spinal angles and spinal disk height and movement across the different positions. Spinal disk movement occurs when weight-bearing strain is placed on the spine, causing the disk to move out of place.
Disk movement was found to be most pronounced with a 90-degree upright sitting posture. It was least pronounced with the 135-degree posture, suggesting less strain is placed on the spinal disks and associated muscles and tendons in a more relaxed sitting position. The "slouch" position revealed a reduction in spinal disk height, signifying a high rate of wear and tear on the lowest two spinal levels.
When they looked at all test results, the researchers said the 135-degree position was the best for backs, and say this is how people should sit.
"The Dance of Angel" ring made by Ukraine's Lobortas & Karpova jewellery house during its registration in the Ukrainian Records Book, Kiev, Ukraine. The ring is claimed to set a new world record for the largest number of diamonds - 837 diamonds (total weight 5.57 carats). Its value was not been revealed, but similar rings from the collection fetched more than US $50,000.
Whether it's to get away from a personal crisis or from universal threats, from time to time all we want to do is curl up and hide. On that note, Rosalie Monod de Froideville has created HideAway – A cover pre-shaped in the hiding-position with a snug fit and is easy to use. It comes in a range of positions, materials and sizes and is compact enough to fit in the carry-on bag which comes with it. This makes it quite convenient to carry around.
Researchers say that by building solar power plants that cover 0.5% of the world’s hot deserts, the entire world’s electrical needs can be met.
According to two reports prepared for the German government, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa should be building vast solar farms in North Africa's deserts using a simple technology that more resembles using a magnifying glass to burn a hole in a piece of paper than any space age technology.
Two German scientists, Dr Gerhard Knies and Dr Franz Trieb, calculate that covering just 0.5% of the world's hot deserts with a technology called concentrated solar power (CSP) would provide the world's entire electricity needs, with the technology also providing desalinated water to desert regions as a valuable byproduct, as well as air conditioning for nearby cities.
The mirrors are very large and create shaded areas underneath which can be used for horticulture irrigated by desalinated water generated by the plants. The cold water that can also be produced for air conditioning means there are three benefits. "It is this triple use of the energy which really boost the overall energy efficiency of these kinds of plants up to 80% to 90%," says Dr Knies.
This form of solar power is also attractive because the hot liquid can be stored in large vessels which can keep the turbines running for hours after the sun has gone down, avoiding the problems association with other forms of solar power.
A shop assistant shows a gold pig ornament at a store on Xinhua Road in Bozhou, east China. Pig ornaments are becoming popular in China as next year is the Year of the Boar, according to the Chinese traditional lunar calendar.
The photograph shows Isabelle Dinoire just after the operation (left) and one year on (right). A year after Isabelle Dinoire, from Amiens, France, received the world's first partial face transplant from a brain dead donor after being mauled by her dog, she is gaining more and more sensitivity and facial mobility. And most importantly, she is looking pretty good.
Professor Devauchelle, from the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Amiens, France, told AFP news agency: "Aesthetically, the transplant has fitted in very well with the shape of her face. People who hadn't seen her before her accident now recognise her, which is very interesting.
"When she is in a crowd, she doesn't stick out as 'the transplant patient', and this is important. "You still see scars, of course. From time to time, there are minor inflammations which occur near wires that lie deep beneath the skin. "But elsewhere, the scar lines have almost completely faded. If she puts on a little bit of makeup, she looks fine."
He said her facial sensitivity, in terms of warmth and tactility, had been restored and facial mobility had returned. She is able to eat and drink without problems, and still smokes.
One of the most common physical ailments that people suffer from is poor vision. The eye is a complicated organ that requires a very exact arrangement of components to function properly. If even one of these components is not precisely the correct shape, then light that falls on the eye will not be focused correctly.
Studies from Otago and Oxford Universities have shown that laser surgery for short-sightedness could cause haze, glare and blurred vision as people reach their 60s and 70s.
Laser eye surgery may have its risks but for most people it brings huge relief.
Katie Stow, a public relations consultant, had laser surgery eight months ago and she's delighted with the results. From being nearly blind, she now has almost perfect eyesight.
"It was really good and my eyesight is pretty much perfect."
The only problem she has had is to do with night vision.
"My night vision looking at lights, there's a bit of a halo around it. But it's definitely deal-with-able."
Stow said her surgeons were helpful and she had confidence in them.
"They went though all the risks involved. They were pretty cautious about the whole thing. I was thinking, 'just do it'."
And when she was told of the new research saying she may have problems in the future she wasn't unduly worried.
"Anything is better than what I had before. I might be concerned about that if my eyesight was bad.
"But having the next 30 years of proper eyesight is fine for me."
Flash drives are getting smaller in size, but someone actually created a huge flash drive so it never gets lost - an embedded flash drive in a sixteen pound bowling ball! If you're wondering on how to connect it to your PC, the USB extension cable will do the trick!
Does a bigger head at birth means a "head start"? A recent study has shown that the bigger a baby's head at birth, the more intelligent he or she turns out to be! Now, that could really mean 2 things:
In the latest issue of Paediatrics there is a study that plots the head size of more than 600 babies, at birth and regular intervals thereafter, against IQ. The findings are startling. The bigger a baby’s head at birth, the more intelligent he or she turns out to be. An even better predictor of later intelligence was how much a baby’s head grew before the age of one.
Late pregnancy and early infancy are the best growing seasons for brains: after that, growth slows down drastically. British researchers are now redirecting their efforts on how best to help a baby’s head grow, as if it were a prize marrow.
When we imagine the classic (super-intelligent) alien, it has a gigantic head. Could we eventually evolve into something like that?
Scientists from the Sony's Tokyo research lab have found a way to connect headphones to portable music and video players by feeding an audio signal straight through the listener's body. This eliminates the need for fiddly wiring.
Existing wireless headphones use Bluetooth radio, but this means pairing two devices beforehand and is prone to interference from other equipment. Another approach – infra-red – relies on line-of-sight, which is rarely practical.
The new system uses the listener's body as a capacitor that carries a tiny electrostatic charge. A music or video player sends a fluctuating signal to a conductive cloth pad – such as a wrist band – and this slightly charges the wearer's body. A pair of conductive ear pads in the headphones pick-up the signal and rapidly convert it back into sound.
In movies, when space farers are exposed to the vacuum of space without adequate protection, there is often an alarming cacophony of screams and gasps as the increasingly bloated humans writhe and spasm. Their exposed veins and eyeballs soon bulge in what is clearly a disagreeable manner. This depiction of what would happen under such a circumstance is actually not true. In fact, one is able to make a complete recovery with only minor injuries when help is administered within the first one and a half minutes. Damn Interesting has an interesting article on it. A snippet is as follows.
For about ten full seconds– a long time to be loitering in space without protection– an average human would be rather uncomfortable, but they would still have their wits about them. Depending on the nature of the decompression, this may give a victim sufficient time to take measures to save their own life. But this period of "useful consciousness" would wane as the effects of brain asphyxiation begin to set in. In the absence of air pressure the gas exchange of the lungs works in reverse, dumping oxygen out of the blood and accelerating the oxygen-starved state known as hypoxia. After about ten seconds a victim will experience loss of vision and impaired judgement, and the cooling effect of evaporation will lower the temperature in the victim's mouth and nose to near-freezing. Unconsciousness and convulsions would follow several seconds later, and a blue discoloration of the skin called cyanosis would become evident.
The world’s cities are getting ever taller. Have you ever wonder which new buildings will emerge as the worlds tallest some 6 years down the road in 2012? Ponder no more, because Wired Magazine has compiled a snapshot of the world's fastest-changing skylines. View the snapshot after the jump.
Between 2001 and 2012, almost as many skyscrapers will be constructed as were built in the entire 20th century. Thanks to globalization and the steady migration of people to urban cores, cities that once had only a few high-rises are morphing into mini-Manhattans. Miami, for example, had only five skyscrapers (buildings more than 150 meters, or 492 feet, tall) in 1999 but will have 71 by 2012. Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, will soar from two in 1999 to 90 by 2012.
Frankly, I have no idea one can actually grow his/her very own sponge from a vegetable. GroovyGreen has a tutorial that teaches you just that.
For the third autumn in a row I am pleased to be harvesting my shower sponge for next year. Now I know that must sound like a strange statement but it’s true. Many people are surprised when they find out I grow my own Luffa sponges. “Don’t those come from the sea?”, is the standard question to which I respond that the Luffa is a vegetable you can grow in your very own garden.
Millionaires usually make their money in banking, playing the stock market or in big business. Ailin Graef has changed all that. The former Chinese language teacher has just joined the millionaire's club – but is the first person to do so thanks to profits from a virtual world.
In just 32 months, Chinese language teacher Ailin Graef has transformed an outlay of $US9.95 into virtual assets worth at least $US1 million in real money.
Graef has achieved this in a virtual world called Second Life where she is better known as Anshe Chung, the community's foremost property magnate.
Anshe's Second Life portfolio includes virtual property assets equivalent to 36 sq km in size. But there's nothing real about this real estate. It's actually a 3D simulation housed on 550 networked computers.
And, believe it or not, there are people willing to pay sums ranging from $US100 to $US1000-plus to own a plot of land in Second Life.
Taking a leaf out of the property developer's manual, Anshe buys large blocks of "land" which she improves, subdivides, and then either rents or sells the smaller plots.
Researchers say that Humpback whales have a type of brain cell seen only in humans, the great apes, and other cetaceans such as dolphins.
This might mean such whales are more intelligent than they have been given credit for, and suggests the basis for complex brains either evolved more than once, or has gone unused by most species of animals, the researchers said.
The finding may help explain some of the behaviors seen in whales, such as intricate communication skills, the formation of alliances, cooperation, cultural transmission and tool usage, the researchers report in The Anatomical Record.
Other than collecting nectar from flowers and processing them into honey, what else is a bee capable of? Well, according to scientists at a U.S. weapons laboratory, they are able to sniff out explosives too.
Researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico said they trained honeybees to stick out their proboscis -- the tube they use to feed on nectar -- when they smell explosives in anything from cars and roadside bombs to belts similar to those used by suicide bombers.
By exposing the insects to the odor of explosives followed by a sugar water reward, researchers said they trained bees to recognize substances ranging from dynamite and C-4 plastic explosives to the Howitzer propellant grains used in improvised explosive devices in Iraq.
"When bees detect the presence of explosives, they simply stick their proboscis out," research scientist Tim Haarmann told Reuters in a telephone interview. "You don't have to be an expert in animal behavior to understand it as there is no ambiguity."
Europe’s highest artificial Christmas tree has just been turned on. If you missed watching the spectacular annual ceremony, you can still catch a video of it after the jump.
The artificial tree is 75-metres high, three metres higher than 2005, when it was an entrant in the Guiness Book of Records. Europe's tallest artificial Christmas tree was erected at Praca do Comercio, a traditional 18th century square, also known as Horse Square, next to various governmental buildings.
The Christmas monument carries 2.35 million micro bulbs, 12,000 mini-spherical lamps, 26,000 metres of light tubing, 400 metres of neon.The tree will be visible from the various parts of the city and to some 300,000 commuters travelling in and out of Lisbon via the River Tagus.
Labels: Feats and Record
This freighter which looks like a floating bird nest -- well, almost -- is transporting reeds to paper mills at South Dongting Lake, China. The captain sits in the control cabin which is located at the top of the overloaded freighter. As the owners wanted to make as much profit as possible
An enterprising couple's plan to get married on an iceberg has hit a large obstacle.
A New Zealand couple’s hot idea for a cool wedding -- tying the knot on an iceberg -- has been put on ice, local media reported on Friday. Lawyer Bridget Byers and builder Donald Wyatt from the southern city of Dunedin had planned to marry on one of the many icebergs floating off the east coast of the South Island, the Otago Daily Times reported.
But helicopter pilot Richard "Hannibal" Hayes, who was due to fly the pair and a marriage celebrant to one of the bergs, said plans were on hold because the job was too risky. The slow thaw of the icebergs as they moved north meant they were constantly shedding ice, and it was difficult to find a safe haven for the lovebirds to land on.
It seems also that in a legal sense the pair were skating on thin ice. New Zealand law required that people had to be within 12 nautical miles of the coast to be married legally, and the closest iceberg has been at least twice that distance from the coast. It remained unclear whether the couple would proceed with their plans.
It's always good to be inquisitive and ask many questions, challenging yourself along the way. That's what Thomas Heatherwick did in order to ascent to the top flight of international design, though not forgetting his extraordinary talent!
Thomas Heatherwick's feverish imagination has made him Britain's most exciting designer. At school Thomas Heatherwick was the little boy who asked so many questions that his classmates nicknamed him "How-why?". This month, the 36-year-old has earned himself a new moniker – British Designer of the Year – beating a shortlist including Richard Rogers and David Mellor to the prestigious Prince Philip Designers Prize. But the questions keep coming.
When Newcastle asked for a fresh look for one of its unloved public squares, Heatherwick gave the city a thrilling neon-lit carpet of blue glass tiles. When Manchester needed an artwork capable of holding its own beside the vast new City of Manchester stadium, he conjured up B of the Bang: a breathtaking conglomeration of steel spikes that cuts through the sky like a firework and stands taller than any other sculpture in Britain.
And when a simple, compact structure was needed in London to cross a canal in Paddington, the designer created the Rolling Bridge, a platform that curls up like a startled woodlouse whenever a boat needs to pass beneath.
Heatherwick's creations are certainly eccentric, but they never stray from his central belief that good design should be "readable rather than impenetrable": you need no background knowledge to be touched by their immediate, exhilarating brilliance.
Christmas is just round the corner, so it's a great time to start your Christmas shopping before the festive season rush starts! Why not try getting your hands on some interesting open source hardware projects, open source software, services and things that have the spirit of open source, via MAKE's Open source gift guide - things you're allowed to take apart, tinker with, understand and improve upon!
Audio quality is as good as an iPod, can access 65,000 tracks, play MP3s as well as 48khz WAV files, interface it with everything from simple button pushing to parallel ports to very powerful serial modes.
Make a small but powerful USB charger for your iPod or any gadget that uses USB. Get hours more video, music and talk time, anywhere. The hardware is open source, and fits in an Altoids tin!
Due to physical and social reasons, the kids in the United States are getting more precocious. Child development experts say that physical and behavioral changes that would have been typical of a 15-year-old child decades ago are now common among kids of around 10 years of age. A snippet from Yahoo News is as follows.
Zach Plante is close with his parents — he plays baseball with them and, on weekends, helps with work in the small vineyard they keep at their northern California home. Lately, though, his parents have begun to notice subtle changes in their son. Among other things, he's announced that he wants to grow his hair longer — and sometimes greets his father with "Yo, Dad!"
"Little comments will come out of his mouth that have a bit of that teen swagger," says Tom Plante, Zach's dad.
Thing is, Zach isn't a teen. He's 10 years old — one part, a fun-loving fifth-grader who likes to watch the Animal Planet network and play with his dog and pet gecko, the other a soon-to-be middle schooler who wants an iPod.
At just 6 years and 118 days old, Christopher Beale, a genius from Switzerland, wrote his very own novel “This and Last Season's Excursions”. This novel has been officially published in Britain by an Inverness-based Aultbea Publishing company. According to the publisher, this novel has set a new Guinness World Record.
Christopher Beale's book, This and Last Season's Excursions, follows the adventures of a boy, his stuffed animals and his pets - Christopher's own puppy, Biscuit, and his kitten, Daisy - as they fight lions and "hinnies", rescue owls and search for the mysterious city of Quarles.
Christopher, who lives in Zug, Switzerland, learned to read at three. He finished the book at six years and 118 days old. He said: "I wrote it in my bedroom after lunch every day. My mum asked me to write a story and I ended up writing a whole book."
He has read books such as Through the Looking Glass and Swiss Family Robinson. Fluent in Italian, he is now busy translating his first book as well as writing his second. His website links to that of his father, Theodore, the author of the Christian fantasy novels Eternal Warriors and The Wrath of Angels.
"I'm not the only novelist in the family," he says on the website. "My daddy writes stories too, although I'm not allowed to read them yet. They're probably not as exciting as my book anyhow. I asked him once, and he said there aren't any hinnies, bats or even any green mambas in them."
Labels: Feats and Record
Wow! This chair is pretty cool. It offers a variety of sitting positions both for active sitting and relaxation (perhaps sleeping is a better word here). Will it be more comfortable? Definitely! How about an increase in productivity? Probably not!
From a comfortable working position to a reclined position and a feeling of almost weightless. The sloping seat allows wider space between the thigh and the upper part of the body, while the leg cushions prevent sliding forward when working at a table. When leaning back your legs will be lifted higher than your head providing you with the best position for relaxation and well-being!
Brian Valentine takes awesome photographs of water droplets. The beauty of which is incredible. Even the reflection of the surroundings can be clearly seen on the water droplets itself. View the full image gallery from the following link.
If you thought your coffee could do with perking up in the morning then meet barista Sammy Lin. He serves up coffees with pictures drawn in the foam. And he can create almost anything you want – from monkeys and snowmen to Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa. The 24-year-old says the secret is in his wrist action as he pours steamed milk on to his espresso canvas.
Amar Sen and Sabyasachi Sen are two exclusive artists of India in the field of hand shadowgraphy - unique art form whereby performers creates a combination of their hand shadows telling you a million stories with complete audio-visual effect. Do have a look at their interesting shadowgraphy!