AS sparkling bling goes, it doesn’t get bigger.


Australian astronomers have discovered a planet they think is made of diamond.

The galactic gem could be as large as 60,000 kilometres across – five times the diameter of Earth.

The "diamond planet" orbiting a pulsar, centre, of this image. The orbit is represented by the dashed line. The blue lines represent the radio signal from the pulsar.The “diamond planet” orbiting a pulsar, centre, of this image. The orbit is represented by the dashed line. The blue lines represent the radio signal from the pulsar. Illustration: Swinburne University 

It is orbiting a tiny, dead, spinning star, called a pulsar, about 4000 light years away in the Milky Way.

CSIRO astronomer Michael Keith said the diamond planet was likely to be very hot and glowing white.

“It would probably look very pretty,” he said.

An international team, led by Matthew Bailes of Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, found the exotic object using telescopes including the radio telescope at Parkes. They were searching for pulsars – the lighthouses of the universe – which emit beams of radio waves as they spin rapidly.

They discovered a pulsar which is only about 20 kilometres across and rotating extremely fast – 175 times every second.

Slight variations in its pulse alerted the astronomers to the presence of the companion planet, which orbits the pulsar every two hours and 10 minutes. Dr Keith said the planet appeared to have been a massive star that lost more than 99 per cent of its mass.

Its density made it likely it comprise mostly of carbon atoms, crushed together in a crystalline structure “very similar to diamond.”

He joked that it would be priceless: “I recently got engaged so I know how much diamonds cost.”

Team member Willem van Straten said they hoped the planet was glowing white, because that would make it easier to see light from it using a telescope. The team was searching for millisecond pulsars because they were like accurate “clocks” whose regularity could be used to detect the presence of gravitational waves – theoretical ripples in space time thought to be generated by cosmic events such as two black holes colliding.

The “holy grail” would be to find a pulsar orbiting a black hole, to see if Einstein’s general theory of relativity still holds in an extremely strong gravity field, he said. “You could study space and time in the vicinity of the black hole with a lot of precision.”

Somewhat unromantically the pulsar, with its diamond companion, is named PSR J1719-1438

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


10 products that defined Steve Jobs from Apple

One of the first Apple computers.

1:51pm | Steve Jobs had no formal schooling in engineering, yet he’s listed as the inventor or co-inventor on more than 200 US patents.

Joint co-founder of Apple retires as CEO of the mighty conglomerate which he drove to the top of the IT world.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

August 18, 2011 4:00 AM PDT

GENEVA, Switzerland–If you like watches, and you like history, there may not be a better place to visit than the Patek Philippe Museum here. Those who make the trek to the stately building located a short distance from Lake Geneva will find what has to be one of the most important collections of watches in the world. Six hundred years’ of watches, to be precise. And they’re not just from Switzerland, although the museum also houses a great collection of Patek Philippe’s own masterpieces. And there’s even a master watchmaker showcasing his skills for all to see. Altogether, the museum is the famous company’s attempt to show the tools and techniques used by the craftsmen, the jewellers, engravers, lapidaries and many others who have made the world’s greatest personal timepieces since the 16th century.

As part of Road Trip 2011, CNET reporter Daniel Terdiman visited the museum, and over three floors, saw many different themes presented. There are enameled watches, watch cases, snuff-boxes and portrait-miniatures which together illustrate the development of the art of enameling. The museum library includes over 7,000 books on the study and measurement of time, or horology.

But if you visit the museum, you may also enjoy a small thematic tour, and to have a guide explain the fascinating singing birds, “perfume pistols” and other automata and musical pieces, the enameled pieces, or to tell you more about the history of more than 500 years of humans attempting to capture and understand time in small packages.

This is one of the earliest watches in the museum’s collection, which dates back to 1500. It is the “Runde Halsuhr,” which was made in southern Germany of gilded brass between 1530 and 1540. Made in the shape of a drum, it has a cover (seen hanging) and what the museum says is a “straight-line foliate” made of iron.

Photo by Kathleen Craig

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Researchers have created a new aerogel that boasts amazing strength and an incredibly large surface area. Nicknamed ‘frozen smoke’ due to its translucent appearance, aerogels are manufactured materials derived from a gel in which the liquid component of the gel has been replaced with a gas, resulting in a material renowned as the world’s lightest solid material. The new so-called “multiwalled carbon nanotube (MCNT) aerogel” could be used in sensors to detect pollutants and toxic substances, chemical reactors, and electronics components.

Although aerogels have been fabricated from silica, metal oxides, polymers, and carbon-based materials and are already used in thermal insulation in windows and buildings, tennis racquets, sponges to clean up oil spills, and other products, few scientists have succeeded in making aerogels from carbon nanotubes.

The researchers were able to succeed where so many before them had failed using a wet gel of well-dispersed pristine MWCNTs. After removing the liquid component from the MWCNT wet gel, they were able to create the lightest ever free-standing MWCNT aerogel monolith with a density of 4 mg/cm3.

MWCNT aerogels infused with a plastic material are flexible, like a spring that can be stretched thousands of times, and if the nanotubes in a one-ounce cube were unraveled and placed side-to-side and end-to-end, they would carpet three football fields. The MWCNT aerogels are also excellent conductors of electricity, which is what makes them ideal for sensing applications and offers great potential for their use in electronics components.

A report describing the process for making MWCNT aerogels and tests to determine their properties appears in ACS Nano.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Tiny video cameras mounted on the end of long thin fiber optic cables, commonly known as endoscopes, have proven invaluable to doctors and researchers wishing to peer inside the human body. Endoscopes can be rather pricey, however, and like anything else that gets put inside peoples’ bodies, need to be sanitized after each use. A newly-developed type of endoscope is claimed to address those drawbacks by being so inexpensive to produce that it can be thrown away after each use. Not only that, but it also features what is likely the world’s smallest complete video camera, which is just one cubic millimeter in size.

The prototype endoscope was designed at Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration, in collaboration with Awaiba GmbH and the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering.

Ordinarily, digital video cameras consist of a lens, a sensor, and electrical contacts that relay the data from the sensor. Up to 28,000 sensors are cut out from a silicon disc known as a wafer, after which each one must be individually wired up with contacts and mounted to a lens.

In Fraunhofer’s system, contacts are added to one side of the sensor wafer while it’s still all in one piece. That wafer can then be joined face-to-face with a lens wafer, after which complete grain-of-salt-sized cameras can be cut out from the two joined wafers. Not only is this approach reportedly much more cost-effective, but it also allows the cameras to be smaller and more self-contained – usually, endoscopic cameras consist of a lens at one end of the cable, with a sensor at the other.

The new camera has a resolution of 62,500 pixels, and it transmits its images via an electrical cable, as opposed to an optical fiber. Its creators believe it could be used not only in medicine, but also in fields such as automotive design, where it could act as an aerodynamic replacement for side mirrors, or be used to monitor drivers for signs of fatigue.

They hope to bring the device to market next year.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

Medical tech company creates

world’s smallest video camera

Medigus has developed the world’s smallest video camera at just 0.039-inches (0.99 mm) in diameter. The Israeli company’s second-gen model (a 1.2 mm / 0.047-inch diameter camera was unveiled in 2009) has a dedicated 0.66×0.66 mm CMOS sensor from TowerJazz that captures images at 45K resolution (approximately 220 x 220 pixels) and no, it’s not destined for use in tiny mobile phones or covert surveillance devices, instead the camera is designed for medical endoscopic procedures in hard to reach regions of the human anatomy.

The miniature cameras are made with bio-compatible compnents and are suitable for diagnostic and surgical procedures. Potential applications include cardiology, bronchoscopy, gastroenterology, gynecology, and orthopedic and robotic surgery.

“Medical procedures that have not been possible until now become possible with the world’s smallest camera,” said Dr. Elazar Sonnenschein, CEO for Medigus Ltd.

The camera will be integrated into Medigus’ own disposable endoscopic devices as well as sold to third-party manufacturers.

Medigus says it will begin supplying camera samples to US and Japanese manufacturers in coming weeks.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


It’s hard to say whether this sort of product will unleash a stream of creativity or a gushing torrent of poor taste. Dutch printing company ixxi has come up with an innovative, inexpensive and very nifty way to print and hang large scale artworks. By breaking the photo or design up into lots of smaller cards, which are later joined together for presentation using funky little plastic x and i shaped connectors, ixxi avoids the prohibitive expense of larger scale printing, as well as making it easy to package a wall-sized piece of art up into a small box. In fact, the same technology lets you visit an art gallery, and take a life size, photorealistic replica of your favorite wall fresco home with you, ready to reassemble and hang.

  • The ixxi X connector
  • White cards joined together by ixxi X connectors.
  • Translucent ixxi wall as seen at the Design Academy Eindhoven
  • Translucent ixxi wall as seen at the Design Academy Eindhoven

Just quietly, dear readers, I occasionally fancy myself as a bit of a photographer. In fact, just last week I pulled out a bunch of my favorite snaps (including this one, which really nails the spirit of a mate and his wife) and got them printed on big 100 x 50 cm (39 x 19.7 in) canvas boards to hang on walls around the house.

Canvas prints and photo prints look great, but they’re fairly expensive – a problem that gets exponentially bigger with size. So on a reasonable budget, you might be able to get a couple of boards printed, but you’re up for quite a lot of money if you want to create a whole feature wall.

That’s where ixxi comes in – this Dutch company has created a very simple, classy system that lets you print any number of smallish cards, on a variety of media, then join them together to form larger artworks using i and x shaped connectors.

That lets you break a photograph up into 50 smaller squares and present it on a large scale … or, you can experiment with the form, creating photomosaics or even pixel art.

Once the cards are linked together, you can choose to hang them on a wall, or even dangle them from a roof to make a bespoke room divider or temporary wall. That looks even cooler when you use semi-translucent card material to print on, like they have in the Design Academy Eindhoven – see below.

The results are impressive enough that if you visit the Rijkmuseum Amsterdam, you can buy a number of the museum’s famous artworks in ixxi format – and take them home with you in a small gift box, full size and ready to assemble.

The best part is the price – because you’re only printing on small squares, generally below A4 size, the printing process is uncomplicated and inexpensive … to the point where a gigantic 2 x 2 meter (6.6 x 6.6 foot) print with whatever you want on it comes out at a measly EUR 125.00 – or just US$178 for a mega print that will transform an entire wall in your house. Try pricing one of those up on canvas … and heck, try transporting the thing!

Now, if I could only learn to take a photo or create a pixel artwork worthy of that kind of presentation!

More at the ixxi website.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


One of the major problems with installing an elevator in a home is the amount of space required, not to mention the costly infrastructure and maintenance issues and the immense problems and cost associated with any retrofitting. Now a new type of elevator developed in Argentina looks set to revolutionise the residential lift market, making elevators affordable to everyone. The self-supporting vacuum elevator is constructed of aluminium and polycarbonate and takes just a few hours to install. Unlike previous elevators, the new lift is completely self-supporting, extremely light, has a footprint of just one square metr e and requires no excavating pit or hoistway, it can be fitted to almost any two or three storey building at a fraction of the cost of a normal elevator.

  • New vacuum elevator installs in a few hours at a budget price
  • New vacuum elevator installs in a few hours at a budget price
  • New vacuum elevator installs in a few hours at a budget price
  • New vacuum elevator installs in a few hours at a budget price

The Residential Pneumatic Vacuum Elevator may be a little challenging to look at the first time you see it – the hoistway is transparent and there are clearly no cables supporting the elevator cab, so it looks distinctly like some thing out of Star Trek, operating on some advanced levitation principle.

It’s actually very safe with over 300 lifts already installed and working perfectly and works entirely according to the simplest laws of physics – the difference in air pressure above and beneath the vacuum elevator cab safely raise and lower it on a cushion of air and though there’s not much room inside, the lift is rated to a capacity of 450 pounds.

Though it might look precarious, it is absolutely safe even in the case of an electricity power failure as the descending car automatically stops and locks on the next floor.

Some clever locking mechanisms mean that the lift always stops exactly at floor level and as air pressure rather than mechanical apparatus move the lift, the starting and stopping is very smooth.

What’s more, the unique installation and streamlined design will adapt to many non-conventional living spaces in a variety house styles.

The lifts can be seen at Daytona Elevator’s web site below

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Home beer-brewing is sort of like writing a novel – although you might like the idea of having done it, the thought of all the work involved in doing it can be off-putting. If the PR materials are to be believed, however, the WilliamsWarn brewing machine could make the process a lot easier … and quicker. Unlike the four weeks required by most home brewing systems, it can reportedly produce beer in just seven days.

The WilliamsWarn was created by New Zealand “beer-thinkers” Ian Williams and Anders Warn, and was released in that country this April. The duo claim that it addresses 12 of the key challenges thwarting many home brewers, including the carbonation process, temperature control, and clarification.

Kind of like a Mr. Coffee (perhaps they should have called it “Mr. Beer”), the machine reportedly incorporates all the hardware needed for brewing. This includes a stainless steel pressure vessel with carbonation level control, and systems to control factors such as clarification, sediment removal, temperature, and gas dispensation. Last, but certainly not least, it also features a draft dispense mechanism, for pouring out a glass of the chilled “commercial quality” finished product.

Users spend about 90 minutes cleaning and sterilizing the system, and adding supplied ingredients at the beginning of the process. After that, minimal input is required until a week later, at which point 23 liters (6 U.S. gallons) of beer should be ready for drinking. Part of the reason that it’s able to make beer so quickly is the fact that the carbonation and fermentation processes take place simultaneously. The clarification process is also said to take no more than one day.

The WilliamsWarn brewing machine is currently only available in New Zealand, although its makers hope to expand to the Australian and American markets soon. It sells for NZ$5,660 (US$4,577), plus NZ$39.50 (US$32) for the ingredients for each batch of beer.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha