Aluminum guitars, carved by computer

Dave in Alaska carves guitars out of blocks of aluminium on a CNC machine. He's only built four so far, but is planning more. He'll also be selling the electronic plans, so you can plug a block of aluminium into your own CNC machine, and it will spit out a guitar body. He's not the only person building guitars from aluminium. There's also Specimen, Industrial Guitars, Veleno, Zero and most famously Kramer, who made aluminium-necked (and generally out of tune) guitars in the '70s. (Thanks, Jack)



T. rex analysis supports dino-bird link

For the first time, researchers have read what they say is the biological signature of a tyrannosaur — a signature that confirms the increasingly accepted view that modern birds are the descendants of dinosaurs.

The signature doesn't come from studying the shape of the 68 million-year-old dinosaur's fossilized bones, but from analyzing the organic material found inside those bones. It's not DNA — despite what you've seen in movies like "Jurassic Park," that genetic material couldn't be recovered. But researchers say it's the next-best thing: collagen proteins that were isolated using techniques on the very edge of what's possible today.

Those techniques, detailed in Friday's issue of the journal Science, could open up "a new window into an entirely new approach" for paleontology, one expert told MSNBC.com. What's more, researchers say the methods are already being incorporated into improved tools for detecting present-day diseases.

Image: Jack Horner


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Google Maps for the sky


Water Found in Extrasolar Planet's Atmosphere

Astronomers have detected water in the atmosphere of a planet outside our solar system for the first time.

The finding, to be detailed in an upcoming issue of Astrophysical Journal,
confirms previous theories that say water vapor should be present in
the atmospheres of nearly all the known extrasolar planets. Even hot Jupiters, gaseous planets that orbit closer to their stars than Mercury to our Sun, are thought to have water.

The discovery, announced today, means one of the most crucial elements for life as we know it can exist around planets orbiting other stars.

“We know that water vapor exists in the
atmospheres of one extrasolar planet and there is good reason to
believe that other extrasolar planets contain water vapor,” said
Travis Barman, an astronomer at the Lowell Observatory in Arizona who
made the discovery.


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Subway Stradivarius

The Washington Post got world class violinist Josh Bell to play his Stradivarius at a subway stop to see how commuters would react. Turns out they didn’t react much.

In the three-quarters of an hour that Joshua Bell played,
seven people stopped what they were doing to hang around and take in
the performance, at least for a minute. Twenty-seven gave money, most
of them on the run—for a total of $32 and change. That leaves the
1,070 people who hurried by, oblivious, many only three feet away, few
even turning to look.

“At a music hall, I’ll
get upset if someone coughs or if someone’s cellphone goes off.
But here, my expectations quickly diminished. I started to appreciate
any acknowledgment, even a slight glance up. I was oddly grateful when
someone threw in a dollar instead of change.” This is from a man
whose talents can command $1,000 a minute.


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100 Million iPods Served

Apple today announced that the 100 millionth iPod has been sold, making the iPod the fastest selling music player in history. The first iPod was sold five and a half years ago, in November 2001, and since then Apple has introduced more than 10 new iPod models, including five generations of iPod, two generations of iPod mini, two generations of iPod nano and two generations of iPod shuffle.


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Scientists Assemble Single Atoms Into Predefined Nanostructures

Science Daily — Scientists at the Paul Drude Institute for Solid State Electronics in Berlin, Germany, have assembled single atoms of different elements, thus forming nanostructures of predefined size and composition.

Three-dimensional representation showing the topography of a nine-atomic chain comprised of three Co and six Cu atoms assembled and imaged in a low-temperature scanning tunneling microscope. Both ends and the center of the chain are occupied by a single Co atom each. The interatomic spacing within the binary chain is 2.55 Angstroem. (Credit: Image courtesy of Forschungsverbund Berlin)

The team lead by Stefan Foelsch used copper (Cu) and cobalt (Co) atoms to produce pairs or various chains of atoms on a substrate surface made of crystalline copper.

“We manipulated the atoms in a low-temperature scanning tunneling microscope”, says Stefan Foelsch. He adds: “We found that the quantum effects in these structures can be understood within the framework of textbook physics describing the electronic properties of simple molecules.” Thus, it is possible to taylor “artificial molecules” supported by a solid surface made of magnetic and non-magnetic elements.