eBay of the day: Cross-stitch your own musical robot...

...that's the promise of eBay item #300118731239. Unfortunately it's just a pattern snipped out of an old magazine, but if you do buy and build this, please send a picture...


Stienway's one-off double-keyboard piano

The NY Times have interesting feature about a Steinway piano built in the late '20s with two keyboards and four pedals (but just one set of strings and hammers). The upper keyboard runs an octave higher than the lower (and pulls the keys of the lower 'board down, like on a player piano). The mechanism was devised by Hungarian inventor Emanuel Moor - about 60 Moor pianos were made by Bösendorfer, but this is the only Steinway. There's a nice video, with a chap using the piano to play the Goldberg Variations - composed for a double-manual harpsichord. (Thanks, Ben)



One giant leap for space fashion: MIT team designs sleek, skintight spacesuit

In the 40 years that humans have been traveling into space, the
suits they wear have changed very little. The bulky, gas-pressurized
outfits give astronauts a bubble of protection, but their significant
mass and the pressure itself severely limit mobility.

Dava Newman, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics and engineering systems at MIT, wants to change that.

is working on a sleek, advanced suit designed to allow superior
mobility when humans eventually reach Mars or return to the moon. Her
spandex and nylon BioSuit is not your grandfather's spacesuit--think
more Spiderman, less John Glenn.

Traditional bulky spacesuits
"do not afford the mobility and locomotion capability that astronauts
need for partial gravity exploration missions. We really must design
for greater mobility and enhanced human and robotic capability," Newman

Newman, her colleague Jeff Hoffman, her students and a
local design firm, Trotti and Associates, have been working on the
project for about seven years. Their prototypes are not yet ready for
space travel, but demonstrate what they're trying to achieve--a
lightweight, skintight suit that will allow astronauts to become truly
mobile lunar and Mars explorers.

Newman in Biosuit on "Reclining Figure"


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Google: You ain't seen nothin' yet

Anyone can get the Web on their cellphone these days. But now it
seems Google is interested in so much more than that. It has reportedly
approached the Federal Communications Commission recently about
obtaining wireless spectrum, the base upon which mobile-phone networks
are built, in the U.S. agency's next auction.

Never mind the
potential buyout of Bell Canada Inc. or Apple Inc.'s much-hyped
introduction of the iPhone yesterday, there's a much larger,
game-changing force in telecommunications lurking just around the

Search engine giant Google Inc. has been putting together
a massive cable network to provide customers around the world with
telecommunications services ranging from broadband Internet to home and
mobile phones.


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'Molecular surgery' snips off a single atom

A single hydrogen atom has been snipped off a molecule and then
added back on again, marking the first time a single chemical bond has
been broken and reforged in a controlled, reversible way.

researchers used a scanning tunnelling microscope (STM) for their
cutting tool, which works by manoeuvring a sharp metal tip close to an
object, applying a small voltage, and measuring the trickle of
electrons that flow between the two.

The team first used their STM to locate a methylaminocarbyne (CNHCH3) molecule that was fixed to a platinum surface.

they turned up the voltage, increasing the flow of electrons. That was
enough to break one bond – between the molecule's nitrogen and
hydrogen atom – but not to disturb any of the other bonds,
leaving a molecule of methylisocyanide (CNCH3).


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