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April 24, 2005

'Instant' Chair


Designer Alain Berteau created it.


Cut from a single small beech plywood panel, the chair comes in an ultra-flat package (below)


and assembles in two minutes (flat).


Made in Belgium by Feld.

April 24, 2005 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Distributed Computing and You


"Does your computer spend most of the day running screensavers or otherwise wasting its computing cycles?"


"Why not use those spare cycles to help solve some huge problems?"

At least 60 distributed computing projects are available today.

Among them:

• SETI@home: Analyzes radio signals to search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

• Climateprediction.net: Seeks to improve the accuracy of long-term global climate prediction.

• PlanetQuest: Analyzes telescope data to discover new extrasolar planets as they eclipse stars.

• Orbit@home: Tracks asteroids that might collide with Earth.

• LHC@home: Simulates how particle beams might travel in the Large Hadron Collider being built at CERN near Geneva.

None of the above appealing?


Then have a look here at the Distributed Computing website and find one more to your liking.

April 24, 2005 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Lilliputian Business Card File


Very nicely done, this is a scaled-down replica of an office filing cabinet, standing just 6.25" high.

Two drawers, with (included) A–Z index cards, hold 800 cards.

Bonus: LCD clock/calendar on the front.

Perfect for the obsessive "neat–desker" in your office.

Hey, wait — maybe that's you!

4.25"W x 5.75"D.

$13.98 here.

April 24, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Natural Amenities Map of the United States


The Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has created a most interesting map of the country, rating each county in the contiguous 48 states on the presence or absence of six natural amenities:

1) January temperature

2) January sunshine

3) Temperature gain between January and July (less is better)

4) July humidity

5) Water area

6) Topographic variation

The map above summarizes the ratings: green is good, red is bad.

The top five counties in the U.S., scaled from 0 (worst) to 100 (best), are all in California:

1) Ventura: 100

2) Humboldt: 100

3) Santa Barbara: 99

4) Mendocino: 99

5) Del Norte: 98

The bottom five counties:

Mower (Minnesota): 7

Norman (Minnesota): 6

Tipton (Indiana): 6

Wilkin (Minnesota): 2

Red Lake (Minnesota): 0


Want to explore the subject further?

Right here is where you look.

Want to see what else the Department of Agriculture's been up to?

Have a look here — tons of great stuff.

April 24, 2005 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: The 'yips' are a focal dystonia — not psychogenic


New findings by Dr. Charles Adler of the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, reported recently at a meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, show that the dreaded 'yips,' which cause sudden involuntary jerks in a golfer's putting action and can ruin an otherwise perfectly good birdie effort, are not all in the head.

Or even partly so.

Using surface electromyography recordings, investigators established that golfers prone to the yips had simultaneous co-contractions of wrist flexor and extensor muscles, resulting in a higher percentage of missed putts than unaffected players.

Golfers who suspect that the yips are at the root of their putting difficulties were encouraged by Adler to see a neurologist with expertise in movement disorders, as focal dystonias often respond to oral medications such as benzodiazepines and anticonvulsants.

Perhaps all you need is a little Valium to drop that score.

April 24, 2005 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Solar-Powered Swarovski™ Crystal Rainbow Maker


Way cooler than the one I got from the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago back in the day.

That one had four little pieces of metal painted white on one side and black on the other; when the sun's rays hit the metal the difference in temperature between the two sides somehow made the pieces spin around inside a light-bulb shaped housing.

I remember being totally fascinated by the device.

Now comes the 21st-century version.

This one's got real photovoltaic solar cells that convert photons into electricity, with a dynamo and a five-colored motor whose gears spin right before your very eyes, causing the axle to turn and the crystal at the end of it to rotate and flood your space with rainbow essence.

A suction cup attaches the device to the window and from there it's all lagniappe.


$25 here.

April 24, 2005 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

'Easily the best library in the world' — Isaiah Berlin


He was speaking of the London Library (above).

Its members — of which you, living anywhere on the planet, can be one, with all the rights and privileges that come with membership — are passionate about the place.

For a modest annual subscription fee you have access to one million or so books, multiplying every day, in a multitude of European languages, mostly about literature, history and the humanities.

Most unusually, as Jan Dalley noted in a story about the library that appeared in the April 19 Financial Times, you can take the books home.

She wrote, "Although there is a high and soothing leather-armchaired reading room, the sense of going off into the world with your armful of wonders — or, if you live outside London or abroad, getting your wonders through the post — is unparalleled."

Sir Tom Stoppard is the current president of the library.

In Dalley's article he called it "the library I love."

Currently there are 8,000 members, many of whose names you'd recognize.

The library is housed in the heart of London in a tall 19th–century building in St. James Square.


It was established in 1841 with 2,500 books through the efforts of Thomas Carlyle, Macauley and Gladstone, among others; its 500 early subscribers included the 29–year–old Charles Dickens.

Wrote Dalley, "At work on 'A Tale of Two Cities,' the youthful Dickens was helped by the great Carlyle, with a selection of the library's books on the French revolution."

Just think: you could go to the library today and peruse the very same original materials used by Charles Dickens, in the very same place he obtained them.

Other library presidents have included Tennyson and Sir Leslie Stephen, Virginia Woolf's father.

April 24, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Laserpod - 21st–Century Lava Lamp


Three electronic lasers and three blue and purple LEDs project lights through a crystal, creating abstract ambient effects the designer, London artist Chris Levine, describes as "highly organic, extremely spacey and multidimensional."

"For the best Laserpod experience, the device should be activated in complete darkness where the subtler, more meditative and organic beams will be seen."

If Timothy Leary were alive he would have one.

Nuff said.

Runs on 3 AA batteries or plug it in.

4" high x 3.25" in diameter.


$100 here (shipping included).

[via the New York Times]

April 24, 2005 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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