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Inventors and Remarkable People

May 18, 2007 The garage-start-up that becomes a global company is part of every budding entrepreneurs dream. In America, the HP Garage has become a symbol of what can rise from humble beginnings with hard work and determination. Now the National Park Service has begun listing the famed HP Garage and house at 367 Addison Avenue, Palo Alto on the United States National Register of Historic Places. Recognized as the birthplace of Silicon Valley, the garage was the building in which Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard set up shop in 1938. One hopes that they’ll subsequently consider the Cupertino garage where Wojniak and Jobs kicked off Apple in 1976 and the rented Menlo Park garage where Sergei Brin and Larry Page set up Google in 1998. Read More
May 4, 2007 A computer model designed by a mathematician at the University of Liverpool has shown that it is possible to make objects, such as aeroplanes and submarines, appear invisible at close range. Scientists have already created an ‘invisibility cloak’ made out of ‘metamaterial’ which can bend electromagnetic radiation – such as visible light, radar or microwaves – around a spherical space, making an object within this region appear invisible. Until now, scientists could only make objects appear invisible from far away. Liverpool mathematician Dr Sebastien Guenneau, together with Dr Frederic Zolla and Professors Andre Nicolet from the University of Marseille, have proven - using a computer model called GETDP - that objects can also be made to appear invisible from close range when light travels in waves rather than beams. Scientists predict that metamaterials could be of use in military technology, such as in the construction of fighter jets and submarines, but it will be some years before invisibility cloaks can be developed for human beings. Read More
April 27, 2007 Steorn is publicly unveiling its “perpetual motion machine” this July, according to the latest video from CEO Sean McCarthy. The Irish company made international headlines after declaring news of its invention, which would theoretically violate the so called laws of thermodynamics, in a full page ad in The Economist in August 2006. However, because its “over 100% efficient” energy system still remains over 100% unverified, McCarthy is currently viewed by academia as about as scientific as an X-men sequel. An examination of the model by a panel of 22 scientists, (chosen out of a whopping 4500 applicants), is expected to complete its investigation into Steorn’s claims in the following two months. The result could simply be a punch line to what many scientists already regard as a bad joke...or it could revolutionize the world’s energy systems and utterly demolish our understanding of physics. Read More
April 27, 2007 The Crime Scene Investigation TV writers regularly impress us with their rapid deployment of new technologies, so it’ll be interesting to see how long it is before we see Gil Grisham or Horatio Kane employing the latest innovation developed by scientists at the University of Portsmouth. It’s a self-administered interview that 'freezes' the memory of crime scenes in the minds of witnesses. The tool - a self-administered interview applied by witnesses at crime scenes - combats natural memory decay by using the latest research in cognitive psychology techniques. It 'freezes' images and details of crime scenes and perpetrators in the minds of witnesses, particularly small and seemingly insignificant details that provide major leads for detectives that turn out to be crucial in solving cases. Read More
April 3, 2007 Dr. Timothy M. Swager has a nose for explosives. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor of Chemistry claims he can “almost always take a whiff of a chemical and make a pretty good guess as to what class a volatile compound might be in.” But Swager’s nose is nothing compared to the amplified chemical sensors he invented to detect vapors of common bomb-making chemicals, such as TNT. For his entire body of inventive work, the Lemelson-MIT Program named Swager the 2007 winner of the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize, the most-prestigious cash prize for invention in the United States. This year, the prize criteria were modified to specify the winner be a mid-career inventor who is rising in his or her field. Read More
March 19, 2007 A few years ago we ran a story on the Russian-built Saigak Power Boots, which enabled a human wearing them to achieve nearly 22 mph while running. We could never quite understand what happened to the boots as they disappeared from view and … now we know – they were too unsafe in the wrong hands, and The New York Times has an excellent article on Viktor Gordeyev’s petrol-burning seven league boots and why they never got to market and an array of images that we’re sure will fire the imagination of more than a few Gizmag readers. Read More
March 13, 2007 Forbes magazine does great lists. This week it published a list of the world’s richest people and found there are a record 946 billionaires on the planet and Bill Gates is still numero uno – in a world where success is equated with the accumulation of dollars, no-one plays the game quite as well as Gates, who also donates more money to charity than anyone else in history. Gates has been the world’s richest man for 13 years but could lose the mantle to Mexican Carlos Slim Helu who added an astonishing US$19 billion to his net worth in 2006 and is now just US$7 billion shy of top spot. This year, there were 178 new billionaires and 32 who dropped off the list. The average billionaire is 62 years old, two years younger than in 2005 and 60% of list members made their fortune from scratch. The whole fascinating story can be found here. Read More
February 7, 2007 This week marks the dawn of a new era of scientific endeavour as Diamond Light Source, the UK’s brand new synchrotron facility, opens its doors for business and welcomes its very first scientific users. Synchrotron light was first observed at General Electric, USA in 1946, but was not always considered to be such a powerful research tool, in fact particle scientists originally considered it a nuisance, as it indicated a loss of energy of accelerated particles. In the late fifties, a few visionary scientists began to recognise the potential of synchrotron light and started to investigate its powers further - nearly 50 years later, there are around 50 synchrotron facilities throughout the world with circumference ranging from 10 m to 1.3 km. Diamond uses arrays of magnets, called insertion devices, to accelerate the electrons to nearly the speed of light and focus them to generate extremely intense pin-pointed beams of synchrotron light of exceptional quality - around 100 billion times brighter than a standard hospital x-ray machine or 10 billion times brighter than the sun. Read More
December 20, 2006 By any measure, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) are the good guys - an international consortium where Member organizations, a full-time staff, and the public work together to develop Web standards. W3C primarily pursues its mission through the creation of Web standards and guidelines designed to ensure long-term growth for the Web. This year the World Wide Web Consortium celebrates ten years of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), the technology designers use to create attractive, economical, and flexible Web sites. To celebrate this anniversary (dubbed CSS10), W3C invites developers to propose their favorite CSS designs for the CSS10 Gallery. Bert Bos and Håkon Lie, the original co-authors of CSS, will select designs for the gallery based on originality, utility, and aesthetics. So if you fancy a chance at global ecognition, send your proposals here. Read More
December 17, 2006 Santiago Calatrava is known for his ability to create public landmarks on a grand scale. The world renowned Spanish architect and engineer has one of the most impressive bodies of work ever assembled including the Athens Olympic Sports Complex, the rebuilding of the World Trade Center Transport Hub, plus dozens of the most beautiful buildings in major cities around the world - airports, opera houses, bridges, train stations. Now Shelbourne Development Group has filed a final design for the Chicago Spire, with the City of Chicago. The Calatrava-designed Chicago Spire is 2,000-foot tall tower which will become the tallest residential building in the world if approved. It’s Calatrava’s second remarkable residential building. Read More