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Inventors and Remarkable People

The Umbrella reinvented: the fully retractable umbrella

UPDATED April 26, 2005 (NEW IMAGES) Young designer Andy Wana has won the GOLD 2005 Australian Design Award-Dyson Student Award, by reengineering the humble umbrella, creating a significantly different take on the umbrella than anything seen before. Wana’s design overcomes several of the design weaknesses of the traditional umbrella. ‘Lotus 23’ is a fully retractable umbrella, folding into a low profile handle. Built with flexible ribs that flow with the wind, it is more durable than conventional designs allowing it to withstand severe storms, provide increased shade and self clean meaning that it squeezes the water off before you enter a building. It’s also cheaper to manufacture.  Read More

Happy Birthday to the newspaper - 400 and going strong

March 9, 2005 Mass media will celebrate its 400th birthday later this year when the newspaper, the first mass medium begins its fifth century of publication. The exact date of the first newspaper is not known, and was thought to have been during 1609 but recent evidence accepted by the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) pinpoints the year in which Strasbourg's Johann Carolus began printing his handwritten newsletters as 1605. Though radio, television, and the internet have long threatened to usurp print's status as the primary mass medium, the fact remains that print still garners more than half of the world's advertising expenditure.  Read More

Mixaerator sterilises water without chemicals

November 3, 2004 Queensland inventor Mike Lewis has developed an impellor that uses the same principles as salmon, bath water and tornadoes, however his ground-breaking technology is revolutionising water sterilising and providing environmentally-friendly methods to clean up toxic damage. Mike's invention- Mixaerator- with the Twin Vortex Advantage (TVA) works using dual vortices, like the ones that occur when you pull the plug from the bath, or those found in the air currents of tornadoes. "Salmon use similar vortices to my machine. That's how they leap up water falls, their fins send out mini whirlpools that create immense force to push them up," Mike said.  Read More

Professor Benjamin Eggleton (left)

Just as the transistor and microelectronics transformed communications and human society in the 20th century, "light" transistors and microphotonics are about to revolutionise the way we communicate in the 21st century. We are on the verge of a new revolution in computing and communications thanks to the breakthrough advances by a Sydney based research team led by Professor Benjamin Eggleton. A Federation Fellow and Research Director of the CUDOS Centre for Ultra-high bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems, Professor Eggleton recently received the prestigious 2004 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year for his pioneering work in the field of optical physics and photonics. Optical fibres carry gigabytes of data across oceans and to our streets, hospitals, schools and businesses.  Read More

Man vs Machine World Chess Championship a draw

Thursday November 20, 2003 After treading a delicate path in game four, Garry Kasparov has drawn both the final game and the match against X3D Fritz in the latest Man vs Machine World Chess Championship. The first and last games of the match were drawn with X3D Fritz winning game two and Kasparov winning game three. The result still earns Kasparov $175,000 and the golden trophy - although X3D Fritz is storing a copy of the trophy in virtual reality given that it was a draw according to reports from x3DChess. Game four was the shortest game of the match. Kapsarov said after the game that despite outplaying the machine overall, a critical mistake in game two had cost him the match.  Read More

Man-Machine World Champion chess match in VR

Friday November 14, 2003: The world's number one chess player Garry Kasparov is locked in another Man-Machine World Champion chess match against a computer known as X3D Fritz. The games are being played in X3D virtual reality - the board floats in the air in front of Kasparov who executes his moves using voice recognition.  Read More

The ultimate voyage to Antarctica with the ultimate guide

Friday September 19, 2003: It's not strictly a gizmo, but we thought this Antarctic tour conducted by New Scientist with multi award winning (and very funny) author Bill Bryson as the escort for the voyage might warrant our readers attention.  Read More

David Warren - Inventor of the Black Box Flight Recorder

September 7, 2003 Behind many great inventions there is a tale of stubborn perseverance, clear foresight, lateral thinking and sometimes sheer coincidence that in the end brings benefit to many people. The story of "Black Box" flight recorder and its Australian inventor, Dr David Warren, is no exception. The "Black Box" is a device that records in-flight conversations and data. The term did not yet exist more than 50 years ago when Dr Warren first conceived the idea of recording the flight crew's conversation on a device that could be protected to increase its chances of surviving the crash.  Read More

Sunday July 27, 2003: In a significant breakthrough for what promises to be one of the key technologies in the 21st century, scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have built the first nano-scale motor. Measuring 500 nanometers across, the electric motor has a diameter 300 times smaller than a human hair...  Read More

Spray on stockings released in Japan

July 19, 2003 Japanese company Nissin Medico has released "spray on Stockings" that provide a run-proof, water-proof covering for the legs. One can of stocking spray provides enough coverage for 10-15 "stockings" and the ultra-fine silk particles that make up the spray are easily removed with soap.Two types are available, the "Air Stocking (50g)" and "Powder Stocking (90g)", both of which breathe well, wont wash off because of sweat or rain and have passed allergy tests according to the manufacturer. Once applied the spray dries so that it wont stick to your (or anyone else's) clothes.The Spray on Stockings are available in Japan at a cost of around US$20.  Read More

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