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Monday December 30 2013 / Science & Technology

Some of you may have placed a box of Lego under a tree recently and a few of you may even have received a box of Lego of your own. But one thing is for sure, Lego is no longer just a children's toy these days, it can be used to create some serious machines.

The word 'CNC' has really entered the modern lexicon, especially in regards to watchmaking, but most of us know little about these mysterious machines, bar the fact that they seem to be able to make absolutely anything, quickly and easily.

Another word that is well and truly established in the modern lexicon is Lego, which first began producing their now ubiquitous plastic blocks in 1947. And we all know what Lego does. Or do we? Because Lego has come a long, long way from clipping brightly coloured plastic blocks together. In fact, you can now make CNC machines from Lego.

Monday December 23 2013 / A Little Levity

Christmas traditions may change slowly over time, if at all. But while you might find some surprises under your tree this festive season, they ought to be the only ones. Yes, one thing you can count on at Christmas time is ‘anything goes’ and, as we'll find out, one man's mince pie is another man's Kentucky Fried Chicken...

Monday December 16 2013 / Science & Technology

What’s the difference between Batman and Superman? For starters, without his costume and gadgets, Batman is only human – admittedly a billionaire human, but a human nevertheless.

Superman, on the other hand, as the late David Carradine reminds us so eloquently in Kill Bill, will always have his inherent super powers, give or take a nearby chunk of Krypton.

And what about us mere mortals? Like Batman, at the end of the day, we are but human, and so, like the Dark Knight, it’s the gadgets we carry that will make us stand out from the crowd. And boy have we found a gadget that will set you apart… and could conceivably turn you into a superhero: Your smartphone.

Monday December 9 2013 / Art & Design

Take a rickety timber shack that has seen better days. Stick some mirrors on it. Add a splash of snazzy lights and a handful of custom electronics. And what do you get? An international art phenomenon, that’s what.

Ladies and gentlemen, we invite you to feast your eyes on Lucid Stead, a desert shelter cum art installation that has caused such a stir that it lends new meaning to the term “cabin fever”.

Monday November 25 2013 / Science & Technology

There are now a bewildering number of smartphone applications running the gamut from simple games to sophisticated financial analysis tools. And they are very popular: Over 50 billion apps downloaded to date just from Apple.

And while apps might be nice to help you while away some time playing games, catching up with friends or working productively, they are likely to be even better if they can help you to save money, get healthier, or even save a life . . . especially if it's yours!

Here are a few apps featured at a 200ideas event held in Geneva recently.

Monday November 18 2013 / Science & Technology

Many if not most of us would like − or think we would like − to earn more money. However, whether we aim for, or achieve, that depends of many factors including: motivation, (if you are already fairly happy with your life, why work harder?); ability (would like more, but are not smart enough, strong enough or skilled enough); or just plain luck.

But study after study has shown that for a large percentage of us, it isn't how much we earn in absolute terms that make us happier, but how much we earn in relative terms, i.e. in relation to our peers and colleagues.

A group of Harvard students was asked to choose between:
A. Earning $50,000/year while others earned $25,000/year
B. Earning $100,000/year while others earned $250,000/year

The majority chose A.

Monday November 11 2013 / Science & Technology

Time for a bit of perspective and we are talking size here. More specifically, the size of stars.

And by 'stars' we do not mean movie stars or rock stars but the huge, luminous thermonuclear spheres of burning plasma held together by their own gravity.

The nearest star to Earth is, of course,our Sun, that humungous ball of superheated gas that has been heating and lighting our solar system for around 4.6 billion years – and without which there would be no life on earth.

Monday November 4 2013 / Art & Design

Award-winning photographer Seth Casteel was at a routine photo shoot when a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel called Buster decided to play around in a nearby swimming pool. Watching little Buster jump in the water again and again, Seth thought to himself: “I wonder what he looks like under there?”

Alex, a 7-year-old Labrador retriever as photographed by Seth Casteel

So the Los Angeles and Chicago-based snapper got his hands on a tennis ball, rubber ring and a waterproof case for his camera and set to work on a terrific series of photographs aptly entitled ‘Underwater Dogs’.

Monday September 30 2013 / Science & Technology - Art & Design

Roger Hanlon – of Marine Biological Laboratory  – was doing a study in the Caribbean about 12 years ago, following this octopus – octopus vulgaris – for about an hour when it crept behind a rock a went into camouflage mode  – and what a superb disguise it was!

He then unwittingly jammed the camera into its face prompting it to go from camouflage to a startle defense – blanching white very quickly – then escaping in a cloud of ink.

 “I screamed bloody murder to the rest of my team, they thought I was having a dive accident. It was a eureka moment, there’s no doubt about it.”