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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Denise Richards' Funbags

17 cool magnet tricks

Here are seventeen of our favorite magnet tricks, projects and demos.

Magnet tricks

Extract batteries from stubborn holders

We've all got things that take batteries. Some of them are well designed, and some of them are not. The worst offenders are electronic toys that take (say) half a dozen AA batteries, all of which must be inserted with the correct orientation-- spring side first-- and pried out, well, somehow. Rather than risk puncturing your batteries by prying them out with something pointy, just use a magnet to lift them out.

Magnet tricks

Find studs in your walls

Move a magnet over the wall until it finds a screw or nail head under the paint. You don't even need to mark the wall-- you can just leave the magnet there until you've drilled your holes.

Make a homopolar motor

One of our favorite demos of all time is a homopolar motor. A magnet, a wire, a battery and a screw are all you need to make a motor spin up to 10,000 rpm.

Homopolar - 4.jpg

Make LED Throwies

LED throwies are useful for many more things than graffiti. We've made variations from garden lights to origami to greeting cards, but it's not a real throwie without a magnet.


Demonstrate magnetohydrodynamic propulsion

You can make your very own caterpillar drive like the one in The Hunt for Red October with this magnetohydrodynamic demonstration.

Play with the coolest toy ever: 512 1/8" cube magnets

Available from K&J Magnetics, this is enough magnets to really have some fun. More magnet sources are in our links section.

Make a simple compass

We've previously shown how to make stupidly simple compasses that float on water or spin on a smooth surface. Here's another method: sandwich a thread between two very strong magnets and hang it down for an instant compass.

Magnet tricks

Experiment with self assembly

In a process that is a lot like assembly of biological molecules or crystal formation, randomly ordered magnets can almost automagically form themselves into neat chains. Here are some magnetic self assembly videos.

Make almost anything (ferromagnetic) into a building set

With magnets as connectors, you can build tins into anything you like. (Just be sure to get Bawls Mints, not Bawls Buzz).

Magnet tricks

Make a Curie motor

A Curie motor uses heat to demagnetize an area of a magnet, causing it to move away from the heat where the cycle starts again. On BoingBoingTV, Mark Frauenfelder shows you how to build one with a candle, a wire and a couple of magnets.

Magnet tricks

Freaking awesome chip clips

Fold over the open top of the bag and put magnets on either side to hold it closed.

Play with eddy current damping

Drop a magnet down an aluminum or copper tube, and you'll see a hovering slow fall caused by eddy current damping. Here's a quick video.

Make a fridge pen

Slip a small magnet underneath the metal clip on a pen (these uniballs are our favorite) and you can keep a pen handy on the fridge for your shopping list and phone messages.

Magnet Tricks

Defeat magnetic safety interlocks

All kinds of cool industrial machines from photocopiers to deep fat fryers have magnetic safety interlocks to prevent the machine from working with the cover open. Whenever you see a magnet attached to a hinge, it's there to protect you. So if you ever want to do something ridiculously dangerous like laser engrave your fingernails, you'll need magnets to disable the magnetic interlocks.

Magnets-5 Make anything into a fridge magnet

We like to make unusual things into fridge magnets. And this trick has occasionally fooled folks into trying to open our fridge magnets to look for candy.

Demonstrate diamagnetic levitation

By placing diamagnetic material (such as bismuth or graphite) between a large magnet and a small one, you can levitate the small one. Detailed instructions and links to kits for this are on Bill Beaty's site,

Magnet Tricks

Wake up your laptop or put it to sleep

Many laptops have a magnetic switch that tells the computer to go to sleep when the lid closes. Older Macs could be fooled into going to sleep with their lids up by waving a magnet by the upper right hand corner of the lid. Newer Macs can be fooled by resting a magnet on the switch on the right hand side of the keyboard. Caution: don't put a magnet near your hard drive!

Fluorescent puppy is world's first transgenic dog

Ruppy the transgenic puppy at 10 days old. Even under natural light the red protein can be seen in the skin and fur. The next image shows Ruppy under ultraviolet light (Photo: Byeong Chun Lee)
Ruppy the transgenic puppy at 10 days old. Even under natural light the red protein can be seen in the skin and fur. The next image shows Ruppy under ultraviolet light (Photo: Byeong Chun Lee)

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A cloned beagle named Ruppy – short for Ruby Puppy – is the world's first transgenic dog. She and four other beagles all produce a fluorescent protein that glows red under ultraviolet light.
A team led by Byeong-Chun Lee of Seoul National University in South Korea created the dogs by cloning fibroblast cells that express a red fluorescent gene produced by sea anemones.
Lee and stem cell researcher Woo Suk Hwang were part of a team that created the first cloned dog, SnuppyMovie Camera, in 2005. Much of Hwang's work on human cells turned out to be fraudulent, but Snuppy was not, an investigation later concluded.
This new proof-of-principle experiment should open the door for transgenic dog models of human disease, says team member CheMyong Ko of the University of Kentucky in Lexington. "The next step for us is to generate a true disease model," he says.
However, other researchers who study domestic dogs as stand-ins for human disease are less certain that transgenic dogs will become widespread in research.
Dogs already serve as models for diseases such as narcolepsy, certain cancers and blindness. And a dog genome sequence has made the animals an even more useful model by quickening the search for disease-causing genes. Most dog genetics researchers limit their work to gene scans of DNA collected from hundreds of pet owners.

Making a glowing dog

Lee's team created Ruppy by first infecting dog fibroblast cells with a virus that inserted the fluorescent gene into a cell's nucleus. They then transferred the fibroblast's nucleus to another dog's egg cell, with its nucleus removed. After a week dividing in a Petri dish, researchers implanted the cloned embryo into a surrogate mother.
Starting with 344 embryos implanted into 20 dogs, Lee's team ended up with seven pregnancies. One fetus died about half way through term, while an 11-week-old puppy died of pneumonia after its mother accidentally bit its chest. Five dogs are alive, healthy and starting to spawn their own fluorescent puppies, Ko says.
Besides the low efficiency of cloning – just 1.7 per cent of embryos came to term – another challenge to creating transgenic dogs is controlling where in the nuclear DNA a foreign gene lands. Lee's team used a retrovirus to transfer the fluorescent gene to dog fibroblast cells, but they could not control where the virus inserted the gene.
This would seem to prevent researchers from making dog "knockouts" lacking a specific gene or engineering dogs that produce mutant forms of a gene. These knockout procedures are now commonly done in mice and rats, and three researchers earned a Nobel prize in 2007 for developing this method, called "gene targeting".

No bright future?

Ko is working to adapt a procedure used so far in pigs, cows and other animals to target genes in cloned dogs. His lab hopes to knock out a specific oestrogen receptor in dogs to understand the hormone's effects on fertility.
The long lifespan of dogs and their reproductive cycle could make them more relevant to human fertility than mice, he says. "I think these dogs will be a very useful model for our research."
Greg Barsh, a geneticist at Stanford University who studies dogs as models of human disease, says creating a transgenic dog is "an important accomplishment", showing that cloning and transgenesis can be applied to a wide range of mammals.
"I do not know of specific situations where the ability to produce transgenic dogs represents an immediate experimental opportunity," Barsh adds. But transgenic dogs will give researchers another potential tool to understand disease.
However, Nathan Sutter, a geneticist specialising in dogs at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, says "transgenesis is labourious, expensive and slow".
Add the expense of caring for laboratory-reared dogs and negative public perceptions and it could mean few researchers turn to transgenic dogs like Ruppy, he says: "it's not on my horizon as a dog geneticist at all."
Journal reference: genesis (DOI: 10.1002/dvg.20504)

Madoff's season tickets sell for $38,100 on eBay

NEW YORK (AP) -- Someone got a bargain with Bernard Madoff's Mets season tickets.

The two seats in the Delta Club Gold section behind home plate auctioned for $38,100 Tuesday on eBay, well below the list price for the pair of about $56,000.

The sale by lawyer Irving H. Picard, the trustee overseeing the liquidation of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, covers 75 remaining games this season at Citi Field. The seats averaged $375 per game over the full season, ranging from $225-$525 per game, but the average for the remaining games is slightly less because the six games already played have been just above the average under the Mets' variable pricing plan.

Madoff originally purchased two seats in the Delta Club Platinum section in the second row behind home plate, which averaged $495 and ranged from $295-$695. The trustee exchanged those seats for the Delta Club Gold seats, Nos. 5-6 in the eighth row of section 11, just to the home plate side of the Mets' dugout.

The team agreed to refund to the trustee the $19,440 difference between the face values.

Just five bids were made for the season tickets, with the losing bids coming in at $31,000, $33,000, $35,000 and $38,000.

Madoff's tickets for the April 13 opener against San Diego sold for $7,500 to a man who identified himself as 47-year-old Kurt. He took his 16-year-old son as Mike to the game, a 6-5 Mets loss.

Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz were close to Madoff, who pleaded guilty March 12 in federal court to 11 counts, including securities fraud and perjury, stemming from a Ponzi scheme prosecutors said was worth $64.8 billion. The 70-year-old Madoff faces up to 150 years in prison at sentencing June 16.

Wilpon, Katz and many entities of their company, Sterling Equities, and various affiliated foundations are among the swindled creditors.

Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Free Diving: One of the World's Most Dangerous Sports

Take a deep breath

Four years ago she was a yoga teacher living with a camel, six cats and a dog. She had never even heard of free diving. Now Sara Campbell, aka Mighty Mouse, is the world champion in one of the world's most dangerous sports. She talks to Kira Cochrane

Sarah Campbell, free diver

Campbell ... 'I realised you don't have to go through therapy, I could just jump in the water and feel brilliant'. Photograph: Neale Haynes/Rex Features

The first time that Sara Campbell blacked out in the water, she was transported to a lush green field. It was summer, she says, and she was surrounded by gorgeous men whispering to her. "The interesting physiological aspect of a blackout," she says, "is that your senses return one by one. Your hearing comes back first, and your sight last. So, in my meadow, I could hear people whispering to me, and as my sight came back, I was looking up at a blue sky; then suddenly I saw a boat, and water, and people around me, and I had a moment of complete disconnect. I was gone." Seconds later she heard, "You're safe, you can breathe." The gorgeous men were her safety divers.

This isn't the only time Campbell has been unconscious in the water. As one of the world's best, most fearless, free divers, hazard comes with the job. It happened again earlier this month, as she attempted her most ambitious dive yet.

Competing at the Vertical Blue competition in the Bahamas, Oxfordshire-born Campbell set a world record in the women's constant weight discipline, diving down 96m (314ft) with no oxygen and nothing to propel her except a mermaid-like monofin. The film of that dive is mesmeric: a tiny figure descending along a dropped rope, her safety divers dangling in the water above her as she moves through the green murk, plummeting into silence. Just watching her is enough to make you frantically draw breath - Campbell was underwater, altogether, for three minutes 36 seconds.

That dive was celebrated with a punch of the air, but the next one, five days later, wasn't so successful. Campbell was determined to push herself to the round figure of 100m, and managed it, but as she reached the surface she lost consciousness. The result was disqualification, and a level of exhaustion she'd never experienced before. "I wasn't even able to string a sentence together. I got cold sores around my mouth and I thought, my body is run down now. It's not wise to put it through that again."

It's not easy to fathom why free divers put their bodies through such stress. Their sport involves doing something counter-intuitive - diving far away from any oxygen source. And the physical changes are significant. As soon as your face is immersed in water, your heart rate slows. Then comes peripheral vasoconstriction, in which blood is drawn from your arms and legs towards your body's core organs. As you descend further, your lungs contract to the size of lemons, and on the ascent "the compression in the lungs is reversing. In the final stages of the dive, from 10 metres to the surface, the size of your lungs doubles."

Forbes magazine once named it the second most dangerous sport in the world - after sky diving off buildings. Campbell, her 4ft 11in frame curled up on her boyfriend's couch, denies this, although she admits free divers sometimes rupture their ear drums - "but that's minor. You get a puncture in a piece of skin and it heals." And there's "a thing we call lung squeeze", when someone dives too deep for their lungs to sustain the compression. "It might lead to a slight cough with a spot of blood, to handfuls of blood coming out of your lungs. It happened to a girl in the Bahamas, and she was diving again in three or four days."

Although there have been deaths among people practising "no limits" free diving (which involves being propelled much further underwater on a weighted sled), Campbell emphasises that no one has ever died in any form of competition.

Four years ago, she had never even tried the sport - she was in her mid-30s, living in London, running her own PR agency, and feeling increasingly sad. She didn't enjoy "the intense pressure to earn enough money each month to pay the bills", and her sister had just had a baby. "I was incredibly unhappy about that. I think deep down I knew that she was very fulfilled in her life, and that I wasn't."

Campbell went on holiday to Dahab, in Egypt, "and the only way I can describe it is that someone opened a lid in my head and put a note inside, saying: 'This is where you're going to live.'" She had been teaching yoga and meditation for a year alongside her PR business, so she arranged to set up classes at one of the local hotels. "Within two weeks of moving there, I had rented a house with a camel. Bedouin kids shoved six kittens under my door, a puppy got thrown over the wall, and there I was, all of a sudden, living in the middle of this Bedouin village with a camel, six cats and a dog."

She hadn't even heard of free diving, but Dahab is a centre for the sport, and soon some of her yoga clients, noticing how long she was able to hold her breath during meditation, suggested she try it. Her talent was immediately obvious. Less than a year after she started, she broke three world records in a single weekend. Then she won gold in the constant weight category at the world championships in Egypt. From nowhere, she was diving head-to-head with the brilliant Natalia Molchanova, an ex-Soviet fin swimmer who is, in Campbell's words, "a consummate athlete". The pair still jostle for dominance of the women's sport.

Campbell has been nicknamed Mighty Mouse due to the strength of her diminutive body, and although doctors have established that she has a lung capacity 25% bigger than most people her size, this doesn't account for her incredible aptitude. Many of the world's best free divers spend hours every day in training, but when I ask Campbell whether she indulges in any of the more bizarre practices - sleeping in a hypoxia tent to acclimatise to reduced oxygen levels, for instance - she just laughs. "I don't do technique training, strength training, I don't do lactic-acid tolerance ... For me, the sport is about the love of discovery. The numbers, the records themselves, are incidental."

A group of physicians at a university in Italy have been studying Campbell among a group of free divers, and have established that "people are excelling in these areas as they get older. It's not like tennis or football, where you have teenagers and people in their early 20s being the superstars. It's people in their 30s. What the physicians are interested in is how our more advanced mental development and self-belief - and ability to control stress and set goals - affects us."

Campbell's next goal is to reach the 100m mark - without blacking out. At 37, she has gone from an unhappy life in London to making her living from the sport. "My initial motivation in free diving was just that it made me so happy. I realised you don't have to go through therapy, or weeks of feeling crappy - I could just jump in the water and feel brilliant. Even more so than meditating in a yoga room, there are no distractions. You don't have cars passing, or phones ringing, or people making a noise in the next room, or dogs barking. It's utter silence."

But doesn't the water pressure hurt? No, she laughs. "It's more like being rolled up in a duvet. It's comforting - like a big hug".

Funeral director finds 400-year-old cat


Pet project: Richard Parson holds up his 400-year-old discovery in front of the wall where it was found

Undertaking a spot of renovation work can uncover some nasty surprises but this is the mummy of all shocks.

A funeral director has found a perfectly preserved 400-year-old cat behind the wall of his cottage. 'The builders were stripping one of the bathrooms upstairs and this little fellow came to light,' said Richard Parson.

'It is quite scary-looking and is a lot bigger than a normal domestic cat,' added the 42-year-old.

It is thought the animal either crawled behind the wall and got stuck or its body was placed there by a past resident to ward off evil spirits.

Neighbours in Ugborough, Devon, told Mr Parson the cat was found 20 years ago by previous owners – but was put back.

And he is planning to do the same. 'It is a little bit of village history and adds charm to the property,' he said.

Cats were often put into walls 'to keep away witches, the evil eye, bad luck and vermin,' said Dr Marion Gibson, a witchcraft expert at Exeter University.

A child's boot is also supposedly hidden in the house as a good luck charm because it was once a cobbler's shop.

Worlds Coolest and Most Useless Pool Table

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The G-1 is the world's first and only transparent top pool table.

Utitlising worldwide patented technology it changes everything, but the game.

The G-1's styling brings the game into the 21st century.

Click to download PDF brochure


The G-1™ is like no other pool table.

It’s a fusion of modern styling and new technology; featuring a transparent playing area with glass top and patented resin playing surface.

Ultra modern frame with integrated ball return.

Plays just like a regular table… with more style.

The future is here.

The playing surface and glass top:

G-1™ incorporates 2 exciting technological developments:

1. The patented transparent Vitrik™ playing surface replaces the traditional felt surface
2. Toughened glass replaces the traditional slate bed.

Vitrik™ playing surface:

1. Is Transparent
2. Replicates the rolling resistance of a traditional felt playing surface.
3. Creates a stunning ‘floating on air’ effect as balls glide smoothly and quietly.
4. Retains the same roll characteristics over its entire lifetime.

Glass playing bed:

1. Transparent
2. 15mm thick
3. Toughened so it’s 4 – 6 times stronger than standard glass
4. Features a beautiful exposed polished edge

The frame:

1. All new design
2. Modern, lightweight and open style
3. Solid and robust ensuring a stable playing area
4. Available in a wide range of colours

Additional Features:

1. Integrated ball return - aesthetically integrated into the table design.
2. Pocketed balls can be seen cascading through the frame into the storage area.
3. International BCA-specification pockets, K-66 bumpers, playing area size and height

Accessories (included):

1. Quality standard size 2.25” balls
2. Quality custom cues in Silver finish
3. Triangle.
4. Vitrik surface polishing agent