Tuesday 2 June 2015

Tidbits - An amazong new alloy, Cheap books, Music, and more...

An Amazing New Alloy


Amazing new memory alloy

When my lovely wife Margo makes her sterling-silver chain-maille jewellery, she has to make each little ring that goes into a chain. One of the problems with bending metal, though, is that if it's bent too many times, it becomes brittle. That's called work-hardening. It's a change in the metal's crystal structure that results from all that bending, and it makes the metal brittle, rather than pliable. The problem is one you've probably come across yourself, albeit perhaps not with sterling silver, and the solution is a heat-cycling technique called annealing. But what if you could bend it ten million times before it got brittle? In this article, you can read about the new memory alloy that's set to enable some amazing new products. Even though it's unlikely to change the world of chain-maille jewellery, it could be a game-changer for pacemakers and other more mechanically demanding products.


Compromise for the Thirty Meter Telescope


Go-ahead for protest-hit Thirty Meter Telescope, but with fewer future sites on Mauna Kea

This is one of those situations nobody wants to see happen. On the one hand are the plans to build the Thirty Meter Telescope on Hawaii's highest peak, Mauna Kea. On the other hand, native Hawaiians have protested that its construction is a desecration of their spiritual and cultural pinnacle.

Science in conflict with culture.

Happily, a compromise has been reached, and construction can go ahead, but with fewer sites, and with the release of associated land, and the decommissioning of other facilities.

This may not be seen as ideal, but it's a compromise in which both sides have given ground and gained ground. Let's hope that despite being far from ideal, it is at least acceptable to all concerned.

That old Banjo


Recently my banjo fell off the wall, took a chip out of Beethoven's shoulder (actually, a bust of Beethoven), and landed on the piano. The bit of string that I'd used to hang it up broke clean through. This immediately reminded me of an old song my dad introduced me to a long, long time ago. It was the b-side of the better known Green Green by the New Christy Minstrels, and it's called The Banjo. Here it is for your enjoyment...

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