Archive for July 23rd, 2008

THE ATLANTIS Hotel, when it opens in September of this year is set to become one of the world’s greatest attractions as the flagship resort on the iconic Palm Island.

With such a huge project comes astronomical expectation so City Times ventured into Atlantis for the unveiling of the ocean-themed lobby centrepiece created by artist Dale Chihuly to gauge what we can expect from this modern feat of construction.

Dale Chihuly is an American artist whose name has become synonymous with intensely detailed and spectacularly coloured glasswork creations. Sol Kerzner, Chairman of the Board of Kerzner International Holdings Limited, the company which built Atlantis, commissioned Mr Chihuly to create his first installation in the Middle East. The result was a glass sculpture that brings the essence of the sea and its inhabitants to life. The piece, which took approximately a year to create, is a 10-metre high sculpture with over 3000 pieces of intenselycoloured blown glass ranging from fiery oranges and reds to tranquil blues and greens. Dale’s creation will be surrounded by a reflection pool.

“This is a totally unique idea for us” said Chihuly when he spoke to City Times. He continued, “My inspiration for the sculpture came from the beautiful architecture of the building and the crystal blue water and sky that surrounds the hotel. I created this piece for the Atlantis Hotel because I had worked with Sol Kerzner on the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort in the Bahamas. We had a successful relationship there so he approached me to work on this project in Dubai. I began with the idea inspired by the hotel itself which quickly progressed into the blowing of individual glass parts. I then had to mock up the piece in my studio and finally install it on-site. The whole process took about a year.” With such a large piece we wondered if Dale completed the project alone.

“No,” he replied, “I have a team of glassblowers and installation experts. With a team involved there can often be complications but everything went very smoothly with this project.

The end result is exactly how I imagined it to be and I am very happy with it.

Dubai is a wonderful country with incredible emerging architecture. I am excited to see how the art scene develops over the next couple of years. I am very happy to have my artwork displayed at the resort and hope visitors will enjoy it for years to come.” With regards to future projects Mr Chihuly remained candid but promised he will not be resting on his laurels for long. Such an impressive piece of art in the lobby alone, one can only indicate that the Atlantis Hotel will be testament to the impressive record Dubai already has in the hospitality industry. When it opens its doors patrons are in for a treat.
Source: Khaleej Times

At the end of their days, most people end up six feet under or up in flames, others get frozen or mummified. But some lucky ones are spending eternity as sparkling diamonds, thanks to a peculiar chemical transformation.

For a fee, a company called Algordanza in the eastern Swiss canton of Graubuenden offers a service to turn ashes into precious stones. Every month, it gets 40 to 50 commissions — some as far away as Japan.

Rinaldo Willy, 28, one of two co-founders of Algordanza, said the commissions come from “all kinds of people — they could be bus drivers or professors in philosophy.”

At the firm’s laboratory, about 15 machines run non-stop alongside employees wearing plastic protective glasses who work behind a yellow and black line that visitors are not allowed to cross — out of respect for the dead.

“Five hundred grams (one pound) of ashes is enough to make a diamond while a human body leaves behind on average 2.5 to three kilograms of ashes,” said Willy.

Potassium and calcium, which make up some 85 per cent of the ashes, are first separated from the carbon. The carbon is then subject to extremely high pressure and heat — 1,700 degree Celsius, a process which compresses it into graphite, a carbon allotrope or a structurally different form of carbon.

More pressure and heat are applied to the graphite to turn it into diamonds —the hardest allotrope of carbon.

The entire process takes six to eight weeks, hardly a fraction of the time it takes for the formation of natural diamonds which take thousands of years.

When the process is complete, the crude diamond still requires polishing and cutting.

Source: Hindustan Times

They say white horses are a mythical image of purity and sanctity. Now, a group of scientists have come up with an answer for the white colour mystery.Researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden say that the white colour of these horses is a result of a defective gene called “greying with age” gene. In their study, the scientists have claimed that white horses are in reality mutants whose defective DNA carries a gene that speeds up ageing and rapidly turns their coats grey.

The study’s key finding is that almost all white horses apparently carry an identical gene, which indicates that they all belonged to a single common ancestor.

It’s not easy for white horses to survive in the wild as the white colouring makes them easy prey for predators, while the gene sharply raises the risk of such horses getting skin cancer. This led the researchers to conclude that humans probably intervened to make sure they flourished.

“It is a fascinating thought that once upon a time a horse was born that turned grey and then white and the people that observed it were so fascinated that they used the horse for breeding so that the mutation could be transmitted from generation to generation,”

The Times Online quoted Leif Andersson, as saying. This discovery in white horses could shed light on ageing and cancer development in humans as well.

Source: Hindustan Times

CHICAGO: A personalized vaccine made using tobacco plants — normally associated with causing cancer rather than helping cure it — could aid people with lymphoma in fighting the disease, US researchers said.

The treatment, which would vaccinate cancer patients against their own tumour cells, is made using a new approach that turns genetically engineered tobacco plants into personalized vaccine factories.

“This is the first time a plant has been used for making a protein to inject into a person,” said Ron Levy of Stanford University School of Medicine in California, whose research appears in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“This would be a way to treat cancer without side effects,” Levy said in a statement on Monday. “The idea is to marshal the body’s own immune system to fight cancer.”

Levy was working with a team of scientists from the now defunct Large Scale Biology Corp, which helped fund the study, as well as Bayer AG’s Bayer HealthCare, CBR International Corp, Integrated Biomolecule Corp, The Biologics Consulting Group Inc and Holtz Biopharma Consulting.

They were working on a type of cancer known as follicular B-cell lymphoma, a kind of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that attacks the immune system. The cancer makes a specific antibody that is not found in healthy cells.

The technology exploits the tobacco plant’s vulnerability a virus that only attacks tobacco plants, which most people associate with causing cancer, and not curing it.

The researchers altered the virus, adding the specific antibody gene from a patient’s cancer cells. Then, they infected the tobacco plants with the gene-carrying virus.

“You scratch it on the leaves and it turns the plants into a protein-producing factory for the protein of interest,” Levy said.

Other approaches that use animals to make the vaccines can take months, but the plant-based approach is very fast.

“A week later, you extract the protein. It’s that fast.”

In a test of 16 patients with follicular B-cell lymphoma, 70% of people injected with a made-to-order vaccine developed an immune response, and none had any side effects.

Levy said the study suggests personalized cancer vaccines could be produced efficiently and cheaply using plants. The early-stage study only focused on the safety and immune-stimulating ability of the plant-produced vaccines.

Future studies will be needed to show how effective they are as a treatment.

Source: Times of India

LONDON: Vehicles will soon run on fuel made from household waste as a chemical company in Britain has found a way to make bioethanol from rubbish.

INEOS, world’s third largest chemical company, said it had patented a method of producing fuel from municipal solid waste, agricultural waste and organic commercial waste and it planned to sell the bioethanol fuel in industrial quantities by 2010. The bioethanol that INEOS produces will have to be combined with a fossil fuel as very few cars in Britain run solely on bioethanol.

Peter Williams, the chief executive of INEOS Bio, told the Times : “This should mean that, unlike with other biofuels, we won’t have to make the choice between food and fuel.” Williams said the company planned to produce commercial amounts of bioethanol fuel for cars from waste within two years.

INEOS claims that it can produce about 400 litres of ethanol from one tonne of dry waste. The new process works by heating the waste to produce gases, then feeding the gases to bacteria, which produce ethanol that can be purified into a fuel. The development of fuel from waste could be a relief for motorists who have watched pump prices soar.

According to the report, INEOS is talking to authorities in the United States, Canada and Europe about selling the fuel when it is made on an industrial scale. The company began research into the biochemical process about 20 years ago in Arkansas. A pilot plant was built and researchers have been working with a variety of waste materials since 2003.


The very first electronic mail or e-mail was sent in 1972. It was Ray Tomlinson, a computer graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who sent the first e-mail. It was also Tomlinson’s idea to use the @ sign to separate the name of the user from the address from which the mail was being sent. A study conducted by the Radicati Group in October 2007, puts the number of email users worldwide at 1.2 billion. That means that a little over one in every six persons on earth use email.

The study also found that the number of emails sent per day (in 2006) was around 183 billion. This means that more than two million emails are sent every second. And about 70 to 72 per cent (or between 128 and 132 billion) of them might be spam and viruses. Here are some other interesting facts: the average business user receiver around 25 emails a day and spends 2.6 hours a day reading and responding to his or her mail. It takes some 77 minutes a week for an employee to manage his or her mailbox doing things like cleaning out old messages and filing old messages or attachments.

And if you think that you can find stuff on your mail easily, you could be wrong. Research says that it takes 8.2 minutes for a user to find an email that is older than two weeks. Did you know that if you work from a company or you have an Internet Service Provider (ISP), your emails do not go directly to recipient mailboxes. They are stored on the ISP’s mail servers before it tries to deliver them. So, it is worthwhile putting in some kind of email security system in place. Here are a few other interesting facts: the typical user stores more than one-half of his/her critical business information within the confines of the email system and if you were working with a company in either the US or the UK, you would be horrified to learn that 38 per cent of US and UK companies monitor and read mails written by their employees.

July 2008

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