Thoughts Gallery September 2003
September 1
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Nothing like running to the plant nursery to get more plants after you miscount the number needed to fill the entire planter bed.  Now I just need to fine the cheap cedarcide mulch to hold the mosquitos at bay long enough for me to enjoy the evenings outside...
Say What? Man with Ear Ache Gets Vasectomy
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - A Brazilian man who went to a clinic to have an aching ear checked ended up having a vasectomy after mistakenly believing that the doctor had called his name. A manager at the Doctor Jose Carlos de Espirito Santo clinic in the town of Montes Claros in southeastern Minas Gerais State said Valdemar Lopes de Moraes, 39, entered the vasectomy room when Aldemar Aparecido Rodrigues' name was called. "He was called by the full name and yet thought it was him. But the strangest thing is that he asked no questions when the doctor started preparations in the area which had so little to do with his ear," Vanessa Guimaraes said. "He later explained that he thought it was an ear inflammation that got down to his testicles," she added. De Moraes, a farmer who has two children, did not want to reverse the operation, performed last week, and showed up for an ear exam on Wednesday at the same clinic. "A local newspaper said he is going to sue us, but he did not tell us about any claims," Guimaraes said. 
September 2
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Nothing like a traditional lamaze class to let you see how uneducated the reproducing population is.  Now why am I paying so much money just to sit next to another couple that is having a kid and talk to them, I can do that for free on my own time. 
A pink pig-nose Mercedes CDI diesel engine-propelled limousine is parked by activists of the environment protection organization 'Greenpeace' opposite the DymlerChrysler office in Berlin to protest against diesel engine emissions. Greenpece protests the policy of German carmakers Volkswagen and DaimlerChrysler for refusing to equip their diesel cars with proper emission filter systems. 
September 3
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I had a laser hair removal treatement today. I decided it was time to finish this process and see how the technology is coming along now that the price points have moved down.
A tourist watches the Greek Presidential guards (Evzones) on duty outside the Greek Parliament in central Athens. 
September 4
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 A telescope was mounted on top of a Volvo for the Mars Closet Approach Viewing Party on the lawn of the Autry Museum of Western Heritage in Los Angeles. Mars will be closer to the Earth this month than it has been in almost 60,000 years.
September 5
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Although this was a short work week I'm glad that it's friday and the weekend is here to be able to catch up on lost sleep. 
Workers remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from public view in the Alabama Judicial Building in Montgomery, Alabama. The state's chief justice, Roy Moore, installed the monument two years ago but federal courts ordered it moved. Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore was suspended by the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission for failing to comply with the order.
September 6
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Here's the giant chocolate kiss of death...
September 7
Image of the Day
This would be the prefect "car" for the Belezian car, to allow you to island hop around, as long as your tires had enough traction to pull you out of the sand along the beaches.
A high-speed land and water vehicle drives on the River Thames. The Aquada is designed to reach speeds of 100mph on land and over 30mph on water and can switch between the two surfaces at the switch of a button. Gibbs Technologies, who designed it, says that no other road-legal amphibian has managed to exceed 6mph on water.  The Aquada can hit speeds of 100 miles an hour on land and once it hits water, the wheels retract into the wheel arch, jets kick in, and the car is suddenly a boat.  With a sticker price of about $235,000, the convertible has no doors in order to avoid leaks. Drivers and passengers must jump over the side to get into the car just like a boat. "With this you can have a really good car on the road, and an exciting toy that can tow a water skier, that you can commute to work with, that you can go to St. Tropez with and take two girlfriends," the firm's chairman Alan Gibbs told reporters at the car's test drive on London's Thames. The car is part of the Aquada Bond series, but the company couldn't say whether that is a veiled reference to James Bond and the sports-car-cum-submarine that the superspy operated in the movie "The Spy Who Loved Me." The vehicle can switch to cruising on water within seconds, and the drive mechanism switches to power a jet that propels the vehicle, according to the company. "The design requirements for the Aquada were daunting, but the technology has delivered and demonstrates the quality of British engineering," said Gibbs, a New Zealand entrepreneur who built his first fast amphibian vehicle in 1995, before moving his company to Britain in 1999. He said the Aquada was the product of a seven-year development program and 60 newly patented technologies. One hundred of the cars are being built and will sell at the end of this year. 
September 8
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 Polly Roberts, a member of the staff at auctioneers Lyon & Turnbull in Edinburgh, Scotland, models a pair of Victorian ear trumpets made from papier mache and worn like headphones, at the auction house. Ear trumpets were first used by sailors in order to communicate over long distances, but experts are at a loss to explain who would have used this 19th century rarity, which will go up for sale later in September.
September 9
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 Square yeast doughnuts are displayed on a tray at the Square Donut shop in Terre Haute, Ind. The logic behind the doughnuts is that square doughnuts maximize the number of pastries on a preparation tray.
September 10 
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Plugged In: Making a Video Screen Out of Thin Air
In a museum in Tampere, Finland, Ismo Rakkolainen's fog machine conjures up the Mona Lisa on an invisible sheet of water particles. Thousands of miles away in Hermosa Beach, California, a graduate student passes his hand through an image of a DNA strand produced -- apparently out of thin air -- by a modified video projector. The two inventions represent the latest front in advanced computer displays -- eliminating the screen altogether. While unlikely to replace the desktop computer monitor, so-called walk-through displays could eventually be put to use in product showrooms, museums, and military training facilities. "This is something that people have been dreaming about for a long time," said Chad Dyner, 29, a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and inventor of Heliodisplay, one of the prototype display systems. "Ever since the movie 'Star Wars' came out and there was a distress call from Princess Leia," -- generated in thin air by the robot R2D2 -- "people all over the world have been wanting one of these."
       Dyner has disclosed few details about how his Heliodisplay works. The machine modifies the air above a video projector, creating a working, 27-inch screen that can display any kind of video. The image is two-dimensional, can be seen from several angles, and can be manipulated by hand. The display is less bold than a normal computer screen, Dyner admits, but he said he hopes to bolster the image quality in future prototypes. Also, a bright light shines in the eyes of viewers who get too close to the machine, a flaw he said he knows how to remedy. Dyner has hired two former investment bankers to find businesses that could use a Heliodisplay, and he has already received inquiries from a large Japanese display company and the U.S. military, not to mention 250,000 hits on his site http:/
       In Finland, a device called the FogScreen has generated a lot of buzz, and turned heads at this year's Siggraph, an industry conference on display technologies. A popular Finnish mime has even integrated the FogScreen into a performance. The FogScreen generates an image onto a cloud of water vapor diffused into the air. Developed by two virtual reality researchers at Tampere University of Technology in Finland, the FogScreen is being marketed to companies that rent equipment to trade shows and other public events. Mika Herpio, the chief executive of FogScreen, said his machine could cost as much as $100,000, but that the price could drop in quantity production. Advanced prototypes of the FogScreen have been built, and commercial production is expected to start later this year. Many advanced display technologies have impressed the public and yet failed to turn a profit.
September 11
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 Battery Park : Two columns of light , known as the Tribute in Light Memorial, emanate into the sky from Battery Park City to mark the second anniversary of the attacks on September 11.
September 12
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The days are approaching of my cigarette-pack sized computer to be able to roam around in your back pocket and maintain contact to the internet. 
Currie Munce, vice president of research, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies in San Jose, Calif., inspects a new 4 Gigabyte Microdrive. The world's smallest hard disk drive weighs just 16 grams and is designed to store large quantities of high-resolution digital photos and video, MP3 music, electronic games and other large files. It can store a full-length DVD movie or about 75 hours of high-quality digital music. The matchbook-sized drive features breakthroughs in capacity and performance.
September 13
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 A child wearing 'kai dang ku,' or open crotch pants, runs to his mother along a sidewalk in Beijing. Rising incomes and more sophisticated lifestyles in Asia's fastest-growing economy have fueled the growing popularity of disposable diapers - a far less rustic alternative - in big cities. In Beijing, China's capital, bare baby bottoms are an increasingly rare sight - even on the sultry summer afternoons, when kai dang ku were almost a uniform for toddlers a few years ago. 
September 14
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 An undated handout photograph shows an Italian Maiolica plate, provided by the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford on Thursday. A leading museum has paid 240,000 pounds for a plate which shows a portrait of a man whose head is made up entirely of penises. It is thought to have been made by Italian Renaissance ceramicist Francesco Urbini in the 16th century. The head is framed by a garland carrying the inscription: Ogni homo me guarda come fosse una testa de cazi (Every man looks at me as if I were a dickhead).
September 15
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Unequal pay makes monkeys go ape
Monkeys, like humans, are acutely aware of injustice, which suggests that a sense of equality is an ancestral trait among primates, a study says. In an unusual two-year experiment, animal behaviourists Sarah Brosnan and Frans de Waal of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, taught brown capuchin monkeys to receive tokens as a reward, and to barter them for food. The monkeys were usually quite content to swap the tokens for cucumber, but if the researchers gave one of the monkeys a grape, a more eagerly-sought food, the other animals would become jealous. Some of them refused to hand over their tokens. Others would still exchange their token for the cucumber, but scornfully decline to eat it. If the monkey which got the grape had received the coveted fruit for not doing anything, its colleagues often became incensed.
       "People judge fairness based both on the distribution of gains and on the possible alternatives to a given outcome," Brosnan and de Waal write in Thursday's issue of Nature, the British science weekly.
"Capuchin monkeys, too, seem to measure reward in relative terms, comparing their own rewards with those available, and their own efforts with those of others. "They respond negatively to previously acceptable rewards if a partner gets a better deal." The pleasure of reward and anger at unfair treatment are known factors behind the human social hierarchy and cooperation. This evidence suggests the same may be true among non-human primates, they say. 
September 16
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Ancient Amazon Settlements Uncovered
The Amazon River basin was not all a pristine, untouched wilderness before Columbus came to the Americas, as was once believed. Researchers have uncovered clusters of extensive settlements linked by wide roads with other communities and surrounded by agricultural developments. The researchers, including some descendants of pre-Columbian tribes that lived along the Amazon, have found evidence of densely settled, well-organized communities with roads, moats and bridges in the Upper Xingu part of the vast tropical region. Michael J. Heckenberger, first author of the study appearing this week in the journal Science, said that the ancestors of the Kuikuro people in the Amazon basin had a "complex and sophisticated" civilization with a population of many thousands during the period before 1492. "These people were not the small mobile bands or simple dispersed populations" that some earlier studies had suggested, he said.
Instead, the people demonstrated sophisticated levels of engineering, planning, cooperation and architecture in carving out of the tropical rain forest a system of interconnected villages and towns making up a widespread culture based on farming. 
       Heckenberger said the society that lived in the Amazon before Columbus were overlooked by experts because they did not build the massive cities and pyramids and other structures common to the Mayans, Aztecs and other pre-Columbian societies in South America. Instead, they built towns, villages and smaller hamlets all laced together by precisely designed roads, some more than 50 yards across, that went in straight lines from one point to another. "They were not organized in cities," Heckenberger said. "There was a different pattern of small settlements, but they were all tightly integrated. He said the population in one village and town complex was 2,500 to 5,000 people, but that could be just one of many complexes in the Amazon region. "All the roads were positioned according to the same angles and they formed a grid throughout the region," he said. Only a small part of these roads has been uncovered and it is uncertain how far the roads extend, but the area studied by his group is a grid 15 miles by 15 miles, he said.
       Heckenberger said the people did not build with stone, as did the Mayas, but made tools and other equipment of wood and bone. Such materials quickly deteriorate in the tropical forest, unlike more durable stone structures. Building stones were not readily available along the Amazon, he said. He said the Amazon people moved huge amounts of dirt to build roads and plazas. At one place, there is evidence that they even built a bridge spanning a major river. The people also altered the natural forest, planting and maintaining orchards and agricultural fields and the effects of this stewardship can still be seen today, Heckenberger said. Diseases such as smallpox and measles, brought to the new world by European explorers, are thought to have wiped out most of the population along the Amazon, he said. By the time scientists began studying the indigenous people, the population was sparse and far flung. As a result, some researchers assumed that that was the way it was prior to Columbus. The new studies, Heckenberger said, show that the Amazon basin once was the center of a stable, well-coordinated and sophisticated society. 
September 17
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 Haunsy, a dachshund, pulls his own float while marching in the 46th Annual German-American Steuben Parade on Fifth Avenue in New York. The parade is part of the celebration of German-American friendship week and recognizes the significant contributions of German-Americans to the development of the United States. 
September 18
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 A stairway that formerly led to a beachfront home's deck is all that remains after Hurricane Isabel struck South Nags Head on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Up to 13 people have perished and 4.5 million homes and business are without power from the Carolinas to New York in Isabel's wake.
September 19
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 A Somali truck loaded with corn is parked on the side of a road in Mogadishu. The delapidated city is the capital of the failed Horn of Africa state, where motorists have the choice of driving on the right or the left hand side of the road, such is Mogadishu's anarchy. Car wrecks, goats, cattle and the tent-like homes of refugees line the pot-holed, sandy streets. The country collapsed into chaos in 1991 after the ousting of former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.
September 20
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 President of the United States George W. Bush as King of Diamonds is part of a card deck depicting 'the 52 most dangerous American officials', sold by the French group Reseau Voltaire (Voltaire Network). Caption under photograph reads : 'Head of a baseball club and director of Salem bin Laden's oil company (brother of Osama). Designated President of the United States by friends of his father at the Supreme Court before the vote count showed that he lost the elections'. A little over 2, 500 decks have been sold on the internet in recent weeks.
September 21
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 Mr. Jeffries, a Bassett hound who is the dog with the largest ears in the world, stands with his ears outstretched. Mr. Jeffries, whose ears measured 11.5 inches and are insured for $49,476, lives with his owner Phil Jeffries in Southwick, West Sussex in southern England.
September 22
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One of a pack of Russian playing cards of leading US political figures shows US President George W. Bush as the jack of hearts. A Russian newspaper has trumped the United States government with playing cards featuring top US politicians, a take off the Iraqi most wanted decks issued during the Iraq war earlier this year. 
September 23
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A stuffed 'almiqui', an insectivore native to Cuba , is presented by a worker, for a photo opportunity at the Cuban Museum of Natural Science on in Havana, Cuba. A living example of the insectivore -believed for years to be extinct- has been found in the island's eastern mountains, a Cuban news agency reported. The last reported sightings of the creatures were in 1972 in the eastern province of Guantanamo, and 25 years later in 1999 in the eastern province of Holguin. 
September 24
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 A Gaetice depressus, right, and its exuviae seem smiling in this photo from Toba Aquarium in Toba, Mie prefecture, western Japan. An 8-year-old boy picked the Gaetice depressus with about 1.5 cm shell when he went digging for clams at a beach in the prefecture and brought it to the aquarium. Employees at the aquarium doubted first that it was drawn by permanent marker but kept it. Even after the Gaetice depressus exuviated on Sept. 21, 2003, it still has the pattern like smiling clearly and it was proved that the pattern is by nature. The aquarium opened it to public.
September 25
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 A Russian boy runs inside a sphere on the river Neva during 'Walks on Neva River' event in St Petersburg. The walks on the Neva River were organised as part of the 300th anniversary celebrations of the Russia's second biggest city St.Petersburg.
September 26
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So does this increase my odds of getting to 125? Saw the movie the Rundown this evening.  Overall a decent movie, reminds me of some of the early  Arnold Schwarzenegger movies.  Lots of action with short lines and little dialogue or character development.  I would give this movie a 7.5/10, for being entertaining but little originality in the plotline or location.
The world's oldest man, retired Japanese silkworm breeder Yukichi Chuganji, died in his home at the age of 114, local government officials said. Chuganji is shown at his home in Fukuoka, southern Japan.  Kyushu is also home to the world's oldest person, a 116-year-old woman named Kamato Hongo.  Japan has the world's longest life expectancy. Researchers say the country's traditional fish-based, lowfat diet may be the secret to the country's longevity. 
September 27
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Spent the day relaxing around the house and enjoyed sleeping in a few extra minutes for a change.  Tried the restaurant Beso that recently changed from Bevo for Kris's 24th birthday dinner.
TV on a T-shirt, fabric displays glowing, changing images.
Optical-fibre fabric should open new horizons for fashion designers. Seen the movie, got the T-shirt? Soon T-shirts might not just advertise movies but show them. Researchers at France Telecom have developed a fabric woven from plastic optical fibres that glow with a series of different images, like a TV screen. It could mean never again being stuck wearing the same outfit as someone else at a party - you could use a mobile phone to download a whole new look into the fabric from a computerized database. The battery-powered optical-fibre fabric should "open new horizons for fashion designers," say its developers Emmanuel Deflin and co-workers of France Telecom in Meylan. In a more practical vein, they suggest that fire-fighters or police could wear clothing programmed to display safety or warning information visible from afar. So far the team has made a jacket containing a very low-resolution grid of eight by eight pixels, which displays crude yet readable symbols such as numbers.
       Switchable textiles have been made before from different light-emission devices. In principle, flexible and fully pixellated screens could be imprinted onto fabrics using plastic light-emitting diodes (LEDs), for example. But fibre-optics are tough, cheap and easy to adapt to existing fabric-weaving technology. Showing real movies on this fabric is, in truth, still remote. A TV or monitor screen contains a grid of pixels that can be lit up or left dark. Each fibre-optic thread in the fabric provides an entire row of pixels that can be configured in only one way. The row can be set up to contain some unlit and some lit sections when switched on, but that predetermined pattern can't be changed. The threads are optical fibres that leak light. For a screen capable of supporting several different images, therefore, a different thread must supply each different configuration of light and dark patches in a row of pixels. This is not quite as limiting as it sounds, because the fibre-optic threads are little thicker than a human hair at about a quarter of a millimetre across.
       The screen could support four distinct patterns, for example, by selecting one of four strands for each line of the image. The glow from each bright part of a strand spreads out enough that, from a distance, the intervening dark strands are barely visible. Primitive moving images can be made by rapidly switching between several such pre-set pictures. The threads are optical fibres that leak light along the sections that need to glow. Normal optical fibres trap light inside, so that they look transparent from the side but glow at the far end where the light emerges. A French company called Audio Images has developed a way to perforate optical fibres with tiny holes that allow some of the light to escape sideways. Each section of a fibre then glows when light is fed into one end. Deflin's team uses plastic fibres, which are stronger than the glass fibres used for telecommunications. Light is fed into the fibres by tiny LEDs along the edge of the display panel and controlled by a small microchip. LEDs of different colours can be used for multicoloured images.

September 28
Image of the Day
Nothing like working on your day off, spent the afternoon and evening creating a pictoral tracing diagrahm and digging through numbers.  Since when does the state have a moral or legal obligation to force treatment on a minor?
State Won't Order Cancer Treatment for Boy
Utah officials have backed off trying to require a boy diagnosed with terminal cancer to undergo chemotherapy, though a juvenile court judge could still order the treatment. The state also is no longer seeking to take Parker Jensen, 12, from his parents, Daren and Barbara Jensen, who fled the state with their son. The Jensens have said they fear the treatment would stunt Parker's growth and leave him sterile. Because of his parents' fierce resistance to chemotherapy -  recommended by at least four doctors Parker probably wouldn't benefit from the treatment because of his unreceptive psychological state, said Carol Sisco, a spokeswoman for the Division of Children and Family Services.
       The boy's court-appointed attorney in the custody dispute also relented. "My client's been placed in a position where it's almost untenable for him to get medical treatment," said Mollie McDonald. Daren Jensen said he is skeptical of the state's intentions and reiterated his desire to be in charge of his son's medical treatment, according to Tuesday editions of The Salt Lake Tribune. "It is time for the parents to take control and move forward," he said. The Jensens want to pursue alternative treatments for Parker, diagnosed earlier this year with Ewing's sarcoma. They fled Utah in August after the state ordered them to relinquish custody to the state so he could receive chemotherapy. They were charged with kidnapping but later surrendered.
       In exchange for keeping Parker, the parents agreed to a new round of tests by an Idaho oncologist, Dr. Martin Johnston, and to abide by his treatment recommendation. Johnston recommended an 11-month regimen of chemotherapy, but the Jensens maintain new tests do not show signs of cancer in Parker's body. "They agreed in court that they would follow the doctor's recommendations. They've now said they won't do that. So what can we do?" Sisco said. "Do we take him in custody and force him into chemotherapy? We just don't think that will work." Daren Jensen told that newspaper that he and his wife have not violated the legal agreement. The Jensens have said they felt coerced to sign the agreement. "We just told them we would never be happy, nor be convinced that what they were doing was right. We never said we would not comply," he told the newspapers. Juvenile Court Judge Robert Yeates is scheduled to consider the status of the case, including Parker's treatment and the Jensens' agreement, at an Oct. 8 hearing.
State kidnapping charges also are pending against the Jensens, who remain free on their own recognizance. 

 A sculpture by artist Anish Kapoor
September 29
Image of the Day
Slim screen can be rolled but not folded
Ultra-thin display brings e-newspapers a step closer. The e-paper has a resolution of 96 dpi - slightly higher than that of a computer monitor. One newspaper that updates itself with the latest headlines every day - that's the vision of US researchers who have unveiled an ultra-thin electronic-ink display screen. The screen is less than 0.3 millimetres thick, flexible enough to be rolled into a tube just 4 mm across and can be viewed from almost any angle. This is good, but not quite good enough for an e-newspaper, admits one of the device's creators, Yu Chen of the E Ink Corporation in Cambridge, Massachusetts: the display is still too thick to be folded in two. The screen uses an electronic network called a thin-film transistor array. This can supply opposing voltages to different areas of the display. On top of the array is a conducting layer containing millions of tiny capsules of charge-sensitive pigment - some black, some white.
       A negative voltage moves the white particles to the surface; a positive one brings black ones to the fore, creating an effect like print on a page. The pattern remains for around 10 minutes after the voltages are removed, making this a cheaper alternative to other electronic displays. Similar technology could even make clothes that double as video screens. This would need a display that refreshed itself every 15 milliseconds. The new screen currently takes around a quarter of a second. "The main challenge is to increase the speed - I think it's very doable," Chen says.
September 30
Image of the Day
LCD paint - Walls and curtains could sport liquid-crystal digital displays.
One layer LCDs could lead to smaller, cheaper, lighter gadgets. Homes of the future could change their wallpaper from cream to cornflower blue at the touch of a button, says Dirk Broer. His team has developed paint-on liquid crystal displays (LCDs) that offer the technology. Liquid crystals are peculiar liquids: their molecules spontaneously line up, rather than being randomly orientated as in a normal liquid. Passing a voltage across the molecules switches their alignment, blocking the transmission of light so a display changes from light to dark. Current LCDs on digital watches, mobile phones and laptops sandwich the crystal between heavy glass plates. The complicated production process is time-consuming, expensive and restricts the size of screens to just 1 metre square. Broer and his colleagues have devised a new open-sandwich technique that instead deposits a layer of liquid crystal onto a single underlying sheet. Working at Eindhoven University of Technology and Philips Research Laboratories in the Netherlands, Broer's team has already produced prototypes on glass and plastic; fabric could be next.
       The technique could create giant TV screens, digital billboards and walls that change colour. Slim, plastic LCDs sewn into fabric could display e-mail or text messages on your sleeve. "It depends what future societies want," says Broer.  The technique should feed people's thirst for smaller, cheaper gadgets. Conventional glass LCDs now make up an increasing part of a laptop's weight - plastic versions could change that, says Peter Raynes, who studies LCD technology at the University of Oxford, UK.
       Broer's team made the LCD paint by mixing liquid crystal with molecules that link together into a rigid polymer when exposed to ultraviolet. In a two-stage process they effectively build tiny boxes holding the liquid. Don't expect to buy a watch featuring one of the new displays in the next six months.  They coat a glass or plastic base with a thin layer of the LCD paint and mask out squares so that a blast of ultraviolet forms a grid of walls. When they remove the mask, a second exposure - at a wavelength that does not penetrate the whole liquid layer - seals over the boxes with a lid. Standard LCDs, which are divided up into pixels, turn dark when a voltage crosses between electrodes on the two glass plates. The new displays instead pass voltage between two points on the same plate. Colour LCDs fit each pixel with red, green and blue colour filters. He cautions that the technique needs work: compared with glass, the thin outer layer may be more easily penetrated by oxygen or water that degrade the crystal.