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OTHER ITA SITES:
5 Inventions I Thought I�d Never See In My Lifetime
1). Self-Cleaning Windows
Glass that uses a combination of sunlight and rainwater to clean itself? Are we in Star Trek?
Apparently not. UK based company Pilkington have invented a self-cleaning glass, which contains a microscopic coating that use the energy from sunlight to break down any form of organic dirt � and then automatically spreads rainwater into an even film to clear the dirt away �with reduced streaking. Sceptics might challenge that in the company�s home market of Britain, sunlight is in much shorter supply than rainwater � while the reverse is true in hot countries. But apparently after a week to �energize� (Star Trek again), the glass works equally well in cloudy conditions. And if it doesn�t rain enough � if such a thing can ever to be true � one splash from the hose will get the broken-down dirt off.
Bad news for window cleaners, from the sound of things. But good news for everyone else.
2). The Bugatti Veyron
A car that goes from 0-60 mph in 2.5 seconds, with a top speed of 253 mph � then runs out of fuel twelve minutes later. No, it�s not a Formula 1 car. You can buy it and drive on the road. And although it costs $1.2m dollars, that�s still only a fifth the amount it costs to build each one. The engineering is German � it�s built by Volkswagen. The logic isn�t. That�s why it�s got an Italian name, the Bugatti Veyron.
Why would any company do such a thing, least of all a company that started off making Beatles? Apparently it was because, not having a Formula 1 team, they needed another way to show off. And show off they have. Sixteen cylinders. Not one but four turbo chargers � one for each four cylinders. A thousand horsepower � the power of ten entry-level VW Golfs on only four wheels.
Now all you need to do is be nice to someone who�s got one.
3). MP3 Files
These you have already heard about. But given that most of us can remember marvelling at hearing our first CD, the invention of a system that lets you store thousands of CDs in your computer � and access any of them in an instant � is quite something.
It�s not all good news. Having spent most of the twentieth century trying to achieve �High Fidelity� � which culminated in the CD � sound quality takes a dive with the MP3, which clips away the high and low frequencies. And there is the phenomenon of not being able to listen to a song the whole way through because you or someone else will already be putting something else on � especially annoying at parties. But if you can control that urge, the trade-off between slightly lower sound quality and instant access to all the music you could ever like is an easy one to make. For music lovers, it�s nothing short of a miracle.
4). Low-Cost Air Travel
If you can plan ahead and find the time off, you can visit other countries for less than the cost of a domestic train ticket.
When air travel was invented, it was a luxury experience for the rich. You dressed up and were given champagne in a glass. But since the 1950s, the airlines have steadily driven down the cost and the service � while still maintaining, and charging for, the mystique. Wrong! When Freddy Laker tried to set up a low-cost transatlantic service in the 1980s, the big airlines blew him out of the air by subsiding those of their own flights that he was competing with. When Stelios Haji-Ioannuo tried again on short-haul destinations in the 1990s, the big airlines tried the same response. But this time, they ended up in court � and lost. The cost of long haul air travel is now declining too. Bravo! What�s the point in globalisation if you can�t see the rest of the world?
5). The Internet
Let�s face it � it�s the biggest invention since telephones or television, if not bigger. You can only phone people whose number you�ve got, and you can only watch TV programs that broadcasting companies have decided to put there. But the Internet is tele-everything � information, instant mail, entertainment, self-publishing, discussion. You name it, it�s there.
The amazing thing is how long it took to take off. The basics of technology were first invented in 1974 in the US and a closed version for universities appeared in 1983. The World Wide Web itself � what people today call the Internet � was invented along with http and html in Europe in 1989. By 1996, 25 million computers were on the web � a good start, but only a fraction of the billion-plus online today. And with Web 2.0 � blogs and forums � any of those people can create content to be read by any other.
In my lifetime? Apparently so!
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Travel Part B