Friday, August 03, 2012

Music Friday With a Video Tribute to Gold Medalist Gabrielle Douglas

Gabrielle Douglas made Olympic history yesterday by becoming the first American gymnast to win a gold medal in both the team and all-around competitions. The 16-year-old Douglas impressed the world with her high-flying, world-class performances in four different disciplines (balance beam, uneven bars, floor exercise and vault).

To honor Ms. Douglas' stellar accomplishment, we've made her the subject of Music Friday, our regular feature that highlights tunes with gems, jewelry or precious metals (medals?) in the title or theme.

Today's inspirational video is a musical tribute to this dedicated and talented athlete, who left her home in Virginia Beach, Va., at the age of 12 to live and train with a top-level gymnastics coach in Des Moines, Iowa.

Nicknamed the “Flying Squirrel” for her amazing ability to seemingly defy gravity during her routines, Douglas was inspired by a phone call from President Barack Obama on Wednesday, when he personally congratulated her for winning her first gold medal and encouraged her to "keep at it."

Set to the Kanye West song, "All of the Lights," the video gives an inside look at the athlete as she talks about leaving home at a young age, the challenges of being away from her family and how she sees herself as a role model. We also see highlights of her rise to fame.

West's song, featuring vocals by Rihanna and Kid Cudi, was released in 2011 and won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Song.

Red, White and Blue Earrings Bring Good Luck to Olympian Aly Raisman and the U.S. Gymnastics Team

When the U.S. woman's gymnastics team dominated the Russians to win a gold medal in the team competition on Tuesday, Olympian Aly Raisman was wearing a sparkling pair of red, white and blue earrings for good luck.

In fact, since heading to London for The Games, the 18-year-old team captain from Massachusetts has rarely taken them off. She’s wore them when she qualified for her all-around final, during pre-Olympic interviews and even during her Sports Illustrated cover shoot.

The earrings were created by her hometown jeweler, who earlier in the week promised matching pairs for each of Raisman's teammates if they brought home the gold. The simple, but stunning, design should be a fashion hit across the country as patriotic and fashionable fans of the team show their support.

You can be sure that Raisman will be wearing them again on Thursday as she competes in the all-around competition. "I love the patriotism look,” Raisman told Boston's Channel 7 News.

Raisman's affection for jewelry sparked a number of bloggers, tweeters and journalists to discuss why some athletes seem to be allowed to wear jewelry during Olympic events and others are not.

It turns out that the Olympic Committee has no formal rules about the subject. Instead, the governing body of each sport sets its own rules. For example, there is a no-bling rule for volleyball players, but gymnasts may wear earrings as long as they are simple studs (one in each ear).

August Birthstone Is the Only Gem to Be Found in Meteorites and on Mars

When a 925-pound meteorite crash landed in Fukang, China, in 2000, there were few signs of the beauty that lay within. But when a thin slice was removed from the rock creating a window to the inside, a breathtaking site was revealed. This was no ordinary meteorite. It was an extremely rare pallasite – a type of stony-iron meteorite – that contained large, translucent, gem-quality olivine (or peridot) in a silvery honeycomb of nickel-iron.

Now dubbed The Fukang Meteorite, the space visitor is said to be 4.5 billion years old (about the same age as our Solar System) and one of the truly spectacular meteorite specimens ever discovered. Less than 1% of all meteorites are pallasites because very few specimens can survive their descent through the Earth's atmosphere. The ones that do survive usually explode into many smaller pieces. Scientists believe pallasites are "relics of forming planets."

Peridot is the only gemstone found in meteors and the first gem to be discovered on another planet. The Mars landing of 2003 revealed that the Red Planet is covered in about 19,000 square miles of green peridot crystals.

The Fukang Meteorite was expected to fetch $2 million at a Bonham’s auction in 2008, but remains unsold.

The August birthstone seems to have an energy source all its own. It shines with a bright green glow even at night. Peridot was called the “gem of the sun” by the ancient Egyptians and the “evening emerald” by Romans. A thin cross section of the pallasite presents a stained glass effect when the sun shines through.

Class Ring Lost on a N.C. Beach During the Carter Administration Resurfaces 33 Years Later; Owner Is Shocked

The year was 1979. The U.S. President was Jimmy Carter. The price of a first-class stamp was 15 cents. The Album of the Year was Saturday Night Fever by the Bee Gees and the Academy Award for Best Picture went to "The Deer Hunter." This was also the year when high school junior Mary Jo Rafferty sadly lost her beloved class ring in the dunes during a beach party in Surf City, N.C.

She had been sitting on the railing of one of the walkways above the beach when the ring slipped off her finger and fell into the sand below. It was dark and the immediate search for the ring proved fruitless.

 "A couple of my friends tried to help me find it," Rafferty told a reporter from CBS affiliate WNCT. "We went back the next day and looked and couldn't find it. We went back a couple of times over the next few weeks and I figured it was just gone forever."

Well, not exactly forever.

Late in June, the class ring that had been tumbled in the North Carolina surf for 33 years came rolling onto the beach less than a mile from where it was originally lost.

Tricia Lewis was vacationing with her family at Surf City when the class ring made a surprise appearance. "I was just sitting on the beach reading a book when this wave came up [close], so I was going to move back a little farther," she said. "When I stood up, laying right there on the wet sand was a ring."

The class ring design revealed a number of clues, including the owner's initials, the Dixon High bulldog and a raised inscription surrounding the sapphire stone.

As soon as Lewis returned to her home in Virginia after her vacation, she used the Internet to find the school and contact its vice principal, who eventually assisted in identifying the owner. Apparently Rafferty was the only one in her graduating class with her initials.

Rafferty told WNCT that she was shocked when her mom called about the lost ring. "What are the chances of finding something after that length of time? That's a lifetime," she said.

The ring held up well after 33 years in the salty surf. Except for a few green discolorations, the 10-karat gold and sapphire ring was looking nearly as good as new.

“It made me think,” Rafferty told “Maybe nothing’s ever lost forever.”

Olympic Swimmer Ryan Lochte Banned From Wearing Mouth Jewelry on the Medal Stand

After beating Michael Phelps in the 400m individual medley on Saturday, swimming phenom Ryan Lochte was told by Olympic Games officials that he was not permitted to wear his custom-made red-white-and-blue mouth bling on the medal stand. If he insisted, he would not receive his fourth career gold medal, according to a report by ESPN's Wayne Drehs.

"Lochte told me he tried to wear his grill on the podium only to have an Olympics official tell him if he did so he wouldn't get his gold," said Drehs.
Looks like the high-profile Olympic swimmer conceded and removed the grill for the awards ceremony, and then popped it back in afterwards. The photo above shows Lochte with and without the grill.
A closer look at the grill reveals a Stars-and-Stripes design with staggered blue and white stones on one side representing the stars on a blue field, and rows of red and white stones on the other representing the flag's red and white stripes. Presumably the gemstones are rubies, sapphires and diamonds.
According to USA Today, Lochte has had a long love affair with oral jewelry that goes back at least to the Beijing Games of 2008.
Lochte explained the look in a YouTube video posted in June: “For those who don’t know what a grill is, it’s basically a retainer filled with diamonds. … I wear it when I go on the podium. It’s just a unique way of showing my personality out to everyone.”

Music Friday With Satirist Tom Lehrer and 'The Elements' Song

Welcome to Music Friday, when we bring you the very best tunes with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today's special treat is the animated version of "The Elements" song by satirist and lecturer Tom Lehrer. Originally written and performed in 1959 when only 102 elements were known, the Harvard-educated Lehrer sings the whole periodic table – in 85 seconds – to the tune of the "Major-General's Song" from The Pirates of Penzance.

In this video, animator Timwi uses Visual C# Express, AviSynth and VirtualDub to brilliantly bring Lehrer's song to life.

For fans of the most common jewelry metals, gold makes its appearance at the 22 second mark, followed by silver (:34), platinum (:53), palladium (:54), titanium (:56), rhodium (1:09) and tungsten (1:10). Once again we offer you the lyrics if you'd like to sing along. Good luck keeping up with Mr. Lehrer.

"The Elements"

Written and performed by Tom Lehrer.

There's antimony, arsenic, aluminum, selenium,
And hydrogen and oxygen and nitrogen and rhenium,
And nickel, neodymium, neptunium, germanium,
And iron, americium, ruthenium, uranium,
Europium, zirconium, lutetium, vanadium,
And lanthanum and osmium and astatine and radium,
And gold and protactinium and indium and gallium,
And iodine and thorium and thulium and thallium.

There's yttrium, ytterbium, actinium, rubidium,
And boron, gadolinium, niobium, iridium,
And strontium and silicon and silver and samarium,
And bismuth, bromine, lithium, beryllium, and barium.

There's holmium and helium and hafnium and erbium,
And phosphorus and francium and fluorine and terbium,
And manganese and mercury, molybdenum, magnesium,
Dysprosium and scandium and cerium and cesium.
And lead, praseodymium, and platinum, plutonium,
Palladium, promethium, potassium, polonium,
And tantalum, technetium, titanium, tellurium,
And cadmium and calcium and chromium and curium.

There's sulfur, californium, and fermium, berkelium,
And also mendelevium, einsteinium, nobelium,
And argon, krypton, neon, radon, xenon, zinc, and rhodium,
And chlorine, carbon, cobalt, copper, tungsten, tin, and sodium.

These are the only ones of which the news has come to Harvard,
And there may be many others, but they haven't been discovered.

Dynamic Duo: Gold and Tea Outperform Chemo in Battle Against Cancer

In an amazing study that may have profound effects on the quality of life of cancer patients, researchers from the University of Missouri claim that the unlikely pairing of green tea and gold offers a safer and more effective alternative to chemotherapy in the treatment of prostate cancer.

The study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences outlined how the tea and gold worked together to beat cancer in laboratory animals. Essentially, the tea compound attracted the cancer cells and the radioactive gold nanoparticles killed them.

Most importantly, the treatments can be delivered safely because the gold nanoparticles, which remain radioactive for only a few weeks, can deliver a death blow to the cancer cells without destroying the surround tissue and cells. Chemotherapy often has toxic side effects as the radioactive "seeds" attack the cancer cells and healthy cells alike. The treatments often wreak havoc on the rest of the body and lead to other health complications, including organ failure and death.

Senior researcher and study leader Kattesh Katti from the University of Missouri said, “The new gold/tea treatment would require doses that are thousands of times smaller than typical chemotherapy. We were able to reduce the tumor size by 70 to 80 percent.”

Despite these very promising initial findings, experts added that the gold/tea treatments are still many years away from clinical trials on humans.

Princeton-Scholar-Turned-Google-Exec Raises the Bar on High-Tech Marriage Proposals

Raj Hathiramani isn't your average 20-something in love. He's a 2007 Princeton graduate (summa cum laude) and a high-powered executive at Google's New Products, Media & Platforms group in New York City.

With this pedigree, it's not surprising that Hathiramani has delivered a five-minute video masterpiece that raises the bar on high-tech marriage proposals. We'll take a guess that he's the first person to ever propose via the new Google tablet.

Using a combination more than 190 still pictures, time-lapse sequences and conventional video clips, Hathiramani produced "I Heart Aditi," a loving tribute to his girlfriend, and now fiancée, Aditi Gupta (also a Princeton grad).

The video features quick cuts of the couples' friends, family and co-workers creating the shape of a heart with the hands, as well as other sequences with hearts as the central theme. In one scene Hathiramani bakes heart-shaped brownies and in another we see a heart-shaped bagel being consumed in reverse. Even Justin Bieber makes a cameo appearance. The video was inspired by his alma mater's "I Heart Princeton" video.

The challenge for Hathiramani was getting his girlfriend to see the video. So, while traveling in Chicago on the Fourth of July, he presented Gupta with the new Nexus 7 Google tablet and told her it was preloaded with her favorite apps, books, movies, music... and a "special" video.

This is how Hathiramani described the scene for his YouTube viewers, which totaled 37,584 as of last night...

On July 4th, 2012, my girlfriend and I were in Chicago with our two brothers and a friend. We visited the Shedd Aquarium, Millennium Park, and played squash at the University Club. At the end of our match, our brothers sneaked upstairs while I gave her a gift: the Nexus 7 tablet.

I did a quick live demo and ended it by showing her this video on YouTube :).

Congratulations to the happy couple. We can't wait to see the next wave of creative proposals that this new technology will inspire. Enjoy the video...

Third Time's the Charm for Bachelorette Emily Maynard As She Accepts 88-Diamond Stunner

Looks like the third time's the charm for Emily Maynard, who accepted the proposal of Utah entrepreneur Jef Holm – and an 88-diamond platinum engagement ring – during the season finale of The Bachelorette. The show scored a television audience of 9 million viewers.

Scene from The Bachelorette finale on Sunday night.

Holm got on one knee and presented the lovely and beautiful Maynard with a dazzling engagement ring valued at $68,000. The ring by designer Neil Lane features a 2.5 carat emerald-cut center stone framed by small round diamonds, which also encircle the band.

Maynard had been courted by 25 men during the show's eighth season, and the dramatic final two-hour episode followed the North Carolina single mom as she narrowed her search to two finalists: Holm and race car driver Arie Luyendyk.

Fans of The Bachelor/The Bachelorette franchise on ABC may remember that it was Maynard, who was the object of Brad Womack's affection on Season 15 of The Bachelor in March of 2011. On that season's finale, Maynard accepted Womack's proposal – and a different Neil Lane-designed engagement ring valued between $50,000 and $90,000 – but the romance quickly fizzled. That platinum ring had a cushion-cut center stone set in a split-shank halo motif.

Flashback to The Bachelor finale from March 2011.

Maynard was also briefly engaged in 2004 to racecar driver Ricky Hendrick before he tragically passed away.

What's next for Maynard and Holm? They announced that they will be heading to Africa to do some charity-based work to help others less fortunate. "I'm going to take Emily to Africa with my company People Water and build wells," Holm told USA Today.