Friday, December 19, 2014

Music Friday: Shepherd Boy Tells Mighty King, ‘Let Us Bring Him Silver and Gold’ in Christmas Classic, ‘Do You Hear What I Hear?’

Welcome to our special holiday edition of Music Friday, when we bring you fabulous songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals is the title or lyrics. Today, we present one of the all-time Christmas classics, “Do You Hear What I Hear.”


In this song about the birth of Jesus, a shepherd boy tells the mighty king, “Do you know what I know? / A child, a child shivers in the cold / Let us bring him silver and gold / Let us bring him silver and gold.”

Penned by the married couple Noel Regney and Gloria Shayne Baker in 1962, “Do You Hear What I Hear” was intended as a plea for peace during the Cuban Missile Crisis — a time when the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. were in a tense standoff regarding the Soviet Union’s move to construct ballistic nuclear missile bases in Cuba.

Baker told the Los Angeles Times years later that neither she nor Regney could perform the song at the time they wrote it. "Our little song broke us up,” she said. “You must realize there was a threat of nuclear war at the time."

Baker and Regney’s “Do You Hear What I Hear” became one of the most popular Christmas songs of all time. It has sold tens of millions of copies and has been covered by hundreds of artists over the past 51 years.

Crooner Bing Crosby made the song a worldwide sensation in late 1963, when he featured it on his holiday Christmas album and performed it during Bob Hope's televised Christmas special.


As a holiday treat, we’re presenting two renditions of "Do You Hear What I Hear." The first is a brilliant and stirring contemporary duet by Mary J. Blige and Jennifer Nettles, who performed it in 2013 during the CMA Country Christmas special on ABC. The second is Bing Crosby’s iconic version from 50 years earlier.

The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along. Enjoy!

"Do You Hear What I Hear"
Lyrics by Noel Regney. Music by Gloria Shayne Baker. First performance by Mary J. Blige & Jennifer Nettles (2013). Second performance by Bing Crosby (1963).

Said the night wind to the little lamb,
"Do you see what I see?
Way up in the sky, little lamb,
Do you see what I see?
A star, a star, dancing in the night
With a tail as big as a kite,
With a tail as big as a kite."

Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy,
"Do you hear what I hear?
Ringing through the sky, shepherd boy,
Do you hear what I hear?
A song, a song high above the trees
With a voice as big as the sea,
With a voice as big as the sea."

Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king,
"Do you know what I know?
In your palace walls, mighty king,
Do you know what I know?
A child, a child shivers in the cold
Let us bring him silver and gold,
Let us bring him silver and gold."

Said the king to the people everywhere,
"Listen to what I say!
Pray for peace, people, everywhere,
Listen to what I say!
The child, the child sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light,
He will bring us goodness and light

Images: Bing Crosby promotional shot (uncredited); Mary J. Blige and Jennifer Nettles screen capture via YouTube

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Strange Red and Green ‘Christmas Rock’ Is Teeming With 30,000 Teeny Diamond Crystals

A strange red and green “Christmas Rock” teeming with 30,000 teeny diamond crystals has members of the scientific community scratching their heads.


Just over one inch wide, the host rock has a diamond density one million times higher than normal diamond-bearing ore, which typically yields 1 to 6 carats per ton, according to


Russian miners unearthed the festive-looking specimen at Alrosa’s Udachnaya diamond mine near the Arctic Circle and gifted it to the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Via X-ray tomography analysis, scientists discovered the stone is made up of 30,000 diamond octahedron crystals, which look like two pyramids fused together at the base. Each octahedron is colorless and about 1mm (.04 inches) in height.

Because of their minute size, the diamonds have no practical use in jewelry, but they present a rare and wonderful opportunity for scientists.

"The exciting thing for me is there are 30,000 itty-bitty, perfect octahedrons, and not one big diamond," said University of Tennessee geologist Larry Taylor, who presented his initial findings Monday at the American Geophysical Union's annual meeting. "It's like they formed instantaneously. This rock is a strange one indeed."

Red garnet and green olivine are responsible for giving the rock’s surface its Christmas Holiday colors. Taylor is hoping that the minerals that make up the host rock will provide critical clues about the origin of diamonds that form under intense heat and pressure about 150km (93 miles) below the earth’s surface.

Volcanic eruptions are responsible for bringing the diamond-rich mantle material to the surface, but much of the mantle rock breaks up during the perilous ride, leaving only the diamond crystals behind. In the case of the Udachnaya Christmas Rock, the mantle material stayed intact, according to

Taylor’s complete analysis of how the Christmas Rock formed will be published in the January issue of Russian Geology and Geophysics.

Rock photo: Larry Taylor; Map: Google Maps.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Galatea Uses NFC Technology to Preserve the Voice and Memories of a Loved One — Within a Pearl

Imagine your grandchildren’s delight when decades from now they can see or hear your heartfelt sentiments frozen in time by simply touching a pearl to a mobile device. The new Momento Pearl from Galatea uses near field communication to make it all possible.


Galatea founder Chi Huynh developed a way to embed a tiny NFC chip within the core of a cultured pearl. Powered by induction energy and thereby needing no battery, the chip is programmed using Galatea’s custom phone app. Users can load the chip with four types of media: audio, text, images or video.


By tapping the pearl against an NFC-enabled mobile device, the audio is played and other digital material displayed. From words of love and encouragement to wedding vows and Biblical passages, the emotional connections contained within the patented Momento Pearl are boundless.


"This is where the future of jewelry begins," Huynh said in a statement. "A person can 'live' in this pearl forever, as it holds the voice and memories of a loved one."


Huynh is best known for his masterfully hand-carved pearl jewelry, often embedded with colored gemstones or diamonds. The designer also patented a special pearl cultivation process where the standard white shell nucleus is swapped for a colorful gem bead nucleus. With the colorful core, the artist is able to carve away parts of the surface nacre to reveal the colorful interior, giving it a beautiful dimensional quality.


Galatea’s Memento Collection includes 29 pendants, 26 earring and eight rings featuring Tahitian and freshwater pearls set in 14-karat gold. Retail prices start at $350.

For more information, check out Galatea’s promotional video…

Images: Galatea

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Wastewater Crew Rescues Flushed Engagement Ring That Had Traveled 1,000 Feet Into Sewage System

Wastewater workers for the city of Pacifica, Calif., are being hailed for their skill, persistence and going beyond the call of duty in rescuing a diamond engagement ring that was accidentally flushed down a toilet — and presumed lost forever.


The glistening ring was spotted with a video camera 1,000 feet from where it entered the sewage pipe. Pacifica Waste Water Collection workers were able to climb down a manhole and scoop the ring out of the muck.

The relieved couple, Lary Warren and Monika Belden-Sokoloski, had marked their February 2014 engagement by exchanging diamond rings. Warren’s ring featured 20 diamonds channel set in a wide gold band.


Having recently lost weight, Warren had noticed that his ill-fitted ring was spinning loosely on his finger. About a month ago, he was in the bathroom of his home, having just washed his hands, when the soapy ring flew off his finger and into the flushing toilet. In a second, it was gone.

“The ring was in the toilet and I was about to be in the toilet," Warren said, expecting to get an earful from his fiancĂ©e.


“I was very quiet," corrected Belden-Sokoloski.

Assuming that the ring had met its end, Warren decided to write off the loss to some bad luck. But, two weeks ago, after seeing a story on KTVU Channel 2 News about a ring that was recovered from a sewage pipe, he decided to contact Pacifica Waste Water Collection.

A full month had passed since the ring swished down the toilet, so there was no telling where in the sewage system the ring had traveled.


"It's like a needle in the haystack. We really didn't think we had a chance," sewage maintenance worker Eddie Pastrano told KTVU. Nevertheless, Pastrano’s supervisor, Brian Martinez Sr., thought the recovery effort was worth a try.

First, Martinez’ crew ran a small camera through the plumbing of Warren’s home. When that proved fruitless, the team snaked a larger camera through the main sewage pipe, but still they had no luck. On the third try, with the larger camera inching through pipe more than 1,000 feet from Warren’s home, workers finally saw a positive sign.


"It was gold. It was very shiny. We were able to see it quite well," maintenance worker and camera operator Mike Williams told KTVU. “All the stars and moons lined up and we had the right conditions.

Williams said the search was helped along by a recent run of wet weather. "It was really a fluke thing. Usually the sewer is pretty murky, but it just so happened we had all that rain come through, so it was clearer in the pipe."

"That was amazing,” said Belden-Sokoloski. “It's good to know people really care.”

Wastewater workers noted that the ring was found just a short distance from where the local sewage pipe drops into a larger pipe and crosses a highway. Had the ring traveled that far, it certainly would have been lost forever.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Dutchman’s Romantic Marriage Proposal Nearly Brings Down the House

A Dutchman’s elaborate plan to serenade his girlfriend and then propose marriage — while being lowered to her bedroom window in the bucket of a cherry picker — nearly “brought down the house” on Saturday when the unsecured crane teetered through the roof of an adjoining building.


On paper, the Dutchman’s objective seemed to be plausible. He’d surprise his girlfriend by magically appearing in front of her window, sing her a song and then ask for her hand in marriage. Sadly, the dynamics of heavy machinery, physics, gravity and bad luck got in the way.


The ambitious Romeo was forced to abandon his high-flying scheme and scramble to safety after the crane toppled, causing the evacuation of 32 apartments in the Dutch town of IJsselstein, about 30 miles south of Amsterdam.


The attempt to rescue the crippled crane added insult to injury. Videos of the operation show the horrific and darkly comical failure of a larger crane trying to lift the smaller one. The boom snaps free, plunging downward through the roof of the building and leaving six apartments uninhabitable. Fortunately, local apartment dwellers and the newly engaged couple emerged from the drama unscathed.


Despite the malfunctions, the marriage proposal was still a “smashing” success. While the execution of his plan might have earned a failing grade, the suitor clearly got an A-plus for effort and creativity. His girlfriend said, “Yes,” according to the Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad.


After meeting with town authorities, the couple reportedly traveled to Paris to celebrate.

Screen captures: YouTube/BBC News