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unusual projects

Vanity projects


Amazon boss Jeff Bezos is reported to have put $42 million into a rather unusual project - a clock that will run for 10, 000 years. Also called Clock of the Long Now, it is being constructed in western Texas. "If you think something is important, and you think nobody else is going to do it, then it's a useful thing to do, " Bezos told Wired magazine. Interestingly, Blue Origin, a space company founded by Bezos, recently showed off its new space vehicle. The Space Vehicle (more imaginative than its name) will compete with other private companies like SpaceX for the right to transport astronauts and equipment to the International Space Station.


There seems be a connection between space and cyberspace. Google's Larry Page and Eric Schmidt are now supporting a plan to mine asteroids in space. Filmmaker James Cameron seems interested too. The plan is to extract minerals from asteroids traveling past the earth using robotic spacecraft. Sceptics have dismissed the plan as daring, difficult and expensive.


What do you do after founding one of the world's most successful software companies? If you're Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, you commission the construction of the world's largest aircraft. Powered by six jumbo-jet engines, the plane will have its first test flight by 2015 and is expected to launch a rocket into orbit the following year. Allen's vision is to allow private industry to take over space exploration at a time when the US government is cutting down on funding.


Late last month, Australian mining magnate Clive Palmer announced his plan to build a Titanic II in partnership with a Chinese firm. The design will be as close as possible to the original but the ship will be fitted with "state-of-the-art 21stcentury technology and the latest navigation and safety systems, " said Palmer. It will re-create the voyage of the original Titanic from Liverpool to New York in 2016.


At $2 billion, Mukesh Ambani's newly built residence, Antilla, is possibly the world's most expensive house. It has been described as "vertical palace" (it's 27-storeys high), "the Taj Mahal of the 21st century"and "like an erection hanging in the wind". Beauty aside, the house reportedly hasn't become a home yet because it wasn't built according to the principles of vaastu shastra.


Space tourism seems to be a looming reality with Virgin Galactic getting ready to offer rides on its spaceships from its base in New Mexico. The company says the project is "not a Richard Branson PR stunt". For $200, 000 a seat, what it could be, though, is a Richard Branson vanity pursuit.

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