Hang PVC on the Christmas tree

By Times Staff, Wires
Published December 1, 2007

You'll likely see images on TV of the Capitol Christmas Tree when it's lighted at 5 p.m. Wednesday. The balsam fir, a gift from the people of Vermont, will stand outside the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. (Read more at www.capitolchristmastree2007.org.) Among the ornaments, note the 12-inch candy canes - 750 of 'em. They're made from sheets of PVC and were donated by Fypon, manufacturer of synthetic millwork. That refers to the crown moldings, columns, ceiling medallions and other decorative elements that in earlier days were made of wood or plaster. You may have these elements in your home. PVC won't swell, rot or shed a painted surface, hence its suitability for outdoor decorations.


Brush up on the latest innovations

The winner of Popular Science magazine's Innovation of the Year award is the Nanosolar PowerSheet. A layer of solar-absorbing nano-ink is laid down onto metal sheets as thin as aluminum foil, so the panels can be made for about a tenth of what current panels cost and at a rate of several hundred feet per minute. View an animation of how it works at www.popsci.com, where you can also find the complete list of this year's innovation winners. The company's Web site is www.nanosolar.com.

The magazine gives 100 "best of what's new" awards in 10 categories. In the Home Tech category, one of the winners was Benjamin Moore's Aura paint, which covers in one coat with virtually no odors. In the personal health category, the Oral-B Triumph toothbrush provides instant feedback on brushing. The motorized, sensor-equipped brush connects wirelessly to a display that keeps track of how long you brush and tells you when to take it easy on the brushing pressure. See, you're not alone even in the bathroom. The brush is $150; www.oralb.com. Details on all the Popular Science winners are at www.popsci.com.