16 September, 2011

Nerdy/geeky/scientist cufflinks

Since I've found my ideal cufflinks, I'm sharing what ideas I had for geeky/nerdy/scientific cufflinks here. I'm a materials guy, so many of these focus on materials I like.
  • Gold - as pure as possible. Gold is a fascinating material. From Theodore Gray's The Elements, "Diamonds are a fraud, but gold is the real thing, richly deserving the adoration it inspires." Remarkable properties and treasured by everyone. Too bad the only gold cufflinks I could find were old-fashioned and quite expensive ($400). At least its value is permanent.
  • Titanium - another exotic, high-tech metal.
  • Carbon fiber - I found this nice carbon fiber and titanium cufflinks online.
  • Liquidmetal - an amorphous metal, as opposed to crystalline, that has high strength, hardness and corrosion resistance. Unfortunately the only cufflinks I could find of this material were made by Mont Blanc, so who knew how much they cost? Also, they never mentioned how much of the cufflinks were actually made of Liquidmetal. I considered casting my own for a while.
  • LED - Think of all the technology in semiconductors required to make these, that we take for granted now. And they produce their own light! And they're easily available online!
  • Laser - But nobody's ever tried putting lasers in their cufflinks. Or at least tried selling them. My idea was to have a magnet in one and a switch in the other. Tap them together and the laser comes on. Tap them again to turn it off. Imagine the lasers being powerful enough to cut through things. Add your own sound effects.
  • Ceramic - Not the conventional kind used to make plates and vases, I was thinking of zirconia, the material used to make ceramic knives. The interesting property of this material is, like ceramics, it's usually brittle. It's made tougher by stabilizing the tetragonal phase down to room temperature (like compressing a spring). Any cracks destabilize this phase, transforming it into monoclinic and applying a force to close the crack! I suspect this is used in ceramic knives, but I haven't checked. However, if you search for zirconia cufflinks, you'll find the cubic phase instead.
  • Stone - It might be nice to have cufflinks made entirely out of granite or something.
  • Atom - Not very special, just an atom symbol.
  • Borosilicate glass - Borosilicate glass is stronger than ordinary glass. They might have these, but not for the entire cufflink, which is what I wanted. They have fiber-optic glass cufflinks too.
  • Tritium - a radioactive isotope of hydrogen. It produces electrons when it decays. People put this inside sealed glass vials, paint the insides with phosphors and it glows by itself, like glow-in-the-dark toys that don't need to be recharged. Used for watches (Luminox) and gun sights. Hard to find by yourself and not easy to see the glow in the daytime though. Oh, and it has to be man-made, and it's used for experiments in nuclear fusion (easier than regular hydrogen).
  • 3D printed - a true engineer would make their own, and what better method than the new technology of 3D printing? Unique and totally customizable. I'm not very good with CAD though.
  • Circuit board - my favourite in this list, it has the right combination of uniqueness, geekiness and ease of findingness. Being recycled, they're environmentally friendly too. I especially like the red/purple ones, since you don't see these circuit boards very often.
As to which cufflinks I finally settled on, I'll reveal that at a later date.

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