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Tuneful piano

London, Dec. 5 (Reuters): An inventor has developed a piano that can tune itself in 40 seconds and which will hit the market next year.

Conventionally, pianos are tuned by manually adjusting the tension of the strings struck when a piano key is pressed.

But Don Gilmore’s invention warms the strings using an electric current to reduce an excess of tension deliberately built in when the piano leaves the factory. “Gilmore’s system will go on sale in some grand pianos made by American piano maker Story and Clark by the end of next year,” New Scientist said yesterday.

The system... tunes the piano using a warming current to ease the tension of the strings,” the magazine explained.

Party pique

Hanoi (Reuters): Communist Vietnam is cracking down on traditionally lavish wedding parties thrown by government employees, ordering that no state money be used to fund them. “Weddings should be held in a civilised and economical way for family members, relatives and friends. They should not be organised luxuriously and wastefully,” deputy Prime Minister Pham Gia Khiem said in Thursday’s Vietnam News daily.

Grave hero

Brussels (Reuters): Murdered Dutch populist politician Pim Fortuyn has won another election from beyond the grave. The maverick anti-immigration crusader shot dead in May was among winners of “European of the Year” awards chosen by readers of the Brussels weekly European Voice, along with Pope John Paul and European Commission President Romano Prodi. Gunned down two weeks before his party rose from nowhere to win second place in a general election, Fortuyn was voted Politician of the Year “in recognition of his invigoration of the Dutch political scene before he was assassinated”.

Safe sake

Tokyo (Reuters): With Japan’s end-of-year party season about to get under way, one sake brewer is hoping its latest product will help people get home safely after enjoying the festivities. Enkai Kibun or “Party Mood”, due to go on sale on December 12, is the first ever sake to be virtually free of alcohol, maker Fukumitsuya said on Thursday. “Traffic regulations are getting stricter all the time, so we think it might appeal to people who have to drive home after a party,” company spokesman Kazuhiro Kobayashi said. Enkai Kibun is made from fermented rice, but using a different type of yeast that leaves it with an alcohol content of 0.5 percent.


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