Top 10 things you CAN'T have for Christmas 2011
With Christmas fast approaching it means it's time for our annual look back at some of the technology that caught our eye and had us wishing our fortunes didn't match that of the Greek economy. While not all of the items on this list can be had for an extremely large wad of cash, those that are available for purchase will only find their way down the chimneys of those with a lottery winning or ultra-wealthy - and ultra-generous - family member or friend. Still, Christmas is a time for miracles so it is in that spirit that Gizmag presents its 2010 top 10 list of things you can't have for Christmas this year.
1. Lamborghini Sesto Elemento
2011 provided more than a few cars that would be a welcome addition in the garage of readers on Christmas morning, from the one million euro Pagani Huayra Supercar to the four-seater Ferrari V12 FF. But for a car that combines desirability with unattainability the one that's hard to beat is Lamborghini's Sesto Elemento with its extensive use of carbon fiber contributing to a weight of just 999 kg (2,202 lb), making it the lightest Lamborghini ever produced. This combined with the car's 5.2-liter V10 generating 570 horsepower and 540 Nm of torque sees the Sesto Elemento going from zero to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 2.5 seconds, on its way to a top speed of over 300 km/h (186 mph). If the US$2.6 million price tag wasn't enough to put the Sesto Elemento firmly and squarely on the can't have list, then the limited production run of just 20 - all of which have been spoken for - only cements the deal.
2. Marchi Mobile Luxury Camper
If getting somewhere in comfort is more important than getting somewhere quickly then the Marchi Mobile Luxury Camper might be a better option a Lamborghini. While the ultra-luxurious RV will attract stares from onlookers with its distinctive oval windscreen, it's the vehicle's interior in any of the three configurable layouts that will set jaws dropping with options including an operational fireplace, floor heating and rainfall shower. And after reaching your destination after a day on the road, all the setting up can be handled via a touch-screen control panel.
3. Luxury yacht
If your transportation needs tend more to the marine than the motorway then a luxury superyacht is always a good inclusion on the wish list. While a yacht is out of reach to most of us, there were two we covered this year that serve as prime examples of ocean-going opulence. The Adastra is a one-off luxury yacht that will accommodate up to nine passengers and six crew, while the "Tropical Island Paradise" is a 90 meter (295 ft) long floating island theme yacht that includes its very own volcano and waterfall. While the Adastra is currently under construction in China, it has already been spoken for, while the Tropical Island Paradise is only a concept design. Either way, there's no way either craft will be sailing into your private marina with a bow around them this year.
4. A holographic display
Despite being a staple of science fiction for over a century, we're still waiting for holographic displays to make the leap into the living room. But there is (a new) hope. This year we saw a team at MIT's Media Lab produce an albeit low res 3D hologram using off-the-shelf components, including Microsoft's Kinect. The Kinect was also part of Microsoft Research's HoloDesk that allowed users to interact with holographic objects in real time. Both holographic technologies are still in the early research stage, so while the sign's are promising, your dreams of getting your R2 unit to spit out a hologram of Princess Leia are not going to be realized this year.
5. Gold clothing
If you're hoping for something besides the traditional socks and jocks to fill the wardrobe this Christmas then, unless you're a gangsta rapper or particularly well-off fashionista, you're unlikely to be the recipient of something crafted from this 24 carat fabric developed by a Swiss research team. The thread combines pure gold and silk to create a durable and washable fabric that the team plans to use in neck ties containing around 8 grams (0.28 oz) of pure gold each that will sell for around 7,500 Swiss francs (approx. US$8,100).
6. Lab-grown meat
If you're hosting festive activities at your place then meeting the dietary requirements of various friends and family members can turn into quite a complicated affair. If there's a person on the guest list that is a vegetarian for ethical reasons and you still want to keep the meat-eaters in attendance happy then some lab-grown meat could make the meal preparation a bit easier - even if it isn't the most traditional of Christmas dinners. Unfortunately, although there has been some success, the technology isn't quite ready for the dinner table. And when the lab-grown burger does arrive, each patty created in a lab instead of coming directly from an animal is estimated to set you back somewhere in the region of US$345,000 - at least initially ... and they are unlikely to look as appetizing as the real burger pictured above.
7. Hasselblad H4D-200MS
If you want to capture the look of joy on the little one's faces as they unwrap the latest gift from Santa then you'll need a camera. While most will probably make do with a consumer-level snapper or the camera built into their phone, those looking for some more professional results might want to point their viewfinder at the Hasselblad H4D-200MS. Packing a 50-megapixel CCD sensor twice the size of a 35 mm camera sensor and the ability to combine multiple images into one 200-megapixel pic. But with a price tag of EUR 32,000 (approx. US$42,700) it's probably overkill for some holiday happy snaps.
8. A wrist-worn status symbol
Mobile phones might have supplanted the humble wristwatch as the primary time-telling device for many people but there's nothing humble about the UR-110 ZrN Torpedo. This Swiss-made luxury piece of mechanical engineering from Urwerk features a corrosion resistant case top surface of vapor-deposited Zirconium Nitride and even includes an "oil change" indicator to let you know when to send the watch off for servicing. But the fact the watch was only produced in a limited edition of 20, each costing US$135,000, means you probably won't be wrapping one round your wrist this Christmas.
9. Private alpine retreat
If you're looking to hit the slopes this holiday season but are after something a bit more private and exclusive than your standard ski resort then the LEAP (Living Ecological Alpine Pod) from Italian design firm LEAPfactory might fit the bill. Coming pre-built, these self-contained cylindrical pods are designed to be flown to your alpine location of choice and lifted away at the end of their life cycle leaving no permanent trace on the natural environment. While LEAP says the overall cost of the pods is "highly competitive," the fact they need to be ferried to their location by helicopter will likely put them out of reach of most people.
One thing that many are hoping science will deliver is a fountain of youth - if not to provide immortality then to at least significantly increase one's lifespan. In 2010, researchers managed to successfully reverse the aging process in mice, while this year another team managed to reverse the aging process in human adult stem cells. This year also saw the identification of an enzyme that plays a major role in the aging process and is one of the factors behind the effectiveness of calorie restriction in slowing the aging process. While these discoveries are undergoing further study to ascertain their potential for extending the lifespan of humans and improving the quality of life in one's old age, we'll still have to wait a little longer before any treatments become available.
The above list is by no means a definitive list of the most desirable yet unattainable things we've covered this year. As always, we welcome input from you, dear readers, on anything you feel should have made the list.
And if our list has served more as a source of frustration than of inspiration, then keep an eye out in coming days for our top ten list of things you CAN have for some slightly more realistic things to put on your Christmas wish list this year.
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I always got the impression that Stradivarius had a far better track record than that.