I recently came across an article which spoke about a language called Zephir. It was written with the goal of letting PHP programmers write PHP extensions. I was really happy to read this. For quite some time I have dreamed of creating PHP extensions but the fact that I would have to learn C kept me away from it (although I would have eventually done it). And, I have been jealous of Lisp which can be extended using Lisp itself (unlike PHP which requires you to know C to extend it)
Zephir looks almost like PHP. There are a few differences but if you are a PHP developer it will probably take you mere hours to get the hang of it. The same guys who wrote the Phalcon framework have written Zephir. For those of you who don’t know what Phalcon is, it is a framework written as an extension of PHP. It is the only framework of its kind (as far as I know). All other frameworks are written in PHP.
Imagine the speed boost something like this can give your application. Binary code executes much faster than interpreted code. You can shift all your intense computing code to an extension and improve the performance of your application by quite a bit.
You can learn more about Zephir here: http://zephir-lang.com/tutorial.html