American scientists have discovered that it is the man, not the woman, who is most likely to be the first to say “I love you” in a blossoming romance.
Researchers conducting this vital work have found that young men are three times more likely to take this plunge than their girlfriends.
According to researchers, there may be a more cynical explanation – that the men are simply trying to smooth-talk their partners into bed.
They explained: “Any strategy serving as the means to a sexual end would be beneficial to men, including declarations of love.”
American scientists have discovered that it is the man, not the woman, who is most likely to be the first to say “I love you” in a blossoming romance
They came to their conclusion after interviewing 171 heterosexual students under 25.
A sizeable majority (87 per cent) of the group said they believed women fell in love first, while three-quarters said they expected women to say “I love you” first.
But when asked about their own experiences, men said it took them a few weeks to realize they had fallen in love, compared with a few months for women.
It is probably no coincidence that this coincides with the average timescale when each partner wanted to have sex – within weeks for men and months for women.
Some 64% of men admitted they had said “I love you” first, compared with just 18% of women.
The research from Pennsylvania State University and published in the Journal of Social Psychology, concluded: “This shows that women tend to be more cautious about love and the expression thereof than is commonly believed. It can be argued that men’s falling in love and exclaiming this love first may be explained as a by-product of men equating love with sexual desire.”
Meanwhile, a separate study has found women are wary of men with a squinty gaze because they look promiscuous.
Hundreds of participants were shown three images of the same male face, but with eyes altered by computer. Women said the man with narrowed eyelids looked as if he would challenge authority, sleep around and steal another man’s girlfriend.
The man with an open gaze was considered more caring and emotionally supportive – and therefore better husband material.
Researchers from the University of Michigan said the simplest explanation was that “a lowered eyelid gaze is a display of sexual interest”.
Scientists at the University of York are one step closer to understanding the origin of life after making a breakthrough into how sugar molecules found in DNA are created.
They have recreated a pair of simple sugars – threose and erythrose – in a process which could have occurred before the advent of life.
The research team, led by Dr. Paul Clarke, along with colleagues at the University of Nottingham, have made the first step towards showing how the basic building blocks of life developed.
Every biological molecule has an ability to exist in a left-handed form or right-handed form.
All sugars in biology are made up of the right-handed form of molecules and yet all the amino acids that make up the peptides and proteins are made up of the left-handed form.
The researchers found using simple left-handed amino acids to catalyze the formation of sugars resulted in the production of the predominantly right-handed form of sugars.
Their research, published in Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry, could explain how carbohydrates originated and why the right-handed form dominates in nature.
Scientists at the University of York are one step closer to understanding the origin of life after making a breakthrough into how sugar molecules found in DNA are created
Dr. Paul Clarke said: “There are a lot of fundamental questions about the origins of life and many people think they are questions about biology.
“But for life to have evolved, you have to have a moment when non-living things become living – everything up to that point is chemistry.
“We are trying to understand the chemical origins of life.
“One of the interesting questions is where carbohydrates come from because they are the building blocks of DNA and RNA.
“What we have achieved is the first step on that pathway to show how simple sugars – threose and erythrose – originated.
“We generated these sugars from a very simple set of materials that most scientists believe were around at the time that life began.”
The research has echoes of the landmark Miller-Urey study in 1952, which simulated hypothetical conditions that may have been present on early Earth.
The study findings showed how the building blocks of life can form from simple chemical reactions – for example, electrical activity like that associated with lightning can prompt the formation of amino acids.
Argus One is the Pentagon’s newest unmanned spy plane, which cheeky observers are already calling it the “Flying Sperm”.
The Argus One has the capacity to carry 30 pounds of high tech sensors and cameras and the ability to hover over remote locations between 10,000 and 20,000 feet, even in rough weather.
The suspect design has been attributed to improved “flight stability and aerodynamic control” as well as giving the aircraft a longer flight time.
The spy plane, named after the Greek god Argus who was the all seeing god with one hundred eyes, is designed to be an “eye in the sky” even in very remote areas.
The Argus One has the capacity to carry 30 pounds of high tech sensors and cameras and the ability to hover over remote locations between 10,000 and 20,000 feet, even in rough weather
The aircraft was created by the World Surveillance Group Inc (WSGI) for the Pentagon and is now being tested at an undisclosed location.
“The Argus One has a low radar footprint making it virtual stealth since the payload bay located on the forward module of the airship is the only radar reflecting material on the airship,” a statement from WSGI said.
The aircraft’s “flexible, non-rigid” body also makes for easy storage and transportation.
Argus One can be assembled and launched in hours from virtually anywhere, including remote, mountainous territory.
The device has been especially designed to meet the requirements of U.S. military and other governmental agencies.
It can also wirelessly transmit critical live video and other information directly to a ground control station or system.
The ground control system also allows the operator to control Argus One either manually or remotely by programming it for GPS–based autonomous navigation.
A new study in Science journal shows that membranes based on the “miracle material” graphene can be used to distil alcohol.
An international team created the membrane from graphene oxide – a chemical derivative of graphene.
The research team has shown that the membrane blocks the passage of several gases and liquids, but lets water through.
This joins a long list of fascinating and unusual properties associated with graphene and its derivatives.
Graphene is a form of carbon. It is a flat layer of carbon atoms tightly packed into a two-dimensional honeycomb arrangement.
Because graphene is so thin, it is also practically transparent. As a conductor of electricity, graphene performs as well as copper; and as a conductor of heat, it outperforms all other known materials.
The unusual electronic, mechanical and chemical properties of graphene at the molecular scale promise numerous applications.
Andrei Geim and Konstantin Novoselov from the University of Manchester were awarded 2010’s Nobel Prize in physics for their discovery, outlined in a scientific paper in 2004.
Andrei Geim and others have now developed a laminate made from thin sheets of graphene oxide.
These films were hundreds of times thinner than a human hair but remained strong, flexible and easy to handle.
Graphene is a flat layer of carbon atoms tightly packed into a two-dimensional honeycomb arrangement
When a metal container was sealed with agraphene film, even the most sensitive equipment was unable to detect air or any other gas, including helium, leaking through.
But when the researchers tried the same with water, they found that it evaporated without noticing the graphene seal. Water molecules diffused through the graphene-oxide membranes with such a great speed that the evaporation rate was the same whether the container was sealed or open.
Dr. Rahul Nair from Manchester University, who led the team, commented: “Graphene oxide sheets arrange in such a way that between them there is room for exactly one layer of water molecules.”
He added: “If another atom or molecule tries the same trick, it finds that graphene capillaries either shrink in low humidity or get clogged with water molecules.”
Professor Andrei Geim added: “Helium gas is hard to stop. It slowly leaks even through a millimetre-thick window glass but our ultra-thin films completely block it. At the same time, water evaporates through them unimpeded. Materials cannot behave any stranger.”
Dr. Rahul Nair said: “Just for a laugh, we sealed a bottle of vodka with our membranes and found that the distilled solution became stronger and stronger with time. Neither of us drinks vodka but it was great fun to do the experiment.”
Despite this, the researchers do not offer any immediate ideas for applications. But Prof. Andrei Geim commented: “The properties are so unusual that it is hard to imagine that they cannot find some use in the design of filtration, separation or barrier membranes, and for selective removal of water.”
In another study in Science journal, a different team reports the development of a membrane based on diamond-like carbon. This membrane has unique pore sizes that allow for the ultra-fast passage of oil through it.
One expert said it could potentially be used for filtering toxic contaminants out of water or for purifying industrial chemicals.
The FBI has caused incalculable damage, far in excess of the losses claimed by the content lobbies, in a fruitless attempt to prevent access to the media content hosted on Megaupload, some of which they claim to have been infringing copyright under US law. However, as much of the unlawful content will still be available via other services on the web, this action not only shows us the futility of these measures but also serves as a reminder that these files are not necessarily, nor have been shown to be, illegal in any country, including the US.
In contrast, by closing the service they have impeded the access to millions of archives of both private individuals and organisations, potentially causing huge personal, economic and image damages to a vast number of people. In addition, the Pirate Party understands they may have violated Articles 197 and 198 of the Spanish Penal Code by misappropiating personal data.
The widespread damage caused by the sudden closure of Megaupload is unjustified and completely disproportionate to the aim intended. For this reason Pirates of Catalonia, in collaboration with Pirate Parties International and other Pirate Parties [including the Pirate Party of the United Kingdom], have begun investigating these potential breaches of law and will facilitate submission of complaints against the US authorities in as many countries as possible, to ensure a positive and just result.
The complaint against FBI
In order to make this joint complaint, a platform has been created where any person or organisation affected by this closure can register their interest, regardless of the type of account they had on Megaupload.
This initiative is a starting point for legitimate internet users to help defend themselves from the legal abuses promoted by those wishing to aggressively lock away cultural materials for their own financial gain.
Regardless of ideology, or opinions on the legality or morality of those running Megaupload, actions such as the closure of this service cause huge damage to lawful users of the sites and are unacceptable and disproportionate violations of their rights.
For these reasons, we ask that everyone spread the call to join this initiative, as actions like this one cannot and should not be forgiven.
McDonald’s have altered its burger’s ingredients after chef Jamie Oliver forced them to remove a processed food type that he labelled “pink slime”.
Chef Jamie Oliver, who is also a food activist, was shocked when he learned that ammonium hydroxide was being used by McDonald’s to convert fatty beef offcuts into a beef filler for its burgers in the USA.
The filler product made headlines after he denounced it on his show, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.
“Basically, we’re taking a product that would be sold at the cheapest form for dogs and after this process we can give it to humans,” said TV chef Jamie Oliver.
McDonald's have altered its burger’s ingredients after Jamie Oliver forced them to remove a processed food type that he labelled “pink slime”
Jamie Oliver showed American audiences the raw “pink slime” produced in the ammonium hydroxide process used by producers named Beef Products Inc (BPI).
“Pink slime” has never been used in McDonald’s beef patties in the UK and Ireland which source their meat from farmers within the two countries.
Now after months of campaigning on his hit US television show McDonald’s have admitted defeat and the fast food giant has abandoned the beef filler from its burger patties.
US Department of Agriculture microbiologist Geral Zirnstein agreed with Jamie Oliver that ammonium hydroxide agent should be banned.
Geral Zirnstein said: “I do not consider the stuff to be ground beef and I consider allowing it in ground beef to be a form of fraudulent labelling.”
Jamie Oliver is pleased at the decision by McDonald’s stop using the ammonium hydroxide processes meat.
He said: “Why would any sensible human being want to put ammonia-filled meat into their children’s mouths?
“The great American public needs to urgently understand what their food industry is doing.”
McDonald’s denied its hand had been forced by Jamie Oliver’s campaign.
Todd Bacon, Senior Director of U.S. Quality Systems and Supply Chain with the fast food chain, said: “At McDonald’s food safety has been and will continue to be a top priority.
“The decision to remove BPI products from the McDonald’s system was not related to any particular event but rather to support our effort to align our global beef raw material standards.
“McDonald’s complies with all government requirements and food safety regulations.
“Furthermore, we have our own food safety measures and standards in place throughout the entire supply chain to ensure that we serve safe, high quality food to every customer, every time they visit our restaurants.”
Two other chains, Burger King and Taco Bell, have earlier bowed to pressure and removed ammonium hydroxide processed ingredients from their products.
There is no scientific evidence that Morgellons disease is an infectious illness, a study published this week in the journal PLoS One has shown.
The half-million-dollar study performed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was started because of the increasing reports of the symptoms and the intense public interest.
“We saw a growing number of people complaining about these unusual symptoms, and as a public health agency we felt the need to see what was going on. It was important to rule out an infectious cause because a lot of people were concerned about transmission,” said CDC spokesman Daniel Rutz.
The CDC “was receiving inquiries from a variety of sources, including the public, about this condition. It was clear that these people were suffering from something; the question was what might it be,” said Mark Eberhard, director of CDC’s Division of Parasitic Diseases.
In 2002 Mary Leitao, a stay-at-home-mom, has given the name Morgellons to a syndrome that includes skin symptoms (crawling, biting, and stinging sensations, formication) and signs such as finding fibers on or under the skin; and persistent skin lesions (rashes, sores). Generally, physicians include Morgellons in a group of medical conditions called delusional parasitosis, and the disease is hardly considered an official diagnose. Similar conditions are called Ekbom’s syndrome or delusional infestation.
Around 3.2 million people, over 13 years old, at Kaiser Permanente Northern California (KPNC) were included in the study from 2006 to 2008. The scientists searched among the records of dermatology, psychiatry, infectious diseases, pediatric, and primary care clinic visits.
Among them, 115 patients (3.65%) had skin lesions or the feeling that “something is crawling on top of or under the skin,” they also reported fibers or other solid material coming through their skin.
They were predominantly medium age, white women (45-64 years). The majority of them (70%) reported the material emerging from their skin as fibers, and the rest described “specks, granules, dots, worms, sand, eggs, fuzz balls and larvae.”
The most frequent histopathologic abnormality (51% of biopsies) was solar elastosis. Actinic, or solar elastosis is caused by photoaging (excessive sun exposure), and consists in an accumulation of abnormal elastin in the skin and in the eye.
The materials collected from intact skin were composed of superficial skin, cotton fibers, nylon, polyester, nail polish remains. Skin lesions appeared only in the body areas where the person could reach. Arthropods (insects, spiders) bites and rubbing or scratching seemed to cause them (chronic excoriations).
“These sores appear often to be the result of people picking at themselves, as they would if they had a chronic irritation that couldn’t be resolved any other way,” said Daniel Rutz.
Skin is a powerful and delicate organ. It protect us and it is exposed to many internal or external harmful factors. Morgellons is a skin disease that causes a negative impact on quality of life.
No parasites or mycobacteria were detected in the skin or blood samples taken from Morgellons disease sufferers.
“We were able to answer conclusively that they were not living entities,” said Mark Eberhard.
“They’re not alive. They’re pieces of cotton and other elements of clothing; common debris,” said Daniel Rutz, regarding the rumors that the fibers are insects, or even alien microchips.
Among the Morgellons disease sufferers there were a lot with other health problems. Chronic fatigue was reported in 70% of cases and 54% said their overall health was fair or poor. They had an excessive preoccupation with their health, or high levels of “somatic concerns“, one-third had a neuropsychiatric condition. The hair sample testing of half of the patients showed evidence of illicit drug use and 78% reported exposure to solvents. In the general population the percentage of illicit drug use is 8.9, according to a national survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The high usage in Morgellons disease cases may be caused by the attempts to alleviate the symptoms, said Mark Eberhard.
Although Morgellons disease is rare, this unexplained dermopathy causes a negative impact on quality of life. More research has to be done to clarify the etiology and to find a treatment.
Nerve damage might transmit the itch sensation, according to Dr. Anne Louise Oaklander, neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
“This causes them to fire without appropriate cause, and it’s natural that people interpret this as a sensation of insects crawling on the skin… I think it’s wonderful that the syndrome is receiving careful and thoughtful research attention, which has been scarce in the past. And I hope other physicians and researchers are encouraged to take these symptoms seriously, as they’re very disabling,” Dr. Oaklander said.
“This is something that needs to be treated. It’s really important to discuss that there might be other ways to approach the disease. Until we can find an exact cause or a cure, it’s important that we try to improve their suffering,” said Jason Reichenberg, director of dermatology at the University of Texas Southwestern-Austin. He leads a session on Morgellons disease at a dermatology organization meeting in San Diego.
Federal Bureau of Investigation is seeking to develop an early-warning system based on material “scraped” from social networks.
FBI says the application should provide information about possible domestic and global threats superimposed onto maps “using mash-up technology”.
FBI has asked contractors to suggest possible solutions including the estimated cost.
Privacy campaigners say they are concerned that the move could have implications for free speech.
The FBI’s Strategic Information and Operations Center (SOIC) posted its “Social Media Application” market research request onto the web on 19 January, and it was subsequently flagged up by New Scientist magazine.
The document says: “Social media has become a primary source of intelligence because it has become the premier first response to key events and the primal alert to possible developing situations.”
The FBI says the application should collect “open source” information and have the ability to:
• Provide an automated search and scrape capability of social networks including Facebook and Twitter.
• Allow users to create new keyword searches.
• Display different levels of threats as alerts on maps, possibly using colour coding to distinguish priority. Google Maps 3D and Yahoo Maps are listed among the “preferred” mapping options.
• Plot a wide range of domestic and global terror data.
• Immediately translate foreign language tweets into English.
It also says the information would be used to help it to predict the likely actions of “bad actors”, detect instances of people deliberately misleading law enforcement officers and spot the vulnerabilities of suspect groups.
The FBI issued the request three weeks after the US Department of Homeland Security released a separate report into the privacy implications of monitoring social media websites.
It justified the principle of using information that users have provided and not opted to make private.
“Information posted to social media websites is publicly accessible and voluntarily generated. Thus the opportunity not to provide information exists prior to the informational post by the user,” it says.
It noted that the department’s National Operations Center had a policy in place to edit out any gathered information which fell outside of the categories relevant to its investigations.
It listed websites that the centre planned to monitor. They include YouTube, the photo service Flickr, and Itstrending.com – a site which shows popular shared items on Facebook.
It also highlighted words it looked out for. These include “gangs”, “small pox”, “leak”, “recall” and “2600” – an apparent reference to the hacking-focused magazine.
Researchers from Austin, Texas, have “cloaked” a 3-D object, making it invisible from all angles, for the first time.
However, the demonstration works only for waves in the microwave region of the electromagnetic spectrum.
The demonstration uses a shell of what are known as plasmonic materials; they present a “photo negative” of the object being cloaked, effectively cancelling it out.
The idea, outlined in New Journal of Physics, could find first application in high-resolution microscopes.
Most of the high-profile invisibility cloaking efforts have focused on the engineering of “metamaterials” – modifying materials to have properties that cannot be found in nature.
The modifications allow metamaterials to guide and channel light in unusual ways – specifically, to make the light rays arrive as if they had not passed over or been reflected by a cloaked object.
3-D object cloaking demonstration works only for waves in the microwave region of the electromagnetic spectrum
Previous efforts that have made three-dimensional objects disappear have relied upon a “carpet cloak” idea, in which the object to be cloaked is overlaid with a “carpet” of metamaterial that bends light so as to make the object invisible.
Andrea Alu and colleagues at the University of Texas at Austin have pulled off the trick in “free space”, making an 18 cm-long cylinder invisible to incoming microwave light.
Light of all types can be described in terms of electric and magnetic fields, and what gives an object its appearance is the way its constituent atoms absorb, transmit or reflect those fields.
Prior metamaterial approaches sidestep these effects simply by channeling light around an object, using carefully designed structures that bounce light in prescribed way, like a pinball machine.
By contrast, plasmonic materials can be designed to have effects on the fields that are precisely opposed to those of the object.
“What we do is different; we realize a shell that scatters [light] by itself, but the interesting point is that if you combine the shell with the object inside, the two counter out and the object becomes completely invisible,” said Prof. Andrea Alu.
The plasmonic material shell is, in essence, a photo-negative of the object being cloaked.
As a result, the cloak has to be tailored to work for a given object. If one were to swap different objects within the same cloak, they would not be as effectively hidden.
But the success with the cylinder suggests further work with different wavelengths of light is worth pursuing: “It’s a real object standing in our lab, and it basically disappears,” said Prof. Andrea Alu said.
However, the idea is unlikely to work at the visible light part of the spectrum.
Prof. Andrea Alu explained that the approach could be applied to the tips of scanning microscopes – the most high-resolution microscopes science has – to yield an improved view of even smaller wavelengths of light.
Ortwin Hess, professor of metamaterials at Imperial College London, said the work was a “very nice verification that this approach works”.
“There are some limits on where these things can be applied, but nevertheless it’s really, really interesting and fundamental indeed,” he said.
Prof. Ortwin Hess explained that for future applications, plasmonic materials could be combined with the structured metamaterials idea already in development elsewhere. Light can be channelled where it needs to go, or its effects undone, as need be.
Cloaking in visible light, hiding more complex shapes and materials – that is, a cloak of Harry Potter qualities – remains distant, but Prof. Andrea Alu pointed out that the steps in the meantime will be put to use.
“There is still a lot of work to do,” he said.
“Our goal was just to show this plasmonic technique can reduce scattering from an object in free space.
“But if I had to bet in five years what kind of cloaking technique might be used for applications, for practical purposes, then I would say plasmonic cloaking is a good bet.”
A new research suggests that frenetic star-forming activity in the early Universe is linked to the most massive galaxies in today’s cosmos.
This “starbursting” activity when the Universe was just a few billion years old appears to have been clamped off by the growth of super massive black holes.
An international team gathered hints of the mysterious “dark matter” in early galaxies to confirm the link.
The findings appear in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
Being able to see objects at great distances in the cosmos allows astronomers to look into the past, at light that departed when the Universe was young.
A new research suggests that frenetic star-forming activity in the early Universe is linked to the most massive galaxies in today's cosmos
Using the 12-metre Atacama Pathfinder Experiment telescope in Chile, an international team led by Ryan Hickox of Dartmouth College studied the way distant galaxies from the early Universe grouped together.
Galaxies are understood to be surrounded by “haloes” of a mysterious material called dark matter, which clearly exerts a force but has never been detected. The team’s experiments measured the effects of this gravitational force on the galaxy clusters.
With these measured dark matter haloes, and the help of a computer model that describes how the galaxies and their haloes should evolve, the team showed that the frenetic “starbursting” galaxies develop into the enormous elliptical galaxies we see more nearby.
“This is the first time that we’ve been able to show this clear link between the most energetic starbursting galaxies in the early Universe, and the most massive galaxies in the present day,” said Dr. Ryan Hickox.
However, these bouts of star formation appear to only last about 100 million years, seeming to come to an abrupt halt.
The team’s new work adds weight to the idea that the starburst feeds material into the super massive black holes at their centers.
These in turn emit powerful blasts of energy as they consume the stars, blowing away the very clouds of gas that could otherwise have coalesced into even more stars.
Kim Dotcom, also known as Kim Schmitz, the founder of file-sharing website Megaupload has appeared in a New Zealand court seeking bail.
German national Kim Dotcom was arrested with three others in Auckland on Friday in a raid requested by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Kim Schmitz has been accused of internet piracy and money laundering.
Prosecutors say he is a flight risk. The court later delayed a decision on bail.
“Given the breadth of issues covered in this bail application and the seriousness of the issues, I am going to reserve my decision,” said Judge David McNaughton.
Kim Dotcom, also known as Kim Schmitz, the founder of file-sharing website Megaupload has appeared in a New Zealand court seeking bail
US authorities want to extradite Kim Dotcom. Federal prosecutors have accused Megaupload – one of the internet’s largest file-sharing sites – of costing copyright holders more than $500 million in lost revenue.
Megaupload, on the other hand, said it was diligent in responding to complaints about pirated material.
Kim Dotcom holds German and Finnish passports, and is a resident of Hong Kong and New Zealand.
“Mr. Dotcom emphatically denies any criminal misconduct or wrongdoing,” Kim Dotcom’s lawyer, Paul Davison, said.
Prosecutor Anne Toohey, however, said that Kim Dotcom was a significant flight risk, citing his multiple passports, financial resources and previous criminal convictions for hacking and insider trading.
Kobe Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, is reportedly walking away from their ten year marriage with three of their properties.
Vanessa Bryant, 33, will get all of their mansions in the Newport Beach area of California, according to TMZ.
Kobe Bryant’s wife will secure $75million, which is said to be close to half of their total assets.
A source close to the couple told TMZ that the property settlement agreement has already been finalized.
Kobe Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, is reportedly walking away from their ten year marriage with three of their properties
Vanessa Bryant, who has two daughters with Kobe, now faces the tough decision of where to actually live as she continues her life as a single woman.
The mother-of-two will be able to choose from the estate that she was living in with Kobe Bryant before she filed for divorce, the estate her mother is currently living in, and also the new estate that has been under construction for two years and has just recently been completed.
Vanessa Bryant filed for divorce from the NBA superstar husband last month, citing “irreconcilable differences”.
When the news broke, TMZ also reported that the couple had no pre-nuptial agreement, and that Vanessa Bryant had requested spousal support.
Vanessa and Kobe Bryant met when she was just 18 and she was working as a backing dancer in a studio where he was recording, though that material was never released to the public.
Vanessa Bryant is also said to be asking for joint custody of their two daughters – eight-year-old Natalia and five-year-old Gianna.
She is also asking that Kobe Bryant get visitation rights, which means she wants the kids in her care most of the time.
Vanessa Bryant is being represented by Laura Wasser and attorney Samantha Klein, whose clients include Britney Spears, Angelina Jolie, Maria Shriver and Kim Kardashian.
Hackers group Anonymous launched a massive cyber attack against U.S. government and anti-piracy websites yesterday in response to Megaupload.com shut down.
Megaupload.com, one of the world’s biggest file-sharing services has been shut down by U.S. authorities and its founder and several company executives were arrested on charges of violating privacy laws.
Federal prosecutors have accused it of costing copyright holders more than $500 million in lost revenue. The firm says it was diligent in responding to complaints about pirated material.
In response, the hackers group Anonymous has targeted the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice websites.
The news came a day after anti-piracy law protests, but investigators said they were ordered two weeks ago.
Hackers group Anonymous launched a massive cyber attack against U.S. government and anti-piracy websites yesterday in response to Megaupload.com shut down
The U.S. Justice Department said that Megaupload’s two co-founders Kim Dotcom, formerly known as Kim Schmitz, and Mathias Ortmann were arrested in Auckland, New Zealand along with two other employees of the business at the request of US officials.
It added that three other defendants were still at large.
“This action is among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States and directly targets the misuse of a public content storage and distribution site to commit and facilitate intellectual property crime,” said a statement posted on its website.
The FBI website was intermittently unavailable on Thursday evening due to what officials said was being “treated as a malicious act”.
The hackers’ group Anonymous said it was carrying out the attacks.
The Motion Picture Association of America’s website also suffered disruption.
The charges included, conspiracies to commit racketeering, copyright infringement and money laundering.
A federal court in Virginia ordered that 18 domain names associated with the Hong Kong-based firm be seized.
The Justice Department said that more than 20 search warrants had been executed in nine countries, and that approximately $50 million in assets had been seized.
It claimed that the accused had pursued a business model designed to promote the uploading of copyrighted works.
“The conspirators allegedly paid users whom they specifically knew uploaded infringing content, and publicized their links to users throughout the world,” a statement said.
“By actively supporting the use of third-party linking sites to publicize infringing content, the conspirators did not need to publicize such content on the Megaupload site.
“Instead, the indictment alleges that the conspirators manipulated the perception of content available on their servers by not providing a public search function on the Megaupload site and by not including popular infringing content on the publicly available lists of top content downloaded by its users.”
Before it was shut down the site posted a statement saying the allegations against it were “grotesquely overblown”.
“The fact is that the vast majority of Mega’s internet traffic is legitimate, and we are here to stay,” it added.
“If the content industry would like to take advantage of our popularity, we are happy to enter into a dialogue. We have some good ideas. Please get in touch.”
The announcement came a day after thousands of websites took part in a “blackout” to protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA).
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has defended the proposed laws saying that enforcement agencies “lack the tools” to effectively apply existing intellectual property laws to the digital world.
Industry watchers suggest this latest move may feed into the wider debate.
“Neither of the bills are close to being passed – they need further revision. But it appears that officials are able to use existing tools to go after a business alleged to be inducing piracy,” said Gartner’s media distribution expert Mike McGuire.
“It begs the question that if you can find and arrest people who are suspected to be involved in piracy using existing laws, then why introduce further regulations which are US-only and potentially damaging?”
IBM researchers have successfully stored a single data bit in only 12 atoms, as currently it takes about a million atoms to store a bit on a modern hard-disk.
The researchers believe this is the world’s smallest magnetic memory bit.
The new technique opens up the possibility of producing much denser forms of magnetic computer memory than today’s hard disk drives and solid state memory chips.
“Roughly every two years hard drives become denser,” research lead author Sebastian Loth said.
“The obvious question to ask is how long can we keep going. And the fundamental physical limit is the world of atoms.
“The approach that we used is to jump to the very end, check if we can store information in one atom, and if not one atom, how many do we need?”
IBM researchers have successfully stored a single data bit in only 12 atoms
Below 12 atoms the researchers found that the bits randomly lost information, owing to quantum effects.
A bit can have a value of 0 or 1 and is the most basic form of information in computation.
“We kept building larger structures until we emerged out of the quantum mechanical into the classical data storage regime and we reached this limit at 12 atoms.”
The groups of atoms, which were kept at a very low temperature, were arranged using a scanning tunnelling microscope. Researchers were subsequently able to form a byte made of eight of the 12-atom bits.
Central to the research has been the use of materials with different magnetic properties.
The magnetic fields of bits made from conventional ferromagnetic materials can affect neighbouring bits if they are packed too closely together.
“In conventional magnetic data storage the information is stored in ferromagnetic material,” said Dr. Sebastian Loth, who is now based at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Germany.
“That adds up to a big magnetic field that can interfere with neighbours. That’s a big problem for further miniaturization.”
Other scientists thought that was an interesting result.
“Current magnetic memory architectures are fundamentally limited in how small they can go,” said Dr. Will Branford, of Imperial College London.
“This work shows that in principle data can be stored much more densely using antiferromagnetic bits.”
But the move from the lab to the production may be some time away.
“Even though I as a scientist would totally dig having a scanning tunnelling microscope in every household, I agree it’s a very experimental tool,” Dr. Sebastian Loth said.
Dr. Sebastian Loth believes that by increasing the number of atoms to between 150 to 200 the bits can be made stable at room temperature. That opens up the possibility of more practical applications.
“This is now a technological challenge to find out about new manufacturing techniques,” he said.
A hundred years after Titanic sank, expeditions to the ship, in depths of the Atlantic Ocean, are coming to close to allow the ship to rest in peace.
Rob McCallum, who works for the deep-sea exploration company that took 150 people down there, describes what they saw.
“As the craft glides through the freezing depths of the ocean, more than two miles below the surface, I stare out through the thick glass window into the abyss.
From the external lights of our vessel, I can see across the ancient terrain, which looks almost like a lunar landscape. Occasionally strange aquatic creatures dart across my vision, adding to the alien atmosphere.
Then suddenly, there it is, the sight I shall never forget. Rising before my eyes is the prow of the most famous ship in the world.
I am peering at the wreckage of the RMS Titanic, which plunged to this watery, icy grave almost a century ago in April 1912.
Even in the darkness of the ocean floor, the front part of the mighty vessel still looks magnificent, the encrusted railings and sweep of her hull instantly recognizable.
Our submersible continues its journey over the remains of the mighty ship, and I look bewitched at the famous grand staircase and the promenade deck where once the wealthy passengers briefly reveled in all their glorious opulence before the iceberg was struck.
Further along, about a mile from the prow, we find the rear part of the ship, more badly damaged than the prow, with great sheets of metal ripped from its sides.
But even in her broken, decaying state, this ghostly relic exudes an epic sense of majesty. For what was so striking about the wreckage is its colossal size.
The two key sections of the ship make vast monuments on the ocean bed.
Even one of the main three-bladed propellers, built of solid bronze and remarkably well preserved, is more than twice as heavy as our 18-ton submersible — a submarine which allows detailed exploration of the sea bed.”
A hundred years after it sank, expeditions to Titanic, in depths of the Atlantic Ocean, are coming to close to allow the ship to rest in peace
“The Titanic was the largest ship of its time, and one of the most beautiful ever created. But even now, all these years after the tragedy, the wreck of this leviathan still has the ability to inspire and humble.
My chance to view the wreckage arose because of my position with the Isle of Man-based company, Deep Ocean Expeditions, which specialises in deep-sea research and exploration, mainly for scientific, film-making and investigative purposes.
For our expeditions, we work with the PP Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, part of the Russian Academy of Science. They are the owners of the twin Mir submersibles, each capable of depths of 20,000ft. By working together, we are able to assist the Institute’s science work, as well as making a contribution to the Mirs’ operating costs.
One of our most popular trips is to see the remains of the German battleship the Bismark, which was sunk by the Royal Navy in 1941 about 350 miles off the south-western Irish coast.
The other, more notorious trip is to the wreck of the Titanic, which was discovered in 1986 by the renowned American oceanographer Dr Robert Ballard, who, incidentally, also found the Bismark in 1989.
Over the past decade, nearly 200 Titanic dives by the company have taken 150 individuals down to see it, and – despite the $59,000 cost – the expeditions have never been more over-subscribed than for this year – the 100th anniversary of the disaster.
The clients have included bankers, teachers, pilots, doctors, historical experts and sometimes the descendants of survivors or those who perished in the tragedy.
But, after 13 years, 2012 is also the last time we will be running such trips to the Titanic.
It has been a wonderful adventure, but with the centenary approaching, now is the proper moment to draw these expeditions to a close and allow this tragic ship to rest in peace.
There are only five submersibles in the world – made of high-tech metals – that can withstand the immense pressure of the conditions around the wreck, about 12,500 ft below the surface.
Expeditions begin with passengers boarding a larger ship in Newfoundland, which carries them and the submersible out to the spot where the Titanic sank.
The passengers are generally given a day to familiarize themselves with the craft and have a briefing about the forthcoming trip; they then attend lectures in Titanic history, oceanography and deep-sea operations.
The dive begins the next morning, taking roughly two hours to reach the ocean bed.
At a depth of about 800ft, the submersible descends into darkness, for this is the maximum depth to which the sun’s rays can penetrate. As we travel further down, the enveloping blackness is broken only by the sub’s own lights.
Once the vessel reaches the bottom, it manoeuvres its way around the two main sections of the ship for between four to eight hours, as well as looking at the other debris strewn across the sea bed.
The sights are truly remarkable — far more astonishing than any photograph can convey. Though the stern of the ship was badly damaged because it hit the ocean bed so hard — having travelled through the water at an estimated speed of 30 knots (the marine equivalent of 35mph) after the Titanic broke up — it is fascinating to see the vast engine rooms down there, full of massive machinery.
Equally arresting are the three immense propellers, between them weighing more than 100 tons and the two biggest of which were 23ft in diameter. Thanks to their sturdiness, they have survived well.
There is, however, no sign of the four enormous funnels, which would have been ripped off as the Titanic began her descent. Their fragments would have scattered over a wide area.
It is also possible to glimpse the interiors of some of the cabins, especially where the outer steel sheets of the hull were ripped away. Although the woodwork and fabrics have long gone, the metal walls and bronze and brass fittings remain.
Particularly poignant are the quarters of Captain Smith, who, in true heroic naval traditions, went down with his ship.
Of his three rooms, his bathroom is most clearly visible — his porcelain bathtub still in remarkably good condition.
Perhaps even more astonishing are all the artefacts strewn on the ground around the two main sections. Everywhere you look there are bottles, crockery, cutlery, even suitcases and shoes.
No clothes, carpets or other such material survives, as all that would have long rotted or been eaten by living organisms.
But anything leather has generally stayed in good condition and is only covered in a layer of silt.
Indeed, the number of shoes is surprising. This is because the ship went down just before midnight, at a time when many passengers would have retired to their cabins, undressed and put their shoes outside the door, ready to be cleaned by the staff.
Though sights like this are a poignant reminder of the human cost of the tragedy, there is nothing remotely macabre or ghoulish about visiting the wreckage.
There are no remains from any of the 1,514 victims who perished in the disaster. Their bodies would have been cast over a huge area, since many of them drowned or died of hypothermia in the freezing ocean. Other corpses, dragged down with the ship, would eventually have drifted away or been obliterated by the sea life that lurks in these depths.
In fact, the existence of other animal life so deep in the ocean is one of the most compelling features of a visit to the Titanic.
As you travel down below 10,000ft, it almost seems impossible that any organism could survive in such a hostile environment. Yet even in the icy blackness, nature flourishes.
On my trips to the wreckage, I have been astounded at the range of strange beings, such as six-inch rat-tailed fish, white-bodied crabs and creatures that give off light: blue, green and white flashes as they attract mates, or lure prey.
Even so, nothing can beat the awesome image of the Titanic itself.
The tragedy was a turning-point in history, the moment when man realised that nature could not always be tamed by technology, that no ship could ever be unsinkable.
Whenever I gaze in wonder at the wreckage, I sense that I am looking at an important part of mankind’s rich, sometimes distressing narrative; the same feeling I experience when visiting memorial cemeteries to the heroes who fell in the bloodstained fields of northern Europe during World War I.
We come to these places to remember – and to learn from those who have passed before us.
It will be an honour to see the Titanic, in all her ruined glory, one last time.”
Twins Roku and Hex are the world’s first chimeric monkeys, who have been created with genetic material from six “parents” at Oregon Health and Science University in the U.S.
The monkeys’ birth has caused an ethical storm, with critics accusing scientists of disregarding the welfare of the animals.
Named after the fire-breathing creature in Greek mythology composed of parts of multiple animals, chimeras are organisms made up of cells from two or more genetically distinct sources.
Twins Roku and Hex, whose respective names come from the Japanese and Greek for “six”, have been created with genetic material from six monkeys.
Researchers extracted cells from six macaque embryos and combined them into a single embryo in a laboratory before implanting it into a surrogate mother monkey.
Twins Roku and Hex are the world’s first chimeric monkeys, who have been created with genetic material from six “parents” at Oregon Health and Science University
Three male babies were born using this process – Roku and Hex, who are twins, and Chimero.
However, to reach this stage, dozens more embryos were experimented on, and some surrogate pregnancies were aborted.
While most animals only contain cells in which the genetic material from their two parents has mixed together, the chimeric monkeys’ bodies contain six different types of cell – holding distinct DNA from each biological parent.
Although many mice and some rabbits, rats and farm animals have been born this way, no one has created chimeric monkeys before.
The researchers say that Roku and Hex are healthy and that their birth opens up “enormous” possibilities for science because of monkeys’ intelligence and close biological links to humans.
They say the technique could help us learn more about IVF and contraception, and growing human organs from scratch.
Critics of the study, published in the journal Cell, say that techniques such as these take a high toll on animal welfare and question what sort of experiments the monkeys will be put through in future.
The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) called the research “deeply disturbing”.
Dr. Jarrod Bailey, the organization’s scientific consultant, said: “Using such highly sentient animals in this research raises enormous ethical concerns and imposes a heavy welfare burden, resulting in severe suffering to many animals.
“As few genetically modified animals show the <<desired>> characteristics, many will be killed even before any research can take place, while others will die of severe and unrelated malformations caused by the genetic modifications.
“The monkeys who do exhibit characteristics of ‘interest’ are destined to suffer greatly by their very nature, and via the experiments to which they will be subjected.
“The cells never fuse, but they stay together and work together to form tissues and organs,” said lead scientist Dr. Shoukhrat Mitalipov, from the Oregon National Primate Centre.
Gary Dobson and David Norris, the two men convicted of the racist murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence in 1993 after he was stabbed to death, will be sentenced later.
Gary Dobson and David Norris were found guilty by an Old Bailey jury after a trial based on forensic evidence.
The two men will be sentenced as juveniles because they were under 18 at the time of the attack, which happened in south-east London in April 1993.
Police say the investigation could be reopened if new evidence emerges.
Gary Dobson, 36, and David Norris, 35, can expect to receive sentences considerably shorter than would an adult convicted of the same crime under today’s laws.
Reports say they could serve minimum prison terms of around 12 years each.
Gary Dobson and David Norris were found guilty by an Old Bailey jury after a trial based on forensic evidence
Scientists found a tiny bloodstain on Gary Dobson’s jacket that could only have come from Stephen Lawrence. They also found a single hair belonging to the teenager on David Norris’s jeans.
Acting Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick, who ordered the 2006 cold case review that led to the convictions, acknowledged that police believe there were five people involved in the murder, but there are currently no “live” lines of inquiry.
“If there was an opportunity to bring the other people who were involved in that night to justice, we would do so,” she said.
In a statement read by his lawyer outside the Old Bailey on Tuesday, Stephen Lawrence’s father, Neville Lawrence, said the convictions were a moment of joy and relief – but he could not rest until all of those who killed his son were brought to justice. He described the investigation and preparation of the case as “faultless”.
The father later told Channel 4 News: “I’m praying that these people now realize that they’ve been found out and say to themselves, <<yes I did this awful deed, but I wasn’t alone in that action that night and there are other people also guilty of what I’ve done>> and name them.
“I hope before the sentence is passed, they will talk and give the rest of these people that killed my son up.”
The original failed investigation into the murder led to the Metropolitan Police being branded as institutionally racist.
Stephen Lawrence was 18 when he was stabbed to death near a bus stop in Eltham, south east London, in April 1993.
Police identified five men who were later named in a damning public inquiry as the “prime suspects”.
By that time, there had already been a catalogue of police errors and two failed prosecutions, one brought by Stephen Lawrence’s parents.
In a four-year-long cold case review, a fresh team of forensic scientists uncovered microscopic evidence linking two of the five men to the murder – evidence that the police had held all along.
The material – bloodstains, clothing fibres and a single hair belonging to the teenager – were recovered from the clothes of the suspects which had been seized in 1993.
Scientists recovered the material using advanced techniques which were not available to the original case scientists.
Stephen Lawrence was 18 when he was stabbed to death near a bus stop in Eltham, south east London, in April 1993
Gary Dobson and David Norris denied the murder. They said their clothing had been contaminated as police mixed up evidence over the years. Detectives spent months establishing the movements and handling of the exhibits since 1993 – and the jury were told that contamination was implausible.
Gary Dobson, who was jailed for five years in 2010 for drugs trafficking, is among a small number of men to have been tried twice for the same crime after the Court of Appeal quashed his 1996 acquittal for the murder.
David Norris was convicted in 2002 of a separate allegation of racially threatening behavior.
In mitigation, ahead of sentencing on Wednesday, counsel for Gary Dobson said there was no evidence he had been the leader or prime motivator of the group that attacked the teenager.
David Norris’s counsel repeated his client’s pleas of innocence – and revealed his client had been beaten up while on remand at Belmarsh prison, suffering a broken nose and four broken ribs.
Justice Treacy discharged the jury and thanked them for their “dedicated service”. He told them the public owed them a debt of gratitude.
As the defendants left the dock, Gary Dobson told his family not to worry, and David Norris waved to the gallery. Members of both men’s families shouted back.
Prime Minister David Cameron said: “In the 19 years since his murder, Stephen Lawrence’s family has fought tirelessly for justice.
“[The] verdict cannot ease the pain of losing a son. But, for Doreen and Neville Lawrence, I hope that it brings at least some comfort after their years of struggle.”
Matthew Ryder QC represented the Lawrence family in its civil claim against the police. He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the Lawrence case was a “Rosa Parks moment” for British society.
“It was a moment when you saw the victims of injustice fighting for justice and the system letting them down and I think for that reason it profoundly changed how we view race and racism within this society,” Matthew Ryder said.
“On the face of it – it was a crude, violent form of racism – which every reasonable person would condemn – but what followed on from that, what’s always been part of the Lawrence case, was the pernicious, systemic forms of racism which caused the investigation to fail.”
Some of us wonder what happens to the luggage once it has been handed over at the check-in desk and disappears through the rubber flaps. The mystery has been cleared up after Delta Airlines added hidden cameras to a suitcase to see exactly what happens behind the scenes.
Delta Air Lines fitted six high-quality cameras inside the case and cut holes in the material so that the camera lenses could see out.
The cameras record the time before departure, every moment on the two hour flight from Atlanta to New York, and the bag going into the arrivals lounge.
The promotional footage for Delta Mobile Baggage Tracking App was uploaded to YouTube on December 22 and within days had already been viewed by more than 135,000 people.
However, users were quick to point out that the video does not show any of the bad things happening to the luggage such as damage, missing items and lost cases.
“When a checked bag goes behind those rubber flaps where does it go,” subtitles begin on the video. “Let’s find out.”
The video begins with the bag going from the check-in desk through the rubber flaps and along a conveyor belt.
The cameras record the time before departure, every moment on the two hour flight from Atlanta to New York, and the bag going into the arrivals lounge
A winding journey through more channels of conveyor belts takes the suitcase into a large warehouse where it is scanned.
“TSA scan area. No photography allowed,” appears on screen to explain why x-rays and manual checks for drugs, weapons and explosives are not seen.
The luggage then resumes its journey through the warehouse before it is collected by workers in fluorescent jackets. They then toss the luggage onto a wagon which taxis it to a plane where it is packed into the storage unit.
Two hours later the baggage emerges unscathed and after a short journey pops through the rubber flap and onto the conveyor belt where travelers wait anxiously to spot their cases.
“So finally I know how many hands touch my bags,” one user wrote online.
Another added: “I knew it was too good to be true… as if each bag gets its own special treatment off the plane with five people off loading.”
One user pointed how smooth the journey was. “I wonder what would have happened if the baggage handlers didn’t know they were being filmed,” he said.
Another user added: “Forgot the part where TSA rips open your bag, breaks a few things, and half zips it up.”
After Europe hailed his discovery of the Americas in the 15th century, Christopher Columbus was blamed for introducing syphilis to Old World.
However, several reports have since argued the case that the deadly disease was already widespread before Columbus landed back in Spain in 1493.
Researchers George Armelagos, from Emory University, Molly Zuckerman, from Mississippi State University and Columbia University’s Kristin Harper, claim that all the evidence putting Christopher Columbus and his crew in the clear is flawed.
George Armelagos told LiveScience: “There’s no really good evidence of a syphilis case before 1492 in Europe.”
After Europe hailed his discovery of the Americas in the 15th century, Christopher Columbus was blamed for introducing syphilis to Old World
Curable in the present day by antibiotics, syphilis used to be a debilitating and often fatal disease.
Caused by the Treponema pallidum bacteria, syphilis affected the heart, brain, eyes and bones and was the scourge of every major city.
Ever since the first recorded case in Europe took place in 1495 – three years after Christopher Columbus’s first voyage to the New World – doctors have argued over its origins.
Historians who argue that Christopher Columbus couldn’t have been source point out that rudimentary 15th century medical know-how meant that doctors would not have been able to distinguish the disease among others that had similar symptoms, so it could have been around for a long time.
There are also skeletons from Europe that pre-date Columbus’s epic voyage and that show signs of syphilitic lesions.
It’s strong evidence and George Armelagos admits to finding the idea of Christopher Columbus bringing the disease back laughable at first.
But then he began a closer inspection of the 54 published reports putting Columbus in the clear.
George Armelagos found that the skeletal material wasn’t irrefutable proof, by any means.
Writing in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, George Armelagos’ team report: “We did not find a single case of Old World treponemal disease that has both a certain diagnosis and a secure pre-Columbian date.
“We also demonstrate that many of the reports use non-specific indicators to diagnose treponemal disease, do not provide adequate information about the methods used to date specimens, and do not include high-quality photographs of the lesions of interest.”
In the cases where the skeletons definitely were afflicted with syphilis, the researchers noted that they came from coastal areas, which would make radio-carbon dating difficult.
This is because it’s likely the victims ate seafood, which can contain carbon many thousands of years old from water wells.
The team adds: “Solid evidence supporting an Old World origin for the disease remains absent.”
Two of the U.S. biggest superstores, Sears and Kmart, are being forced to close over a hundred shops because of poor Christmas sales.
It was reported that between 100 and 120 Sears and Kmart stores will be closed after terrible holiday sales, forcing the retail giant which owns the brands to suffer a massive blow.
Retailers depend on good revenue during the Christmas season to make it through the rest of the year, so when the retailer failed to make a dent this year, there are massive repercussions.
Sears and Kmart have yet to determine which of the more than 4,000 U.S. and Canadian stores will be closed, but there has been a clear shift in where the retailer will devote its resources.
Sears would not discuss how many, if any, jobs would be cut, but it could easily reach the thousand-person mark.
The retailer is moving away from its practice of propping up “marginally performing” stores in hopes of improving their performance. Sears said it will now concentrate on cash-generating stores.
“Given our performance and the difficult economic environment, especially for big-ticket items, we intend to implement a series of actions to reduce ongoing expenses, adjust our asset base, and accelerate the transformation of our business model,” said CEO Louis D’Ambrosio.
“These actions will better enable us to focus our investments on serving our customers.”
Sears Holdings Corp., based in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, said that the store closings will generate $140 to $170 million in cash from inventory sales.
The retailer anticipates additional proceeds from the sale or sublease of real estate holdings.
The company, which operates Kmart stores, Sears, Roebuck and Co. and Land’s End, has seen rival department stores like Macy’s Inc. and discounters like Target Corp. steal customers away.
But the economy is put a sustained financial squeeze on its most loyal customers, those in the middle-income bracket.
The retailer had announced numerous closings this year, but this is the largest group of closings to date by far. Hoped for holiday sales to not materialize.
Same-store revenue fell 5.2% to date for the quarter at both Sears and Kmart, the company said Tuesday. That includes the critical holiday shopping period, a time that most retailers depend on for a sales surge that will put them in the black.
Kmart’s 6% decline in revenue at stores open at least a year was blamed on diminished layaways and a drop in clothing and consumer electronics sales.
Sears’ cited lackluster consumer electronics and home appliance sales for its 4.4% drop off. Sears’ clothing sales were flat, while sales of Lands’ End products at Sears stores rose mid-single digits.
Sears Holdings said that the declining sales, ongoing margin pressure and rising expenses pulled its adjusted earnings lower.
The retailer predicts fourth-quarter consolidated adjusted earnings will be less than half the prior-year period’s $933 million. It also anticipates a non-cash charge of $1.6 billion to $1.8 billion in the quarter for a valuation allowance on some deferred tax assets.
This figure is a key gauge of a retailer’s health because it excludes results from stores recently opened or closed.
Sears Holdings said it also plans to lower its fixed costs by $100million to $200million and trim its 2012 peak domestic inventory by $300million from 2011’s $10.2 billion at the third quarter’s end.
If you want to experience the adventure this winter, try Lake Balea Ice Hotel in Romania.
The Fagaras Mountains in Transylvania provide a perfect backdrop for the stunning Lake Balea Ice Hotel. Its remote location, at over 2000 m can be reached only by cable car in the winter making it an exclusive 10-14 room hotel. Set amidst breathtaking scenery the Ice Hotel is rebuilt every year – so no two years are the same.
According to its website, the hotel is entirely built from ice from a glacial lake. Since 2005 every winter the Hotel of Ice in the Fagaras Mountains is rebuilt, namely from the materials offered by nature: huge blocks of ice, cut and removed directly from the glacial Lake Balea are used to raise the walls, the snow gathered across the mountain slopes, is used for fixing the ice bricks and for finishing the walls.
If you want to experience the adventure this winter, try Lake Balea Ice Hotel in Romania
Every year brings a new story from the Hotel of Ice. Each season another new structure is added and tells a new story. 2011 story is a musical one which is transposed in the architecture and design of the rooms, the Ice Bar and the Ice Restaurant. The news about 2011´s Hotel of Ice is a separate complex of igloos next to the hotel.
Typically temperatures range from -2 to +2 degrees, the ice beds are covered with reindeer fur, with mattresses placed on top for comfort. Bedding, further furs and specialist sleeping bags are all provided, with bathroom facilities nearby. This all makes for a surprisingly cosy night’s sleep, especially if you indulge in a nightcap at the sub-zero Ice bar where inevitably the glasses are made of ice. There is a special Ice Hotel set menu in the evening, which needs to be booked in advance or you can defrost with a meal at the Lake Balea Chalet.
The place are also offering a plenty of activities from sledging to riding on a snow mobile, and the splendid Ice Church is a short walk away for anyone in the mood for an icy prayer. The breath-taking views and silent nights with bright stars overhead make a visit to the Ice Hotel.
A “must do” experience for anyone visiting the Ice Hotel with 2 courses actually serviced on Ice plates! The food is surprisingly delicious and the atmosphere is truly unique; smoked salmon egg cream, Dijon mustard sauce and toast, cream of carrot soup with croutons, medallion of beef, in a white wine sauce, peppers, sprouts and mashed potato with rosemary are only few of the Ice Hotel menu’s choices.