Wednesday, March 4, 2009
LONDON : Michael Jackson has recorded more than 100 songs in secret, but is refusing to release the tracks until after his death, according to biographer Ian Halperin.
The singer has amassed a stack of tunes but only wants them to be heard by his children, 11-year-old Prince, 10-year-old Paris Katherine, and five-year-old Prince Michael II, after he dies, said Halperin, author of forthcoming book "Unmasked, The Michael Jackson Story".
Halperin said, "I was astonished by the number of songs which have been held back. I was told that he will not let them come out now but wants to leave them for his kids, a very personal legacy to them."
As for his Beatles' back catalog, it will go to Sir Paul McCartney.
The two have been estranged since a falling out back in 1985, after Jackson beat out McCartney in a bidding war for the rights to 200 of the Beatles’ legendary songs.
McCartney, 66, has felt betrayed by Jackson ever since. In 2006 McCartney said, "You know what doesn't feel very good, is going on tour and paying to sing all my songs. Every time I sing 'Hey Jude', I've got to pay someone."
Previously, the pair collaborated on Jackson's 1982 "Thriller" extract "The Girl is Mine", and McCartney's 1983 single "Say, Say, Say" from "Pipes of Peace".
The Daily Mirror newspaper quoted a Jackson insider as saying, "Michael told his lawyers he was sad he no longer talks to Sir Paul and said he wanted to make things right."
One wonders if all this talk about wills and making peace is due to the King of Pop's reported deadly lung condition.
A few months ago, Jackson denied rumours that he was battling emphysema, genetic illness Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, a potentially fatal genetic illness. He was also reported to be losing the vision in his left eye.
AMSTERDAM (Reuters Life!) - God is taking calls.
Dutch artist Johan van der Dong has set up a local telephone number in the Netherlands, where he urges people to leave messages for God on his answering machine.
Van der Dong said he set up the number to give people an opportunity to take pause and contemplate life.
"Like praying, leaving a voicemail message is a way to organize your thoughts," he said. "It's a perfect combination for some contemplation."
Callers dialing 06-4424-4901 (or +316-4424-4901 if calling from outside the Netherlands) from March 7 will hear.
"Hi, you are speaking to God. I'm not in right now so leave a message after the beep."
(Reporting by Elke Bun, editing by Paul Casciato)
Manchester United goalkeeper Ben Foster, a 26-year-old who plays for one of England’s top soccer teams, has the sports world debating whether it's fair to use an iPod as a competitive edge during a match.
Faced with the always difficult task of defending penalty kicks when Sunday's game went to shootout, a well-prepared Foster whipped out his iPod to study the tendencies of Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Jamie O’Hara.
Foster watched video of a kick O’Hara took against Dutch powerhouse PSV Eindhoven last year that suggested O'Hara liked to strike the ball to the left of the goalkeeper. He made the same move against Foster, who dove and blocked the shot.
Manchester United goalkeeping coach Eric Steele recommended the digital assist, but it was Foster who took home player-of-the-match honors.
"They told me for Jamie O'Hara I should stand up and be strong, and he would probably go the way he did," Foster told reporters after the game. "I have done a lot of research before, but this is an innovation we have brought in at the club."
The rules of soccer, both in England and at the international level, don’t say much about the use of technology -- let alone an iPod -- by players during matches. British soccer's governing body, the Football Assn., ruled that because there was nothing inherently dangerous about Foster’s tactic, there would be no disciplinary action.
It's not hard to imagine professional and national soccer teams throughout the world now loading videos of their opponents on iPods to prep their goalkeepers.
-- Jerry Hirsch
LONDON (Reuters) – A university in Liverpool has launched a Master of Arts degree in The Beatles, the city's most famous sons, and called the qualification the first of its kind.
"There have been over 8,000 books about The Beatles but there has never been serious academic study and that is what we are going to address," said Mike Brocken, senior lecturer in popular music at Hope.
"Forty years on from their break-up, now is the right time and Liverpool is the right place to study The Beatles.
"This MA is expected to attract a great deal of attention, not just locally but nationally and we have already had enquiries from abroad, particularly the United States."
The university said it was the first postgraduate taught course on The Beatles in the United Kingdom, and possibly the world.
The Fab Four were born and raised in Liverpool and went on to become arguably the most successful pop band of all time.
(Reporting by Mike Collett-White)
This selection includes information about the artists and a lot of photos of their work. Many graffiti artists do a lot of great pieces but these guys just kill it. Artists from all over the world that you may have missed out on.
Click here to see all this art... | digg story
BREMERTON, Wash. - Someone is cheating Girl Scouts, using fake $20 bills to buy cookies.
One troop in Bremerton is out $100, and some fear the fraud is spreading to other Girl Scout troops.
Beneath the cheer of the annual Girl Scout cookie sale in Bremerton smolders a flash of anger and betrayal.
Seven-year-old Silvia Swanson helps collect the money that funds their programs.
"We get to go camping, the zoo, swimming pools," she said.
But the girls found out someone used fake $20s to buy cookies.
"That makes you feel really mad," said Swanson.
"It's just beyond me," said Deborah Bernard, customer. "I can't even imagine that. These are little girls."
Trooper leader KC Gettings made the discovery Saturday while making change.
"I went to the bank, right inside Safeway, and she told me two of the $20s were fake," said Gettings.
Gettings quickly left, returning with a counterfeit detecting pen. Its mark shows yellow on real U.S. currency, but the mark turns black on fake money. She discovered an additional $60 in fake bills.
That brought the total to $100 Troop 40411 may make up themselves. Two of the bills even had the same serial number. Troop 40411 isn't alone; others around Bremerton invested in the pen.
"Another troop has come to buy them because they noticed they were getting fake money," said Gettings. She said they're being told to stop accepting $20 bills unless they use the pen.
But who is passing the fake money is still a mystery. Silvia Swanson knows what she'd do if they try again.
"I'd call the cops, that's what I'd do — call the cops," said Swanson.
Troop leader Gettings tried to report the crime, but the local police station is closed on weekends. She planned to file a report on Monday.
In true Girl Scout fashion, the troop is learning from the ordeal. Each member will earn a "fraud badge" because they helped uncover the crime. They'll be back out, with counterfeit detecting pen in hand, next weekend.
The 2009 Geneva Motor Show's overwhelmed us with hi-tech, futuristic concept cars. Our Swiss friend Gehard the Bookie makes sense of it all by giving us the odds of these rolling testbeds seeing production.
Click On Each Image For Full Information On Each Car
11.) Ford Iosis Concept
Odds Of Production: 1-to-1
Reason: Essentially the precursor to the next generation Ford Focus, like Yao Ming against Nikoloz Tskitishvili, this one's in the bag. While it may lose some of the more obvious concept car touches, like the full-roof glass and LED-lights, it'll almost certainly carry over the kinetic design-influenced profile.
10.) Rolls Royce 200EX
Odds Of Production: 4-to-1
Reason: Parent company BMW wants to take Rolls Royce to the next level by lowering the entry price. The concept version practically looks like a production car and, given the large 7-Series parts bin available to the company, we expect to see the production version before the next World Cup.
Odds Of Production: 2 to 1
Reason: This Nissan crossover concept is supposed to preview the look of the next generation Micra and, possibly, a Micra-based crossover. The bulging physique may look unrealistic, but you have to remember this is the same company behind the Infiniti FX50.
8.) Infiniti Essence
Odds Of Production: 7-to-1
Reason: The hybrid powertrain and custom Louis Vuitton bags are a little silly, making us doubt production, but it's so stunningly beautiful they're going to have to build it anyways. Given the company's alphanumeric obsession the vehicle will not likely debut as the "essence" anytime soon, but we expect the "essence" of the vehicle to seep into the next generation of Infiniti products.
7.) Aston One-77
Odds Of Production: 7.7-to-1
Reason: While some of the finer points, including the hand-crafted aluminum shell, may not make it to the assembly line we think the One-77 is a good preview of the future Aston Martin Vantage. I wouldn't recommend betting against an Aston Martin coupe powered by a V12 mounted up front and painted a variation of green-sliver.
6.) Mitsubishi iMiEV
Odds Of Production: 14-to-1
Reason: While some version of the iMiEV Sport is likely to see production, we're guessing it ain't gonna be this one. If the solar panels weren't a dead giveway the Tron-tastic interior guaranteed this will live only on the stage.
5.) Koenigsegg Quant
Odds Of Production: 33-to-1
Reason: Koenigsegg is a company with a ridiculous name able to get people to buy their cars, which makes doubting them a risk. Still, a four-seat solar electric super car? While the Koenigsegg folks (yolks?) plan to have a working model sometime in the future, we're guessing sometime is so far away we Quant imagine it.
Odds Of Production: 62-to-1
Reason: If you live in Europe, or even in America, it's possible you've driven a car manufactured by Magna Steyr. But you haven't driven in one designed and branded by Magna Steyr. The Austrian firm is hoping one of the four surviving car companies decides to use their platform to build a new environmentally friendly car. Good luck with that.
3.) Rinspeed E2
Odds Of Production: 100-to-1
Reason: Rinspeed exists to tune Porsches and create exotic Geneva concepts. Despite its history we're actually going to give this Fiat 500 Abarth-based concept the highest odds ever for a Rinspeed Geneva concept: 100-to-1. Why? This concept is about the two-level, push-button power option, which allows users to switch power output based on need. It's a great idea and something we see an automaker using. We just don't see it coming out of the Rinspeed shop.
2.) Rinspeed iChange
Odds Of Production: 600-to-1
Reason: Here's the Rinspeed we know and love. The iChange transforms from a one-seater sports car into a three-seater with the help of, wait for it, a freaking iPhone! It's also got a top speed of 137 MPH and a 0-to-62 MPH time of around four seconds. At this point, it's about as likely as the Cubs winning the World Series this year.
Odds Of Production: 99,999,000,000-to-1
Reason: This is the kind of bet you only take if you're about to die and the only way you can save yourself is to bet that last five dollars on the least likely horse. Let's start with the claims: it's the fastest hybrid ever with a 187 MPH top speed, 0-to-60 MPH in the three-second range, and a range above 1,200 miles. Neat. Does it also cure baldness?
As if it wasn't ridiculous enough it's named for a company that stopped producing cars in 1957. WINNER!
Its budget meltdown has California taking a look at legalizing marijuana as a means to revive its depleted treasury. But common sense, not economic need, should persuade Americans it's past time for a sober look at our mad "reefer madness" laws.
The Golden State legislator pushing the idea, Tom Ammiano of -- plug in the appropriate joke -- San Francisco, says licensing and taxing legal marijuana production and sales would earn California $1.3 billion a year. His bill would legalize marijuana possession and use for adults 21 or older, license commercial farming of it and tax it at $50 an ounce.
A big problem: California can't do this on its own. The federal prohibition law would have to be changed for Sacramento to impose and collect the licensing fees and taxes. Given all the controversial financial and social engineering bills on its plate, Congress likely isn't eager to take on this contentious issue. A recent CBS News/New York Times poll found only 41 percent of Americans favor legalization. That's an improvement over the 34 percent in a 2002 CNN/Time poll, but still 52 percent are against it.
It would be best if Washington could leave this matter in the hands of states. Thirteen states have to some extent decriminalized marijuana. Massachusetts is the latest. Its voters last month eliminated criminal penalties for possession of small amounts.
A like number of states have humane laws allowing marijuana smoking by people with chronic or terminal diseases to combat pain and nausea. New Jersey could become the 14th since its state senate has approved a medicinal bill. In Illinois, medical marijuana legislation failed in a close vote last year; bills already have been introduced in both houses of the General Assembly.
And, in a bow to state discretion, the Obama administration says it will not continue the Bush administration's policy of having U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officers raid medical marijuana dispensaries. That reflects the simple fact a huge part of America thinks a medical ban is cruel and prohibition in general is silly.
Marijuana, however undesirable some might view it, is not much, if any, different in its effects than alcohol and should be treated the same. And Ammiano has a point: A 2005 study endorsed by the late Milton Friedman and 530 other economists found legal regulation would save the nation $7.7 billion in enforcement costs and bring in up to $6.2 billion in taxes.
Beyond that are the issues of the terrible crime drug prohibition inflicts on mostly minority neighborhoods in big cities and the narco-terrorism raging in countries where criminals and poor people simply produce a product in huge demand in America.
Narco violence and corruption along our border threaten to make Mexico a failed state. Drug cartels issued an ultimatum to one police chief: Resign or see your officers killed. After several were murdered, he quit. Other officials have joined the cartels. One former police chief smuggled a ton of marijuana into Texas. Cartels extort protection money from businesses and even forced teachers in one town to hand over their Christmas bonuses. Six-thousand people were killed in drug-related violence last year. The U.S. Justice Department calls Mexican gangs the "biggest organized crime threat to the United States."
The day may not be far off when Americans conclude, as they did with Prohibition in the 1930s, that violence associated with the marijuana ban is worse than the drug's social ills. Some will raise the slippery slope argument that legalization opens the way to decriminalizing hard drugs like heroin and cocaine. Maybe we would have that discussion if legal marijuana works out, but saying yeah to one doesn't mean saying yes to the other.
Marijuana prohibition no longer makes sense, if it ever did. For the record, my recreational chemical of choice is alcohol. After the sun sets, I like to enjoy a glass of wine or scotch. Why shouldn't my neighbor, if so inclined, be able to relax with a joint?
Comment at suntimes.com.
By Kevin Pang |Tribune reporter
Circuit City stores in the U.S. will close for good after Sunday, and thousands of employees will be out of work. (Tribune photo by Candice C. Cusic / February 27, 2009)
Along the desolate, gray-boxed stretch of Elston Avenue lies the sad, tattered remains of an America that once was. These were heady times, when happiness was measured by the inch-count on your plasma TV or the number of language subtitles available on "Nights in Rodanthe."
Then, our economy leapt out from cruising altitude with neither chute nor cord, and once-mighty retailer Circuit City is reduced to a going-out-of-business sale—the saddest of all sales—where shoppers fight one another for scraps on bones.
After this Sunday, Circuit Cities across the nation close for good, and its 30,000-member workforce (whoever is left, anyway) will join the ranks of the unemployed. Inside the store near Fullerton Avenue and the Kennedy Expressway on Monday, there's a funereal quality. Employees—wearing sullen faces—who when asked if a display model Sony Vaio laptop missing nine keys is still $623.99, answer with a mechanical, leave-me-the-hell-alone "yep." It's not as if they object to helping, but they're also texting while ringing up customers at the checkout line, because really, what are they gonna do, fire them?
Yellow "caution" tape crisscrosses entire aisles, like a crime scene. Workers strip metal mounts off walls that months earlier held up $5,000 high-definition TVs (a half dozen remain for $1,300 or so). Wall fixtures, checkout counters, glass cases and hand carts—it's all for sale here.
We found bargains at one store
2500 N. Elston Ave.
•"80 Hour Energy Spray": $1.50
•"Home Improvement: The Complete Sixth Season": $6
•Six packs of 300-count cotton swabs: $1
•100 blank DVD-R discs: $15
•"World Wrestling Entertainment, The Music Volume 8": $4.20
•Armband + protective case for "SanDisk Ardis" MP3 player: $2.09
•"National Lampoon: The Complete Collection" DVD-ROM: $16
•"Hits CD," Insane Clown Posse: $3.60
Hanging above all is a poster board counting down the days until Circuit City is no more, and for the next six days, the store is pushing to sell off its remaining merchandise, which one could describe as, oh, scrap heap? Too generous. Bottom of the barrel? Let's not sully the good name of barrels.
Just the Friday before, CDs, DVDs and computer games each had a dedicated aisle. By Monday, they have all been bunched into one 70-percent-off row of pop cultural tragedies.
One can't help but empathize with the hardworking artists who toil in creative sweat in the name of art and commerce, but one is also forced to ask: "Is a greatest hits compilation from the Insane Clown Posse really worth $3.60?"
Within these racks we find the career vestiges of "American Idol" castoffs.
There's Bucky Covington, the country crooner who placed eighth in Season 5, and Constantine Maroulis, who finished sixth in Season 4, and some guy named Josh Gracin, and this gal, and that other dude, and somebody else, and Phil Stacey, whose self-titled CD has a sticker attached reminding all that, "YES! He's the Phil Stacey you saw on national TV."
The "American Idol" brand extends to computer software: Show judge Randy Jackson proudly endorses the "American Idol Extreme Music Creator," a recording and mixing program for your PC. Quoth Jackson: "This software is the bomb!"
Liquidation sales contain, after all, the word "sales," and Circuit City employs the sneaky technique of screaming "huge discount!" while jacking the original sticker price to exorbitant amounts. Case in point: "Digital Video for Dummies," a book Amazon.com says is $24.99 but is first marked here at $63.99—but now "70 percent" off.
But there's no point in speaking ill of the corporate dead, even if they decide to charge $14.99 (40 percent off!) for four AA batteries. Let us remember the employees, who must be thinking on this sad week, "Oh, how I wish I worked at Best Buy."
By TRICIA MANNING-SMITH / KING 5 News LACEY, Wash. - The moves and the music on the gym floor distracted those in the bleachers from immediately seeing what was happening right in front of their eyes. They say the clean cut man had several cameras, but he reportedly tucked one camera backwards under his arm and shot up under the dancers' skirts. The girls told their fathers. “I said, ‘Hey pal. What's your story?'" said dad Erick Johanson. "'What are you doing here with the camera? People downstairs are saying you're doing some pretty bad things.’” The photographer claimed he was a sports photographer from a university, and he tried to leave. But the fathers followed him out into the parking lot. “’How about this, you show us the pictures on the camera and when what you're saying is true, there's nothing weird, you can go and we'll apologize and it's no big deal,’” said dad Josh Nelson. “He's like, ‘No, I can't show you my pictures.’” They say then, in a last ditch effort to escape, the suspect surprisingly confessed. “He took the camera off his neck, held his hands up in the air and said ‘I admit it. I’m a pervert and I came here to take pictures of your daughters,’” said Johanson. “He said, ‘Can you let go of me?’ I said no, I'm not going to let you go,’” said Nelson. “He said, ‘Can't I have some dignity?’ No, you can't have any dignity. I said I'm going to hold onto you until the cops get here and then they'll hold onto you.'” Thinking back, the fathers are sick to think where the photos may have ended up. “You always want to take care of your kids, and protect them,” said Nelson. “That's our job, that's what we're supposed to do,” said Johanson. Even though they feel violated, the dancers are proud their fathers stood up to defend them. Olympia Police say the total number of pictures on the suspects' cameras is unknown. They also do not know if this same photographer is suspected for other voyeurism crimes. The suspect is held in the Thurston County jail for investigation of voyeurism.
LACEY, Wash. - The moves and the music on the gym floor distracted those in the bleachers from immediately seeing what was happening right in front of their eyes.
They say the clean cut man had several cameras, but he reportedly tucked one camera backwards under his arm and shot up under the dancers' skirts. The girls told their fathers.
“I said, ‘Hey pal. What's your story?'" said dad Erick Johanson. "'What are you doing here with the camera? People downstairs are saying you're doing some pretty bad things.’”
The photographer claimed he was a sports photographer from a university, and he tried to leave. But the fathers followed him out into the parking lot.
“’How about this, you show us the pictures on the camera and when what you're saying is true, there's nothing weird, you can go and we'll apologize and it's no big deal,’” said dad Josh Nelson. “He's like, ‘No, I can't show you my pictures.’”
They say then, in a last ditch effort to escape, the suspect surprisingly confessed.
“He took the camera off his neck, held his hands up in the air and said ‘I admit it. I’m a pervert and I came here to take pictures of your daughters,’” said Johanson.
“He said, ‘Can you let go of me?’ I said no, I'm not going to let you go,’” said Nelson. “He said, ‘Can't I have some dignity?’ No, you can't have any dignity. I said I'm going to hold onto you until the cops get here and then they'll hold onto you.'”
Thinking back, the fathers are sick to think where the photos may have ended up.
“You always want to take care of your kids, and protect them,” said Nelson.
“That's our job, that's what we're supposed to do,” said Johanson.
Even though they feel violated, the dancers are proud their fathers stood up to defend them.
Olympia Police say the total number of pictures on the suspects' cameras is unknown. They also do not know if this same photographer is suspected for other voyeurism crimes.
The suspect is held in the Thurston County jail for investigation of voyeurism.
For two years in a row Leena Helttula, a math teacher from Finland, included a course about Japanese puzzles in her teaching schedule at Turun iltalukio, night gymnasium for adults. What a great way to teach math.
read more | digg story
Looking a little green
Jimmy Fallon was clearly nervous during his debut performance as host of NBC's "Late Night," but the comedian avoided major stumbles and garnered a strong opening-night rating.
Fallon's premiere drew a 2.3 in the metered-market household ratings -- NBC's highest Monday "Late Night" rating in the overnights in more than three years, and up 35% from Conan O'Brien's average in the time period (1.7) this season.
The comedian's debut (several clips below) was also higher rated than Craig Ferguson's debut in 2005 on CBS (1.8) and Jimmy Kimmel's bow in 2003 on ABC (2.0). In fact, Fallon had the highest-rated late-night debut of any talk show since 2002, when ABC put on "UpClose" (Ted Koppel's interview show that replaced "Politically Incorrect").
Fallon also beat Ferguson (who had Paris Hilton as his guest) head-to-head last night by 35%. Kimmel, whose second half overlaps with "Late Night," pulled an extremely high 2.5 rating thanks to a visit from "The Bachelor" star Jason Mesnick right after the show's heavily watched finale ("Bachelor" finale ratings here).
Ferguson has typically drawn a 1.6 on Mondays and Kimmel a 1.5. O'Brien's 1993 premiere (which is arguably from a different late-night ratings era) drew a 3.8.
Fallon performed a monologue that EW called "ultra-ordinary -- one liners about President Obama and the deficit that sounded like material Jay Leno's writers had faxed over from L.A," and did a segment called "Lick It for $10," where audience members came onstage to lick objects such as a goldfish bowl.
Robert De Niro was Fallon's first guest, who played along during a scripted exchange that joked about the actor's reputation as a difficult interview (why would producers book somebody with a reputation as a difficult interview as Fallon's first guest?). Then there was a Fallon's frequent "Saturday Night Live" sketch partner, Justin Timberlake, for a "Barry Gibb Talk Show" redux.
"Sweaty, tense, uptight, nervous, wound-up, keyed up -- pick an adjective," wrote the Chicago Tribune. While THR said it was "a typically stiff debut that nonetheless displays the host's charm and potential." But remember: Even Ferguson said not to judge Fallon based on his first night.
(UPDATE: Fallon's second night strong too)
Fallon also had a segment called "Slow Jammin' the News":
Here's Fallon trying to appeal to blond mothers from Connecticut:
Here's one sketch with De Niro:
Some sample Fallon monologue jokes:
-- "As you know New York City was hit with a huge snowstorm. And I woke up this morning and said 'please let it be a snow day.' Not even a delay. Nothing."
-- "I've been getting so much encouragement. Last night, Rush Limbaugh called me up and said he wants me to fail. That's so nice of him. He didn't even have to."
-- "The good news -- President Obama announced that he plans to bring the troops home from Iraq in 18 months. The troops actually responded and said, 'Thank you, but the economy's better over here.' "
-- "In California, a 16-year-old boy had sex with his 24-year-old teacher. Traumatizing. Doctors are saying it will take years of therapy just to wipe the smile off his face."
-- "Despite the recession, Microsoft is planning to open new stores to compete with Apple. Microsoft says they'll be just like Apple stores except the staff will freeze when you ask them a question."
British scientists have been given permission to explore an underground lake that they believe could provide clues to life on Mars.
Buried nearly two miles beneath Antarctica, the unspoilt lake has been "frozen in time" for hundreds of thousands of years, sealed off from the outside world.
Scientists believe it may contain tiny life forms that never been seen by humans, whose existence would throw light on how life could develop in other icy environments, including Mars.
The team also hopes the exploration of the waters will yield vital clues about climate change and future sea-level rise.
The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) has awarded £6 million to a consortium of multidisciplinary research centres, including the University of Bristol for the work.
Over the next five years the researchers will develop the technologies needed for the project.
During the 2012-2013 winter season the research team will go "deep field" into West Antarctica to sample water from the lake in the search of "tiny life forms never before seen" and to extract sediment from the lake bed to find clues as to how the climate has changed over many millennia.
Professor Martyn Tranter from the University of Bristol will be analysing some of the water from the lake, looking for signs of life.
He said: "We are all very excited at the prospect of seeing what's going on down there. Any microbes feeding on material at the bottom of the lake will be giving off a particular chemical signature that we hope to pick up in the water.
"If we find anything living beneath the ice it will not only be very exciting in itself, but could have implications for life in similar icy environments, such as on other planets."
About the size of Lake Windermere, in the Lake District, the underground pool has been described as "one of the planet's last great frontiers".
Bristol University spokeswoman Cherry Lewis said: "It is frozen in time. When we talk about life on other planets we're talking about mainly micro-organisms, and primarily about the planet Mars. However, some of the other moons have similar icy environments.
"It is possible we will find higher life-forms down there. It's a complete unknown at the moment, which is why it is so exciting."
Consortium leader Professor Martin Siegert from the University of Edinburgh, who conceived the project while working at the University of Bristol, said: "This is a benchmark in polar exploration – our team will be the first to explore this ancient lake.
"It is a dark, cold place that has been sealed from the outside world and it's likely to contain unique forms of life. We hope to discover more about how life can exist in extreme environments and how Antarctica has changed in the past – which might help us understand more about other places on Earth."
In such an extreme environment the mere presence of life in itself would be a major scientific discovery, the team warns. But there are "very strong reasons" to expect that such micro-organisms would have adapted to the hostile habitat.
Image via: wolaver
On the one hand, fish are inoffensive creatures, the majority not much to worry about unless they’re getting overcooked on the barbecue. Yet there are a few species that are more loathsome to our tastes. These are creatures straight out of nightmares – some more fangs than fish; others that look like they’ve barely swum out of the primeval sludge. But though we’d like to think we’re no relation to these demons of the deep, in the evolutionary scheme of things all us land vertebrates are derived from our fishy cousins.
Note: Sharks were omitted as we thought it unfair on the littler guys; the dorsal-finned ones deserve their own top ten. Otherwise, points were awarded for appearance, attitude, and aggression – with a partiality for nasty teeth and equally nasty names. Brace yourself.
1. Piranha Fish (up to 18 inches)
Image: Laura Travels
While the threat this little teeth-with-gills poses to humans has been rather blown up in films – including its own self-titled horror B movie – the Piranha has a set of jaws to make any dentist nod with nervous approval. Its rows of razor-sharp gnashers are tightly packed and interlock with each other, teeth perfectly designed for the rapid piercing and shearing of meat – for which the Piranha has a rapacious appetite, as if you needed to know. The Piranha is also aggressive to its own kind and can become cannibalistic if underfed.
Dentist’s bad dream: Piranha Fish
Image: Lee Nachtigal
Although the Piranha hunts in a lethal, highly organised fashion, in its defence it also eats vegetable matter such as seeds. Research also suggests its habit of forming into large groups is as much a defence against predators like caimans and river dolphins as it is a killing strategy. But despite its overblown menace – with the piranha more likely to end up as part of your dinner than vice versa – you wouldn’t want to spend too long in Amazonian waters with an open cut to whet this fish’s appetite. Feeding frenzies against larger animals do happen, and this fiend will bite and maim without a second invitation.
2. Anglerfish (up to 2 feet)
Fish don’t come much more monstrous looking than the deep sea Anglerfish. Lurking far below the surface of the ocean, this bony beast of a fish is so called because of its distinctive method of catching prey using a fleshy lump that protrudes from its head like a fisherman’s lure. The Anglerfish is able to cheekily wiggle its growth so it appears as prey to other predators, the bait made even more alluring by the fact that it emits bright bioluminescent light. When the unsuspecting victim stays close enough, the anglerfish devours it whole, jaws triggered automatically by contact with the decoy.
Gone fishing and gulping it down: Anglerfish
That cavernous mouth extends right around the Anglerfish’s head, its jaws armed with long, pointed, inward-folding teeth that allow easy access to the stomach but no escape from the mouth. This machine-like predator can expand its jaw and stomach to a huge size, enabling it to gulp down prey even bigger than itself. It’s probably a good thing for us that this fiend, also known as the sea devil, is found at depths of 3,300-6,600 ft. As far as we’re concerned, it can stay there.
Tiny deep-sea Anglerfish, stomach in mouth
3. Moray Eel (up to 13 feet)
Found all over the world skulking in reef crevices – where it waits for prey to pass by near enough for it to lunge at and seize in its powerful jaws – the Moray Eel is a fish best steered clear of. This fearsome carnivore feeds on sea-dwelling creatures, but can also inflict severe injuries on people that get too close for comfort. Apparently the Moray is more often aloof than ill tempered, and will only attack humans in self-defence or bite hands by mistake if fed. When disturbed, however, it is vicious; and the bacteria coating its sharp backward-pointing teeth can infect wounds, making for an extra beastly bite. The toxic potential doesn’t stop there either, with the mucus secreted over the skin containing a toxin in some species.
Extra dentures and nasty mouthwash: Moray Eel
Another feature that makes the Moray unique is the second set of jaws in its throat that are also equipped with teeth. When hunting and capturing victims, this nighttime marauder launches these jaws into its mouth, snatching the struggling prey and pulling it down into the Moray’s digestive system. Ridley Scott’s Alien eat your heart out.
Green Moray, apparently blind
4. Tigerfish (up to 6 feet)
No prizes for guessing some of the reasons the Tigerfish got its name. With a gaping maw made up of an extremely well developed mouth with protruding teeth, this definitely isn’t the kind of fish you’d like to meet in a dark corner of the river. The Tigerfish is just as ferocious as it looks – fiercely territorial and known for being a voracious predator.
Orthodontist’s nightmare: Tigerfish
The body of this fish is built for speed and power; and with its scaly armour, pointed fins, and conspicuous need for a brace even when its mouth is shut, the Tigerfiish is highly prized as a game fish. Found in freshwater across Africa, the Tigerfish will chomp on practically any fish that strays into its path using strong jaw muscles and dagger-like teeth that mesh together like the Piranha’s. It’s even reputed to take on prey as big or much bigger than itself; added reason to stay out of the water. Fishermen have a healthy respect for the Goliath Tigerfish, a monster uniquely adapted to the Congo River that the National Geographic recently described as an example of “evolution on steroids”. Make that evil-lution on steroids.
Fisherman’s fiend: Tigerfish
5. Snakehead Fish (up to 3 feet)
Image via: environmentalgraffiti
Previously introduced in these columns when it was reported to have invaded Britain, the Snakehead fish can be one mean mother – quite literally as it’s thought to have attacked humans who have gone too close to its young. Widely distributed across South East Asia, parts of India and Africa, the giant tropical specimen boasts a fat mouth and sharp pointed teeth, and will eat just about everything in or on a body of water, be it fish, bird, amphibian or mammal.
Overrun by old iron lung: Snakehead Fish
Image via: popfi
If the Tigerfish is evolution gone berserk, then this is evolution that’s remained raw but no less brutal, the Snakehead having originated at least 50 million years ago. Yet the Snakehead is also like a living example of evolutionary adaptation; incredibly it uses a primitive lung and breathes atmospheric air. Yes, this sucker can survive on wet land for prolonged spells, crawling to the next pond or lake to resume feeding by wriggling its body and fins. It’s perhaps no surprise that this apex predator is a prime example of a dangerously invasive species that can wreak ecological havoc, spawning like wildfire and wiping out anything in its environment. You’ve been warned.
6. Viperfish (up to 6 feet)
Image via: wolaver
Moving to the bottom five of our top ten, we come to the Viperfish, another predatory nasty with a snaky moniker. Rather like its bioluminescent buddy the Anglerfish, the Viperfish keeps to the ocean’s lower reaches. At night, though, this gruesome looking member the bottom feeding brotherhood swims to shallower depths of less than 700 feet where food is more available. Mercifully we wouldn’t fall into the F-word category were we ever to come face to face with the Pacific Viperfish – an extra large specimen that that may demonstrate deep-sea gigantism, reaching as long as 2 m. A relief to be sure, as the teeth protruding from that grim underbite look less than friendly – prey or not.
Grandma what big teeth you have: Viperfish
Image: Crappy Wildlife Photography
7. Fangtooth Fish (up to 6 inches)
Another cruel-faced deep-dwelling assassin, and one of the deepest-dwelling at that, the Fangtooth fish is found at murky depths as far as 5 km below the surface. Endowed with oversized fang-like teeth and a hefty jaw, the Fangtooth’s two largest lower fangs are so long the fish has a pair of sockets on either side of its tiny brain for the teeth to slot into when it shuts its mouth. The Fangtooth is actually thought to have the largest teeth of any ocean fish relative to its body size, though it needs to be able to grab any meal it can, even if larger than itself. Though haggard and scary in appearance, this fish is too small to be harmful to humans – unless it swims into your dreams.
Image of Fangtooth Fish: miss ruta
8. Dragonfish (up to 16 inches)
The deep-sea horrors continue, and the Dragonfish has the by know familiar outsized mouth and fang-like teeth that are hallmarks of the abyssal beasts we’ve seen – but, hey, they’ve got to eat, and anything encountered will do. The Dragonfish’s head seems to be all jaw and eyes, but unlike its relative the Viperfish, it has a barbel that dangles from its chin and emits light to attract unwary prey, rather like the lure of the Anglerfish. The Dragonfish might have swum further up our list if it weren’t for its bold bioluminescent beauty. Still, it leaves us in no doubt that it can be a ferocious predator that you definitely wouldn’t want getting primeval on you.
Shining light: Scaly Dragonfish
9. Gulper Eel (up to 6 feet)
Image: Alexander Yean
With a mouth much larger than its body – a mouth that makes the word enormous seem too tiny – the Gulper Eel swims into our midst, whip-like tail in tow. This bizarre and terrifying looking creature also goes by the name of Pelican Eel, and that massive pouch of a lower jaw makes it easy to see why. The mouth is slack-hinged, and can be opened wide enough for the Gulper to swallow creatures much larger than itself, while the gut of this freaky fish also stretches so it can stomach large meals. But despite the size of the Gulper’s jaws, it has rather small teeth, suggesting a preferred diet of smaller fish. This monster inhabits depths thousands of feet down. A good job too, else we’d be the ones gulping – with fear.
Hard to swallow? Gulper Eel
10. Conger Eel (up to 10 feet)
Finally, moving to slightly less bottomless depths, its time to get up close and personal with the Conger Eel. It may not have as many fancy tricks up its crevice as its cousin the Moray, but with its great size and none too pretty chops, the carnivorous Conger Eel busts its way into the top ten. The American Conger, or sea eel, is known for being a particularly fierce game fish. Fronting up to you with a chunky head, wide mouth and strong teeth that could really do some damage, we definitely wouldn’t want to be fooling around with one of these bad boys – unless it was safely on our dinner plate.
Dare you do the conger? Conger Eel
Image: why I love life