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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Amazing Lightning Storm over Dubai Skyscraper In Dubai, natural and man-made electricity illuminate the night. As jagged needles of lightning darn an overcast sky, the sail-shaped, 1,053-foot-tall Burj al Arab hotel glows green on the edge of the Persian Gulf. Click to enlarge...

Superscraper in Miami Could Steal Dubai's Crown


Plans have been floated for a new superscraper in Miami that could steal the world’s tallest crown from Dubai’s Burj Khalifa.
Despite Miami’s financial woes, having a reported 100,000 plus properties in foreclosure according to the Miami Herald, Kobi Karp has submitted designs for Miapolis - a ‘city within a city’ planned for Watson Island.
The 160 storey building would be more than 183 metres higher than the Burj Khalifa if built and would house an amusement park, observatory, restaurants, 1.96 million sq ft of shops, over 1000 apartments, 1 million sq ft office space and a 792 room hotel.
The project has been around for more than a decade but it is reported that developer Guillermo Socarras has been in talks with the Federal Aviation Administration to secure approval for the height of the tower.
The project is currently looking for funding from investors.

Source:  World Architecture News

U2 and Jay-Z record song for Haiti

Jay-Z and U2 at the MTV Europe Awards, 2009
U2 and Jay-Z duetted in front of Berlin's Brandenburg Gate last year

U2, Jay-Z and producer Swizz Beatz have recorded a song together to raise money for victims of the Haiti earthquake.
U2's guitarist The Edge told Irish radio station 2FM the band "wrote a song, finished and recorded" last week after being contacted about the idea.
The Edge, Bono and Jay-Z, along with Rihanna, are due to appear in London for "a group performance" as part of Friday's Hope For Haiti telethon.
George Clooney's two-hour benefit show will be aired on MTV in the UK.
The Edge told 2FM DJ Dave Fanning over the weekend: "Bono got a call from a producer, Swizz. He and Jay-Z wanted to do something for Haiti.
"So Bono came up with the phrase on the phone and last night we were here, we wrote a song, finished, recorded, and sent it back to them.
"So, that might be the next thing you hear from us."
'Something amazing'
Swizz Beatz also confirmed the project on his Twitter page, saying: "Me, Bono, Hova [Jay-Z's nickname] have something to say about Haiti. Stay tuned.
"I told you I was working on something amazing for Haiti. They need us!"
It is not clear when the single will be released, or whether the artists plan to premiere the song during Friday's telethon
Jay-Z has played with the Irish rock group before, popping up for a handful of dates on last year's 360 tour, and adding a rap to their hit single Sunday Bloody Sunday during the 2009 MTV Europe Awards.
George Clooney is organising the Hope For Haiti event
George Clooney has been organising the Hope For Haiti telethon
Meanwhile, more acts have been added to the bill for the Haiti telethon including Coldplay, who will play at "a London location" alongside Jay-Z.
Kid Rock, Sheryl Crow and Keith Urban will appear in Los Angeles while Haitian-born Fugees star Wyclef Jean, Sting, Mary J Blige, Shakira and Bruce Springsteen will be among performers in New York.
Funds raised will go to Oxfam America, Red Cross, Unicef, Partners in Health and the Yele Haiti Foundation.
The telethon will be screened live in the UK from 0100 GMT on Saturday 23 January.
In the US, the telethon is being screened live without commercials on a number of channels including NBC, ABC and CBS.

Adidas' Star Wars line gets its own commercial

by: Paul Tassi 
A long time ago in uh, well, this galaxy, I brought you the news that Adidas was coming out with a STAR WARS line of shoes that ranged from ridiculous to crazy awesome. But not content with just making this a niche campaign, Adidas has debuted a full length commercial for the line which you can see below.
I’m not quite sure what David Beckham and Snoop Dogg are doing here, but the more the merrier I suppose, and I also didn’t realize that underground street racing…on foot…was a big pastime of kids these days.
But in any case, the commercial is pretty sweet, and there’s a bumping remix of the Imperial March I think you’ll enjoy. Check it out:

Source: JoBlo

The Power User's Guide to Video Encoding with Handbrake Whether you own an iPod touch, Zune HD, Nintendo DSi, or any number of other portable devices, there's one tool that makes easy work out of ripping DVDs and converting incompatible video files into manageable formats: Handbrake. This wonderful utility has just about everything you could ask for.
Click here for this full article on : The Power User's Guide to Video Encoding with Handbrake

Proof lacking on e-cigarettes' safety, experts warn

By Michelle Roberts
Health reporter, BBC News

Electronic cigarette
'e-cigarettes' look real, but are battery-powered and typically made of stainless steel
There is a worrying lack of safety data on electronic cigarettes, despite their growing popularity with the public, two leading Greek researchers have warned.
In the British Medical Journal, they say that without more evidence it is impossible to know if such products actually do more harm than good.
Some studies have raised safety fears, but retailers argue e-cigarettes are a healthy alternative to the real thing.
Users can inhale nicotine without tar, tobacco or carbon monoxide.
The Department of Health suggested consumers "exercise caution".
The Department of Health is not aware of any evidence about the long-term safety of e-cigarettes and, as such, would suggest that consumers exercise caution
Government spokeswoman
The report authors said consumers should stop using the devices until ongoing safety studies reported back within the next year.
The World Health Organisation is among those to raise concerns about the safety of these new types of cigarette substitute, which deliver a nicotine hit in a fine vapour.
And in the past year, US regulators have detained and blocked numerous shipments of e-cigarettes at borders because the devices are not approved.
In the UK, it is illegal to sell e-cigarettes as a "quit smoking" aid.
But they are widely available to buy as a "cigarette alternative" over the internet and are sold in a number of places, including some bars and clubs.
Andreas Flouris and Dimitris Oikonomou, from the Institute of Human Performance and Rehabilitation in Greece, say there have been three main reports on e-cigarette safety - one by US regulators, one by a publicly-funded Greek research institute, and another by a private company in New Zealand.
Scant data
The US Food and Drug Administration report expressed concern after finding different brands of the battery operated device delivered markedly different amounts of nicotine vapour with each puff.
The FDA also detected traces of powerful cancer-causing chemicals.
The Greek institute Demokritos took a neutral stance on the products and did not find any evidence of chemical contamination.
Private enterprise Health New Zealand did find cancer-causing chemicals in products, but concluded that overall e-cigarettes should be recommended on the basis of the health risks associated with smoking normal cigarettes.
The researchers told the BMJ: "The scarce evidence indicates the existence of various toxic and carcinogenic compounds in e-cigarettes, albeit in possibly much smaller concentrations than in traditional cigarettes."
Smokers' views on e-cigarettes
Callum Reckless, director at Smart Smoker, a company that sells e-cigarettes, said: "I believe that electronic cigarettes are indeed a safer alternative to smoking real cigarettes."
He welcomed more research into the safety of the products.
A Department of Health spokeswoman said it had been working with regulators to test the products and that none of those tested so far complied with product safety regulations.
She said the government was working to ensure e-cigarettes were labelled and sold appropriately.
"The Department of Health is not aware of any evidence about the long-term safety of e-cigarettes and, as such, would suggest that consumers exercise caution.
"E-cigarettes are not promoted by, or available on, the NHS," she said.
Deborah Arnott, of the charity Action on Smoking and Health, said: "We do need better data on safety and appropriate regulation for e-cigarettes, although these products are certain to be significantly less hazardous than cigarettes, which lead to premature death in half all long-term users."
She said there was demand for the products from smokers - UK estimates suggest around one in ten has already tried them.

Surfers Riding Waves Inches from the Jaws of Death


Photo: Phil Gallagher used with permission
When Fergal Smith dropped in on a monster barrel two miles off the coast of Perth in Western Australia, he little realised he was also dropping in on a monster of another kind. For as he powered down the face of the 20-plus-foot wave, lurking there just a few feet from him was a 500-pound Great White Shark. Smith didn’t even realise how close he had come to an encounter with one of the ocean’s deadliest predators. Other surfers’ shaves with man-eating sharks are closer still.
Close shave: Fergal Smith catching a barrel just feet from a Great White
Photo: Phil Gallagher
Fergal Smith was lucky. If he had wiped out on the wave he was sharing with the Great White, help was far away – and who can tell what might have happened? Smith only discovered how narrow his escape had been when he was shown this picture by local photographer Phil Gallagher. His reaction? Laughter – though perhaps of a nervous flavour. At the time, in 2008, Smith said: “I saw a grey shape in the wave but I thought it was the reflection of a slab of rock – how wrong was I?”
Smiling assassin? Great White Shark off South Africa
Photo: hermanusbackpackers
Since 1876, the Great White Shark has been responsible for at least 66 recorded deaths worldwide – most recently off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa – plus around 250 further non-fatal attacks. Incredibly, 101 of the attacks reported in the 20th century were on surfers, though often without serious injury – Great Whites being known to test-bite unfamiliar objects such as surfboards. Even so, there is much in the way of misinformation out there as well as some decidedly fishy photos.
Photoshopped: Fake photo of Great White bursting from a wave
Image via myconfinedspace
When Great White attacks do occur, many scientists believe it is a case of mistaken identity. The shark ambushes the swimmer, body-boarder or surfer from below, confusing their silhouette with that of a seal – particularly if the person has fins or a black wetsuit. However, great whites appear not to like the taste of humans – too bony for their palates, they prefer fatty, protein-rich pinnipeds – and it is only an extremely hungry shark that will go in for the kill after the first bite.
Catching air: Spinner Shark jumps from the waves, New Smyrna Beach
Photo: Kem McNair used with permission
Fact is, Great Whites seldom attack people. Researchers studying the species off the coast of South Africa in 2005 watched as a 13-ft specimen approached the kayak one of their team was sat in, but the creature merely veered off, circled several times, then lost interest. And in places where attacks are common such as Florida’s New Smyrna Beach – known as the shark bite capital of the world with 24 in 2008 – the sharks are usually less lethal – like this 6-ft Spinner snapped leaping from the surf.
Nice turn: Spinner Shark living up to its name, New Smyrna Beach, 2008
Photo: Kem McNair used with permission
Sharks are just one of the dangers surfers face when they take to the waves, but though the odds are stacked in their favour, the risk posed is a real one – as American surfer Bethany Hamilton found out in 2003. Then just 13, Hamilton was lying on her surfboard with her left arm dangling in the water, when a 14-ft Tiger Shark attacked, ripping off her arm just below the shoulder. If the shark had bitten two inches further in, the attack would have been fatal, but luck was on her side.
Tiger Shark attack survivor: Pro surfer Bethany Hamilton at Surfest 07
Photo: Noah Hamilton
Hamilton’s friends helped her paddle back to the shore of Kauai, Hawaii, fashioning a tourniquet out of a surfboard leash that they tied around what was left of her arm before rushing her to the local hospital. Hamilton lost almost 60% of her blood that morning but recovered over six days in hospital, and despite the trauma was back on her board just three weeks after the accident. By 2008, with only one arm, she was competing strongly full-time on the ASP World Qualifying Series.
Mistaken identity: Surfer in wave with Dolphin often misrepresented as Shark
Photo: © Kurt Jones used with permission
Bethany Hamilton’s story is evidence enough that a single bite from a powerful predator like a Tiger Shark can grievously injure a human, yet some sea animals may have something to say about such attacks. Dolphins are well documented protecting humans from sharks – although no one knows why for sure. In 2007, a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins formed a ring around surfer Todd Endris, allowing him to get to shore after he had been mauled by a Great White off Monterey, California.
More Photoshop trickery: Surfing a wave personified as a Shark
Image: Worth 1000
But despite such Dolphin interventions, the words “fish out of water” spring to mind when considering the potential scrapes surfers can get themselves into in the open ocean. To some surfers, the wave itself might be likened to a shark – a force forever capable of chewing them up and spitting them out – but while the wave is a beast whose power surfers have learned to harness, the sharks remains a creature that will never be tamed.
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Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Hotel chain offers human bed warmers

A hotel chain is employing human bed warmers to help guests get a good night's sleep.

Human bed warming service
Five minute free bed warming sessions ''like having a giant hot water bottle in your bed''
The walking electric blankets are dressed in special all-in-one sleeper suits and are sent to warm the beds of guests staying at the Holiday Inn before they get under the covers.
Dr Chris Idzikowski, director of the Edinburgh Sleep Centre, said the idea could help people get off to sleep.

He said: ''There's plenty of scientific evidence to show that sleep starts at the beginning of the night when body temperature starts to drop. The decline occurs partly because the blood vessels of the hands, face and feet open up and release heat.

''A warm bed – approximately 20 to 24 degrees Celsius – is a good way to start this process whereas a cold bed would inhibit sleep. Holiday Inn's new bed warmers service should help people achieve a good night's sleep especially as it's taking much longer for them to warm up when they come in from the snow.''
Holiday Inn spokeswoman Jane Bednall said the idea was ''like having a giant hot water bottle in your bed''. The five minute free bed warming sessions are being tried out in London and Manchester at the end of January.

Gorillaz announce new album details, guests and release date – exclusive

Jamie Hewlett and Damon Albarn's cartoon creations reveal all about 'Plastic Beach'
Gorillaz will release their third album, 'Plastic Beach' on March 8, the cartoon creations of Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett have told NME.COM.

Confirming the record's full tracklisting, the band also announced that the likes of Lou Reed, Mos Def, Mark E Smith, Snoop Dogg, Bobby Womack, De La Soul and Super Furry Animals' Gruff Rhys, while The Clash duo Mick Jones and Paul Simonon reunite on the title track.

"Leeching is the wrong word now isn't it?" the band's 'frontman Murdoc Niccals told NME.COM of the guest stars. "It's not like I've drawn blood or anything. No, I think the word 'coerced' sings the deal a little better. Although, yes, the coercion did come via chloroform and rohypnol."

See this week's issue of NME – on UK newsstands now – for an exclusive comeback interview with Gorillaz.

As with the band's previous releases, the album boasts a back story, which this time sees "the band have taken up residence, recording on a secret floating island deep in the South Pacific, a Plastic Beach HQ, made up of the detritus, debris and washed up remnants of humanity. This Plastic Beach is the furthest point from any landmass on Earth; the most deserted spot on the planet".

'Plastic Beach' has the following tracklisting.

'Orchestral Intro'
'Welcome To The World Of The Plastic Beach' (feat. Snoop Dogg)
'White Flag (feat. Kano & Bashy)
'Rhinestone Eyes'
'Stylo' (feat. Bobby Womack and Mos Def)
'Superfast Jellyfish' (feat. Gruff Rhys and De La Soul)
'Empire Ants' (feat. Little Dragon)
'Glitter Freeze' (feat. Mark E Smith)
'Some Kind Of Nature' (feat. Lou Reed)
'On Melancholy Hill'
'Sweepstakes' (feat. Mos Def & Hypnotic Brass Ensemble)
'Plastic Beach' (feat. Mick Jones & Paul Simonon)
'To Binge' (feat. Little Dragon)
'Cloud Of Unknowing' (feat. Bobby Womack)
'Pirate Jet'

The album will be preceded by the single 'Stylo', which you can hear on NME Radio from today (January 20). To tune in, head to Sky Channel 0184, Virgin Media 975, Freesat 727, DAB nationwide or NME.COM/radio. The song will be available as a download from January 26.

For more Gorillaz head to

Listen to full tracks now. Users outside the UK can hear 30-second clips of each song.