- RSS Channel Showcase 5720309
- RSS Channel Showcase 6147434
- RSS Channel Showcase 2989481
- RSS Channel Showcase 9332865
Articles on this Page
- 06/28/12--13:29: _We Ruined Tomatoes ...
- 07/03/12--16:44: _The Oldest Map With...
- 07/16/12--08:47: _Watching TV Makes T...
- 07/23/12--08:38: _Fake Tan Lotions Co...
- 07/23/12--10:53: _Billionaires Are Do...
- 08/01/12--08:42: _Grin And Bear It: E...
- 08/08/12--07:55: _Bob Dylan's Newest ...
- 08/14/12--15:35: _Australians Are Pan...
- 08/15/12--09:50: _These Hotel Trends ...
- 08/15/12--14:51: _Ikea Is Planning A ...
- 08/21/12--05:30: _Ecuador Tells Brita...
- 08/21/12--16:08: _Male Politicians Ne...
- 08/23/12--07:53: _Babies Born To Olde...
- 08/23/12--08:11: _Gibbons Sing Like H...
- 08/27/12--08:17: _Researchers Tinker ...
- 08/30/12--15:22: _Using A Laptop Righ...
- 09/01/12--11:28: _American Olive Oil ...
- 09/06/12--08:17: _Hurricane Isaac Dre...
- 09/10/12--10:37: _Why Coffee Always S...
- 09/11/12--07:09: _Should We Strive To...
- 06/28/12--13:29: We Ruined Tomatoes By Trying To Make Them Bright Red
- 07/16/12--08:47: Watching TV Makes Toddlers Chubby And Weak
- 07/23/12--08:38: Fake Tan Lotions Could Put Your Health At Risk
- 08/01/12--08:42: Grin And Bear It: Even Faking A Smile Helps You Release Tension
- 08/08/12--07:55: Bob Dylan's Newest Album Has The Wheeze And Gargle Of An Old Man
- 08/15/12--09:50: These Hotel Trends Just Drive Customers Insane
- 08/15/12--14:51: Ikea Is Planning A Line Of Budget Hotels
- 08/21/12--16:08: Male Politicians Need To Shut Up About Rape
- 08/23/12--07:53: Babies Born To Older Fathers Are More Likely To Have Health Problems
- 08/23/12--08:11: Gibbons Sing Like Human Sopranos When Dosed With Helium
- 08/27/12--08:17: Researchers Tinker With Cow Genetics To Make Tastier Beef
- 08/30/12--15:22: Using A Laptop Right Before You Go To Bed Is Ruining Your Sleep
- 09/06/12--08:17: Hurricane Isaac Dredged Up Oil From The Deepwater Horizon Spill
- 09/10/12--10:37: Why Coffee Always Smells Better Than It Tastes
- 09/11/12--07:09: Should We Strive To Save All Endangered Species?
Breeding tomatoes to have the perfect color ruins their flavor, a genetic study has shown, explaining why many people believe supermarket tomatoes are tasteless.
For about 70 years tomato growers have sought to produce varieties in which all the fruit ripens at once and develops the same even, red coloring so that it will look more appealing to shoppers.
But the breeding process which produced this color has accidentally disabled a key gene used in photosynthesis, causing a reduction in the sugars which give the fruit its sweet taste, scientists have found.
In contrast, tomatoes with active copies of the gene ripen at different rates and come in varying shades, but contain higher levels of sugar, they reported in the Science journal.
Tweaking the gene in supermarket varieties so that it becomes active again could bring about a return to the sweet tomatoes enjoyed by previous generations.
Dr Ann Powell of the University of California Davis, who led the study, said: "This information about the gene responsible for the trait in wild and traditional varieties provides a strategy to recapture quality characteristics that had been unknowingly bred out of modern cultivated tomatoes.
"Now that we know that some of the qualities that people value in heirloom tomatoes can be made available in other types of tomatoes, farmers can have access to more varieties of tomatoes that produce well and also have desirable color and flavor traits."
A version of a 500-year-old world map that was the first to mention the name "America" has been discovered in a German university library.
Experts did not even know about the existence of a fifth copy of the map by German cartographer Martin Waldseemueller until it showed up a few days ago, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich said.
The discovery is much smaller and thought to have been made after the 1507 original version, which Germany officially handed over to the United States in 2007 and now lies in the Library of Congress in Washington.
The newly unearthed map, one of the so-called globe segments, is believed to have been produced by Waldseemueller himself, who died in 1522.
These were "at least as important for the dissemination of geographical knowledge in his own time" as the world wall map, which is UNESCO-registered and often dubbed "America's birth certificate", the university said.
The new find shows the world divided into 12 segments which taper to a point at each end and are printed on a single sheet, which, when folded out, form a small globe, with the three rightmost segments depicting a boomerang-shaped territory named America.
Only four copies of the segmental maps were previously known about, the university said in a written statement.
One of the four was sold at auction for $1 million in 2005.
The fifth was found by a bibliographer, who was revising the catalogue, "in an otherwise unremarkable volume that had been rebound in the 19th century", it said.
It was nestled between two printed works on geometry from the early 16th century.
"Even in our digital age the originals have lost none of their significance and unique fascination," Klaus-Rainer Brintzinger, the head of the library, said in the statement.
"We intend to make the map accessible to the public in digital form in time for the Fourth of July, Independence Day in the USA," he added.
Researchers have found that the more hours young children spend watching TV, the worse their muscular fitness and the larger their waist size as they approach their teens.
Parents increasingly use the television as an ‘electronic babysitter’ and may be jeopardizing the long-term health of their children, researchers said.
The American Academy of Paediatrics recommends that children under the age of two do not watch any TV, and older children should be limited to two hours a day.
Canadian research published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, has found that each hour of TV watched per week at age 29 months reduced the distance a child could jump—a standard measure of muscular fitness—and increased their waist circumference.
The team from Montreal University found that each hour of TV watched as a toddler corresponded to a 0.361cm waistline increase at aged ten.
For every extra hour of TV the child watched between age 2.5 and 4.5, on top of what they were watching as a toddler, they added just under a quarter of a centimeter.
So a child who watched 18 hours of television at 4.5 years of age will, by the age of 10, have an extra 7.6 millimeters of waist because of his or her habits.
They studied 1314 children from age 2.5 years to age ten.
On average each toddler watched 8.8 hours of television per week and this increased to 14.5 hours by the time they were 4.5 years-old.
Lead researcher Dr Caroline Fitzpatrick from New York University who conducted this research at the University de Montreal and Saint-Justine's Hospital Research Centre, said: "TV is a modifiable lifestyle factor, and people need to be aware that toddler viewing habits may contribute to subsequent physical health
"Further research will help to determine whether amount of TV exposure is linked to any additional child health indicators, as well as cardiovascular health."
She said if children do not think they can do well at sports at school it may affect how active they are throughout their lives.
"The pursuit of sports by children depends in part on their perceived athletic competence."
“Behavioral dispositions can become entrenched during childhood as it is a critical period for the development of habits and preferred activities.
“Accordingly, the ability to perform well during childhood may promote participation in sporting activities in adulthood."
Co-author Dr Linda Pagani said: "The bottom line is that watching too much television – beyond the recommended amounts – is not good.
“There have been dramatic increases in unhealthy weight for both children and adults in recent decades.
“Our standard of living has also changed in favor of more easily prepared, calorie-dense foods and sedentary practices. Watching more television not only displaces other forms of educational and active leisurely pursuits but also places them at risk of learning inaccurate information about proper eating.
“These findings support clinical suspicions that more screen time in general contributes to the rise in excess weight in our population, thus providing essential clues for effective approaches to its eradication."
A “cocktail” of chemicals in bestselling lotions may pose a risk to a person’s health such as fertility problems, birth defects and even cancer, experts said.
Dangerous ingredients can also include hormone-disrupting compounds — which can harm babies — as well as carcinogens including formaldehyde and nitrosamines.
The increased use of fake-tan products can also have skin irritants and chemicals linked to allergies, diabetes, obesity and fertility problems.
Officials warned that its potentially dangerous effects were thought to be more worrying than for other cosmetics because it is applied over the whole body regularly.
The active ingredient in fake tanning products is dihydroxyacetone, which reacts with the amino acids on the skin to turn it brown.
When it is sprayed on to the body, it is often inhaled and absorbed into the bloodstream. Scientists say it could damage DNA and cause tumours.
“It would be prudent to take a precautionary approach to many of these chemicals until their effects are more fully understood,” said Jacqueline McGlade, executive director of the European Environment Agency.
“They may be a contributing factor behind the significant increases in cancers, diabetes and obesity and falling fertility. It’s the cocktail effect.”
Elizabeth Salter-Green, of UK charity the Chem Trust, warned: “Many of the chemicals in fake tan are toxic to reproduction and can harm a foetus.”
Fake tan sales are worth an estimated £100 million a year and are the fastest-growing area for cosmetic sales. A third of women and one in ten men admit to using the products.
Cosmetics manufacturers insisted all ingredients were safe.
Dr Chris Flower, director general of the Cosmetics, Toiletry and Perfumery Association, told The Sun: “There are stringent EU laws covering the manufacture of cosmetic products.”
They are some of the most magnificent and expensive vessels in the world and this weekend they started arriving in London as the world’s global CEOs brought a touch of glitz and glamour to the capital in time for the Olympics.
The Ilona, a super-yacht owned by Frank Lowy, the co-founder of the shopping centre group Westfield, has moored in Canary Wharf, not far from the company’s new retail complex in Stratford. The vessel has been joined by the Octopus, the 414ft luxury craft owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
While it is not known if Mr Lowy or Mr Allen themselves are in London along with their yachts, the Olympics are expected be a magnet for the international business elite.
Company chiefs from around the world will descend on the capital for the UK Trade & Investment’s British Business Embassy, which is holding a series of summits to coincide with the Games.
Sony Chairman Howard Stringer, Google’s Eric Schmidt and Christine Lagarde, the International Monetary Fund’s managing director, are expected to be among more than 3,000 people who will attend the business event. David Cameron and George Osborne will attend along with Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, and William Hague, the Foreign Secretary.
The summits will cover a diverse range of topics, from China and education to advanced engineering and infrastructure, and will provide an opportunity for leading industry figures to promote British business while the world’s attention is on the capital for the Games. A number of deals are likely to be signed.
The Prime Minister said: “The Olympics will not only bring the world’s best athletes and thousands of sports fans to our country, but the major business players are coming too. This once in a lifetime occasion will provide UK companies with more than a billion pounds business opportunity.”
Researchers found smiling can reduce stress levels and low the heart rate while performing difficult tasks.
Writing in Psychological Science, the authors tell how they studied the effects of different types of smiling in difficult situations.
Tara Kraft, of the University of Kansas, said: "Age old adages, such as 'grin and bear it' have suggested smiling to be not only an important nonverbal indicator of happiness but also wishfully promotes smiling as a panacea for life's stressful events.
"We wanted to examine whether these adages had scientific merit; whether smiling could have real health-relevant benefits."
She and Dr Sarah Pressman divided smiles into two categories — standard smiles, which use the muscles surrounding the mouth, and genuine or Duchenne smiles, which engage the muscles surrounding both the mouth and eyes.
Kraft and Pressman worked to manipulate the types of smiles to examine the effects on stress.
They recruited 169 participants from a Midwestern university and divided them into three groups, with each group was trained to hold a different facial expression.
They were instructed to hold chopsticks in their mouths in such a way that they engaged facial muscles used to create a neutral facial expression, a standard smile, or a Duchenne smile.
Chopsticks were essential to the task because they forced people to smile without them being aware that they were doing so: Only half of the group members were actually instructed to smile.
Participants were then asked to work on multitasking activities which, unknown to them, were designed to be stressful.
During both of the stressful tasks, participants held the chopsticks in their mouth just as they were taught in training and the researchers measured participants' heart rates and self stress levels.
Compared to participants who held neutral facial expressions, participants who were instructed to smile, and in particular those with Duchenne smiles, had lower heart rate levels after recovery from the stressful activities.
The participants who held chopsticks in a manner that forced them to smile, but were not explicitly told to smile as part of the training, also reported a smaller decrease in positive affect compared to those who held neutral facial expressions.
Dr Pressman said that the findings show that smiling during brief stressors can help to reduce the intensity of the body's stress response, regardless of whether a person actually feels happy.
She said: "The next time you are stuck in traffic or are experiencing some other type of stress you might try to hold your face in a smile for a moment.
"Not only will it help you 'grin and bear it' psychologically, but it might actually help your heart health as well."
“I’m searching for phrases to sing your praises,” croons Bob Dylan on Soon After Midnight. It is fantastic to be able to report that popular music’s greatest troubadour is still as brilliant and bewildering as ever.
Words spill out on his 35th album, Tempest, to be released by Columbia next month: one liners, couplets, random observations, overheard expressions, inverted slogans and non sequiturs, verses and images often set up in baffling opposition to one another. What sounds at first like a gentle country love song contains the admission “My heart is fearful / It’s never cheerful / I’ve been down on the killing floor” and concludes with the threat to drag the corpse of somebody called Two Timing Tim “through the mud”.
There’s a lot of blood spilt on Tempest through murder and revenge, chaos and confusion. On the Muddy Waters style, harmonica-driven blues of Narrow Way, Dylan declares “this is a hard country to stay alive in / I’m armed to the hilt.” Although unfolding with a lot of wit and relish, this is Dylan’s darkest, maddest, most provocative collection of songs in a long time.
The word is that Dylan is pleased with his latest effort, or, as someone at his record company told me, “he wants people to hear it.” I have had the privilege of being amongst a select few journalists around the world to be allowed a sneak preview. It would be absurd to attempt a definitive review based on such a cursory listen but I was blown away with the mad energy of the album. At 71-years-old Dylan is still striking out into strange new places rather than revisiting his past. Although he no longer attempts to scale the heights of poetic imagery and dense metaphor that established him as popular music’s greatest lyricist, instead writing in bluesy couplets, the extreme collision of ideas and characters and the mysterious, ambivalent arcs of his narratives creates a pungent effect. Dylan still has the power to disturb and thrill. I emerged from this listening session feeling like I had been on a journey into the weird dream territory of Ballad Of A Thin Man, where nothing is quite what it seems.
His voice, often little more than a croak on stage these days, invests these ten tracks with the spirit of something ancient. Sure, he has the wheeze and gargle of an old man, but the words come through loud and clear, delivered with real relish. Los Lobos founder David Hidalgo’s fiddle weaves through the acoustic shuffle of Dylan’s touring band, guitarist Charlie Sexton, Stu Kimball and Donnie Heron, drummer George Receli and bassist Tony Garnier.
The sound is a continuation of the blues, country and folk styles that run through all his later work, but with less of the kind of Thirties pastiche he’s played with since 2001’s Love And Theft . There is a sense is that Dylan is still honing in on that wild, mercurial music he hears in his head.
These ten tracks range from the throwaway blues of Early Roman Kings to the nine minute ballad Tin Angel to the title track which runs to 45 verses and 14-minutes, relating a vision of the sinking of the Titanic. The album’s beautiful, surprising conclusion, Roll On John, is almost out of character, a shaggy, loose piano and organ lament for one of rock’s great dreamers, John Lennon. Dylan sings to his lost friend “your bones are weary, you’re about to breath your last / Lord you know how hard that bit can be” before breaking into an elegiac, bittersweet chorus (“Shine a light / Move it on / You burned so bright / Roll on John”). This is an album I can’t wait to hear again, the sound of a great artist approaching the twilight of his career with fearless creativity, our finest songwriter regarding the murderous madness of the world with an unflinching gaze and a loving heart. Roll on, Bob.
Tempest is released on September 10 on Columbia
The recall would cover almost all the cars, utilities and SUVs sold in Australia by the Chinese brands Great Wall and Chery.
Chinese manufacturers have ceased production of the vehicles – which were found to use asbestos gaskets – and are examining the use of alternative components.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says it will confirm in the coming days whether it will issue a recall. Asbestos was long used in car production but has been banned in Australia since 2003.
"We are discussing a possible recall of some Great Wall and Chery vehicles but at this stage there is no recall in place," said a spokesman for the consumer watchdog. "We anticipate the situation will be clarified in coming days."
The importer of the Chinese brands in Australia, Ateco Automotive, conducted its own health and safety checks on the vehicles and reportedly found "negligible" risks for drivers, passengers and mechanics. It said there was a relatively minor safety risk of breathing in asbestos fibres, mostly during repairs or servicing at a dealership.
The saga marks a further setback for the Chinese car industry whose vehicles have prompted a string of safety and quality concerns.
According to Fairfax newspapers, the Australian importer uncovered the presence of asbestos in various gaskets and notified Great Wall and Chery but was given assurances that asbestos was not used in the production process. Asbestos was later found in as many as eight gaskets in each vehicle.
Great Wall has proven increasingly popular in Australia since it became the first Chinese brand to be imported in 2009. About 21,500 of the vehicles that could be recalled are Great Wall cars and it is now the seventeenth biggest brand of more than 50 on sale in Australia.
I am a very patient woman. I can forgive most of the common mistakes I encounter around the country in my role as Channel Five’s Hotel Inspector, but the one I can’t abide is the inexplicable disconnection between how some hotels perceive themselves and the service they provide and how the ordinary customer sees them.
If there is one thing I have learned from my family – from Rocco, my mother (Olga) and my grandfather (Lord Forte), it is that you are only ever as good as your customers think you are.
And the only way to improve is to listen to what they say, take on board their complaints and try to learn from your mistakes. For it is often attention to the little things that can turn a disgruntled customer into a loyal visitor.
Here are my 10 biggest bugbears:
First impressions are never eradicated: exteriors of hotels should be immaculate, windows polished, pavements swept clean of cigarette butts, blown light bulbs immediately replaced, plants watered and looking healthy.
There is nothing that deflates a holidaymaker’s excitement more than a tatty frontage, but you would be amazed how often I’m confronted by this in my line of work. And often a tatty exterior can be doing a disservice to what’s inside.
Take my recent visit to the Godolphi n Arms in Newquay. My first impression could not have been worse: a squat ugly building on a main road, draped in tatty Sky Sports advertising, it didn’t seem to have a single redeeming feature. I knew that it was one of those hotels aimed at coach companies, and that the owner provided dinner, bed, breakfast and evening entertainment for the princely sum of £14 per person, per night.
The admittedly tiny but immaculate rooms and bathrooms were the first surprise; the three courses of proper food made in- house from real ingredients were the next. It was lovely to be reminded that in unpromising surroundings you can find value for money and a hotel owner who cares passionately about her guests. Still, those qualities are even more reason to tidy up the exterior.
I am never without a novel when I am traveling, and I am often astonished at how many hotel bedrooms are bare of any alternative light source to the main ceiling light, at least in the kinds of places I stay in.
I have encountered fluorescent strip lighting at the Mansion Lions in Eastbourne, and the single-switch option of the Oakland Hotel in Essex, which forced me, after I had turned it off at the door, into a rather tentative stagger to bed, hands outstretched in the darkness. I’m equally irritated by the well-meaning but ineffective use of lots of low-wattage bulbs, which may well be saving the planet, but at the cost of my eyesight.
To tip or not to tip? There is no simple answer. I was once stopped at the door of a restaurant in New York because I had left only 12.5 per cent, not the expected 15 per cent. Though some claim American service is the best in the world, that constant hounding for tips is something I have never got used to and dislike intensely.
Britain is still not, thank goodness, like the US in this regard, but it is difficult when there is already a service charge added to your bill to know whether to leave a cash tip on top. I never do unless I have experienced truly exemplary service.
Porters are paid to bring bags up to rooms, waiters to serve food, concierges to answer questions. As housekeepers tend not to get tips, rather like gardeners and reception staff, I usually ask how tips are shared out and, if the answer is to my liking, I will leave an amount to go into the pot. But not as a matter of course, and all the hovering in the world is more likely to make me dig my heels in rather than put my hand in my pocket.
When I was doing my food-and-beverage training at the Mandarin Oriental, it was drummed into me that you should do your utmost to ensure that your service does nothing to interrupt the flow of conversation at a table. Not only should plates be put down and removed with the minimum disruption, but also glasses filled without the customer ever having to engage with the waiter.
Glasses should be filled without the customer engaging with the waiter
I often think of my mentor, Wolfgang Krueger (who has more than two decades of experience with Shangri-La and Hilton), when I am eating somewhere and I am asked several times whether I am enjoying my meal. The only proper time to ask is at the very end of a meal, preferably when presenting the bill, so giving the customer the chance to express warm words of appreciation.
In my experience, if diners have something to complain about they probably will, and if plates are scraped clean there is no need to ask. It is usually the fear of supplying bad food or bad service that fuels a need for constant reassurance.
I indulge myself in all the common vices, but coffee drinking is my most habitual crutch. I use many shots of espresso during the long, slow days of filming.
After the first four series of Hotel Inspector, my production team brought me a Nespresso coffee maker, which is what I now lug about from hotel to hotel in my red leather bag. The team had become bored of my perennial lamentations about the quality of coffee I was offered in hotels that we featured. In an era that has seen even the most inveterate tea-drinking Britons casually ordering lattes, cappuccinos and flat whites; when we have several global brands of coffee house on every high street and a resurgence, too, of small, independent coffee outlets; when the provenance of coffee beans, the grinding criteria applied and the barista’s performance are matters of pride, why is it that so many British hotels still offer an uninspiring weak concoction, commonly called filter?
No one has ever been able to explain to me coherently why so many hotels insist on displaying towels on a bed rather than hanging them in a bathroom, which is where, after all, they are most likely to be needed. Even worse than simply folded towels are those that I come across that have been tortured into amusing shapes – fans, swans, isosceles triangles. Time after time I ask hoteliers what they think they are achieving with this irritating tic. Who thought of it first? And why is it so slavishly copied up and down the land? The slack-jawed owner usually shrugs his shoulders, bemused by my question and clearly considering “towel art” the height of chic…
Mattress protector and pillow protectors are now considered standard, right? After all, we do know, even if we would rather not think about it too hard, what occurs on a hotel bed before we have the privilege of occupying it. One resilient hotelier I know has resorted to providing a price list to incoming stag parties, to avoid any arguments about the costs he adds to a bill when a mattress is rendered unusable. Apparently, offenders pay up happily, relieved of any shame by the straightforward nature of the transaction.
Should the hotel you are staying in not take stag parties, consider for a moment the drool that even the most upright of us occasionally exude, and check that your bed is supplied with mattress and pillow protectors.
There is something ridiculous about the idea of a “bath butler”. I cannot think of anything less conducive to relaxation than, while you wait in a toweling robe, having a stranger hanging about and asking what temperature you like the water (“Er, I don’t know, actually. Usually I just stick my hand in and see if it feels about right.”), and whether, on reflection, you might not prefer the bubble bath to the bath salts.
I am probably horribly old-fashioned for even suggesting this, but surely a hotel that needs to enhance its guest experience by offering this service cannot be sufficiently honed in the skills I have always considered the hallmarks of a good or even great hotel: prompt and efficient service, comfortable, clean and well-designed rooms, wonderful food and every attention offered to ensure your stay is just as you had hoped it would be.
Deficiencies in any of these can never be compensated for by the offer of someone paid to turn on my taps.
Have you ever stayed at a hotel with a sheet or pillow menu? Exhausted by the myriad demands our complicated lives force upon us, must we now decide too whether we want to sleep on Egyptian cotton or linen or silk, and rest our heads upon Siberian goose down or duck down and feather? Has the hospitality industry fallen upon such parched times that it has to fall back on such gimmicks? Or are we really so extraordinarily spoiled that our bruised egos require these false panaceas?
I want to stay in places where the hotelier has removed from me the diurnal cares of life, and decided upon my bed linen for me.
Why do hotels assume that all children eat only breaded protein, chips, pizza and pasta with tomato sauce? Open as I am to all accusations of being a smug, middle-class mother, surely mine is not the only child who eats normal food? I mean fish – beyond goujons of sole – rice, green vegetables, lamb, beef, something resembling the food we adults eat. I dread facing a “kids’” menu.
Ikea, the world's largest furniture retailer, is planning to develop a range of budget hotels.
Inter Ikea, the company that owns Ikea’s intellectual property rights, is looking at potential sites across Europe for the hotels, the Financial Times reported today.
More than 100 locations are being considered for development by the renowned Swedish company, including sites in Britain, Germany, Holland and Poland.
The aim is to create a range of "budget design" hotels, offering a boutique experience at an affordable price. Other businesses, such as Base2Stay in London and Chic&Basic, which has properties in Madrid, Barcelona and Amsterdam, have successfully developed a similar model.
Inter Ikea has previously invested in shopping centers and property, including Strand East, close to the Olympic Park in Stratford, where up to 1,200 homes are planned, as well as a large area for commercial outlets. However, this is the company’s first involvement in the hotel industry.
The whereabouts of the first hotel in Germany will be revealed “within the next few weeks”, according to Harald Müller, a manager within the company’s property division.
The hotels are not expected to use the Ikea name, and will be run by an established hotel operator.
Rafael Correa warned such a provocative precedent would leave British embassies across the world facing similar “violating” moves by foreign governments.
In an interview with his country’s state television, Mr Correa continued his strong rhetoric suggesting the diplomatic impasse with Britain was no closer to being solved.
He said that because British diplomats had yet to apologise or retract its threat to enter the central London embassy, the “danger still exists”.
He condemned Britain for threatening to invade the embassy and seize Mr Assange, in a move he described as “intolerable”.
While his government was “open to dialogue”, he insisted Britain was maintaining an "intransigent" position.
Mr Assange is at the centre of a diplomatic row involving six countries on five continents, having skipped bail to avoid extradition to Sweden. Mr Correa said he was prepared to take the issue to the United Nations.
“It would be a suicide for the United Kingdom to enter the Ecuadorean embassy because then people could enter their diplomatic premises all around the world and they wouldn't be able to say a thing," Mr Correa told ECTV public television last night.
"It will be a precedent that would allow later on for the diplomatic premises of [the UK] in other territories to be violated in every corner of the planet.
“While the United Kingdom hasn't retracted nor apologised, the danger still exists.”
He added: “The British say they have no choice but to extradite him but why didn't they extradite Augusto Pinochet?"
The Foreign Office (FCO) has insisted it will not grant Mr Assange "safe passage" to Ecuador as it seeks a diplomatic solution to him being given asylum.
A FCO spokesman said today: "We are considering a range of issues and diplomatic options to solve the situation and the [president's] comments don't change that.
"We have a legal obligation to arrest Mr Assange which we plan to fulfill. That remains our position."
It came as hundreds of Ecuadoreans marched in support of the government's decision to grant asylum to Mr Assange.
Mr Assange, 41, emerged from the Ecuadorean embassy on Sunday to denounce Britain's role in the diplomatic dispute about his extradition.
He praised his hosts for their "courageous" stand for justice and accused Britain of threatening to "throw away the Vienna Convention".
Mr Assange, who is wanted in Sweden on allegations of serious sexual assault, has been warned that he faces immediate arrest if he steps outside the embassy, behind Harrods in Knightsbridge.
The former computer hacker taunted police who were guarding the premises and William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, as he appeared on a balcony to address hundreds of supporters.
In a 10 minute address he thanked his supporters, claiming if they had not been there police would have stormed the building in breach of international conventions.
Mr Assange was granted political asylum by Ecuador after its ministers agreed that he risked possible extradition to the US, where he could face the death penalty if found guilty of leaking thousands of military cables.
Before airing comments by Mr Correa, state television aired a report showing the moments before Mr Assange’s dramatic balcony statement in which Mr Assange hugged his lawyer, the former Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon.
Mr Correa said Ecuador was hoping for strong support from a meeting of the Organisation of American States later this week, the BBC reported.
"Remember that David beat Goliath. And with many Davids it's easier to bring down a number of Goliaths," he said.
"So we're hoping for clear and coherent backing because this violates all inter-American law, all international law, the Vienna Convention and all diplomatic traditions of the last, at least, 300 years on a global scale."
His comments came just hours after Britain was warned by Venezuela that it would face "strong responses" if it "violated the sovereignty" of Ecuador's embassy to end the asylum of Mr Assange.
Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, warned of unspecified consequences should the authorities enter the embassy to comply with an extradition request made by Sweden, where the WikiLeaks founder is wanted for questioning on sexual assault charges.
Mr Chavez, a vociferous Left – wing critic of the US, is one of a number of Latin American leaders to have backed Ecuador's decision to grant the Australian asylum.
Also speaking on state television, Mr Chavez said: "I suggest the UK thinks long and hard.
"There would be strong responses if they violate the sovereignty of the embassy. We're preparing measures which we won't be announcing beforehand."
Yesterday, the Government pledged to extradite Mr Assange, saying it was its "obligation".
Downing Street said Mr Assange would not be granted safe passage to Ecuador, but it was trying to find a diplomatic solution.
"Under our law, having exhausted all the options of appeal, we are obliged to extradite him to Sweden. It is our intention to carry out that obligation," the Prime Minister's spokesman said.
The United States accused the WikiLeaks founder of making "wild assertions" about an alleged U.S. vendetta against him to deflect attention from rape allegations he faces in Sweden.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland dismissed Mr Assange's latest broadside.
"He is making all kinds of wild assertions about us," she said, adding that his current legal problems stemmed from allegations of sexual misconduct and were unrelated to the WikiLeaks case.
A supporter of Mr Assange last night sparked anger by appearing to name one of the alleged victims on BBC 2's Newsnight.
Craig Murray, the former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, said: "I think incidents which are dubious themselves as to what has happened, and Julian Assange has denied the accusations against him, are being seized on as a political agenda.
"It's well worth people going online to discover what they can about the allegations, about how they were made, who made them, what the people who made them did afterwards, and look at what happened.
Mr Murray named an alleged victim, claiming the name was in general circulation, but was challenged by host Gavin Esler.
Women are fed up with male politicians on both sides of the Atlantic diminishing this serious crime
Rape is having a moment. And not in a good way. Women who assumed that basic goals of equality were set in stone have been badly shocked over the past few days. On both sides of the Atlantic, from the Left and the Right, male politicians and two-bit “public figures” have made common cause on rape. Not to condemn it, or to pledge tougher action in policing it; but to minimize and dismiss it as a crime.
It started with Julian Assange, and the repellent decision of Ecuador to grant him “political asylum”. Assange is not accused of any political crime. He is accused under Swedish law of raping one woman and sexually molesting another. In granting asylum, Ecuador spat on the human rights record of Sweden, a liberal, even Left-wing, European democracy. As the Twitterati and army of internet Assange groupies began their celebrations, the belittling of the accusations began. What had allegedly happened was “not rape”, they argued. This, even though it is clear that one woman claims she was asleep and unconscious when, she alleges, Assange raped her. An unconscious person cannot give consent. The allegation that the woman had consented to safe sex with a condom but not to unsafe sex without one was rubbished; her right to withhold consent for possible pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases was apparently non-existent.
Assange has had his day in the English courts – several days, in fact. And more than once, our courts have made it clear sex without consent constitutes an offense of rape under English law.
As Assange gave a rambling speech on Sunday from the balcony of the Ecuadorean embassy, he painted himself as a martyr, sang the praises of the repressive regime in Ecuador, and totally ignored the two women, and the allegation of rape. The adoring crowd of Left-wingers on the ground clapped and cheered. Some of them sported Messiah-like photos of Assange, captioned “The Messenger”. Nobody called out: “What about the women?”
That was bad enough. Feminists of the Right and Left, myself included, lined up to condemn both Assange and the zealots that supported him. Left-wing media outlets like the Guardian and the New Statesman, whose internet pages are full of commenters minimizing the charges, were obliged to run pieces explaining why Assange had to submit to a Swedish court.
But then in waded George Galloway. “Not everybody needs to be asked prior to each insertion,” he said charmingly in a video podcast on Monday. “Some people believe that when you go to bed with somebody, take off your clothes, and have sex with them and then fall asleep, you’re already in the sex game with them.” While we were mentally vomiting at the term “sex game” used by Mr Galloway in any context, he made matters worse. “It might be really bad manners not to have tapped her on the shoulder and said, 'Do you mind if I do it again?’ It might be really sordid and bad sexual etiquette, but whatever else it is, it is not rape or you bankrupt the term rape of all meaning.”
Er, no. It is Galloway that is bankrupt of meaning: rape is when a woman does not consent. Because she is, for example, asleep and unconscious. Sexual consent is not football; you can’t buy a season ticket.
If conservatives were smug over the discomfiture of the Left, though, they did not have long to rejoice. At the same time, the Republican candidate for the Missouri Senate race, Congressman Todd Akin, was going on television to defend his pro-life position – no abortion in the case of rape. He came up with a cracker: “From what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Akin said. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” And if “maybe that didn’t work, or something” then the rapist should be punished, not the child.
How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways. Akin cites purely imaginary “doctors” – and this is a politician who sits on the House Science and Technology committee. He states it is “really rare” for a pregnancy to occur from rape – but more than 31,000 of them occur in the US per annum. Then we have the lovely phrase “legitimate rape”. As opposed to “soft rape”, “diet rape”, “had-it-coming rape”? Here Akin makes Galloway’s point; that there is true rape and something less, where the woman is to blame even if she withheld consent – perhaps she’d agreed to sleep with the man before under different conditions, as in the Assange accusations. And lastly, we have the medieval contention that the “female body” can “shut that whole thing down”. Pshaw, condoms, why insist on them?
Yesterday, Mike Huckabee, former Republican governor of Arkansas, dug the ditch deeper, saying “extraordinary things” have been done by those born from “forcible” rapes. He once ran for president, and was taken seriously.
And just when women were reeling from the dies horribilis on Monday, it was capped by Craig Murray, former Lib Dem (though luckily for Nick Clegg, he left the party) and self-described “human rights activist” going on Newsnight, again to support Assange. He attempted to discredit the two women who have brought the rape and sexual molestation allegations, but he also named one of them. If the alleged offence had been committed in the UK, it would be illegal to name the complainant. Murray was once a British ambassador.
Why do male politicians get this so wrong? Unfortunately, the answer is simple: because they believe what they are saying. Galloway, Akin and Murray represent the tip of an iceberg of resentment and base sexism.
Before his merciful defection to Ukip, Roger Helmer MEP shamed the Conservative Party when he distinguished on his blog in May 2011 between “classic stranger rape” and “date rape”, where a boyfriend is “unable to restrain himself” when his lover gets “cold feet and says stop!” He wrote: “Most right-thinking people would expect a much lighter sentence in the second case. Rape is always wrong, but not always equally culpable.”
Helmer added that, in this case, “the victim surely shares a part of the responsibility, if only for establishing reasonable expectations in her boyfriend’s mind”.
What a loathsome thing, and by a then-member of my own party. I spoke out to condemn it; the party distanced itself, as the Republican Party is now doing from Akin. But we did not withdraw the whip, as we undoubtedly should have done.
A year on from Helmer’s remarks, the Justice Department has no women in the most senior roles; it stumbled both on trying to grant anonymity to men accused of rape, a Lib Dem idea, and in Ken Clarke’s own unfortunate comments about rape. I hope (and expect) that the Prime Minister will use the opportunity of the reshuffle to promote some of the talented female lawyers on his benches into the department that governs rape, sexual trafficking and other crimes against women. Women are fed up with male politicians diminishing, dismissing and demeaning the horrific crime of rape.
Some politicians know it, too. It’s no wonder Mitt Romney and the Republican Party were going all-out to persuade Todd Akin to withdraw from the ballot yesterday. Not only is the Senate seat winnable, but Missouri is a must-win state. With Akin, they would be in real trouble with women voters. “Akin is right,” one tweet said, “the female body does have ways to 'shut that whole thing down’. Walk to the voting booth and vote for Claire McCaskill [Akin’s opponent].”
All too often, the media pretends that feminism’s work is done. This week shows us what so many male politicians really think about consent, and sex, and the rights of a woman to withhold it, or attach conditions to it. There is a long way to go.
Men should not delay parenthood because the children of older fathers are more than twice as likely to be born with genetic mutations which can lead to health problems, a study has found.
Fertility researchers have traditionally focused on the impact of the mother's age on children's health, because sons and daughters of older women are known to be at higher risk of Down's syndrome and other, rare disorders.
But a landmark study in the Nature journal has shown that most genetic mutations which arise in children are passed down by the father's sperm rather than the mother's eggs.
While the majority of mutations are completely harmless and lead to natural variety between people, some are responsible for diseases including autism and schizophrenia.
A study of 219 Icelandic mothers, fathers and children found that the average woman contributes about 15 new mutations to her child through her eggs, regardless of her age.
But because sperm, unlike eggs, are constantly multiplying, they are more likely to develop imperfections as the father gets older, at a rate of about two per year.
This means that while a 20-year-old man passes on about 25 mutations through his sperm, in an average 40-year-old this will rise to about 65.
Kari Stefansson, senior author of the study by DECODE Genetics, an Icelandic company, said: "All areas of the human genome were a mutation once upon a time, so all human variety is down to a mutation.
"But one interesting aspect of this work is it shows us that the classic focus on the age of the mother and the health of the child is not sufficient.
"The increasing age of the father has a much bigger impact on a child's health in a general way. Women are off the hook and we men are on it."
Dr Allan Pacey, Chairman of the British Fertility Society, said: "It is a surprise to find that men transmit a higher number of mutations to their children than do women.
"Whilst not wanting to scare the children of older fathers, information like this is important to understand and should remind us that nature designed us to have our children at a young age and if at all possible men and women should not delay parenthood if they are in a position not to.”
But Prof Darren Griffin, a geneticist at Kent University, said: "There are three billion of letters in the DNA code of humans and the numbers of mutations detected in this study are in the dozens.
"The observed approximate doubling of mutation rate between the ages of 20 and 40 (when most fathers are actively reproducing) is certainly clinically noteworthy but not realistically likely to deter more mature fathers from having children."
In an accompanying opinion piece in Nature, Prof Alexey Kondrashov of Michigan University suggested that younger men ought to bank their sperm to protect their future children from disease.
But Prof Christopher Barrett, an expert in reproductive medicine at Dundee University, said: "Whilst sperm banking is technically feasible, more data would be required to recommend this policy as routine."
Singing gibbons use the same vocal techniques as soprano singers when calling to one another across the jungle, a study has found.
Humans were believed to have evolved our unique speaking ability through an evolutionary change in our anatomy, but an analysis of how gibbons sing under the effects of helium gas suggests otherwise.
The study by Japanese scientists demonstrates that Gibbons share the same vocal structure as humans, indicating that humans have simply learned to use our voices in a more complex way.
In their songs, gibbons use the same difficult vocal technique that soprano singers learn which allows them to put more power behind higher notes than lower ones, the researchers found.
Dr Takeshi Nishimura, who led the study, said: "This is the first evidence that gibbons always sing using soprano techniques, a difficult vocalisation ability for humans which is only mastered by professional opera singers.
"This gives us a new appreciation of the evolution of speech in gibbons while revealing that the physiological foundation in human speech is not so unique."
Gibbons use their songs to communicate with neighbours and potential mates across up to two miles of jungle, producing a loud melody which is acoustically different to other primates.
Researchers from Kyoto University recorded 20 calls made by gibbons in a zoo, and compared them with 37 calls made when the animals had breathed in helium.
The gas makes voices appear high-pitched and squeaky by altering the way our vocal tract processes the sounds we produce.
In normal air the lowest frequencies of a gibbon's song are the loudest, but under the effect of helium the tuning of their vocal cords and resonance of the vocal tract changed to amplify higher frequencies.
The results showed that gibbons are capable of consciously manipulating their vocal chords to make their signature calls, the researchers explained in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.
This suggests gibbons produce sounds in the larynx but use a filter to manipulate them, in the same way humans craft basic sounds into speech.
Scientists in China have created genetically modified cattle designed to produce tastier beef.
For chefs and food-lovers, the perfect steak has long been the holy grail.
Now scientists in China have joined the search, by creating genetically modified cattle which they say are designed to produce tastier beef.
Jing Qin 1 and 2 are clones given an extra gene which has been found to increase the amount of fat in their muscles.
When they are slaughtered, this will mean richly marbled cuts of beef – as tender, the scientists hope, as Japan's famous wagyu beef.
The two calves are the first successful products of three years of research, but will have to reach maturity and be slaughtered to assess how successful the experiment is.
Professor Ni Minhong, who led the research at Beijing University of Agriculture's department of advanced science and technology, said it was "a crucial step".
"Through this project we will be the first in the world to successfully create transgenic cows with fatty acid binding protein," he said.
"Unlike pork where leaner is better, a good amount of muscle fat content is one of the key elements when it comes to characterising beef quality.
"After more research it may be possible to achieve ideal marbling of meat in domestic cattle and provide an alternative to imported high-grade meat."
It is the latest of a number of attempts to improve the meat and milk from livestock by genetically modifying the animals.
Earlier this year Chinese scientists revealed they had created cows whose milk could be drunk by people suffering from lactose intolerance and contained high levels of "healthy" fat found normally in fish.
Last year it also emerged that scientists from China had successfully introduced human genes into 200 dairy cows to produce milk with similar properties to human breast milk.
The latest work will add to debate over the ethics and safety of attempts to genetically modified livestock, with critics of the technology raising fears about the welfare of the animals involved and the possibility of the meat and milk they produce causing harm to humans.
Jing Qin 1 and 2 are a local Chinese breed of cattle called Qinchuan, but have had a gene which encourages the creation of what is called the adiposcyte fatty acid binding protein – the protein which creates a high number of thin streaks of fat between muscles.
The fat, which becomes marbling after the animals have been slaughtered, makes meat tender and creates its flavour.
John Torode, the MasterChef judge and author a book called "Beef", said marbling is the key difference between a steak with flavour and one without/
"The strands of fat within the muscle work like a network and when cooked this fat melts. The melting fat soaks into the fibres of the muscles making it more tender and moist," he said.
"If you have a muscle that is long and lean, with little fat, it will just be tough once cooked. Having that internal network of fat deposits in the muscle makes all the difference then between dry, stringy meat and sumptuous, tender meat."
Wagyu beef has become famous around the world for its tenderness, and is the most expensive beef available. It is often known as Kobe beef because of its production in the area of Japan, but is now bred in Britain for sale in British restaurants.
Allowing genetically modified cattle would cut the cost of richly marbled beef.
Tests on the two calves have shown that they both carry the gene but it will be some months before further tests can be conducted to find out if their muscles are becoming enriched with fat.
The scientists say it could be several years before the new meat could be available in shops if it is approved by the authorities.
During the research, however, a number of animals miscarried during pregnancy while one GM calf died shortly after birth.
Professor Ni said that they needed to carry out further research to ensure the gene is stable in successive generations of cattle and they also want to try the gene in other varieties of beef cattle to see if how the meat differs.
He said: "We will be focusing on improving breeding rate to increase the population of our transgenic cows. Secondly, finding the most efficient and scientific way for feeding and testing cow's muscle fat and proteins levels to determine if they are best for breeding purpose. Finally, some more experiments need to be carried out, such as hybridising our cows with regular cows to see if the trans-gene can be passed onto the future generations."
The research has, however, raised concerns from animal rights campaign groups and critics of GM technology.
Dr Helen Wallace, director of campaign group Genewatch, said: "Most European consumers will be extremely concerned about the level of animal suffering involved in these GM experiments.
"Traditional breeding and other techniques can be used to improve meat quality. It is not necessary to use these technologies to make high value products."
Using a mobile phone, tablet or laptop before going to bed leads to sleep troubles according to new research. It’s high time people switch off in order to feel switched.
Researchers at the Lighting Research Centre, which is part of New York’s Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, have discovered that two or more hours of exposure to backlit devices, such as a smartphone or tablet, suppresses melatonin.
This suppression can lead to trouble sleeping at night, especially in teenagers.
Mariana Figueiro, director of the LRC’s Light and Health Program, who led the team on this piece of research, said: “Our study shows that a two-hour exposure to light from self-luminous electronic displays can suppress melatonin by about 22 per cent.
“Stimulating the human circadian system to this level may affect sleep in those using the devices prior to bedtime.”
Consequently she recommends dimming the brightness on backlit devices to minimize melatonin suppression. But other similar pieces of research go a step further and urge people to have a total break from all devices for several hours before going to sleep.
However, most people I know cannot resist checking their emails, social networks and news feeds throughout the evening.
At the end of last year car company Volkswagen agreed to turn off email to workers with Blackberry devices, in a bid to help with their employees’ work-life balance.
The business agreed to only push emails to German staff 30 minutes before they are due to start work and stop them 30 minutes after they are due to finish work.
The business agreed to only push emails to German staff 30 minutes before they are due to start work and stop them 30 minutes after they are due to finish work.
While I am not sure this is practical for most companies, which operate globally and around the clock, or even necessary, it is up to us as individuals to learn from comprehensive research and amend our behavior accordingly.
For instance, how many people do you know still use an alarm clock? Most people now tend to rely upon their phones, iPods or tablet devices to wake them up.
While it makes sense to make use of the increasing number of shiny devices we have cluttering up our bedside table, this simple act of setting your mobile phone alarm each night often leads to a game being played, a work email being checked or a tweet being posted simply by the device being in your hands.
The return of the good old fashioned alarm clock, combined with a decent amount of discipline, in a bid to let ourselves actually get some proper rest before the whole digital cycle begins again, is what’s necessary to preserve our health in a world which never seems to switch off.
The eurozone's struggling economies face a further blow as olive oil moves West, experts have warned.
Spain, Italy and Greece, who together dominate global production of the Mediterranean staple, are being threatened by tough competition from their New World rivals.
The growing olive oil market in the US is poised to be a "battleground" between the historic European producers and their new challengers from California, Chile and Australia, according to agricultural analysts at Rabobank.
If the European producers lose, it would represent another hit to their faltering economies, which are the focus of investors' concerns amid the eurozone debt crisis.
Currently, large Spanish and Italian companies supply the bulk of olive oil in the US, where imports account for more than 99pc of the $1bn-plus (£629m) retail market.
Italy enjoys a 51pc market share, while Spain, the world's largest olive oil producing nation, has 23pc.
However, the analysts at Rabobank say that US producers, by highlighting their high quality production processes and exploiting the strong consumer appeal of a local label, are expected to capture 5pc of the overall American olive oil market in five years.
European exports look vulnerable, the report warns, particularly the oil coming from Spain which typically commands a smaller price and is seen as being of lower quality. In response, the Old World producers must up their game, the writers conclude.
"Responding effectively to the challenge from New World olive oil producers will require much focus on quality and production efficiency by European olive oil players," said analyst Vito Martielli, the report's
Olive oil was already posing problems for the southern eurozone states. In May, producers suffered as
its price slid to a 10-year low, the result of a supply glut caused by a bumper olive crop in Spain.
There has also been a fall in olive oil consumption in Italy and Greece, as austerity-hit consumers switch to cheaper alternatives.
BP has suffered a further blow after it was revealed that Hurricane Isaac has uncovered oil that wasn't cleaned up after the Gulf of Mexico spill in 2010.
Since Isaac made landfall more than a week ago, the water the storm has receded and tar balls and oil have been reported on shores in Alabama and Louisiana, where officials closed a 13-mile stretch of beach on Tuesday.
BP said some of that oil was from the spill, but said some of the crude may be from other sources, too, AP reported.
"If there's something good about this storm it made it visible where we can clean it up," BP spokesman Ray Melick said.
BP still has hundreds of cleanup workers on the Gulf Coast after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded, killing 11 workers and leading to the nation's largest offshore spill.
Melick said the company was working with the Coast Guard, state officials and land managers to clean up the oil on the Fourchon beach in Louisiana. He said crews would be there on Thursday.
Isaac made landfall near Fourchon on August 28 as a Category 1 storm, pummeling the coast with waves, wind and rain. Seven people were killed in Louisiana and Mississippi.
Ed Overton, a chemist and oil spill expert at Louisiana State University, said the exposed oil was weathered and less toxic, though it could still harm animals - such as crabs, crawfish and bait fish.
He said the storm helped speed up natural processes that break down oil and it might take several more storms to stir up the rest of the oil buried along the coast.
"We don't like to say it, but hurricanes are Mother Nature's way of taking a bath," he said.
The reappearance of oil frustrated state officials.
Garret Graves, a top coastal aide to Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, accused BP of not being aggressive enough with its initial cleanup.
"If they would put just a fraction of the dollars they're putting into their PR campaign into cleanup, we'd certainly be much farther ahead than we are now," he said.
BP has spent millions of dollars on its public relations campaign, but the company has not said exactly how much it has invested. Its cleanup and response costs over the past two years were more than $14bn (£8.8bn) and more than 66m man-hours have gone to protect and treat the Gulf shoreline, the company has said.
BP also gave $1m to the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army to help victims of Isaac.
On Wednesday the US government reiterated that it would seek to prove that the oil major’s “gross negligence” caused the Gulf of Mexico disaster – stoking fears that it will become embroiled in a lengthy trial.
The group, which has always denied the charge, saw its shares fall 2.9pc to 423.85p, wiping £2.7bn off its value amid concerns that the dispute will prevent it reaching a settlement with US authorities.
For many, the scent of freshly brewed coffee is the first highlight of the day. Now, scientists claim to have solved the mystery of why it never tastes as good as it smells.
For many it is the first highlight of the day, just when you need it most: the scent of freshly brewed coffee wafting through the house first thing in the morning.
But scientists claim to have solved the mystery of why coffee never tastes as good as it smells.
The act of swallowing the drink sends a burst of aroma up the back of the nose from inside the mouth, activating a “second sense of smell” in the brain that is less receptive to the flavour, causing a completely different and less satisfying sensation.
In contrast, some cheeses smell revolting but taste delicious because their whiff seems more pleasant to us when passing out of the nose than in, experts explained.
Speaking at the British Science Festival in Aberdeen Prof Barry Smith, of the University of London, said: “We have got two senses of smell.
“One sense is when you inhale things from the environment into you, and the other is when the air comes out of you up the nasal passage and is breathed out through the nose.”
The phenomenon is down to the fact that, although we have sensors on our tongue, eighty per cent of what we think of as taste actually reaches us through smell receptors in our nose.
The receptors, which relay messages to our brain, react to odours differently depending on which direction they are moving in.
“Think of a smelly cheese like Epoisses,” Prof Smith said. “It smells like the inside of a teenager’s training shoe. But once it’s in your mouth, and you are experiencing the odour through the nose in the other direction, it is delicious.
“Then there is the example of when they don’t match in the other direction. The smell of freshly brewed coffee is absolutely wonderful, but aren’t you always just a little bit disappointed when you taste it? It can never quite give you that hit.”
Only two known aromas - chocolate and lavender - are interpreted in exactly the same way whether they enter the nose from the inside or the outside.
In the case of coffee, the taste is also hampered by the fact that 300 of the 631 chemicals that combine to form its complex aroma are wiped out by saliva, causing the flavour to change before we swallow it, Prof Smith added.
As a list of the world's 100 most critically endangered species was published, one academic challenged the idea that all should be preserved.
The idea that all species have an equal right to exist makes as much sense as believing we should bring back dinosaurs and dodos, a scientist has suggested.
A report on the 100 most critically endangered species in the world has been published by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), with its authors arguing they should all be saved.
But Dr Sarah Chan, deputy director of the Institute for Science, Ethics and Innovation at Manchester University, challenged the belief that all species should be preserved.
She said: “When we say that all species have an equal right to exist, do we mean just all of the species that currently exist? What about the species that have already gone extinct?
“I don’t see any good reason to limit ourselves only to this precise moment in time in terms of the species that we should be concerned about.
“But that being the case, if we think that all species have an equal right to exist, we have an equal obligation to resurrect extinct species, to bring back the dinosaurs and the dodos.”
The list of threatened species includes the pygmy three-toed sloth, the Jamaican rock iguana and Tarzan’s chameleon.
The report on them, entitled Priceless or Worthless, identifies the threats they all face and how they can be addressed.
Professor Jonathan Baillie, co-author and director of conservation at ZSL, said allowing species to die out would lead to “a situation where we don’t have enough species to provide.”
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “They should be saved in their own right, it’s an ethical issue as well as a question of sustainability.
“But it’s also about the future generation, and we should be doing everything we can to show that we respect all forms of life. How we treat these 100 on the list is really representative of how we’ll treat the rest of life.”
All the species listed in his report face extinction “driven by humans”, he said, adding: “We have the ability to reverse these declines and it’s really our moral imperative to do so.”