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The latest news on The Telegraph from Business Insider

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    forbes justin bieber

    Celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Leonardo DiCaprio are investing in tech companies as they aim to conquer Silicon Valley.

    We look at some of the big movers and shakers in the growing world of celebrity tech.

    Will.i.am

    Will.i.am has become the latest celebrity to release his own brand of technology products, with a range of iPhone accessories that go on sale this month.

    His consumer electronics and app venture i.am+ includes the foto.sosho range transforms the iPhone into a 14 megapixel camera.



    Lady Gaga

    Lady Gaga has invested in several technology start-up companies in recent times including music sharing platform Turntable FM and celebrity social media site Backplane.

    Kanye West is another celeb who has invested in Turntable FM.



    Usain Bolt

    Usain Bolt has put his name to another tech savy celebrity technology brand in the form of Ludacris' Soul headphones.

    The Olympian has joined the increasing number of celebs to endorse audio devices.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    asteroid collision

    In the Hollywood blockbuster "Armageddon", Bruce Willis and his co-stars are given just 18 days to destroy a vast asteroid which threatens to wipe out life on Earth — a desperately short space of time in which to save the planet.

    Now scientists say the world must come up with a similar emergency plan after an asteroid whistled within a whisker of the Earth on Tuesday, only two days after it was first detected by astronomers.

    Space experts claim more extensive monitoring systems and an Armageddon-style protocol must be urgently set up, with an enormous asteroid measuring 300m across expected to make an even closer pass in 2029.

    The Apophis asteroid, first detected in 2004, will come within 22,000 miles (36,000km) of Earth when it passes by – nearer to the Earth than television satellites and so close it can be seen with the naked eye as a burning point in the sky.

    Although there is no chance of the asteroid colliding with Earth when it passes by on Friday, April 13 of that year, there is an extremely small chance it could fall into a gravitational loop and come back to hit the planet in 2038, scientists claimed.

    The asteroid which passed by this week, known as 2012 XE54, passed by about 140,000 miles from Earth – roughly half the distance to the moon.

    It measured just 36m (120ft) across, but the last known asteroid of such a size to hit Earth wiped out an area of Russian forest the size of London in 1908.

    Scientists are becoming increasingly concerned about the possible impact of asteroids measuring less than 1km across, which are not typically picked up by surveying programmes and could only be detected at very short notice.

    Delegates from across the world will gather at the United Nations in February to come up with a framework for earlier detection of asteroids, and a plan of action if a collision is deemed possible.

    Prof Richard Crowther, chief engineer at the UK Space Agency, said: "The theory is that if you can see it soon enough, you can deal with it. What we want to avoid is dealing with something that is only a couple of years away from impact – not only for technical reasons but also on the policy front.

    "Moving an asteroid's point of impact away from Britain, for example, could potentially move it towards America or Europe like a red laser moving across a map, and as that happens obviously people are going to want to have some say about where it passes."

    Rather than only seeking asteroids 1km or larger in diameter, astronomers should be on the lookout for anything larger than 100m – but this would require funding from more countries than just America, which currently shoulders the burden, he said.

    Firing missiles at an asteroid may not be effective, he explained, because most are loose collections of rock which could re-form again after being broken up in the explosion.

    The most likely approach would be to alter the asteroid’s trajectory, by flying a probe near the asteroid and either coating one side of it with a metallic spray, to change the way the sun's light affects its orbit, or to use the weak gravitational link between the asteroid and the probe to gradually pull it off course.

    NASA has already announced it intends to land a probe on an asteroid to learn more about what exotic minerals they might carry, but also to learn how to work effectively in a "microgravity" climate.

    "We need to understand what these objects are made of and how we might interact with them in the future so that if we do get the 'Armageddon' scenario we could place something on the surface [knowing] it would stay there and would be able to impact on the body as a whole, not a small part of it," Prof Crowther said.

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    ebay redesign pinterest

    Purse Strings: If you're looking to update your wardrobe without breaking the bank, try online outlets and flash sales says Kara Gammell in Telegraph Wonder Women's weekly money advice column.

    If you are running out of room in your wardrobe, you are not the only one.

    New figures from Sainsbury’s Bank suggests that the average consumer owns more than £1,890 worth of clothing and footwear.

    If this sounds like you, you will know that looking good doesn’t seem to come cheap. So now might be a good time to start looking to bag a bargain when it comes to updating your wardrobe further. Read on for three ways to stay stylish on a budget.

    1. Online outlets

    Many high street retailers try to shift their end-of-the-line stock, ex-display items or returns by slashing the prices and selling through their online shops – and if you know where to look you can save a fortune.

    If you need a new pair of shoes for the Christmas party season, check out Shoeaholics ( shoeaholics.com ), where you can find shoes from high street retailer Kurt Geiger for as much as 80pc off. Also on the site are accessories and men’s products.

    Similarly, Marks and Spencer ( outlet.marksandspencer.com ) has an online outlet which can be good for some wardrobe staples. While Figleaves ( figleaves.com/uk/outlet ), Monsoon ( uk.monsoon.co.uk/uk/outlet ) and Joules ( joules.com/Outlet-Clothing ) are also worth a look.

    2. Ebay shops

    If you have shunned looking for fashion finds on eBay before, it's time to look again. Many retailers sell their products through the eBay Fashion Gallery which is a designated area within site selling over 100 fashion brands. Each store within the eBay Fashion Gallery is either directly managed by the brand itself or by a trusted retailer who has established relationships with the brands they sell. Postage rates and delivery times vary depending on which brand you buy from, so always check before you click 'buy'.

    Brands available include Pied a Terre ( stores.ebay.co.uk/piedaterre ), House of Fraser ( stores.ebay.co.uk/houseoffraser ), French Connection ( stores.ebay.co.uk/frenchconnectionoutlet ) and Office ( stores.ebay.co.uk/OfficeShoes ).

    3. Flash sales

    There is no reason to pay top dollar for designer labels – especially when you can find discounts of up to 80pc so long as you know where to look.

    Flash sales are exactly what their name suggests – sales in a flash. With an air of exclusivity and luxury brand names, flash sale websites host time-limited sales for members only.

    How these websites work is simple. They order stock from designers after the sale has closed, enabling them to pass on the biggest savings. And with free membership and discounts of up to 80pc, shoppers are now logging on in their thousands.

    The only drawback from these sites is that delivery can take up to four weeks, but many shoppers will think it is worth the wait.

    Worth a look is Brandalley.co.uk which sells big-name fashion and beauty products for a fraction of the price.

    Sales this month have included Ted Baker, Joules, Miu Miu and Prada.

    Cocosa.com is an invitation-only website where each week different designers offer discounts on clothing and accessories. Recent sales include Missoni, Michael Kors and Alice by Temperley.

    It’s free to join, but you do need an invitation from a friend who is already a member – your friend will get a £15 voucher when you make your first purchase.

    If you don’t know anyone who has signed up, you can join the waiting list on the website, but it will only take a few days for your account to be activated.

    Another site to check out if you are looking for a good deal is SecretSales.com which offers discounts of up to 70pc off fashion and beauty products. Fashion sales this month have included Dior, Converse and Valentino.

    Don't forget

    Keep in mind that as with all items purchased online, 'distance selling' regulations entitle you to a cooling-off period of seven days from the day your goods arrive, during which you can change your mind and ask for a refund, no questions asked.

    Telegraph Wonder Women wants to hear what's on your mind when it comes to money. Are you perplexed by pensions, enraged by energy bills or confused by childcare costs? Email your questions or comments to wonderwomen@telegraph.co.uk with 'Purse Strings' in the subject line and we'll consider including them in future columns.

    SEE ALSO: 21 ways rich people think differently >

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    Silvio Berlusconi

    Francois Hollande, the French president, has dismissed speculation that Silvio Berlusconi might stand for a fourth term as the Italian premier.

    Mr Hollande said "I don't think there is a very serious likelihood" of the 76-year-old Italian making another bid for public office.

    Mr Berlusconi has hinted in recent weeks that he was interested in trying to regain the office he first held in 1994 but yesterday seemed to row back, telling a Belgian television channel he "so much to do" outside politics.

    The former prime minister was this week romantically linked to a glamorous 27-year-old member of his People of Freedom party.

    Mr Hollande's comments came as EU leaders put a crisis-hit year behind them at their last summit of 2012, trumpeting hard-fought deals on Greece and banks but seemed to row back on reforms to fix the euro's shortcomings.

    "Even if the worse of the eurozone crisis is behind us, much still needs to be done. But all the hard work is beginning to pay off. A lot has been achieved over the course of a year," said EU President Herman Van Rompuy.

    Mr Van Rompuy hailed a deal clinched by finance ministers earlier to disburse much-needed funds to crisis-wracked Greece, saying it proved "the irreversibility of the eurozone and the euro."

    After a buy-back programme designed to reduce Greece's debt mountain, Eurogroup head Jean-Claude Juncker said a first payment of 34.3 billion euros would be flowing to Athens "as early as next week."

    This instalment would go to help recapitalise Greece's crisis-wracked banks, to be followed by another 14.8 billion euros in the first quarter of next year.

    The accord prompted Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to declare that "Grexit", the idea that Greece would be forced out of the 17-nation bloc, was "dead."

    "Greece is back on its feet," declared an ecstatic Mr Samaras, who has pushed through painful economic reforms demanded by international creditors, sometimes in the face of violent street protests.

    Mr Van Rompuy also declared as a "breakthrough" a deal that would see the eurozone's largest banks come under the aegis of the European Central Bank from March 2014.

    This is the first step on the path to what leaders hope will become a fully fledged banking union and paves the way for the European bailout funds to recapitalise directly struggling banks.

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    China communist party exhibit Weary of pollution, contaminated food and economic uncertainty, a third of Chinese multimillionaires worth at least $16 million (£10m) have "emigrated", while half are considering packing their bags, a new report has claimed.

    The research, released this week by the influential Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, suggested Chinese entrepreneurs were heading overseas in an attempt to protect their assets, better educate their children and enjoy an improved quality of life.

    The findings, published in China's 'Annual Report on Chinese International Migration 2012', were widely publicised in the country's state-media and came accompanied by stern warnings from senior academics about the potential consequences.

    "Their departure will be a great loss for China," Wang Huiyao, one of the report's authors, told the Shanghai Daily, describing the exodus as "a great loss of talent." Xinhua said continued emigration was likely "to bring losses to the country in terms of assets and talents and complicate the development of its substantial economy."

    Cui Yu, a 31-year-old mother interviewed by the China Daily, said: "I have discussed the plan with my husband and we have reached the conclusion that if we want to provide a better education and living environment with more career choices for our children, immigration is the best solution." The report chimes with findings released last year by the Bank of China and Hurun, the Shanghai-based publisher of a Chinese 'Rich List', which claimed over half of China's millionaires were considering or trying to emigrate. A previous study by China Merchants Bank found that 60 per cent of Chinese people worth at least $1.6 million were considering "investment immigration."

    Rupert Hoogewerf, Hurun's founder, said the findings were "a supersensitive topic at a political level" because of the implication that China's well-connected elites might not have faith in the country's political and economic future.

    "I think it is a very significant political hot potato," he said, listing education, pollution and food safety as some of the explanations behind the trend.

    But Hoogewerf urged caution, pointing out that many of those "emigrating" were simply seeking permanent residence overseas rather than ditching their Chinese passports altogether.

    "If the capital goes with them you are potentially at risk of losing 50 per cent of the country's capital. But in practice it's not really going to be like that. Most of the entrepreneurs I know are not going to be giving up on China. They grew up in China, they are proud of it and are not turning their backs on their country at this stage."

    Many were simply seeking "diversification of risk" in the "unlikely event there might be economic or political change," he added. "If you were a British businessman you wouldn't put all your eggs in the Sterling basket."

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    Kate Middleton Queen Jubilee

    Foreign Secretary William Hague has announced that the southern part of the British Antarctic Territory has been named Queen Elizabeth Land in honour of the Diamond Jubilee, during a Royal visit to the Foreign Office.

    Queen Elizabeth Land is a 169,000 square mile chunk of the British Antarctic Territory.

    It is twice the size of the UK and makes up almost a third of Britain’s claim on the polar continent

    William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, announced the gift as he gave the Queen a guided tour of the Foreign Office.

    He said: “As a mark of this country’s gratitude to the Queen for her service, we are naming a part of the British Antarctic Territory in her honour as ‘Queen Elizabeth Land’."

    “The British Antarctic Territory is a unique and important member of the network of fourteen UK Overseas Territories.

    To be able to recognise the UK’s commitment to Antarctica with a permanent association with Her Majesty is a great honour.”

    The Queen has been on the throne for the entire time that Britain’s claim on the Antarctic, which was made in 1908, has been known as British Antarctic Territory.

    It is the second time a part of the Antarctic has been named after the Queen; in 1931 the Australian explorer Sir Douglas Mawson discovered part of East Antarctica which he named Princess Elizabeth Land.

    Queen Elizabeth Land will be marked on all British maps in future, the Foreign Office said.

    SEE ALSO: FACT: Antarctica And Greenland Are Melting

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    rudolph the red nosed reindeer

    Scientists have established why reindeers' noses are so bright.

    Researchers in the Netherlands and Norway have discovered that reindeer noses have 25 per cent more blood vessels than human noses.

    The tongue-in-cheek investigation, published by the British Medical Journal in its Christmas edition used a hand-held microscope to examine the nasal lining of five healthy humans, two reindeer and a sixth person with a non-cancerous nasal growth.

    It is the first time a scientific explanation has been offered for the glow that allows the world's most famous antlered herbivore to guide Santa's sleigh through the night before Christmas.

    The tiny blood vessels provide plentiful oxygen-carrying cells and help control the body's temperature, showed their findings, which were backed by an infrared image of a reindeer after exercise.

    "Rudolph's nose is red because it is richly supplied with red blood cells, comprises a highly dense microcirculation, and is anatomically and physiologically adapted for reindeer to carry out their flying duties for Santa Claus," the paper observes.

    Rudolph's round-the-world feat has been closely scrutinised by physicists.

    In order to deliver presents to children in around 100 million homes where the Father Christmas tradition is observed, he would have to travel at around 650 miles per second, they estimate.

    At such speeds, the reindeer, Father Christmas and the sleigh would be vaporised by friction with the air, along with the gifts and any little elfish helpers who came along for the ride.

    Rudolph would need to deploy an ion shield to protect them, or exploit loopholes in the space-time continuum so that they travelled between dimensions in order to deliver the presents on time.

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    John GurdonParents who lose children in accidents may be able to clone "copies" to replace them within 50 years, a British scientist who won this year's Nobel prize for medicine has predicted.

    Sir John Gurdon, whose work cloning frogs in the 1950s and 60s led to the later creation of Dolly the sheep by Edinburgh scientists in 1996, said that progression to human cloning could happen within half a century.

    Although any attempt to clone an entire human would raise a host of complex ethical issues, the biologist claimed people would soon overcome their concerns if the technique became medically useful.

    In-vitro fertilisation was regarded with extreme suspicion when it was first developed but became widely accepted after the birth of Louise Brown, the first "test tube baby", in 1978, he explained.

    Major improvements in cloning methods would have to be made before they could be applied to humans because the vast majority of cloned animal embryos today are deformed, he added.

    Speaking on BBC Radio Four's The Life Scientific, Sir John said he had predicted at the time of his frog experiments that the successful cloning of a mammal would happen within 50 years, and that "maybe the same answer is appropriate" for the step to human cloning.

    He said: "When my first frog experiments were done an eminent American reporter came down and said 'How long will it be before these things can be done in mammals or humans?'

    "I said: 'Well, it could be anywhere between 10 years and 100 years – how about 50 years? It turned out that wasn't far off the mark as far as Dolly was concerned. Maybe the same answer is appropriate."

    Sir John added that cloning a human being effectively means making an identical twin, and doctors would therefore simply be "copying what nature has already produced".

    He said: "I take the view that anything you can do to relieve suffering or improve human health will usually be widely accepted by the public – that is to say if cloning actually turned out to be solving some problems and was useful to people, I think it would be accepted."

    During public lectures the Cambridge University scientist said he regularly asks his audience if they would be in favour of allowing parents of deceased children, who are no longer fertile, to create another using the mother's eggs and skin cells from the first child, assuming the technique was safe and effective.

    "The average vote on that is 60 per cent in favour," he said. "The reasons for 'no' are usually that the new child would feel they were some sort of a replacement for something and not valid in their own right.

    "But if the mother and father, if relevant, want to follow that route, why should you or I stop them?"

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    chess, genius, smart, intelligence

    Intelligence Quotient, or IQ, has been used to sort people, whether job candidates or schoolchildren, for decades. Now, a century after psychologists first came up with the idea of “general intelligence”, the world’s biggest study of its kind has put paid to the simplistic idea that we can use an IQ figure to describe the astonishing abilities of the human brain.

    Anecdotally, we all know people who are fantastic at speaking French, but poor at puzzles, or who can reel off telephone numbers from the top of their heads but are hopeless at maths. We also know that it would be absurd to use an “athletics quotient” to compare a long-distance runner with a sprinter. But in science you need hard evidence, and that is what we have managed to produce, with the help of 100,000-plus people – including many Daily Telegraph readers – who took part in the largest online intelligence test of its kind.

    Our attempt to find out whether intelligence can be reduced to IQ dates back more than five years, to when I was the science editor of this newspaper and encountered novel tests developed by Adrian Owen and Adam Hampshire at the Medical Research Council in Cambridge. They had devised a scientifically valid way to carry out cognitive tests online, to monitor rehabilitation after brain injury, the effect of smart drug trials and so on at home, rather than in the hospital. I asked them if we could use their tests to carry out a mass intelligence test for The Daily Telegraph.

    The challenges looked daunting, but Owen and Hampshire cracked it. What they came up with is emphatically not an alternative to the IQ test. They devised 12 tests that would trigger activity in as much of the brain as possible. So they knew that odd-one-out puzzles boost activity in areas at the front and top of the brain. I had a go, and I was impressed. It took half an hour to put a brain through its paces, and I can remember mentioning that I doubted more than a few hundred people would have a go. I need not have worried. When we launched the tests in October 2010 in The Daily Telegraph, Discovery and New Scientist, they went viral. In all, 110,000 people took part from every corner of the planet. We were so overwhelmed that the results were only published yesterday. Once Hampshire had sifted the million data points, we ended up with results from a representative group of around 45,000 people. Using a statistical tool to analyse the variations in performance, he found that they could be accounted for by three key factors: short-term memory; reasoning; and, finally, a verbal component. No single factor, or “Intelligence Quotient”, could explain all the variations revealed by the tests.

    At the Brain and Mind Institute in London, where Owen and Hampshire now work, they studied what actually happened in the brains of those who took part. They scanned the brains of 16 participants and, to our satisfaction, found that each of the three different factors identified by the statistical analysis did indeed correspond to a different network: differences in cognitive ability map onto three distinct brain circuits.

    Each of these circuits contributes to that elusive quality we know as intelligence. The study, which the three of us co-authored in the journal Neuron, provided a wealth of insights into how factors such as age, gender and the tendency to play computer games influence our intelligence. Regular brain training didn’t aid performance at all, yet people who often played other types of computer games did significantly better in terms of both reasoning and short-term memory. It seems the popular idea that brain-training games are helpful whereas standard computer games are somehow bad for us could be the wrong way around.

    We found that age diminished short-term memory and logical reasoning, with performance peaking in the late teens and declining rapidly thereafter. On the other hand, verbal intelligence held up well in the elderly. Some of the most interesting results were those where there was little relationship between lifestyle and intelligence. Physical exercise, weekly alcohol consumption, and the number of hours slept each night seemed to have negligible effects on performance. An interesting exception was the amount of cigarettes smoked. Forty-a-day puffers had significantly lower scores in terms both of short-term memory and verbal intelligence. Similarly, right or left-handedness, number of siblings and month of birth all made little impact. Gender, one of the most gleefully reported comparisons, showed little overall difference in performance, although men did do slightly better than women in terms of spatial short-term memory.

    We have now relaunched the test at cambridgebrainsciences.com/theIQchallenge to examine the influence of other factors on our capacity to think and to reason. We are not going to insult the intelligence of participants by talking about IQ when we report the results. The brain is a chemical machine containing in the order of 100 billion neurons and 100 trillion synapses. How could we think we could reduce the workings of the most complex known object in the universe to a solitary number?

    Roger Highfield is director of external affairs at the Science Museum Group

    SEE ALSO: 16 Ways To Find Out If You're A Genius

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    brass door knob

    Brass door knobs, handles and handrails should be brought back into common use in public places to help combat superbugs, according to scientists.

    Researchers have discovered that copper and alloys made from the metal, including brass, can prevent antibiotic resistance in bacteria from spreading.

    Plastic and stainless steel surfaces, which are now widely used in hospitals and public settings, allow bacteria to survive and spread when people touch them.

    Even if the bacteria die, DNA that gives them resistance to antibiotics can survive and be passed on to other bacteria on these surfaces. Copper and brass, however, can kill the bacteria and also destroy this DNA.

    Professor Bill Keevil, head of the microbiology group at Southampton University, said using copper on surfaces in public places and on public transport could dramatically cut the threat posed by superbugs.

    Professor Keevil said: “There are a lot of bugs on our hands that we are spreading around by touching surfaces. In a public building or mass transport, surfaces cannot be cleaned for long periods of time.

    “Until relatively recently brass was a relatively commonly used surface. On stainless steel surfaces these bacteria can survive for weeks, but on copper surfaces they die within minutes.

    “Part of the process DNA from bacteria is also destroyed just as rapidly on the copper, so you cannot get gene transfer on the surface.”

    Almost 43,000 people a year are infected in hospitals with antibiotic resistant bacteria MRSA and Clostridium difficile.

    Antibiotic resistance usually occurs in a single bacterium that then multiplies and passes on this resistance to other bacteria around them.

    In research published in the journal Molecular Genetics of Bacteria, Professor Keevil and his colleagues found that compared to stainless steel bacteria on copper surfaces bacterial DNA rapidly degraded at room temperature.

    Professor Keevil added: “We live in this new world of stainless steel and plastic, but perhaps we should go back to using brass more instead.”

    SEE ALSO: Microbiologists Will Watch As Bacteria Take Over This Hospital

    SEE ALSO: 16 Great Reasons To Love Your Body's Bacteria

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    Parrots

    Parrots have musical tastes, with some preferring classical works and others pop tunes, scientists have found. But the creatures do not like dance music.

    They are known as great mimics, but now scientists have discovered that parrots also have varied musical tastes — and an intense dislike of dance tunes.

    Researchers monitored the listening preferences of a pair of African grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus)- a popular pet species, pictured – and found that while one favoured soothing “middle of the road” music, the other opted for more upbeat, modern pop.

    Both birds also enjoyed rock and folk music and “danced” along, by bobbing their heads and legs. They even “sang along”, by squawking. But neither animal appreciated electronic dance music, which left them both distressed.

    Dr Franck Péron, from the University of Lincoln, said: “The birds clearly showed preferences. One preferred the rhythmic and one preferred the classical.

    "There is no trend for the birds. Even if they are in the same place hearing the same things, they do not prefer the same music.”

    The research initially involved three parrots, Léo, Zoé and Shango, being played a series of “rhythmic” songs by U2, UB40 and Joan Baez.

    They all appeared to enjoy this and were observed dancing and singing along, with excited calls and human words.

    They also listened to several cantatas by Bach which appeared to relax them, encouraging them to rest and preen themselves.

    The two male parrots — Léo and Shango — then took part in a second trial in which a touch-screen monitor was left in their cage, with two large buttons, which could be pressed by the birds’ beaks and which activated a 15-second segment of two different songs: either I Don’t Feel like Dancing, by the pop group Scissor Sisters, or the more soothing La Petite Fille de la Mer by Vangelis.

    The touch screen was left in their cages for a month and the birds were allowed to select the music whenever they wished. Although the pair liked to listen to both songs, clear preferences emerged — with Léo consistently choosing the Scissor Sisters and Shango opting for Vangelis.

    Between them, the pair played the songs more than 1,400 times during the month.

    The birds’ aversion to dance music — by acts such as the Prodigy and the Chemical Brothers — was not discovered under the test conditions. It emerged when the researchers were listening to music of their own preference within earshot of the birds.

    However, the creatures did share some of the scientists’ own tastes. All three birds were extremely fond of Twisted Nerve, by Bernard Herrmann, a whistled tune used in the film Kill Bill - which the researchers liked to listen to themselves - while Zoé was extremely happy when the team played the Elephant Love Medley from the film Moulin Rouge, where it is performed by Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor.

    Dr Peron explained: “The electronic dance music was not appropriate for them. We had the radio on in the office and when it was a very fast beat, they started to scream; not in a friendly, communicative way but in a distressed, scared way. They seem to like pop music when there is a voice.”

    He said the findings, which will be published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science, would be useful to owners, who could use touch-screen technology to provide their own “jukeboxes” for their parrots.

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    woman, working, powerful, executive, officeAlmost half of female executive directors are financially qualified, while 65 percent have a financial background, the study shows. This compares to just 26 percent of their male colleagues being financially qualified and 44 percent having a financial background, the report from Cranfield School of Management shows.

    More than half of new female, non-executive director appointments have a functional background in finance, suggesting that women with a finance background are at a distinct advantage when it comes to applying for board roles over men, the study, seen by Telegraph Jobs, shows.

    A slew of recent studies have research the barriers women face to reaching the top, but the latest Cranfield study aims to show what helps to facilitate female board representation.

    Helen Brand, chief executive of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, which carried out the research with Cranfield, said: “What we have sought to understand through this study is why the finance function is such a springboard for women. We are seeing a time of change when it comes to women’s representation in the boardroom."

    Ms Brand pointed out that since spring 2011, when the Davies review on women on boards was published, there has been a 5 percent increase of women's representation in the boardroom - equal to the entire increase over the previous decade.

    More than half of the women appointed in this period have a functional background in finance and the proportion is even higher for female executive directors, at 65 percent.

    Dr Ruth Sealy, deputy director of the Cranfield International Centre for Women Leaders and co-author of the report, added: “A certain level of financial acumen is necessary for all board directors. But for women, having a finance qualification or functional background helps to break down some persistent stereotypes about women’s competence, giving them credibility, legitimacy and a common language that allows them to join the conversation of the boards.”

    However, although the report shows that finance is a clear career path for women to reach the top, does the latest study also reveal that chairmen are simply not casting the net wider in the search for female board directors?

    A key point of the Davies review asked FTSE 100 boards to consider employing women from different backgrounds - not just finance - to ensure that there is diverse representation on boards. Lord Davies, the former minister who wrote the report, said companies should look at women from educational, academic and public sector backgrounds as well as those with corporate experience.

    The latest Cranfield study suggests that most chairmen would rather recruit from finance pools, which is good news for women (and men) with finance backgrounds, but less good news for those with a range of other skills.

    A separate report by Cranfield showed the number of female executives on boards has barely risen in two years since the Davies review.

    The studies come as the Department for Business Select Committee debates the barriers to women's progress, in its new “women in the workplace” inquiry.

    According to Steve Moxon, a self-described academic and author, one of the key reasons women will never succeed at the top in a corporate environment is because both sexes interact through sexual display around the board table, which leads to the demise of the female of the species.

    This mating ritual is the main reason why most women will never succeed at the top in a workplace, he claims. It is also the reason why listed companies will only ever have a ratio of male to female board members at around 10:1, or so he claims, rendering it pointless that government tries to boost the ratio to 50:50.

    NOW READ: CAROL BARTZ: What I Wish I Could Tell My 30-Year-Old Self

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    an idiot abroad promo pic

    The new series of An Idiot Abroad — starring Karl Pilkington (pictured), the reluctant Mancunian globetrotter — is now showing.

    Read our guide to the dos and don'ts of travel and you won't end up looking like Karl Pilkington.

    Don't: Get out the map

    We have all stood on the corner of the street struggling with a map of an unfamiliar city. Folding the map carefully will mean you can glance at it more discreetly.

    And never try to get "into the map" - you'll only embarrass your travelling companions.



    Do: Use local transport

    Board the local buses and you'll blend in and save money. Many inner city routes pass by the key attractions, too.

    For example, the London Big Bus Tour costs £29. Hop on the Number 24 at Victoria station and you'll see Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Downing Street and Leicester Square, before being deposited in trendy Camden - and all for just over £1.



    Don't: Wear socks and sandals

    This applies in all walks of life — not just during the holidays.

    Tourists should also be wary of crocs, football shirts, Che Guevara t-shirts, budgie smugglers, and — perhaps most of all — bum bags.



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    Michael Phelps swim cap Olympics

    It may not be what everybody wants to hear but the swimming star Michael Phelps was right when he said it was OK to relieve yourself in the pool, claim scientists.

    Phelps, the most successful Olympian ever, caused ripples of concern during London 2012 when he admitted that many swimmers “pee in the pool” especially during long training sessions.

    But he said that it was OK as the chlorine killed any germs.

    The revelation may have been slightly distasteful but now scientists have confirmed that at least his facts are right.

    Sense About Science (SAS), a charity which aims to dispel commonly held myths, especially those promulgated by celebrities, congratulated him on being scientifically correct.

    Stuart Jones, biochemist, said: “In fact Michael, urine is essentially sterile so there isn’t actually anything to kill in the first place.

    “Urine is largely just salts and water with moderate amounts of protein and DNA breakdown products.

    “Chlorine just prevents bacteria from growing in the pool.

    “So you’re basically right, peeing in a swimming pool, even if all swimmers do it simultaneously, has very little impact on the composition of the pool water itself.

    “An Olympic size pool contains over 2 millions litres of water and a single urination is somewhere in the region of 0.2 litres.

    “To have any significant effect on the overall composition of the pool water you’d need a serious amount of peeing!”

    Phelp’s statement was one of the few accurate statements picked up by SAS during 2012.

    Less convincing were claims made by Simon Cowell, who admitted to breathing pure oxygen to reduce tiredness, stress and ageing.

    Kay Mitchell, Centre for Altitude Space and Extreme Environment, said far from being good for you it could be damaging.

    She said that while it can be seen to help athletes under controlled conditions to make quicker recoveries more research was needed to confirm this effect.

    “Doctors are also concerned about the damage caused by oxygen levels that are too high,” she said.

    “This oxygen toxicity can cause cell damage leading to cell death, particularly in lungs where oxygen levels are highest, and so breathing pure oxygen can cause collapse of lung air sacs.

    “This could make you susceptible to lung infections.”

    Last year celebrities who extolled the virtues of detoxing and cleansing were also slammed by scientists.

    Among them, Gwyneth Paltrow wrote on her blog Goop: "I have gooped about Dr Alejandro Junger's Clean programme before because it gave me such spectacular results; it is really just the thing if you are in need of a good detox – wanting some mental clarity and to drop a few pounds ... Here's to a happy liver and an amazing 2011!"

    Dr Christian Jessen, a GP and TV presenter said that, though everyone tried to start the New Year with good intentions for a healthy lifestyle, a detox plan was not the answer.

    "Your body has its own fantastic detox system already in place in the shape of your liver and kidneys. Much better to drink plenty of water, eat a balanced diet, get plenty of sleep, and let your body do what it does best."

    Tracey Brown, managing director at SAS, said there was no excuse for celebrities promoting fad diets and treatments.

    “Celebrity comments travel far and fast, so it is important that they talk sense about issues like dangerous dieting and medical treatments,” she said.

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    india protest

    The young woman whose gang rape and savage beating on a Delhi bus that sparked protests throughout India has died, hours after her organs began to fail and her vital signs deteriorated.

    Doctors said the young woman "died peacefully" in the early hours of Saturday morning at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore where she was being treated.

    "We are very sad to report that the patient passed away peacefully at 4.45 am (local time) on 29 Dec 2012," Kelvin Loh, the chief executive of Mount Elizabeth Hospital, said in a statement.

    "Her family and officials from the High Commission of India were by her side. The Mount Elizabeth Hospital team of doctors, nurses and staff join her family in mourning her loss."

    Earlier, a statement issued said her family was by her side as her condition deteriorated.

    Doctors in India had said she had been airlifted to Singapore because she needed a multi-organ transplant following horrific injuries during her long ordeal at the hands of her rapists. She had arrived in Singapore however with brain injuries and lung and abdomen infections.

    She is understood to have had 95 per cent of her intestines removed during three operations in Delhi's Safdarjung government hospital following her gang-rape and beating with an iron rod by six men on a bus on December 16th. The trainee physiotherapist had been returning from a trip to the cinema with a male companion when they boarded the bus in Delhi's Saket area. They were attacked after several of the men abused her for being out unaccompanied with a man.

    They gang raped her repeatedly in an ordeal which lasted more than an hour as the bus cruised the capital's streets with its curtains concealing the attacks inside, and then eventually threw her and her friend off the bus on a flyover after they had fallen unconscious.

    The attack and the government's handling of it provoked an outcry throughout India and protests in the Capital and other cities. Ministers, including Manmohan Singh, the prime minister, have been accused of overlooking the high level of rapes and sexual assaults in India and a corrupt police and legal system which means few rapists are successfully convicted.

    Delhi's Traffic police have revealed the bus had been regularly impounded for legal violations in the last six months, but eventually released and allowed to continue working the streets. Indian newspapers have claimed the bus was well-known to the police because it was lifted in a 'haft diary' of vehicles whose owners had paid bribes to them.

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    Texting and Driving

    A study reveals that drivers are easily distracted by satnavs, clouds and adverts, taking their eyes off the road every nine seconds

    We all know it's impossible to keep your eyes on the road all of the time, but a new study employing eye-monitoring equipment has revealed that drivers spend 18 per cent of their time behind the wheel not watching the road at all.

    The study, which utilises the latest eye-tracking technology to record drivers' eye movements, found motorists using satellite navigation devices were even more distracted, with 22 per cent of their time focused away from the road.

    Participants in the experiment wore special glasses that monitor the exact focus of the eye by tracking microscopic movements in the cornea. The experiment was captured on film and enabled researchers to establish exactly where drivers focus their vision.

    It found that when not looking at the road ahead, drivers tend to gaze at clouds, scenery, adverts and other non-driving related distractions, on average taking their eyes off the road every nine seconds.

    The study into driver behaviour commissioned by insurer Direct Line shows that drivers with a satnav have their eyes fixed on the display for 12 per cent of their total journey time. Drivers using satnav also spend six times longer watching their device than oncoming traffic.

    The average driver spends only 3.2 per cent of the total journey time checking their mirrors while, on average, drivers spend seven per cent of their time gazing at clouds and scenery and 0.8 per cent of their time observing adverts. Two per cent of their time is spent actually looking at oncoming vehicles and 0.6 per cent observing road signs.

    Motorists spend the same amount of time (three per cent) watching pedestrians (who were neither on or crossing the road) as they did checking their mirrors. And while both men and women appear to have been distracted by good looking pedestrians, only men turned their heads completely away from the road as a result.

    Simon Henrick, spokesperson for Direct Line, said, "For the first time we know exactly where people focus their eyes when driving and the results are frightening. Even when drivers appear to be watching the road, by tracking movements in the cornea we now know they are often watching clouds or shop window displays."

    Video evidence also reveals drivers engaging in dangerous behaviours, such as changing between two satnav devices and gazing down at a mobile phone held in their lap to navigate.

    The findings are backed up by the results of another survey, carried out on behalf of moneysupermarket.com, in which three quarters of motorists admit to being distracted behind the wheel and that one in 10 driving convictions is for using a hand-held mobile phone while driving.

    More than half of those surveyed (54 per cent) admitted to changing music while driving; 47% eat, 47% drink and 16% send texts from a mobile phone. Six per cent admitted to using apps on a smartphone or tablet, updating their Facebook status or tweeting.

    The research also found that motorists, as well as distracting themselves, are easily distracted by others. More than a third of people (35 per cent) admitted to being distracted by children or other passengers and one in five (20 per cent) said a good-looking person made them take their eyes off the road.

    Kevin Pratt of moneysupermarket.com said, "We all lead busy lives and find ourselves trying to multi-task, but taking your eyes off the road for only a second could have disastrous consequences for yourself and other motorists and pedestrians. Using a mobile phone to text, call or tweet when behind the wheel is not only very dangerous but also illegal."

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    Pandas

    Giant Pandas may be a rich source of powerful new antibiotic drugs, scientists have discovered.

    Their endangered status and distinctive, cuddly appearance have turned them into the poster-children of wildlife conservation, but now there may be a new reason to save the giant panda from extinction.

    Scientists have discovered that the animals, of which there are around 1,600 in the wild, produce a powerful antibiotic in their blood stream that kills bacteria and fungi.

    They believe the substance could be used to create potent new treatments against drug-resistant superbugs and other diseases.

    The antibiotic is thought to be released by the bear’s immune system to protect them from infections when they are living in the wild. Researchers discovered the compound, known as cathelicidin-AM, after analyzing the panda’s DNA.

    Fortunately, scientists will not need to depend upon the animal’s notoriously unreliable breeding capacity to harvest the new antibiotic as they have been able to synthesize it artificially in the lab by decoding the genes to produce a small molecule known as a peptide.

    Dr Xiuwen Yan, who led the research at the Life Sciences College of Nanjing Agricultural University in China, said: “It showed potential antimicrobial activities against a wide spectrum of microorganisms including bacteria and fungi, both standard and drug-resistant strains.

    “Under the pressure of increasing microorganisms with drug resistance against conventional antibiotics, there is urgent need to develop new types of antimicrobial agents.

    “Gene-encoded antimicrobial peptides play an important role in innate immunity against noxious microorganisms. They cause much less drug resistance of microbes than conventional antibiotics.”

    Pandas have dwindled considerably as their bamboo forest habitat in China and south east Asia has been destroyed. Attempts to increase their numbers have been frustrated by the extreme difficulty in getting them to breed in captivity.

    They are notoriously poor at breeding, even in the wild, as the females only come into season once a year.

    Despite millions of pounds being spent using expensive artificial breeding techniques, their numbers have increased little, leading to arguments about whether the money could be put to better use on other conservation projects.

    But many argue that the black and white bears act as a symbol of the need to save wildlife from extinction and help with fund-raising for conservation projects.

    The discovery that they produce powerful compounds that can be used to make new drugs will almost certainly strengthen the case to conserve the endangered creatures.

    The Chinese researchers found that the cathelicidin-AM, which is produced by immune cells in the animal’s blood, was found to kill bacteria in less than an hour while other well-known antibiotics took more than six hours.

    They hope to develop the substance either as a new drug to tackle superbugs or as an antiseptic for cleaning surfaces and utensils. Dr Yan and his colleagues also believe there may be other potential drugs hidden within the panda genome.

    They have also found other powerful antimicrobial compounds in the mucus produced by snails and in some amphibians.

    Dr Yan said: Antimicrobial peptides are important components in innate immunity – they can provide an effective and fast-acting defence against harmful microorganisms.

    “More than 1,000 antimicrobial peptides have been found from animals, plants, and microorganisms. Analysis revealed that the panda cathelicidin had the nearest evolutionary relationship with dog cathelicidin.”

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    fiji water bottled bottle resnick

    Bottled water costs substantially more than what comes from the tap but is not healthier for consumers, a study has suggested.

    Researchers found the bottled variety is subject to far less-stringent safety tests than tap water and is much more likely to be contaminated or become a source of infection.

    While tap water must be checked daily under a rigorous inspection regime, by contrast, bottled makers are only required to undertake monthly testing at source, it was claimed.

    Tap water also contains trace amounts of chlorine that prevent the spread of anything harmful such as bacterial infections, it was reported.

    But once filled and sealed, a bottle of water might remain in storage for months before it is sold and contains no disinfecting additives such as chlorine.

    After a bottle of water is opened it has no way of remaining sterile and so must be drunk within days. It can cost up to thousands more.

    “Water coming from U.K. taps is the most stringently-tested in the world,” said Prof Paul Younger, of Glasgow University.

    “People think there must be something wrong with tap water because it is so cheap and plentiful. But from a safety and price perspective, tap water is better for you.

    “If the bottle is accidentally opened or someone tampers with it, then it can easily get contaminated.”

    Prof Younger, the author of "Water: All That Matters," added to the Daily Mail: “There's certainly a greater chance you could find something harmful in bottled water than from your taps.

    “Ideally it should be drunk on the day it is opened, as it can easily pick up bacteria from someone's hands or face.”

    It is estimated that Britons spend about £1.5 billion on bottled water each year. Experts say that we drink 33 litres of bottled water annually, whether ordinary mineral, fizzy, or 'purified' tap water”.

    Market researchers Mintel have found that almost a quarter of people who drink bottled water at home say they do so because they believe it is "better for them" than tap water.

    Sue Pennison of the Drinking Water Inspectorate, which audits household supplies, told the newspaper that out of more than four million samples of tap water last year, 99.96 percent passed strict standards.

    She said: “Tap water is safe to drink, everything else is a personal lifestyle choice.”

    But Jo Jacobius, director of British Bottled Water Producers, said all water available in Britain was “highly regulated and generally of good quality.”

    Most bottled water companies test their products on a daily basis.

    Natural bottled mineral water must come from an officially recognised underground spring, be bottled at source and cannot be treated or filtered.

    Spring water must also be bottled at source, but it can be treated or filtered. Sourced from rivers, boreholes and springs, tap water is treated and put into supply or held through storage reservoirs.

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    woman running

    Made a new year's resolution to get fitter?

    We look at the gadgets that could help you stay motivated.

    Nike Fuelband ($149)

    Simply tracking your activity can be a good way to motivate yourself to do more.

    The Nike Fuelband makes that simple: it's a wristband that contains motion sensors to track your movement through the day, translating your activity into 'Nike Fuel' points that aim to let you compare yourself to others, regardless of the sports you're doing.

    It also counts the steps you take — 10,000 per day is seen as a good indicator of a healthy lifestyle — and tells the time. It comes in three colours but the sleek black version is the coolest.

    Buy the Fuelband here >



    Jawbone Up ($129.99)

    Another trendy wristband that monitors your movement is the Jawbone Up.

    First released in 2011, the Up was withdrawn because of technical problems. It will be back on sale in Britain shortly, after being completely re-engineered.

    It's slimmer than the Nike Fuelband and adds the ability to track the quality of your sleep. However, unlike the Fuelband, it doesn't have a screen.



    Polar Rcx3 GPS ($225)

    If you are a runner or cyclist and are more serious about tracking your activity then it's worth considering a GPS watch, rather than a wristband like the Fuelband or Up.

    The Polar Rcx3 will track your route, speed and distance, which you can upload to Polar's Personal Trainer website.

    The Personal Trainer gives you access to training programs, tracks your progress over time and offers feedback on each workout.

    Buy the Polar Rcx3 here >



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    porsche spyder 918

    2013 looks set to be a fantastic year for new cars.

    Here are 10 exciting models due in showrooms this year.

    Alfa Romeo 4C

    The beautiful 4C will be powered by a mid-mounted, 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol engine.

    With a kerb weight of less than 1,000kg thanks to the use of carbon-fibre in its construction, performance should be excellent.

    Price: Approx £45,000

    Launch date: Autumn



    Porsche 918 Spyder

    By combining a race-bred 4.6-litre V8 petrol engine with pair of electric motors, Porsche has created a supercar that can travel from 0-62mph in 3.2sec and yet still return 94mpg in EU Combined tests.

    Other astonishing figures include a 199mph top speed and CO2 emissions (again on the EU Combined cycle) of 70g/km.

    Price: £624,000

    Launch date: September



    Renaultsport Clio

    A five-door body housing a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine and paddleshift gearbox mark a new era of Clio hot hatches.

    You can also expect a launch control system and handling tuned by Renaultsport's experts, who have an excellent track record.

    Price: Approx £18,000

    Launch date: May



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