stevegsltsz

My blog, my thoughts and my musings!


Leave a comment

Germany Lifts World Cup (For A 4th Time)

On Sunday 13th July, the German national football team defeated Argentina 1-0 in a close, intensely competitive game in order to be crowned the 2014 World Cup winners.

The match was very tightly contested, with Argentina’s defence regularly closing down Germany’s incisive passing game that had worked so well for them over the course of the tournament.

Both teams played so exceptionally well that the winning goal was only scored during the 30 minutes’ of extra time that was added on in order to yield a winner.

Substitute Mario Götze scored the winning goal at the 113th minute. The goal, which took full advantage of a great setup from Andre Schürrle, was an exceptional display of precision, marksmanship and team playing.

Götze is the first substitute in the history of football to score a World Cup winning goal, as well as the youngest player to score in a World Cup Final since fellow German Wolfgang Weber, who scored against England in 1966 (both were 22). 

Argentina’s Gonzalo Higuain had a goal ruled offside (and thus disallowed) in the first half and Argentina created more than a few chances to score in the game. However, German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was exceptionally proactive and was playing incredibly well throughout.

In fact, Neuer was given the 2014 World Cup’s Golden Glove award for being the best keeper of the tournament at the end of the match.

Argentine Captain Lionel Messi looked thoroughly dejected after the final whistle blew and, in this writer’s opinion, failed to set a good example for his exhausted and deflated teammates, who seemed to be in dire need of one. He grudgingly shook hands with officials and appeared to hold his ‘Golden Ball’ trophy with utter disdain. He also visibly removed his Runner Up medal almost immediately after receiving it.

Worst of all, Messi made no attempt to appeal to his countrymen (and women) in the stands, the vast majority of whom were proudly cheering their side in spite of the loss.

In truth, Argentina had nothing at all to be ashamed of. They had played extremely well and they had performed with heart and passion. Messi’s crybaby antics, if understandable to some extent, were an insult to both his team and the valiant effort they had put in on the night.

Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli stamped his authority on the game early on and made it very clear that he was firmly in control. He officiated extremely well throughout, ensuring that a fair game was played out.

This victory marks Germany’s 4th World Cup win overall, making them the second most decorated country in World Cup history, a position that they share with the Italian national team. Brazil has the most wins overall, with 5.

The German victory also marks the first time that a European side has triumphed in South America. As well as the third time that Germany has met Argentina in a World Cup Final, which is a tournament record.

Overall, it was a well-deserved win for Germany, who consistently fielded the best side of the tournament.

However, kudos ought to go to Argentina as well, for many felt that, after Germany hammered Brazil 7-1 in the Quarter Finals, a German victory would be a foregone conclusion. Instead, fans and spectators were treated to a tense game of close calls, heated moments and plenty of near misses.  This made for a very high quality match.

One would imagine that the parties across Germany went on long into the night! 


Leave a comment

WW1-Era Shipwrecks To Receive Protection

July 28th 1914 was a day that changed the world forever.

A global war was declared that would last for four long, bloody years and would cost Humanity millions of lives. Although the images of the gruelling, inhuman trench warfare that was waged in France are the perhaps most indelible from the conflict, it should also be remembered that an awful amount of lives were also lost at sea.

Britain alone lost over a thousand vessels from 1914 – 1919, together with about 89,300 sailors and merchant navy personnel. Germany lost hundreds of warships, as well as about 35,000 sailors. In addition, civilians were also caught in the ocean-going crossfire, as a German submarine sank the liner Lusitania in 1915, killing almost 2000 people in the process.

As we approach the centenary of the First World War, the seafloors are littered with the stark, skeletal remains of vessels leftover from this conflict. In recent years, however, these ruined ships have come under an increased level of threat from salvage teams, looters and profiteers, many of whom are intent on destroying the wrecks outright.

Shipwrecks such as those left over from the First World War, are a target for two main reasons. Firstly, they can be commercially exploited for scrap metals (and other artefacts) and secondly, fishing trawlers dredging the ocean depths in search of deep-sea fish can impact the ships, destroying them altogether.

In 2011 alone, three British cruisers, the final resting place of about 1,500 sailors altogether, were completely destroyed because copper and bronze had reached sufficiently high prices as to make such destructive salvage exercises profitable.

However, because the 100th anniversary of World War One begins this year, more and more of these ships will be protected by Unesco’s 2001 ‘Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage’, an agreement that extends International protection to shipwrecks over 100 years old.

Many people worry that these laws will prove difficult to enforce, however. Others still are worried that this move will increase the destruction of shipwrecks from more recent times, in particular, vessels from World War Two (1939 – 1945), before they come under Unesco’s protection.

Today, historians are attempting to use the centenary of the First World War as a way to educate people about the history and legacy of the conflict, as well as to demonstrate the cultural and historical importance of these undersea war graves. Many, including this writer, feel that such sites are deserving of our respect and reverence.

Shipwrecks also provide a very good habitat for local marine life and can even form the basis for coral reefs (if left undisturbed for long enough). These vessels are also studied for scientific interest, with experiments carried out on everything from metal erosion to marine biology.

At the time of writing, the British Government has failed to sign the convention.

SOURCES

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-28056244


Leave a comment

Programmer Facing Paralysis Develops Revolutionary New Software

38-year-old computer programmer Gal Sont is developing revolutionary new software to aid disabled people in communication, even as he faces paralysis himself.

Sont suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS – alternately known as ‘Lou Gehrig’s  Disease’), which he was first diagnosed with in 2009.

Due to this disease, the neurons that govern voluntary movement (located in the brain and spinal cord) are slowly dying out, which means that Gal is likely to eventually suffer from ‘locked-in syndrome’, a cruel affliction wherein the mind is aware and conscious, but the body is completely unable to move or speak (usually only the eyes are voluntarily controlled).

Tragically, there is no known cure for this condition.

When Sont (who, even today, can only stand when aided – and only for a few seconds at a time) met other people suffering with similar disabilities, he found that they were increasingly resorting to expensive (and often-inefficient) computer setups in order to help them better communicate with the outside world.

“I came to realize that these people first of all don’t understand the potential, what technology can do for them, they use all kinds of different equipment which was very expensive, and as I know technology I didn’t understand why they were so expensive”, Sont told BBC News earlier this week.

“So I decided to build the best and fastest on-screen keyboard, then when combined with the camera, it gives you a very cheap and very good communication solution… accessible for all people, not only the rich.”

Sont and his best friend Dan Russ are business partners in the Las Vegas, Nevada, USA-based start-up company Click2Speak, which aims to create a fast, efficient and accurate on-screen keyboard (created by Sont –using only his eyes) in order to aid people with physical disabilities. The driving force behind the invention is to create an affordable product that is better than anything else available right now.

Click2Speak makes use of an ingenious eye-tracking camera that allows the user to control the cursor on a screen, or click buttons on a virtual keyboard, simply by looking at them. Clicks can be made using a foot pedal, or by holding one’s gaze on a specific part of the screen. Gal’s computer makes full use of his Click2Speak software and he is able to control his entire desktop (including email, Skype, video games and, perhaps most importantly, the creation of code – the way in which he makes his living) using only his eyes.

Click2Speak is fully integrated with the SwiftKey Smartphone app, which is timesaving software that creates complete suggestions for half-typed words, based on the user’s previous word use. Essentially, the software grows easier to use the more it is utilized and this is a major part of Click2Speak’s design.

As his illness progresses, Sont will be using his own software more and more to communicate with his family, friends and business colleagues.

Gal Sont was born in Israel in 1976 and was fascinated by computers since getting his first Commodore 64 aged 8. He married his school sweetheart, with whom he has two daughters and has subsequently spent 20 years working as a computer programmer. He is also a big sci-fi/fantasy fan and he used to enjoy outdoor activities such as kite surfing, motor biking and riding roller coasters.

By nature a proud man, Gal cherishes his independence and it is this desire to remain self-sufficient that has motivated him to create such an affordable software option for others facing similar hardships.

“I never asked for help from anyone my whole life, it was my wife and I against the world, but now I need help and assistance, and it’s not too much fun to ask all the time for others to help you (…) If you can buy a communication device by yourself without begging others to help, this is also very, very good. So I hope the people out there who hear about our software and the keyboard, will be able to use it, save money and time, and live their life.” He says.

It is clear that Sont’s miraculous mind will prove to be a life preserver, not only for himself, but also for thousands of others around the world.

“Your communication is the basis of everything, to tell someone you love them, to ask for something to drink, it is the basic need of every one of us: to communicate with my family and friends and tell them all that I need, in words. So communicating is very important, and if I can do it faster and more efficient, you know, I’ve won the world.”

SOURCES

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-28041743

http://www.click2speak.net/category/our-journey


Leave a comment

New Yorkers Return $40,000 Found In Second Hand Couch

Every now and then a news story comes along that simultaneously lifts the spirits and restores one’s faith in Humanity. This is one of those stories.

You know how sometimes you find money down the back of your sofa cushions? Well…

Three students in New York City bought a second-hand couch from a charity shop for $20.00 and discovered an astonishing $40,000 in cash (that’s about £24,000, in case you were wondering) tucked away in several envelopes that were nestled between the cushions.

Reese Werkhoven, one of the discoverers of this hidden fortune, said, “The most money I’d ever found in a couch was like fifty cents. Honestly, I’d be ecstatic to find just $5 in a couch,”

After finding $40,000, he must have been positively delirious. In and of itself, that would be an amazing story, but here’s the REALLY amazing part; the three friends actually tracked down the rightful owner of the money and gave it back.

New Yorkers (well, they live in New Paltz, just North of the city, so ‘New Paltzers’ is probably more appropriate), Reese Werkhoven, Cally Guasti and Lara Russo found a mysterious name on one of the envelopes and decided to try and return the cash.

“We all agreed that we had to bring the money back to whoever it belonged to…It’s their money, we didn’t earn it” said Ms. Guasti.

When they tracked down the rightful owner of the cash, it turned out to be an elderly woman’s life savings. The woman’s daughter had donated the couch while her mother was in hospital awaiting surgery and was completely unaware that her mother’s life savings were hidden inside it.

The woman (who did not want her identity revealed, for fairly obvious reasons) said that she had been saving the money for many years.

Her husband had given her some funds to put away each week before he sadly died of a heart condition. She had continued to stash the money in his stead and, over several years, had amassed the small fortune discovered by the three friends.

Ms. Guasti said that the old woman believed that the discovery of the money by three honest and caring people was her husband’s way of looking out for her. She said that she felt it was “supposed to happen”.

For their troubles, the widow gave out $1,000 for the friends to share.

I don’t know about you, but that one brought a tear to my eye! See, its not all doom and gloom. Not even students are all bad! 

SOURCES

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-27429911

http://thelittlerebellion.com/index.php/2014/05/new-paltz-students-find-40k-in-a-couch/

 


Leave a comment

A Frog in the Throat? Angler Catches More Than he Bargained For

Professional angler Angus James caught something genuinely amazing whilst fishing just North of Queensland, Australia last month.

What’s more, he also took a photo of it…

The Aussie had caught a pretty impressive jungle perch and was just snapping a couple of photos before releasing his catch back into the water. Suddenly, he saw something move at the back of the fish’s throat, so he leaned in closer to investigate.

“I thought it might have been grass at first. Then it blinked!” says James.

He admits that he was very shocked when he saw a live green tree frog staring back at him.

Thinking quickly, James snapped a photo “I always carry a camera, so I took the pic and then he jumps out!” said the fisherman, who was interviewed by News Limited of Australia earlier this week.

James posted the picture onto Facebook and the image immediately went viral. The snap is already being hailed as one of sport-fishing’s greatest-ever photos.

It was truly a chance encounter, but we imagine that the frog was probably even more pleased than Angus was.

When he’s not valiantly saving the lives of grateful amphibians in Australian rivers, Angus James works as a field angler for Tackle Tactics, a company that specializes in lure fishing and supplies equipment to enthusiasts throughout Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. He is apparently somewhat surprised by how popular the photo has become.

“It has gone all around the world. So many people have shared it”, he says. “There’s people commenting on the photo in languages I don’t even understand”.

It is actually a very impressive feat that Mr. James was able to hold the fish in one hand, grab a camera in the other and snap a high quality (and in focus) picture of a live animal escaping the throat of another live animal. Perhaps he missed his calling?

We’ll tell you one thing, photography students of the world, no matter where you go, they just don’t teach that.

Perhaps the photo appeals also because people know the frog got away safely in the end. We don’t need to tell you that everyone likes an underdog (or, in this case, an underfrog), so that is probably part of it as well.

“Everyone keeps saying the frog got its second chance at life” says James.

Apparently, both the frog and the fish went their separate ways after the incident. At the time of writing, neither was available for comment.

SOURCES

https://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/blogs/world-of-sport/astonishing-pic-fisherman-discovers-live-frog-throat-fish-081643969.html


Leave a comment

Abbey road Web Cam

Everyone knows the famous abbey road crossing, made famous by the Beatles and their cover of abbey road. well some clever spark has created a web cam and now you can see all the tourists coming close to be knocked over trying to recreate the picture, whilst the cars seemingly ingnore that there is actually a pedestrain crossing there. Just don’t tell the police, they’ll have a field day!

 

find the live feed on this website – http://www.abbeyroad.com/crossing


Leave a comment

Twilight of the Doctor: Series 8: Rumours, Gossip, Spoilers & More

Earlier last month, former Doctor Who Matt Smith announced that he was “really jealous” of successor Peter Capaldi.

Smith, who portrayed the eponymous Doctor from 2010 – 2013, told Calgary Expo Comic-Con visitors that upon hearing about series boss Steven Moffat’s plans for the upcoming episodes, he actually felt some misgivings about leaving the role.

“(I) Found out everything about the new series. It sounds really good! I was really jealous actually” he said.

dr who series 8This statement only served to whet the collective appetites of the science fiction show’s legions of adoring fans, as they eagerly anticipate the arrival of the latest series, which will be the first to star Capaldi.

Mark Gatiss, the writer behind Christopher Eccleston adventure ‘The Unquiet Dead’, David Tennant episode ‘The Idiot’s Lantern’ and Matt Smith outings ‘Victory to the Daleks’ (Spitfires in space! Yay!), ‘Night Terrors’, ‘Cold War’ and ‘The Crimson Horror’ has also teased fans by allowing us a little peek behind the curtain,

“I saw a little of Peter Capaldi in action and he is wonderful. I think it will be very exciting for everyone, because it is a more dangerous, more urgent Doctor. It has a side of crazy”.

Clearly, Gatiss, who has written for every incarnation of the character since the show’s 2005 revival (as well as appearing as an actor in the 2007 story ‘The Lazarus Experiment’), is already a fan.

“The series has already turned eight. It’s not new anymore. (…) Its time to do something more radical. I think it will be fantastic”, he told Adorocinema in March.

Speculation is absolutely rife as to what Series 8 (and especially Capaldi’s full-length debut) will bring, but the BBC is doing a spectacular job of keeping a lid on it (and a tight one at that!).

In one funny example, the Radio Times attempted to come off like they had some inside dirt on the new series, claiming to have a ‘source’ on the show. This ‘source’ however, is less of a mole than the show’s writers, producers, actors and official website, all of which regularly reveal more than this would-be ‘Deep Throat’ has, (or likely ever will).

Still, from the RT article (which did yield at least a couple of points of interest), we can discern that BBC bigwigs are very much behind Capaldi in the role and that Capaldi’s Doctor will be written and portrayed as

“More distanced from his assistant, more of a mystery. Less a mate, and someone she looks up to. She has to try and gauge him – but dramatically it’s very satisfying and onscreen they work very well together.”

The mysterious source also compares Capaldi’s Doctor with the performance of Jon Pertwee, who played The Doctor from 1970 – 1974, but also stresses that “he’s his own man – very distinctive”.

In any instance, Steven Moffat is certainly not fretting about losing his audience with the casting of a new Doctor. In fact, he believes that the arrival of a fresh new face in the role will actually gain the long-running series some new fans.

“We’ve cast one of the most beloved, one of the most distinguished – and one of the few Oscar winning – actors in the role of the doctor” he told SFX magazine.

“There will be people who will come and have a look just because it’s Peter Capaldi. We’ll tell them “You never thought this would be your show, but it is your show.”

A few leaked images have teased at least one new monster (which we covered here a few months back) and a smattering of casting choices have been announced, but that’s about it. At this rate, the entire nation, from the diehard to the casual fan, will be able to go in totally fresh.

The secret to the longevity and success of both the character and the show is the ability to occasionally change and shake things up. It looks as if this tradition is going to continue for a long time to come.

SOURCES

http://www.doctorwhotv.co.uk/smith-jealous-of-capaldi-and-series-8-62769.htm

http://www.doctorwhotv.co.uk/gatiss-capaldis-doctor-is-dangerous-crazy-61775.htm

http://www.doctorwhotv.co.uk/moffat-capaldi-will-win-over-smith-diehards-56698.htm

http://www.doctorwhotv.co.uk/capaldi-on-track-to-be-one-of-the-best-doctors-ever-63108.htm


Leave a comment

Nation Mourns Fundraiser Stephen Sutton

Stephen Sutton, the courageous 19-year-old cancer patient who raised more than £3Million for charity has sadly passed away.

Stephen’s story resonated with the hearts and minds of the British people once the news of his fundraising activities spread to social media. The Facebook post announcing his death was shared 120,000 times within an hour of going live.

However, Stephen’s good work has yet to end. Just two hours after the news was announced, Sutton’s fundraising page handled some £60,000 in donations. The total is now at £3.72 million and is still rising. 

Jane Sutton, Stephen’s mother, said in a statement that, “My heart is bursting with pride but breaking with pain for my courageous, selfless, inspirational son”.

Stephen SuttonStephen Sutton was diagnosed with terminal metastatic bowel cancer aged just 15. The young man drew up a ‘bucket list’ of things he wanted to do before he died. These included skydiving, hugging an elephant and getting a tattoo. He also played the drums before the Uefa Champions League Final at Wembley last year, performing for some 90,000 attending fans.

Sutton even broke a world record by getting 554 people to make a heart shaped hand gesture earlier this month.

His charity work began when he set himself the goal of raising £10,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust, but he did quite a bit better than that. Celebrities caught wind of Stephen’s selfless goals and pretty soon, publicity and money was flooding in. Comedian Jason Manford, one of Stephen’s strongest supporters, said that the young man “was the most inspiring person I’ve ever met and (he) touched more lives than he will ever know”

 

“In his darkest hour he selflessly dedicated his final moments to raising millions of pounds for teenagers with cancer”

The Teenage Cancer Trust, who received their largest ever donation from Stephen’s ‘Just Giving’ page said, “We are humbled and hugely grateful for what Stephen achieved and continues to achieve for us.”

On the page itself (https://www.justgiving.com/stephen-sutton-tct), Stephen says,

“Hi! My name’s Stephen and I’m pretty much like your average teenager- except for the last three years now I’ve been battling cancer. The current opinion voiced by my doctors is that my disease is incurable, and as a result I want to spend as much time as possible raising funds for a charity very close to my heart”.

The introduction doesn’t dwell on the negative, but instead looks forward with a positive eye, which just about says it all, really.

The image that most people will have of Stephen Sutton is of a fresh faced; handsome young man giving two thumbs up to the camera. A breathing mask pulled to one side is unable to hide a kind and genuine smile. But for the hospital bed, it could be a candid holiday snap.

Stephen’s bravery in the face of hardship, together with his generosity of spirit and positive message, stands as an inspiration to us all.

SOURCES

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-27408818

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-stoke-staffordshire-27263082

https://www.justgiving.com/stephen-sutton-tct


Leave a comment

Is Extraterrestrial Life Living Underground?

The relatively recent discovery of life deep under the Earth’s surface has led some scientists to speculate that extraterrestrial life may also live below the surfaces of other planets.

Sean McMahon, a PHD student at the University of Aberdeen and leader of a team researching this theory, believes that the scientific community should be considering more planets with liquid water beneath the surface to be potentially habitable by alien organisms. To this end, McMahon and his team created a computer model that estimates the temperature below the surface of a planet, given the body’s size and relative distance from the sun. The results were surprising.

The model demonstrates that the habitable zone of an Earth-like planet is actually three times larger than previously considered, if potential underground habitats (specifically the top 5KM) are included as a possibility.

Scientifically, this theory is very valid. There are many organisms that live below the Earth’s surface, the deepest point that life has been found under our surface was 5.3KM, but scientists believe that life could exist as far below as 10KM.

In 2011, South African miners discovered 2.4 Metre long nematodes living at a depth of 1.3KM. The so-called ‘worms from hell’ are living proof that in the words of ‘Jurassic Park’s Ian Malcolm “life will find a way”. Extremeophiles, organisms that survive in incredibly hostile environments, have been discovered in places as disparate as active volcanoes, deep under ground and, amazingly, below the seafloor.

Is it too crazy to assume that similar creatures exist on other planets as well?

In fact, it seems even crazier to think that nobody ever considered it before.

Dr. Norman Sleep, a geophysicist with Stanford University in the US, thinks this idea is viable. He uses Mars as just one tantalizing example “A planet like Mars was clement at the start and could have evolved photosynthesis before freezing at the surface” he told science magazine ‘Science Uncovered’.

The most exceptional thing about this theory is that NASA’s Curiosity Rover, which is currently surveying the surface of the Red Planet, could be in a position to find evidence of this.

However, it is important for scientists (and journalists!) not to get carried away by this idea. “We have only recently started to discover this type of life on Earth,” he told Science Uncovered.

What (if any) evidence can be collected to validate this amazing new theory remains to be seen.