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Stephen Hawking dies aged 76

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Stephen Hawking dies aged 76

Professor Stephen Hawking, the groundbreaking physicist who overcame crippling disease to become a symbol of human endurance, has died aged 76 at his home in Cambridge.

Hawking’s intellect probed the very limits of human understanding, both in the vastness of space and in the bizarre sub-molecular world of quantum theory, which he said could predict what happens at the beginning and end of time.

His work ranged from the origins of the universe, through the prospect of time travel to the mysteries of black holes. The power of his intellect contrasted cruelly with the weakness of his body, ravaged by the wasting motor neurone disease he contracted at the age of 21. He was initially given two years to live.

Hawking’s death came peacefully in the early hours of this morning. In a statement his children, Lucy, Robert and Tim, said: “He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years. His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world.

“He once said, ‘It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.’ We will miss him forever.”

Hawking was confined for most of his life to a wheelchair. As his condition worsened, he had to resort to speaking through a voice synthesiser and communicating by moving his eyebrows.

His global fame, launched in 1988 by the unexpected success of the bestselling A Brief History of Time, crossed into popular culture with appearances on The Simpsons and an album by Pink Floyd.

Speaking to The Times last year to mark his birthday, Hawking said he looked back on his life with gratitude but worried about the challenges faced by humanity, from biological warfare and climate change to the rise of artificial intelligence.

“We need to be quicker to identify such threats and act before they get out of control. This might mean some form of world government. But that might become a tyranny,” he said. “All this may sound a bit doom-laden but I am an optimist. I think the human race will rise to meet these challenges.”

Tributes were led by Nasa and Cambridge University, two institutions to whom Hawking’s influence was pivotal. Hawking arrived at Cambridge in 1962 and rose in 17 years to become Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, a position once held by Sir Isaac Newton.

He retired from this position in 2009, and became the Dennis Stanton Avery and Sally Tsui Wong-Avery Director of Research in the department of applied mathematics and theoretical physics until his death.

Stephen Toope, vice-chancellor at Cambridge University, said: “Professor Hawking was a unique individual who will be remembered with warmth and affection not only in Cambridge but all over the world. His exceptional contributions to scientific knowledge and the popularisation of science and mathematics have left an indelible legacy. His character was an inspiration to millions.”

Hawking was born on January 8, 1942, 300 years to the day since the death of Galileo. Fans were quick to note that he died on “Pi Day”: March 14, or 3.14. Albert Einstein was born on the same date in 1879.

Volkswagen boss Matthias Müller paid €10m despite diesel cheat

The chief executive of Volkswagen enjoyed a 40 per cent pay rise to €10.14 million even as the “dieselgate” emissions scandal rumbled on.

Matthias Müller, 64, earned almost 20 per cent more last year than Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the carmaker Daimler, who was paid €8.6 million.

VW reported record annual operating profits last year of €17 billion, although this excluded €3.2 billion of costs related to the diesel emissions scandal in 2017.

The German carmaker was thrown into crisis in 2015 when it admitted fitting devices to diesel cars to guarantee that they would pass emissions tests. It has had to pay out tens of billions of euros in fines, repairing affected vehicles and buying back cars.

Speaking at a press conference in Berlin yesterday, Mr Müller said that diesel engines would remain a key part of VW’s future even as it boosts spending on battery technology and zero-emission cars. He admitted that the company had a special responsibility to improve diesel emissions after it was caught cheating official tests.

Improved diesel technology was part of the solution to concerns about emissions, he said, despite a switch by consumers away from the fuel.

Mr Müller also set out plans to expand production of electric cars from three plants to 16 by 2022, with “practically one vehicle launch a month” from 2019 for electric cars. The company aimed to sell three million battery cars a year by 2025, he said. “By 2030 our entire portfolio of more than 300 models will be electrified.”

Volkswagen claims to be the world’s largest carmaker, and sold a record 10.74 million vehicles last year despite the emissions scandal. It was founded in Germany in 1937 and has 12 brands including Audi, Seat, Skoda, Bugatti and Porsche.

Mr Müller said that the most difficult part of his job was changing the corporate culture that led to the dieselgate fraud. Changing towards “zero tolerance for violations” was “the area where we are furthest from our goal”. “Our transformation is not fast enough”. Nevertheless, he insisted that VW had “got the message” over the necessity for much cleaner emissions.

“We are already working on the next generation of diesel and petrol engines, which will come to market from 2019 on,” Mr Müller said. The company plans to spend €20 billion on research and development for conventional vehicles in 2018 and €90 billion in the coming five years.

“We are investing a great deal of money and efforts at making further significant reductions in consumption and emissions. The modern diesel engine is part of the solution and not part of the problem, also when it comes to climate protection.”

Russia IGNORES Theresa May’s midnight deadline to explain whether it was behind Sergei Skripal nerve agent attack

 

Russia has refused to explain how a Russian-made nerve agent was used in an attack on a former spy on the streets of Britain.

Prime Minister Theresa May gave the Russian government until midnight today to explain any involvement in the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

But midnight came and went without word from Russia.

Mrs May said: “Either this was a direct act by the Russian state against out country or the Russian government lost control of this potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent, and allowed it to get into the hands of others.”

Yesterday foreign minister Sergei Lavrov described claims of his country’s involvement as “rubbish” and the embassy sent out a series of scathing tweets that directly threatened the UK.

It said it would refuse to respond to “London’s ultimatum until it receives samples of the chemical substance to which the UK investigators are referring”.

Sergei Skripal is fighting for his life in hospital (Image: Internet Unknown)

Double agent Mr Skripal, 66, and Yulia, 33, were found slumped on a bench in Salisbury, Wiltshire after eating at the city centre Zizzi on March 4.

The pair are critically ill and police have confirmed that a total of 38 people have required hospital treatment since the attack on ten days ago.

Mrs May’s ultimatum came came as another Russian exile was found dead on British soil.

Counter-terror police launched a probe into the death of anti-Putin exile Nikolai Glushkov whose body was discovered in his south west London home on Monday night.

Glushkov was reportedly close friends with the oligarch Boris Berezovsky , who died in mysterious circumstances in 2013.

Yulia Skripal is still seriously ill in hospital (Image: AFP)

Theresa May gave Russia a midnight ultimatum (Image: Getty Images Europe)

US President Donald Trump and Mrs May have agreed on the “need for consequences for those who use these heinous weapons in flagrant violation of international norms”.

A White House spokesman said: “President Trump stated the United States stands in solidarity with its closest ally and is ready to provide any assistance the United Kingdom requests for its investigation.

Police at a home in New Malden, south London, after Russian exile Nikolai Glushkov, 68, was found dead on Monday night (Image: SWNS.com)

“President Trump agreed with Prime Minister May that the Government of the Russian Federation must provide unambiguous answers regarding how this chemical weapon, developed in Russia, came to be used in the United Kingdom.

“The two leaders agreed on the need for consequences for those who use these heinous weapons in flagrant violation of international norms.”

Yesterday the Russian embassy said its country will take action if the British Government continues to suggest it was involved in the poisoning of former MI6 informant Skripal .

In seven tweets the embassy said Russia will not co-operate with the UK inquiry into how Mr Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were poisoned in Salisbury, until it has been given a sample of the substance used.

It added: “Any threat to take ‘punitive’ measures against Russia will meet with a response. The British side should be aware of that.”

In another tweet the embassy stated: “Britain must comply with the Chemical Weapons Convention which stipulates joint investigation into the incident, for which Moscow is ready.”

Another said: “Without that, there can be no sense in any statements from London. The incident appears to be yet another crooked attempt by the UK authorities to discredit Russia.”

Burger King launches two MASSIVE new burgers – and each one contains an entire packet of bacon – Mirror Online

Burger King has done it again.

The fast food giant has come up with yet another incredible looking burger, and it’s making us extremely hungry.

Burger King was always the winner when it came to a bacon cheeseburger, but it’s now upped its game with the Bacon King sandwich.

The delicious looking new offering is made up of two quarter pounder burgers and eight slices of bacon. Yes, you read that correctly – EIGHT. That’s an entire packet of bacon.

Fancy trying one of these? (Image: Burger King)

There’s a hearty portion of cheese, ketchup and mayonnaise.

And anyone who doesn’t fancy a beef burger can opt for the Chicken Bacon King.

There’s also a second option (Image: Burger King)

The price will vary up and down the country, but it’s expected to be a pricey addition to the menu costing about £8 for a meal.

But unsurprisingly the new burger, which is only available for a limited time, comes with some worrying nutritional information.

It has 1,150 calories, more than half the daily recommended amount for women – and that’s before you add chips and a drink.

It contains 79g of fat, which is more than an entire day’s recommendation and 31g of saturated fats.

Alasdair Murdoch, CEO of Burger King UK, said: “We’re firmly committed to delivering innovative, great-tasting food at affordable prices for all our customers.

“We hear how much our guests in the UK love bacon, and we hope that by introducing the Bacon King sandwich we help to satisfy that craving.”

 

Lift your way to strength – and help your body stay young

Any woman can be strong. I don’t just mean strong in the metaphorical sense – I mean simply being able to exert force against gravity. You may think that strong women are born, not made. You may be thinking of Olympic weightlifters straining to clean and jerk dozens of kilos over their heads, or of bodybuilders in bikinis posing and flexing. Several of the women I interviewed for this article thought that way before they started to lift barbells. “I thought women who lifted were Amazons,” said one. “People who did stuff on TV, who were bulky. And I wasn’t interested.” Another remarked: “I couldn’t see a reason to build up all that bulk.”

But strength is not just about appearances. It is a requirement for everyday life. Strength is what you need if you are hoisting your carry-on luggage into the overhead compartment on a plane. You need to be strong to be able to pick your screaming toddler up off the floor and not hurt yourself. And, most of all – especially as you get older – you need strength simply to be able to stand up without falling over.

As we age, we progressively lose muscle mass, which studies have shown can lead to loss of bone density and, in general, make us weaker and more frail. In everyday terms, the actions we take for granted become more and more difficult – going up and down steps, picking up something heavy, even standing up from a seat. And with less dense bones, it becomes more likely that on the day you miss that step, or simply lose your balance, it will end with you breaking your arm, or your leg, or your hip. But while ageing is inevitable, building muscle through strength training offers the possibility of slowing down the creep of frailty. According to medical studies, it could also help alleviate some of the symptoms of other conditions of ageing, such as osteoarthritis and type 2 diabetes.

Barbell lifting can appear intimidating if all you have seen of it is either Olympic weightlifters or heavily muscled bros benching at your local gym. A programme that is becoming more and more commonly used is Starting Strength, which was invented by coach and former powerlifter Mark Rippetoe. The basic Starting Strength programme is composed of four different lifts. There is the squat, where you place weight on your shoulders, squat down until your hips are below your knees, and then stand up again. There are two kinds of presses: the bench press, where you lie on your back and lower weight to your chest and then raise it; and overhead press, where you hold the weight in front of your upper chest while standing up, then raise it over your head. Lastly, there is the deadlift, where you pull the weight up from the floor until you are standing upright.

Trainees learn these lifts linear progression. Most people begin to learn the lifts using an empty bar, which weighs 20kg (44lb). Three times a week they perform three of the lifts (squat, either bench press or overhead press, and deadlift). If they are successful in a session, they rest to allow their muscles to recover and adapt to the weight, and then add 2.25kg (or 5lb) at the next session. A little more than two kilos does not sound like much, but if trainees can complete a full month of sessions successfully, they will have gone from being able to squat 20kg to being able to squat 47kg. Another month, and they are up to 74kg.

But what if even a 20kg bar is too much? Katherine Bickford, co-host of the More Female Strength podcast and a Starting Strength coach, describes in an episode how she could barely squat down to a low stool with a plastic pipe on her back the first time she attempted to lift in late 2014. But the coach who was teaching her looked her in the eye and said: “You could one day be very strong.” That was enough to make her keep trying. Four weeks later, she successfully squatted with the empty bar. Less than three years later, her personal record for a squat is 100kg (220lb) over the bar’s weight.

Liz, 39, a civil servant, came to barbell lifting after a long struggle with injury and disability. She was diagnosed with a rare adult-onset form of muscular dystrophy in her late 20s that weakened the muscles in her shoulders, hips and glutes. She turned to strength training in the hope that it might build muscle to compensate for what she was losing to the disease. When she began, she couldn’t squat because her muscles were so tight; it took weeks of work to be able to perform the lift. For Liz, the most noticeable changes were to simple, everyday tasks. “I was able to go up and down the stairs at the train station a lot more easily, carry groceries, and even put things on the tallest shelf on my closet without difficulty,” she says.

A Starting Strength trainee prepares to lift some weights. Photograph: Thomas A Campitelli

Everyday tasks are also easier for senior lifters. Helen and Katie, both 74, and Debbie, 65, came to barbell lifting after having largely given up on other forms of exercise as they aged – they got injured too easily, and recovery would take a long time. “I only started to lift to make my son happy,” Helen says. Her son Owen had taken up the Starting Strength programme and enjoyed it, and encouraged (you might say nagged) his mother to give it a try. “But I knew I would do it for two to three months and then I’d have to give it up,” says Helen. “I had zero hope.” But after training for a while, she noticed big changes. “When I visited my daughter, if her baby needed something, I could pick the baby off the floor with confidence.” Debbie says that lifting helped her favourite hobby: “I love gardening and now, when I go to work in the garden, I check my posture and I know how to lift things properly.” And Katie says: “I helped some people move recently. I could be the strong person that was needed.”

But barbell lifting doesn’t just offer physical strength; it also gives women emotional and mental confidence. Liz and Bickford both describe a sense of being liberated from feeling guilty about their bodies. Liz says: “I finally found a sport that doesn’t look at my body shape as an impediment.” For Bickford, learning to lift barbells was about “how good I felt existing in my body and making that better”, rather than punishing herself for having the wrong kind of body. It translated to feeling stronger mentally. “The way I deal with my feelings and external obstacles has been strengthened,” she says.

Katie’s daughter Gwyn (48, who happens to be my weightlifting coach) was a ballet and modern dancer from the age of six until she was 32, and after retiring from dance still experienced the body dysmorphia that came with the art’s stringent beauty standards. She lost her self-consciousness after seeing the range of body types among women who lifted. After a while, she thought: “I don’t think I’m fat any more. In fact, I think I’m kind of scrawny!”

No matter how you feel about your body, you can always become the strongest version of yourself. As Katie says: “I didn’t realise how much you could change what you had in terms of strength. I’ve never been as strong as this. Never.”

Since you’re here …

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