Sunday, 27 September 2009

Article: The greatest and most expensive.

The World's Biggest and Most Expensive Yacht

Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich's new yacht, Eclipse, is 170,69 m. long and costs more than $1.2 billion

By Loz Blain

Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich rose from obscurity and successfully navigated the world of early Russian privatization to become one of the world's richest self-made billionaires. His 40-man private army of security personnel make him one of the best-protected businessmen in the world, and when his private yacht the Eclipse is handed over in time for Christmas this year, it will be the largest and the most expensive (at US$1.2 billion) private yacht the world has ever seen. Security will be as tight as you'd expect, with missile defence and intruder detection systems—but the Eclipse's most notable feature is a privacy system that can detect the digital cameras of paparazzi and blind them with laser bursts, ruining spy photos.
And while owner Roman Abramovich has lost an estimated 3 billion UK pounds in the current financial crisis, word is that he's still sparing no expense on his biggest and best toy yet.
Abramovich will need as many as 70 crew members to run the Eclipse, which also features two helipads, 11 guest cabins, two swimming pools (one of which can be drained and converted into a dance floor), three launch boats, an aquarium and a mini-submarine that can dive to 50 meters below the ocean surface.
The billionaire's master bedroom will be armor-plated and fitted with bulletproof glass, as will the bridge. Missile detection systems will warn the crew of any incoming rockets, and there's a bunch of anti-intruder, anti-bugging and other security systems on board. But it's the Eclipse's anti-paparazzi system that's stirring up the most interest. Abramovich and his ex-model girlfriend Daria Zhukova are so keen not to appear in tabloid spy shots that he has fitted the Eclipse with an innovative laser system that is said to be able to detect the CCDs of digital cameras and blind them with laser bursts—making any photos useless, presumably without destroying the cameras.
The anti-paparazzi system won't be permanently activated, so Abramovich's guests will be able to take happy snaps while on board—but if security personnel see a nearby boat and suspect that there are photographers on board, it can be quickly switched on.
This kind of protection, of course, will do little but stir up the interest of the most hardcore paparazzi—and presumably the system is useless against good old film cameras. But it's an indication of just how annoying such intrusions must be when you're one of the world's richest men, riding on the world's biggest private yacht with your supermodel girlfriend.

Copyright 2000-2009 by The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc. All rights reserved.

Saturday, 26 September 2009


Artificial success: click here, please.

Consumer goods in recession: click here, please.

Missionary man: click here, please.

Telecoms (audio)

Mobile phones have transformed lives in the poor world. Mobile money could have just as big an impact.

Telecoms in emerging markets

Mobile phones not only connect the developing world, they also make it richer.

Did you know?

The latest version of the "Shift happens" videos updated for autumn 2009, developed by XPLANE in partnership with The Economist. This Did You Know video focuses on the changing media landscape, including convergence and technology.

Travel industry under threat.

CNN's Richard Quest investigates how the worrying numbers of a global financial crisis could affect the travel industry.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Time for world currency?

Some say the time has come to have just one world currency.
CNN's Charles Hodson reports.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Biofuels: Beyond the headlines.

In "Biofuels: Beyond the Headlines," the first video produced by the Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota researchers Stephen Polasky and David Tilman attempt to clear up the confusion surrounding biofuels production.

The pros and cons of biofuels.

Please, go to:

Household waste turned to car fuel

Household rubbish to be used to make 'cheap and green' bio-fuel to power cars

Rubbish: Household waste turned to car fuel

Household rubbish from millions of British homes is to be used as a cheap and "green" fuel to power family cars, the world's biggest car-maker has announced.
General Motors, which owns Britain's Vauxhall as well as Sweden's Saab, is backing a new system to create the bio-fuel from garbage - instead of having to grow it in the form of grain.
Instead of going to the local tip, rubbish-bin collections could be taken to special reprocessing plants where organic waste can be extracted and processed using special micro-organisms or "bugs" that turn it into ethanol fuel - a form of alcohol.
It will cost just 50p a gallon to produce the organic fuel under a tie-up deal between General Motors and a Chicago-based US bio-tech company called Coskata.
It will also reduce dependency on oil which recently soared above $100 a barrel, says the car giant.
A pilot plant is to open before the end of this year with a plant capable of producing up to 100million gallons a year up and running by 2011.
General Motors chairman Rick Wagoner said at the Detroit Motor Show where the new initiative was announced: "Coskata expects to be able to replicate this process almost anywhere in the world because it can use almost any source material - including agricultural waste, municipal waste, discarded plastics, and even old tyres."
Millions of cars which run on bio-fuel already exist - including a range of Saabs - and are being driven now by customers including Sir Richard Branson who has been a big supporter of the alternative fuel.
Supercar maker Ferrari surprised the motor show by itself unveiling a prototype model that runs on ethanol.
Ferrari chief executive Amedeo Felisa said the cutting-edge Ferrari F430 Spider Biofuel, with green stripes on its silver bodywork, was part of the firm's efforts to exhaust emission levels by 40 percent by 2012.
It was a spin-off of Formula 1 technology developed to comply with F1 rules that require race fuel to have a 5.75 per cent bio-fuel content.
The alcohol - called bio-ethanol - can be created from a range of vegetation including crops such as sugar cane, sugar beet and oil seed rape, or from forest clippings.
But environmental campaigners who once backed the idea of bio-fuels have, in recent times, attacked the strategy on the grounds that vast tracts of land used for food production will be taken up growing fuel for cars - causing food prices to soar and risking global food shortages.
Using household waste gets around this problem.
And with British householders facing the prospect of controversial "pay-as-you-throw" council taxes for rubbish collection, the idea could massively reduce costs.
Oil is itself a carbon-based organic fuel, formed from crushed animals and vegetation over millions of years.
With little adaptation, cars can also run off alcohol or ethanol from sugar-beet or wood chip, and even vegetable oil.
But this again is grown.
Independent scientific tests have shown that the process will produce nearly eight times the amount of energy that is taken up extracting the fuel.
General Motors' Mr. Wagoner said: "Coskata has developed a proprietary process to produce ethanol at a projected cost of less than one dollar (50p) per gallon".
His company and other car makers have developed cars that run off ethanol, a blend of 85 per cent ethanol and 15 per cent petrol, or that can switch between petrol and ethanol - so called "flex" for flexibility cars.
More than 6 million are already running in the United States alone with Sir Richard Branson being the most high-profile owner in the UK.
Mr Wagoner said: "Ethanol offers tremendous potential to reduce oil consumption."
He said that on just the flex-fuel vehicles that GM, Ford and Chrysler had committed to build in the next 12 years, America could cut its petrol consumption by 18 per cent - or 29billion gallons.
General Motors has pledged to double its annual production of ethanol flex-fuel vehicles to 800,000 by 2010. Bill Roe, president and chief executive of 18-month-old Coskata said it expects to be building 20 to 25 fuel plants a year around the world, including Britain.
The company says it can make more than 100 gallons of ethanol per ton of rubbish. The process uses a third to a quarter of the amount of fresh water needed to produce ethanol.
And it reduces emissions of carbon dioxide - the so-called "greenhouse gas" blamed for global warming, by as much as 84 percent compared with conventional petrol.
Mr Roe said: "General Motors is enabling us to produce the next generation of biofuels - without using a food source, making it economically viable and commercially available."

Find this story at

Ethanol from rubbish is the latest biofuel.

Waste not, want not

Sep 18th 2009 From

Ethanol from rubbish is the latest biofuel

OVER the past decade, biofuels have been a disappointment. There is no denying their promise: clean-burning fuel that could reduce a country’s dependence on foreign oil. But America’s attempts to produce biofuels from corn and soyabeans—hoping to replicate Brazil’s success with sugar cane—have failed. All the ethanol subsidies for Midwestern farmers ever did was raise food prices globally.
Moreover when all the environmental factors were taken into account, using biofuel made from corn or soyabeans proved to be worse environmentally than burning an equivalent amount of petrol refined from oil. In some studies, it actually increased carbon emissions by as much as 50% over that produced by fossil fuels.
Attention has now turned to more benign feedstocks for biofuels—including wood-chips and other forms of agricultural waste. But most still need lots of energy or expensive enzymes to work. Meanwhile, using designer bugs to tailor-make low-emission fuels is still in its infancy.
What, then, is the most abundant feedstock for making ethanol which does not cause damage to food supplies, is environmentally friendly, economic and has all the enabling technologies in place? The answer, in a word, is rubbish. Ethanol made from waste—and used neat or as a blend in a “flex-fuel” petrol engine—is currently the best deal in town.
Last year America produced 8.5 billion gallons (32 billion litres) of ethanol from various sources. The latest version of the government’s
Renewable Fuels Standard calls for 36 billion gallons of biofuels to be produced annually by 2022. Municipal waste could supply at least half of that in the form of ethanol for motor vehicles.
Actually, most petrol-engined cars will run happily on 20% ethanol without the driver noticing any difference. With a few tweaks under the bonnet, a petrol engine will burn 85% ethanol or even 100% ethanol with little loss of performance. The big plus is that it produces anything up to 85% less greenhouse gases, depending on how the ethanol was brewed.
Unfortunately, ethanol-powered cars get 25% fewer miles to the gallon than their petrol equivalents. As a fuel, ethanol has a lower energy density and therefore needs more of it to do the same job. Another problem is that existing petrol engines cannot take advantage of the much higher octane rating. Ideally, an ethanol engine needs a compression ratio of 19:1 instead of the 10:1 typical of petrol engines. But then it would no longer be a flex-fuel vehicle capable of running on petrol, ethanol or blends of both.
Carmakers have begun to take flex-fuel vehicles more seriously. Ford, General Motors and Chrysler, along with a handful of German and Japanese manufacturers, are now bolstering their ranges of petrol-powered vehicles that can run on blends of ethanol as well. That has created openings for a number of bright sparks.
One of the brightest your correspondent has come across to date is
Fulcrum BioEnergy of Pleasanton, California. Fulcrum is building a $100m plant near Reno, Nevada, to make over 10m gallons of ethanol a year from municipal solid waste. James Macias, the company’s boss, has identified 26 sites around the country with municipal rubbish supplies capable of supporting similar or even larger plants. Together, they could produce over a billion gallons of ethanol annually at roughly $1 a gallon.
A scaled up version of Fulcrum’s Reno plant could produce as much as 95m gallons of ethanol a year—all from useless landfill that would otherwise emit copious quantities of methane (the most potent greenhouse gas). Environmentalists reckon that using the ethanol produced over the lifetime of such a plant would cut carbon emissions by 75% compared with burning the equivalent amount of petrol. That would be like taking 100,000 cars off the road.
The second ethanol venture your correspondent has been impressed by recently is much more down-to-earth.
GreenHouse International, a San Diego-based eco-house-builder and provider of alternative fuels for the home, is on the verge of establishing a network of ethanol filling stations that are literally in people’s backyards. By law, private individuals in America are allowed to store up to 50 gallons of ethanol on their premises. So far, the only people to do so have been farmers who make ethanol to fuel their tractors and harvesters.
The refuelling station that GreenHouse installs at people’s homes is actually a micro-refinery that makes its own ethanol on the spot from organic waste. The feedstock—mostly beer and soft drinks that have passed their best-before date, and other waste containing lots of sugar—is supplied free by GreenHouse.
Drinks firms such as Coca-Cola, as well as big breweries, currently pay large sums of money to have their waste and date-expired products taken away and processed for disposal. So far, Chris Ursitti, GreenHouse’s founder, has signed contracts for 29,000 tons of liquid waste and spent beer. After blending, a fleet of the company’s trucks deliver the feedstock to customers’ doors.
GreenHouse has an exclusive contract to install the so-called
MicroFueler made by E-Fuel of Los Gatos, California. The MicroFueler is the brainchild of Tom Quinn, the inventor of the motion-controller that made the Nintendo Wii such a runaway success, and ethanol scientist Floyd Butterfield. The technology solves two of the headaches that have plagued ethanol production: the reliance on corn as a feedstock and the difficulty of distributing it.
The MicroFueler comprises a 250-gallon feedstock container and a separate unit holding the still, fuel tank and pumping station. With its internet connection, the MicroFueler calls GreenHouse automatically whenever it needs more feedstock or maintenance. The equipment sells for $10,000 but tax credits in effect halve the cost. After that, owners will be billed monthly for only the ethanol they pump into their flex-fuel vehicles. The fuel is expected to cost $1-2 a gallon, depending on the volume used.

Copyright © 2009 The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group. All rights reserved.


Chaos theory attempts to explain the fact that complex and unpredictable results can and will occur in systems that are sensitive to their initial conditions. A common example of this is known as the Butterfly Effect. It states that, in theory, the flutter of a butterfly's wings in China could, in fact, actually effect weather patterns in New York City, thousands of miles away. In other words, it is possible that a very small occurance can produce unpredictable and sometimes drastic results by triggering a series of increasingly significant events.

A fascinating look at how a little girl walking in the sand of the African desert could cause a hurricane 4000 miles away in the USA. Great video from BBC show The Science of Superstorms.

Saturday, 19 September 2009


Vocabulary Review
Face2Face Intermediate

Friday, 18 September 2009

Best Global Brands 2009

More than a year into the recession, some brands are thriving, but most are not. Interbrand's Jez Frampton speaks with BuinessWeek's Burt Helm about the brands that topped the list.

BusinessWeek's David Kiley explores the importance of trust when it comes to the reputation of brands as part of BusinessWeek's Best Global Brands 2009.

Monday, 14 September 2009

The Power of a Name

Interbrand's Jez Frampton reveals what it takes for a company to land a spot on the 2008 BusinessWeek/Interbrand Best Global Brands list.

Best Global Brands

Familiar names, solid brand recognition: Here's a look at BusinessWeek's annual list of the world's top brands and why they fare so well with consumers.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Business English in use.

Friday, 11 September 2009


Face2Face Elementary - Unit 1 to 10.
Vocabulary Review

Sunday, 6 September 2009

An old friend!

Face2Face Elementary - Unit 10

Facebook Manners And You

Social merchandising in Brazil

A new study shows surprising health benefits of Brazil's TV novellas.
CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports.

Saturday, 5 September 2009


Friday, 4 September 2009

Macy's New Strategy

Find out in this interview with Macy's Chief Financial Officer Karen Hoguet.

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