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Bill Gates says ‘it is disappointing’ when people think GMO-free foods are superior


Bill Gates

  • In a Reddit AMA on Tuesday, Bill Gates called GMOs "perfectly healthy."
  • Gates also said he sees the breeding technique as an important tool in the fight to end world hunger and malnutrition.
  • Although it may seem controversial, Gates' stance is in line with the majority of scientists who study the topic.

Bill Gates has a message for anti-GMO advocates: I'm disappointed.

In a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" on Tuesday, Gates said that he not only views GMO foods as "perfectly healthy," but also that he sees them as a promising tool in a wider array of resources in the fight to reduce world hunger.

Here he is in full:

"GMO foods are perfectly healthy and the technique has the possibility to reduce starvation and malnutrition when it is reviewed in the right way," Gates wrote. "I don’t stay away from non-GMO foods but it is disappointing that people view it as better."

Gates' view may strike some as controversial. Many people believe genetically modified foods are dangerous. In recent years, companies have submitted more than 35,000 products to the Non-GMO Project, an organization that certifies products that don't contain genetically modified ingredients. And sales of GMO-free products are skyrocketing: Today, they represent roughly $16 billion in yearly sales.

But Gates's stance also puts him in line with a majority of scientists who study the topic.

eating healthyOrganizations like the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the European Commission have publicly proclaimed GMO foods to be safe to eat. A large 2013 study on GMOs found no "significant hazards directly connected with the use of genetically engineered crops."

There's also this fact: Nearly all the food we eat today has been genetically modified in some way. Dozens of crops, from corn to watermelon, have been selectively bred for thousands of years to give us the traits we find desirable, like large amounts of sweet, edible flesh or small seeds.

Dozens of other products — some of them life-saving — may not exist without genetically modified ingredients.

All insulin, the medication that people with diabetes depend on to regulate their blood sugar, is made with genetically-modified ingredients. The cotton used to make the T-shirt you're wearing was most likely genetically modified.

Several experts maintain that the label "GMO" does the products made with the ingredients a disservice. The process of genetic modification is a breeding method — much like the other advances that have been made recently in the field of agriculture.

"What are we labeling here, DNA?," Alison Van Eenennaam, a professor of animal genomics at the University of California at Davis, recently told Business Insider. "There’s DNA in everything, so good luck with that."

SEE ALSO: A Cornell scientist saved an $11-million industry — and ignited the GMO wars

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NOW WATCH: What happens to your body when you start exercising regularly

Most people only see part of a flight attendants' job — here are the behind-the-scenes secrets you never knew


Day in the life of a flight attendant 2

  • Many flight attendant jobs happen behind the scenes and when you're not paying particular attention.
  • Business Insider shadowed Robert "Bingo" Bingochea, a Denver-based flight attendant for United Airlines, for a day to see what we're missing.
  • Take a look at what United flight attendants have to do to help get the plane in the air.


The next time you fly, try and take notice of what your flight attendants are up to. I guarantee you what you see isn't even half of it.

A flight attendant's job isn't simply showing you where to put your bags, giving safety demonstrations, and pushing beverage carts up and down the aisle.

In fact, much of a flight attendant's job happens before you even board the plane.

While every day on the job is different, there are a number of things flight attendants have to do behind the scenes to help get the plane off the ground and keep everything humming along smoothly throughout the flight.

To find out just what's going on that we don't get to see, Business Insider shadowed Robert "Bingo" Bingochea, a Denver-based flight attendant for United Airlines, who's been flying with the company for seven years, on his trip from Denver to Houston and back.

Here are some of the things you probably don't realize flight attendants are doing behind the scenes.

SEE ALSO: A day in the life of a United Airlines flight attendant, who woke up before 3 a.m. and ran circles around me for 9 hours

DON'T MISS: 11 insider facts most flight attendants know — and you probably don't

As a passenger, you won't ever see United's operations station, home of United's conference rooms, HR and IT departments, and Inflight Services, in Denver International Airport. We meet there to begin our journey together.

During check-in with Inflight Services, Bingochea lets the staff know he's physically there and ready to go. "They cover their bases because the plane has to be out," he says. "You can't be late. You can't be looking for coffee. You have to be there on time."

He can also find out more about his trip at check-in. But Bingochea says he never looks to see what crew members he's flying with. "I never do, because I'll fly with anybody. And a lot of people say, 'Well, I don't want to fly with so and so.' To me, that's just too much work," he says.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

'Guardians of the Galaxy' director James Gunn dropped a shocking revelation about Baby Groot on Twitter


Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 Disney

  • Turns out Baby Groot is the son of the grown Groot that was in the first "Guardians of the Galaxy" movie.
  • Director James Gunn revealed this on Twitter Tuesday.

Hold on for this one!

"Guardians of the Galaxy" franchise director James Gunn has always been heavily involved in the social media chatter surrounding his contribution to the Marvel Studios empire. So it wasn't a surprise when he jumped into the conversation when a tweet asking you to choose between saving Groot, one of the characters from "Guardians," or a Porg, the lovable creatures in "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," started making the rounds on Tuesday.

Gunn launched into a back-and-forth on this with "Entertainment Tonight" producer and host Ash Crossan, who was on the side of saving the Porg. Gunn made the case that Groot is an "advanced lifeform" while Porgs are just animals (or, as he later put it, "penguins").

Then later in the thread, Gunn tweeted this bombshell: Baby Groot, featured in "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2," is not the same Groot from the first movie, who sacrificed himself to save his friends in the ending.

Baby Groot is his son!

We look forward to more explanation by Gunn, because the fans of Marvel are not going to rest until he clarifies this tweet.

Many people, including the team at Business Insider, believed that Baby Groot was a piece of Groot from the first movie, and was just growing in size all over again. At the end of "Vol. 2," Baby Groot had grown up to become Teen Groot. We'll see what size he is when he appears in "Avengers: Infinity War" in May with the rest of the Guardians.

SEE ALSO: The director of last year's infamous Oscars telecast looks back on the "La La Land"-"Moonlight" mix up that ended up winning him an Oscar

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: You can connect all 9 Best Picture Oscar nominees with actors they have in common — here's how

The 50 best places to live in America


austin texas

  • U.S. News & World Report releases a list of the best places to live in America every year.
  • The best places to live 2017 ranking looked at five metrics: job market, value, quality of life, desirability, and net migration.
  • The best place to live in America is Austin, Texas, followed by Denver, Colorado.


When deciding where to put down roots, many factors are in the eye of the beholder, such as climate, politics, or proximity to extended family.

Other aspects are coveted by nearly everybody: affordable housing, access to well-paying jobs, a low cost of living, good schools, and quality healthcare. In its ranking of the best places to live in America for 2017, U.S. News & World Report gathered data on these crucial components for the 100 most populous US cities.

They then categorized the data into five indexes for each city — job market, value, quality of life, desirability, and net migration — to definitively rank these major metro areas. You can read U.S. News' full methodology here.

Scores for "value," a blend of annual household income and cost of living, and "quality of life," which accounts for crime, college readiness, commute, and other factors, are included below on a 10-point scale, as well as the city’s population and median annual salary.

Keep reading to discover the 50 best places to live in America.

SEE ALSO: The 50 worst US cities for retirement

DON'T MISS: Silicon Valley is so expensive that people who make $400,000 think they're middle-class — here's what the middle class actually is in the 25 largest US cities

50. Atlanta, Georgia

Population: 5,538,837

Average annual salary: $49,430

Quality of life: 5.8

Value: 7

An attractive blend of big city and big country, Atlanta is attracting transplants far and wide with its award-winning restaurants, culture centers, and flourishing job market. More than a dozen Fortune 500 companies call the city home, including Delta, The Home Depot, and The Coca-Cola Company, and it's an increasingly popular spot for film productions.

In addition, "The Chattahoochee River that traverses the metro area, and Stone Mountain, the world's largest chunk of exposed granite, located just northeast of the city proper, also offer a quick escape from any urban anxiety," says one local expert.


49. Melbourne, Florida

Population: 553,591

Average annual salary: $45,470

Quality of life: 7.3

Value: 6.1

Between fishing, boating, and a plethora of bars and restaurants, there's never a shortage of things to do in the Melbourne area. The city's ripe with retirees and "snowbirds" — people who split their time between colder climates in the summer and Florida in the winter — who can enjoy days on one of the many nearby golf courses and nights out exploring the local shops and art galleries.

48. Kansas City, Missouri

Population: 2,055,675

Average annual salary: $47,640

Quality of life: 6.1

Value: 7.5

Don't call it a flyover city. Innovation, creativity, and a celebrated history combine to make Kansas City a hub of activity. In addition to a low cost of living and an abundance of jobs, residents enjoy exploring the city's thriving art scene, cheering on the Royals during baseball season, and noshing on Kansas City's signature style of barbecue — slow cooked and topped with a tomato-based sauce.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Dick Costolo explains why he shut down his fitness startup after 8 months: 'We were up against hard-wired human behavior'


Dick Costolo

  • Dick Costolo, best known as Twitter's former CEO, has shut down Chorus, his fitness app startup, just a few months after releasing the app to the app store.
  • He explains to Business Insider that the app was running afoul of a deep-seated human psychological phenomenon known as "abstinence violation effect."
  • The app still had money-making potential, but because of AVE, Costolo says it wasn't doing what he dreamed it would do: helping people use "social accountability" to stay fit.
  • We tried the app and liked it, and agree that it won't help people overcome AVE.

On Tuesday, Dick Costolo announced to the users of his fitness app, Chorus, that he was pulling the plug on the app and shutting down the company, less than a year after launch.

The problem? Chorus was trying to get people to exercise by having their friends motivate them, but it was running smack dab into a deep-seated human psychology called "abstinence violation effect."

Chorus was an app in which teams of friends, a so-called chorus, would sign up as a group. Each person would declare their workout plans to the rest of the group for each day of the week (or declare other goals such as their plans to meditate each day, or to eat right).

"The thesis was, and still is, that social accountability and social motivation are the only way to get people to do the things they sort of otherwise wouldn't do," Costolo tells to Business Insider.

Launched as a beta just eight months ago, Chorus landed in Apple's App store in December and, while it was doing ok attracting new users, it was having a lot of trouble keeping people using the app.

"People started using it and then would bail after four weeks or eight weeks. They'd get the flu or they'd travel for work and drop the ball," Costolo says.

The irony is that this was the exact problem the app was trying to solve.

The "abstinence violation effect"

If a group was training together for a certain event, say the New York Marathon race in November, or a wedding, Chorus users stayed engaged. The same was true for people who were physically training together once a week or so anyway, like a running club.

woman on couchBut the vast majority of people who want to get in shape and need motivational help were bailing.

They were supposed to use the app to check in with their friends, notice when they missed workouts, offer support to get back on the bandwagon, make plans to meet up and so on.

That sounds like a great idea, but it turns out, people find it hard to offer this kind of support, even to friends who have agreed to be workout buddies.

To make matters worse, the app triggered a psychological phenom known as the “abstinence violation effect” (AVE).

That's when people hide from their support group when when they fail to meet the group’s expectations, instead of turning to the group for help.

Chorus tried all sorts of things to overcome AVE: having trainers on the platform that could answer questions, allowing people to do one-day challenges, encouraging chatting, and encouraging posting a weekly plan. But people wallowing in the depths of AVE would turn off the notifications.

In other words, thanks to AVE, Chorus was contributing to the very thing it was trying to solve, and making people hide from their workout buddies.

I had been using Chorus myself since it was in beta testing with a group of four friends and I can attest that we all loved the idea but all of us still struggled to use the app to really motivate each other. When I told my friends that Chorus was shutting down, one of them said, “That’s too bad. It did motivate me, even though I didn’t use it as intended.”

Another said, “I had a hard time going that extra mile to log in there. I mean they had some stiff competition with Garmon and Strava.”

No pivot, please

The company could have still made money by charging people subscriptions up front, even though they likely wouldn’t use the app for long, Costolo says.

ChorusThe fitness industry is full of this tactic, he points out. Even health clubs do that.

But, he and his team had not interest in that business.

So the options were: change the business model (known in the Valley as a pivot) or close down.

Some 10 people worked at Chorus. It had also raised an undisclosed seed round from the Chernin Group and UTA Ventures.

“We had lots of money left in the bank,” he said.

Costolo is best known as the former CEO of Twitter, which he took public in 2013. He also worked at Google. 

But Chorus was actually his sixth startup “if you count Twitter, and I do, because when I got there it was 40 people or so in 2009.”

He founded four of the six startups, he said, and he’s had plenty of startup success, including Feedburner which sold to Google, and an Internet-bubble era company called Spyonit which also sold to a company called 724 Solutions.

He says it's always a hard decision to know when to keep going or when to shut down because all startups go through wild swings where there’s reason to believe the business will be successful and reasons to think it won’t.

“As a founder you have to be able to be resilient,” he says.

But he knew it was time to pack Chorus in because it didn't have a business model he and the team wanted to pursue, “and we were running against hard-wired human behavior.”

SEE ALSO: How to use Vero, the No. 1 social-media app on the App Store right now that millennials are saying will kill Instagram

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: How Silicon Valley's sexist 'bro culture' affects everyone — and how to fix it

This is the scientific reason Europe is incredibly cold and snowy this week


rome snow arctic blast

  • European countries have been gripped with extremely cold weather this week.
  • The cause is a blast of frigid air from the northeast.
  • It is part of a wider phenomenon linked to weather in the Arctic, which is weirdly warm this year.
  • The warmth around the North Pole has allowed Arctic air to surge south, causing freezing temperatures and snow as far south as Rome.

Europe is in the grip of a cold snap, which has sent temperatures plunging below their usual late-February levels, and sparked heavy snow showers in unusually southerly spots like Rome.

The frigid temperatures, according to weather scientists, are actually the result of unseasonably warm weather elsewhere, which helped set the conditions for Europe's cold.

An Arctic blast from Eurasia — dubbed the "Beast from the East" — is currently plunging England and Wales into its coldest weather in 27 years, the UK Met Office said. Rome was hit by a rare snow storm over the weekend.

According to The Guardian, at least three people have died from the cold weather in Lithuania, where temperatures are as low as -15 degrees Celsius (5 degrees Fahrenheit).

globe arctic blast

The reason behind this phenomenon is the unusually warm weather over the Arctic this year, scientists say.

Temperatures in the region are around -8 Celsius (17.6 Fahrenheit). That sounds cold, but it's around 20 Celsius (36 Fahrenheit) higher than the average this time of year, Reuters reported.

This graph shows the unusually warm weather over the Arctic this year:

As a result, sea ice in the region is at a record low. The warmer environment this creates allows cold air from the north to stream south across Russia, Scandinavia, and over the European mainland.

The Arctic blast across Europe is partially due to a split in the polar vortex, a low-pressure zone near the North Pole that keeps cold air in polar region separate from areas further south.

As Mashable put it: "It's as if someone opened the planet's refrigerator door, causing the cold air to drain out of the normally frigid region, bringing cold to the Western US and Eurasia but leaving the air within the fridge itself unusually warm."

Lars Kaleschke‏, a sea ice professor at the University of Hamburg, noted the existence of open water above Greenland, where the thickest sea ice of the Arctic should be.

He said: "It is not refreezing quickly because air temperatures are above zero [...] Wacky weather continues with scary strength and persistence."

Professor Kaleschke told Reuters: "The question is whether this weather will happen more often. This is just one event so it's hard to make a causal relationship."

SEE ALSO: Rome, which had only seen snow once in the last 33 years, just got hit with a rare 'Beast from the East' storm — even priests at the Vatican came out to play

Join the conversation about this story »

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Narcissists often recruit people called 'apaths' to help with their games — here's why they're dangerous



  • Narcissists sometimes recruit people to help them tear down their victim's self esteem.
  • These people are called "apaths" and they are completely indifferent to the victim's suffering.
  • Sometimes they genuinely don't care, and other times they go along with the abuse because they don't want to be the target themselves. 
  • It just shows that you can't trust someone else's social circle to help you work out what's really going on.

Defining someone's personality is complicated. There are so many nuances in the ways people behave, and why they behave the way they do, that it isn't always appropriate to give someone a specific label — even mental health professionals and psychologists can struggle.

In a very broad sense, empathy can be a defining quality for personality type. On one end of the scale you have empaths, who are highly sensitive and very in tune to other people's emotions. On the other end, you have people who are devoid of empathy, such as sociopaths and narcissists.

To further complicate things, there are people who are capable of feelings, but just don't care enough to use them. These people are called "apaths."

People with Dark Tetrad personality traits — sadism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and narcissism — play games with their partners to break down their self esteem. To succeed, they sometimes recruit helpers to help control and manipulate their partners. Apaths fit this role very well.

Shannon Thomas, author of "Healing from Hidden Abuse: A Journey Through the Stages of Recovery from Psychological Abuse," told Business Insider an apath is someone who is apathetic to the harm in their social circle, particularly if someone is being manipulative, hurtful, or abusive. Their role, she said, is critical to the narcissist's game.

"An apath is the wing-person to a narcissist and plays a key role in normalising the toxic individual and their harmful behaviors towards others," she said. "A narcissist must have apaths in their life to keep the facade of social normalcy going. Apaths create the illusion that a narcissist has friends, is well-liked and can get along with everyone, except the target of abuse."

Rather than standing up for the victim, or giving them support in the fact they are being mistreated, the apath will instead be completely indifferent to their suffering. When challenged, they come up with excuses and say things like "it's not my battle," or "well, they don't treat me that way."

By minding their own business, they are effectively being a pawn on the narcissist's gameboard, making the victim believe they must be going crazy.

In some online forums, apaths are known as "flying monkeys," like the Wicked Witch's helpers in "The Wizard of Oz." They do all the narcissist's dirty work behind the scenes while the narcissist can sit back and watch.

"Many apaths are also hidden abusers themselves and they will cluster together in family and friend groups to keep each other's secrets," Thomas said. "Another type of apath believes it is better to join the abuser in their games than ever run the risk of becoming a future target of the narcissist."

In other words, apaths recruit an avoidance strategy and a "rather you than me" mindset to stay in the narcissist's good books. This makes them particularly dangerous, because there's no way to tell where their limits are. Studies have shown how people can blindly follow orders and become agents in a terrible, destructive processes as as result.

If you feel something is wrong with how you're being treated, trust your gut. You can't always depend on someone's social circle to stand up for you, as it could be full of apaths. Instead, familiarise yourself with the red flags someone is bad news, and look out for yourself.

SEE ALSO: Empaths and narcissists make a 'toxic' partnership — here's why they're attracted to each other

Join the conversation about this story »

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The Spice Girls are apparently all attending Harry and Meghan's royal wedding — and they might be performing


spice girls

  • All five Spice Girls are attending the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on May 19, according to band member Mel B.
  • The singer also hinted that the girl group could be performing at the reception.
  • The rest of the guest list remains unknown, but St. George's Chapel can seat 800 guests.

The Spice Girls are attending Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's royal wedding in May, according one of the group's members — and they could even perform at the reception.

On Tuesday, Mel B (real name Melanie Janine Brown) told American talk show "The Real" that all five Spice Girls have been invited to the highly anticipated event.

When the show's host Loni Love asked: "Do you know anybody that you think is gonna go to this wedding?" she replied, "Yeah, I'm going... I don't know if I should've said that!"

As far as who else was attending, she added: "Well us five Spice Girls... why am I so honest?"

According to the Daily Mail, Prince Harry met the Spice Girls in 1997 after attending one of their concerts. He would have been around 13 at the time. Meghan Markle is reportedly also a fan.

When asked if the five-girl group — Mel B, Mel C, Emma Bunton, Geri Horner, and Victoria Beckham — will perform at the wedding reception, Brown responded: "This is where I'm just like... I need to go. I'm going to be fired!"

While the former pop star didn't reveal much about the invitations themselves, she added: "It was proper. I'm not saying any more!"

The couple, who announced their engagement in November, will marry on May 19 at at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.

The chapel, shown below, can accommodate 800 guests — a much smaller venue than the 2,000-capacity Westminster Abbey, where Prince William and Kate Middleton married.

st george's chapel

Here's a look inside St George's Hall, where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will hold their reception:

st george's chapel windsor castle

The Royal Family will pay for the wedding, including the church service, music, flowers, and reception.

The couple are reportedly planning the wedding themselves, and want a "fun" event that the public can be involved in. It's likely to be televised.

Prince Harry's communications secretary Jason Knauf said: "They will be making sure it reflects who they are as a couple."

He added that Windsor is a "very special place" for Harry and Meghan, who have spent time there during their relationship.

SEE ALSO: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are planning their own 'fun' wedding at Windsor Castle in May 2018

Join the conversation about this story »

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Majestic images of a flock of starlings that looks like a giant bird have been shortlisted for a major photography prize



  • The shortlist for the 2018 Sony Wold Photography Awards has been released.
  • A series of images from semi-professional photographer Daniel Biber shows a swarm of starling forming the shape of a giant bird.
  • The images were taken near Sant pere Pescador in Catalonia, Spain.
  • The winners will be revealed on April 19 at Somerset House in London.

A series of photos showing a swarm of starlings creating the shape of a giant bird have been shortlisted for the 2018 Sony World Photography Awards.

Nearly 320,000 images were submitted across 10 categories by photographers from over 200 countries and territories — the highest number of entries to date.

A shortlist — or the top 10 photos across each category — has been decided across the Awards' four competitions: Professional, Open, Youth, and Student Focus. 

Taken by semi-professional photographer and aerospace engineer Daniel Biber, the images, titled "Fantastic Starling Swarm," and shortlisted for the Professional Natural World & Wildlife category.

They were taken on December 31, 2016, near Sant pere Pescador in Catalonia, Spain.

"For years, I have been observing huge swarms of starlings in the area," Biber said. "This time I had scouted over several days, where the starlings gather in the evening to sleep and tried to capture this impressive spectacle.

"I took thousands of shots and here I had the incredible luck of witnessing the rushing swarm taking on the unique shape of a huge, flying bird (no retouching!).

"Then it disintegrated again to form itself into an impressive, large, pecking bird." There's a special name for a large groups of starlings, which is referred to as a murmuration.


Biber, who lives in Hilzingen, Germany, said he has "always stayed true to my analogue roots."
"A good picture should be created while taking the shot, and not afterwards on the computer," he said, "That is why I limit image processing to a minimum."

The Professional competition is judged on a series of works, while the Open competition is judged on a single image.

The shortlisted Professional and Open images will go on to compete to become category winners, with the chance of being selected as Photographer of the Year winning $25,000, or Open Photographer of the Year winning $5,000.

The overall winners will be revealed on April 19 at Somerset House in London, with an exhibition of all shortlisted and winning images to follow.

SEE ALSO: The 19 most incredible photos taken by drone in 2017

Join the conversation about this story »

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Our predictions of who will win at the 2018 Oscars on Sunday night — and who really should win


Oscars Academy Awards

The 90th Academy Awards will finally be here Sunday after months of campaigning (and millions of dollars spent) by studios and independent distributors to get recognition for their best and brightest.

On paper, it could turn out to be a dull night. A few categories (like best actor and best supporting actress) seem to be a lock. And the odds-on favorites to win best picture — "The Shape of Water" and "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" — haven't been that popular with general audiences. The movies' combined domestic box office ($105 million) is about what "Wonder Woman" had in its opening weekend.

But if we learned anything from last year's Oscars, you never know what surprises could come. And the best-picture race is one of the most wide open in recent years.

Here are our predictions on who we think will win the major categories and who we think should win.

The Academy Awards air on ABC on Sunday at 8 p.m. EST/ 5 p.m. PST.

SEE ALSO: The top 20 Marvel Cinematic Universe villains, ranked from worst to best

Best original score

What will win: "The Shape of Water"

This category has a lot of major talents gunning for the win, but it's going to be Alexandre Desplat's hypnotic score that comes out on top. It's a beautiful companion to the unique love story the director Guillermo del Toro weaves.


It would be great to see Hans Zimmer nab the Oscar, as the stopwatch rhythm of his score for "Dunkirk" is so vital to the movie. If "Dunkirk" does pull off the win, it could be a hint to how the night goes, as "The Shape of Water" and "Dunkirk" are up against each other in numerous categories, including best picture.

Best original song

What will win: "Remember Me" ("Coco")

Honestly, there really is no contest. When Miguel goes to Mama Coco at the end of the movie and sings the song to make her not forget the memory of Hector, it just brings the movie to an incredibly high emotional level.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Children are finding it harder to hold pencils because of technology, pediatricians have warned


child drawing

  • Doctors have warned that children may not be starting school with the ability to grip pencils properly.
  • They say it could be because of the increased use of technology like iPads.
  • Using tablets and computers could stop finger muscles developing in the right way so they can easily learn to use pencils and pens.
  • However, there might not be a "correct" way of holding a pencil anyway.

When was the last time you physically wrote something down? If you're anything like the millennials I know, you might struggle to remember. When you do pick up a pen or a pencil, you may even find it feels unnatural and difficult.

According the the Guardian, doctors have warned that children are starting school with insufficient hand strength to use a pencil properly, because they are growing up with so much technology.

Choosing an iPad to play with rather than colouring books could be stopping their finger muscles developing, and so they need extra help when they learn to write.

Sally Payne, the head pediatric occupational therapist at the Heart of England foundation NHS Trust, told the Guardian that children just don't have the hand strength and dexterity they did a decade ago.

"Children coming into school are being given a pencil but are increasingly not be able to hold it because they don’t have the fundamental movement skills," she said. "To be able to grip a pencil and move it, you need strong control of the fine muscles in your fingers. Children need lots of opportunity to develop those skills."

One mother named Laura said her six-year-old son Patrick had been having weekly sessions with an occupational therapist for six months because he had been holding his pencil "like cavemen held sticks."

A paper from 2016, published in the Journal of Hand Therapy, found that young men and women have significantly weaker hand grips than in 1985.

Researchers gathered data from 237 male and female volunteers aged 20-34. They had to squeeze a hand dynamometer, which is like a joystick, and the strength of their grip was then measured in pounds.

Results showed that in 1985, men aged 20-24 had an average grip of 121 pounds on the right hand and 105 pounds on the left. In the study, men of the same age only had grip strengths of 101 and 99 pounds. Men aged 25-29 lost 26 and 19 pounds of strength on either hand. Women also showed losses of strength of about 10 pounds.

"Work patterns have changed dramatically since 1985, when the first norms were established," Elizabeth Fain, an occupational therapy professor at Winston-Salem State University and lead author of the study told NPR. "As a society, we're no longer agricultural or manufacturing ... What we're doing more now is technology-related, especially for millennials."

pencil gripHowever, a study from 2012, published in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy, found there may not be an optimum way to hold a pencil anyway.

The study concluded there are four basic "mature" ways to hold a pencil, and none of them were superior.

"Pencil grasp patterns did not influence handwriting speed or legibility in this sample of typically developing children," the researchers wrote in the paper. "This finding adds to the mounting body of evidence that alternative grasps may be acceptable for fast and legible handwriting."

In other words, even if a child holds pencils like a caveman, it might not matter as long as you can read what they've written.

SEE ALSO: Drinking in front of your kids can leave them 'anxious, embarrassed, and worried' — even if it's just a glass of wine

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Europe's most famous monuments have been covered by a blanket of snow — and they look amazing


A gondolier clears snow from a snow covered gondola near St. Mark's square in Venice lagoon, Italy, February 28, 2018.

  • European countries are in the grip of an Arctic blast from Eurasia.
  • Cities that very rarely receive snow are being blanketed.
  • Although the weather is reaping infrastructural havoc, the images of Europe's most iconic monuments in the snow are stunning.

Europe is currently being buffeted by "The Beast from the East" —  the name given to the cold weather system that's blown in from Siberia.

According to the UK Met Office, the Arctic blast has plunged Britain into its coldest weather for 27 years. In Rome, the city is suffering from its heaviest snowfall in six years and the largest for the end of February in decades. Much of the rest of the continent is the same.

Despite the treacherous travel conditions, the snow has at least supplied Europeans with some stunning scenery. Scroll down to see it.

SEE ALSO: This is the scientific reason Europe is incredibly cold and snowy this week

Rome's Colosseum took on a whole new look in the flurries of snow. It was only the second time in 33 years that it snowed in Rome.

Priests were throwing snowballs in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican.

Westminster Abbey in London looked especially Gothic in its fresh winter coat.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

You may feel more pain when it's freezing cold — and there are some biological reasons for that



  • Some people feel pain more when it's cold.
  • This could be down to a few different biological reasons, including increased sensitivity and constricted veins.
  • Either way, make sure to wrap up warm in the current icy weather to avoid hurting yourself.

It can sometimes feel like there's a lot to be sad about w
hen winter arrives. Cold weather, shorter, darker days, a round of illnesses spreading through the office. 

And it often feels as though painful things, like hitting your elbow or stubbing your toe, hurt more when it's cold out. And it is very cold right now — freezing temperatures and snow have currently hit Europe due to the "Beast from the East" blowing in from Siberia.

According to Dr John Mcbeth, a pain expert and researcher from Manchester University, it might not all be in your head. In fact, he says, there are several biological reasons that may underpin why pain feels more intense in the wintertime. 

"Pain is our body's way of telling us that something is wrong. We have sensors all over our body [that] pick up information about our body and our environment and send that information to our brain," he told Business Insider. "When we are exposed to something potentially dangerous like extreme temperatures — hot or cold — these sensors send a warning message to our brain. We experience that warning message as pain."

However, normally people are not exposed to such extremes, but many people will complain that the cold weather has made their bad hip ache, or that bump on the elbow even more sore. 

One theory is that cold causes changes in our joints.

Colder temperatures can shrink the tissues in our joints like our knees and hips, which can cause them to pull on the nerve endings and cause joint pain, Mcbeth says. However, this doesn't account for the pain people feel elsewhere in their bodies. 

Another explanation is that disease in general causes people to be more sensitive.

Rheumatoid Arthritis, for example, is caused by your body attacking itself and causing inflammation. This reaction may also affect the body's sensors and cause them to become more sensitive.

If this happens, temperatures that would be simply cold to someone who doesn't have rheumatoid arthritis could become painful to someone who does.

A third theory is that pain causes people to be more sensitive.

Similarly to the above suggestion, pain itself can cause our bodies to become more sensitive. When we break a bone, the body releases pain chemicals that are picked up by our sensors, which tells the brain that something terrible has happened. 

These chemicals can cause these sensors to pick up more information. This means if it's cold, then a broken wrist may start hurting more, or a recently healed bone may start to ache again. According to Mcbeth, this may just be because the pain sensors in the areas you've hurt have become more sensitive. 

There are a few other theories floating about too.

For example, it's uncertain how much of a part psychology plays in these situations. It's commonly known that when you're under stress, you're more likely to fall ill, and feeling more pain may be the result of a similar pathway. 

"How you experience pain is a result of a complex interaction between your biology, your environment and your psychology," Mcbeth said. "Psychological processes can make pain more or less intense. Very happy, positive, upbeat people experience pain less intensely than people who are less happy."

There's also a few theories based on what your body does in general when it's colder. Your veins constrict and less blood flows to your extremities, as it stays around your organs to preserve heat. This means your skin is more rigid than normal, which can cause more pressure on your already sensitive nerves. 

There is also some research that suggests that cold receptor channels are linked to pain channels in a way that heat receptors are not, but exactly how they are linked and what this means is yet to be discovered.

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A physiologist has a theory about what time of day is best for working out — and it's good news if you're not a morning person


morning exercise

  • Many people associate early morning exercise with success.
  • But if you're not a morning person, making it to the gym first thing can feel like an impossible task.
  • A physiologist believes that working out in the evening has some surprising benefits.
  • She claims you are up to 30% stronger in the evenings compared to mornings, which can enhance your performance.

There's something incredibly smug about those people who get up at the crack of dawn and fit an hour's workout in all before their almond latte.

Most CEOs will tell you that they squeeze an early workout into their morning routine, and as a result many of us naturally associate morning exercise with success.

Working out first thing will kick-start your metabolism, wake your body and mind, and help you to focus throughout the day, they say.

It all sounds great, but for those of us who aren't "morning people," making that 7 a.m. class often feels like an impossible task.

However, while according to one physiologist the time of day you work out does impact your performance and results, that time isn't necessarily the morning.

Presenter Anna Richardson asked the question of what time of day is best for a workout in the latest episode of Channel 4's How to get Fit Fast show.

She said that some experts believe the right time to exercise is all relative and dependent upon your own individual body clock, or "chronotype," which determines whether or not you're a so-called "morning person."

However, even if you are one of these people, there are often plenty of reasons why training first thing is not logistically possible, she pointed out.

The good news for night owls is that some evidence suggests that training in the morning may not be superior to the evening when measuring performance.

'Muscles are up to 30% stronger in the evening'

Dr Gladys Pearson, a physiologist who studies muscles at Manchester Metropolitan University, is convinced that working out in the evening has a much bigger impact on your body than exercising at any other time of day, because the evening is when you are stronger.

Pearson's research suggests working out in the evenings can increase your physical capacity by between 8-30%. One of the reasons for this, she says, is that your muscles are warmer then.

pexels photo

Putting the theory to the test

Using trackers, Pearson's team compared the performance of three participants — including Richardson — jumping vertically on the spot in the morning and in the early evening.

And, while it was a certainly a small experiment, the results were rather surprising.

All three saw their performance enhanced in the evening. The smallest difference was seen in participant Beth's jumps, whose performance improved by 1.8% in the evening. Meanwhile, Richardson jumped 1.23 cm higher — equivalent to a 7.7% improvement in terms of performance — and Declan increased his jump height by 6 cm, an increase of 16.3%.

Pearson said that she believes the increased power and enhanced jumping capacity is not just down to warmer muscles, but that hormones are also playing a part in this.

"In the morning the hormones are more encouraging of breaking down the muscle, and in the evening it's the opposite," Pearson said, confirming to Richardson that you'll get better results in the evening, when your hormones are in muscle-building mode.

There's no doubt that there are benefits to starting your day with physical activity — not to mention the convenience of getting it out of the way early on — but the next time you miss that early morning class, don't beat yourself up too hard — you may even train harder later in the day.

SEE ALSO: A personal trainer says taking BCAAs, supplements popular with fitness influencers, is a waste of time — here's the simple thing you should do instead

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Bill Gates says it's 'a certainty' that we will have another financial crisis similar to 2008


bill gates

  • Bill Gates said in a recent Reddit AMA that Americans should expect another financial crisis on the magnitude of the 2008 downturn.
  • Still, Gates was optimistic overall. 
  • The billionaire-philanthropist believes the world is improving and often cites the falling number of people living in extreme poverty as evidence.


The financial crisis of 2008 is considered by many economists to have been the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

According to Bill Gates, the US is eventually headed for another financial crisis just like it.

On Tuesday, the Microsoft founder held an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit. When a Reddit user asked Gates, "Do you think in the near future, we will have another financial crisis similar to the one in 2008?" Gates replied with a stern — but still optimistic — warning.

"Yes. It is hard to say when but this is a certainty," Gates said. "Fortunately we got through that one reasonably well."

Gates then deferred to his good friend and fellow billionaire-philanthropist, Warren Buffett, saying, "Warren has talked about this and he understands this area far better than I do."

The 2008 crisis led to the Great Recession, which saw 8.8 million jobs lost. The net worth of households across America fell $19 trillion, and the number of homeless families increased.

Gates ended his reply by saying, "Despite this prediction of bumps ahead I am quite optimistic about how innovation and capitalism will improve the situation for humans everywhere."

Gates has said he believes that the world is getting better by almost every objective measure.

Earlier this month, Gates said during a live Q&A in New York City that "it doesn't happen automatically. It's because people care. It's because of scientific inventions."

He often cites his and his wife Melinda's efforts to reduce the rate of poverty.

The proportion of the world population that lives in extreme poverty — defined as living on less than $1.90 per day by the World Bank — has fallen from more than a third of the population in 1990 to about one-tenth today, according to an editorial Gates wrote for TIME in January.

In 2016, Gates said it's possible to end world poverty by the year 2030.

SEE ALSO: Bill Gates says the world is objectively getting better — in spite of Trump's 'America First' policies

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Emma Thompson said her heartbroken performance in 'Love Actually' was inspired by real-life cheating by Kenneth Branagh


Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh

  • Emma Thompson said that the scene in "Love Actually" when her character cries after finding out her husband is cheating on her is drawn from real life.
  • Thompson said that her ex-husband, actor and director Kenneth Branagh, broke her heart, and it was a similar experience to her character in the movie.
  • While married to Thompson, Branagh had an affair with actress Helena Bonham Carter, which ended their marriage. 


In 2003's "Love Actually," Emma Thompson drew her iconic performance from real-life heartbreak.

In the movie Thompson's character, Karen, finds out that her husband (played by Alan Rickman) bought jewelry for another woman. When she discovers this, she breaks down and cries. Then, when her husband comes back in the room, she pretends like nothing is wrong. 

"I’ve had so much bloody practice at crying in a bedroom," Thompson said at a fundraiser in London on Sunday, according The Telegraph. "Then having to go out and be cheerful, gathering up the pieces of my heart and putting them in a drawer."

"That scene where my character is standing by the bed crying is so well known because it’s something everyone’s been through," Thompson said.

The "practice" Thompson was referring to was from her relationship with actor and director Kenneth Branagh. In 1987, the two fell in love while playing a married couple for the BBC series "Fortunes of War." Two years later, Thompson and Branagh got married. They went on to star in several movies together including "Much Ado About Nothing" and "Peter's Friends" and were a popular couple in the UK. 

But in 1994, Branagh met actress Helena Bonham Carter while making "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein." The two had an affair. Thompson and Branagh announced their separation in 1995.

"I had my heart very badly broken by Ken," Thompson said. "So I knew what it was like to find the necklace that wasn’t meant for me. Well, it wasn’t exactly that, but we’ve all been through it."

Branagh dated Bonham Carter for five years. But Thompson says she has "no hard feelings" toward her. "That is all blood under the bridge," Thompson said. "You can’t hold on to anything like that. It’s pointless. I haven’t got the energy for it. Helena and I made our peace years and years ago. She’s a wonderful woman."

Bonham Carter and Thompson both starred in the later "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" and "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II." Branagh starred in only the second film, "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets."

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Hulu's 'The Looming Tower' is a gripping political drama showing the lead-up to 9/11 — and is its best-reviewed series since 'The Handmaid's Tale'


looming tower

  • Hulu's latest original series, "The Looming Tower," is a gripping political drama of the events leading up to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. 
  • The 10-episode limited series stars Jeff Daniels, Michael Stulhbarg, Alec Baldwin, and Peter Sarsgaard. 
  • "The Looming Tower" currently stands at a 95% "Fresh" rating on the reviews aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.
  • Critics have praised the show's first three episodes, which all premiered Wednesday on Hulu, with subsequent episodes airing weekly.


Hulu's latest original series, "The Looming Tower," is a gripping political drama of the governmental infighting that led up to the events of 9/11.

The 10-episode limited series stars Jeff Daniels as John O'Neill, a special agent in charge of the FBI's counterterrorism efforts. Michael Stulhbarg, Alec Baldwin, and Peter Sarsgaard also star in the series. It's a dramatic adaptation of Lawrence Wright's Pulitzer Prize-winning, non-fiction book of the same name.

Critics have praised the wide scope of the first three episodes of the series, which Hulu premiered on Wednesday, with subsequent episodes appearing weekly. 

"The Looming Tower" currently stands at a 95% "Fresh" rating on the reviews aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.

The series earned praise from The Washington Post as an "instantly absorbing" take on Wright's book. 

The Boston Globe's Matthew Gilbert described watching the series as "like watching Tom and Jerry play a testosterone-fueled game of cat and mouse while a venomous snake quietly slithers past them in a suicide vest."

The "venomous snake" in the series represents the rise of Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden, whom the show depicts as being able to orchestrate the attacks of 9/11 as governmental infighting between the CIA and FBI steadily thwarts the US government's counterterrorism efforts.

"The Looming Tower" is thus far Hulu's most critically acclaimed release since the first season of its Emmy Award-winning dystopian series "The Handmaid's Tale."

Watch the first three episodes of "The Looming Tower" on Hulu.

SEE ALSO: RANKED: Hulu's 12 original shows, from worst to best

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It hurts when someone you're dating doesn't text you back — but you might be upsetting yourself more than they are


texting woman

  • It hurts when someone doesn't text you back.
  • Rather than understanding that sometimes people are simply busy, our minds can jump to conclusions.
  • This is actually pretty harmful, both to your mental state and your potential relationship.
  • One reason we do this is because we tend to psychologically invest so much in the future.

With so much choice over how you can contact someone — texts, WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook messenger, Twitter DM, Snapchat — it can be pretty alarming when someone doesn't respond to you. They can like Instagram photos and Facebook posts, but they apparently can't conjure up the energy to message you back.

Cue your mind spinning out of control.

No response, or being "left on read," hurts. But perhaps it isn't normal to be at each other's beck and call 24 hours a day. People are busy; we have a lot on at work, and some of us feel like we need a personal assistant just to keep up with our own social lives. That's without taking time to go see family, exercise, and feed ourselves.

They are not necessarily cheating on you. So why do we let ourselves get so upset?

According to psychologist Perpetua Neo, we have so much anxiety when we're waiting to hear from someone we like because we attach so much to the outcome.

She told Business Insider we might be getting carried away and thinking of our new love interest as "the one," when in reality, we know very little about them.

"When we put too much into this outcome, that's when we are too invested in the future," Neo said. "It's good to plan for your future, but when you're planning with somebody else it's never so simple. Instead of thinking about what do you have in your life right now, you're thinking about what happens if this person isn't going to answer, and what happens if this future is not perfect?

"So we are not enjoying where we are in the moment — instead we are stuck in a future where we think the worst."

It's not necessarily a red flag

"The one" can mean different things to different people. For some it'll be the embodiment of their soulmate. For others, it will simply be the next available person who can stop them worrying about the scarcity of love so they can hurry up and settle down.

Of course, not everyone is going to be right for us. Some people just don't click.

"There are going to be people who don't answer back because they're playing games," Neo said. "That's ok, I think it's very important to accept that. They're not all going to be all perfect people or even good people. But the point is to be able to know when to say goodbye to them, and to be able to recognise the red flags."

If you're really feeling anxious that someone you thought things were going well with isn't talking to you, it's worth thinking about whether this is a pattern. You could ask yourself if this is a running theme with everyone you date, or if it's a new feeling you've only had with this particular person.

It can come down to your own insecurities

"If it's a long standing pattern, then you've got to ask yourself: 'What are my basic insecurities when it comes to relationships? How can I face them? How can I use this as a chance to grow as a person?'" said Neo. "We think that we can carry a lot of insecurities, burdens, and worries, without worrying about them. We think that they are destined to be with us forever, like a piece of furniture, or a limb."

In reality, when we can actually give ourselves the permission to examine what our insecurities are, we can tackle and learn to heal from them a lot easier. Neo said this makes you see them as a grotty old sweater you can throw away, rather than a limb you need to lob off.

Obsessing is a hard habit to break, but Neo said that when your mind is wandering you should think about seeing a friend or trying out a new hobby rather than watching another episode of a brain-numbing Netflix show. You could even try just being comfortable in your own company, and "dating" yourself, as so many people are scared of just being by themselves.

"You can't really expect this guy, especially someone who we are just texting on and off, to complete your life — he should actually be the cherry on your cake of a really amazing life," Neo said. "If you expect them to complete you, then the dynamic is going to be a bit screwed up, because you are expecting too much from them."

Listen to your feelings — but be careful what you do with them

Your feelings are valid, and even if you think you're being irrational you should still listen to them. Whether or not you're being dramatic, they act as a barometer for something that's going on. Sooner than you think, the anxiety will fade and you'll realise some people just text less than others. Maybe they have a lot going on.

"The problem is, when we live in the future, we condemn ourselves to a catastrophe," Neo said. "And when you do that, you're condemning yourself to the worst possible future. It's like staring into a crystal ball, and it's cracked. So next time he comes to you, you'll be in this really horrible passive aggressive mood."

The other explanation is that they really are trying to ghost you, in which case you shouldn't waste time on them anyway.

"It's okay if you say something like: 'I felt really stupid because I'm not used to not having replies for three days,' because that actually communicates your expectations and your boundaries without making him responsible," Neo said. "If they're a decent person, they will learn how to adjust. But if you use your feelings, and blame them, then you are going to be extremely dramatic, and extremely annoying."

SEE ALSO: Dating is getting even more complicated — here are 5 more terms you need to know in 2018

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To a billionaire, the cost of a trip to Bali is like buying a candy bar — here's what spending looks like when you're that rich


billionaire value of a dollar woman on yacht

  • Billionaires view money differently than the average person — in more ways than one.
  • The typical billionaire could easily afford to spend $80 million each year, while most Americans earn less than $60,000.
  • We crunched the numbers and found the value of $1 for the average American equates to $1,355 for the typical billionaire. 


Imagine if a trip to Bali cost you as much as a candy bar. Chances are you'd invite all your friends on vacation, and maybe even foot the bill.

That's reality for the typical billionaire, relatively speaking. 

The median household income in the US is $59,039 a year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. With only about 2,000 billionaires worldwide, it's difficult for the rest of us to fathom the power wielded by a 10-figure net worth. 

Business Insider crunched the numbers to see how the spending power of billionaires and average people compares on a dollar-to-dollar basis.

The median fortune of a Forbes list billionaire is about $2 billion. A conservative 4% annual withdrawal rate would bring their income to about $80 million a year.

At that rate, the value of $1 to the average person is the same as $1,355 to a billionaire. That means the stomach pinch you feel when you drop $100 on something is how a billionaire feels when they spend $135,500.

Below, check out the real cost of 12 purchases, and the relative "cost" for someone with a $2 billion fortune. 

SEE ALSO: America's richest people buy homes in 'power markets' — here are the 17 most expensive and exclusive places

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The 13 best countries to live in if you want to be your own boss


hong kong girl

No matter how far along you are in your career, the nine-to-five slog can get boring, and the idea of making your own hours and deadlines gets more and more attractive.

In order to inspire you to go freelance, UK B2B comparison site Expert Market has produced a ranking of the best countries to live in if you want to be your own boss.

The study looked at economic and lifestyle factors in 57 countries around the world. They combined data on the cost of living, average internet speeds, the quality of the transport system, number of free wifi spots, the cost of a cup of coffee, individual income tax rates, as well as the ease of starting a business and access to credit.

Scroll down to see the 13 best countries in the world to be self-employed, ranked in ascending order:

SEE ALSO: This country is now tied with Singapore as having the most powerful passport in the world

13. Portugal. First in the top 13, this European country has good access to credit, decent transportation, and cheap coffee at just £1.02 on average.

12. France. The home of Paris and countless cafés, France ranks highest in the top 13 on the Cost of Living Index.

11. Latvia. Head to the likes of Riga or Daugavpils for cheap coffee and relatively low income tax rates.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider
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