TIME Soccer

Stephen Hawking Calculates England’s Chances of World Cup Success

Science predicts the chances of a first win in almost 50 years

Renowned physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking has nailed his colors firmly to the mast ahead of this summer’s World Cup in Brazil.

Applying his scientific mind to the random-number generator that is Association Football, Hawking has pulled data from previous World Cup performances to determine how England can lift its first trophy in almost 50 years. Unfortunately for England fans, however, not many of Hawking’s criteria look likely to be met this summer.

Among other things, he notes that England plays best at lower altitudes (two of its first three matches take place at altitudes close to the highest point in England) and with kick-offs at 3 p.m. (all its group matches start in the evening).

Referring to England’s chances in a penalty shoot out, Hawking added “As we say in science, England couldn’t hit a cow’s arse with a banjo.”

TIME Egypt

Here’s Why Egypt Extended Presidential Elections to a Third Day

Low turnout could prove a stumbling block to the ambitions of former military commander Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, who remains all but certain to win despite the delay

Egyptian authorities announced a one-day extension of voting in the country’s presidential election on Tuesday in an attempt to boost low turnout in an election expected to result in a landslide for former military chief Abdul Fattah al-Sisi.

Sisi, who overthrew elected President Mohamed Morsi from power last year, had called for a high turnout in hopes of securing a political mandate. The reports of low participation threatened to undercut the credibility of Sisi’s otherwise inexorable march to the presidency. His sole challenger, left-winger Hamdeen Sabahi, came third in the 2012 election and was not expected to pose a threat to Sisi’s campaign.

But political fatigue, perceptions that the outcome was pre-determined, widespread boycotts, and scorching hot weather may yet pose a threat to Sisi’s standing; all drove down turnout in the election, which began on Monday and had been scheduled to end at 10 P.M. on Tuesday.

The last-minute extension, announced by the Presidential Election Commission, also followed several other measures intended to increase turnout. Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb declared Tuesday a national holiday. One member of the Election Commission claimed judges would enforce an obscure rule that imposes a 500 Egyptian pound ($70) fine for not voting without a valid excuse.

“The reports I’m seeing in terms of the turnout suggest something is not going as planned as far as the interim authorities are concerned. They certainly seem to be taken aback, and what we’re seeing is them scrambling to try and deal with that,” said Aziz El-Kaissouni, a visiting fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

“A large component of that is political apathy, and a very good question is, why bother go out and vote when you know the result beforehand,” he said. “‘Why should I take several hours out of my work day, or my holiday as it may be, and stand in line in the sweltering heat when we know exactly what the outcome is?’”

In Cairo on Tuesday, some polling stations bustled with voters. Others were deserted. A half hour after the polls opened in a school in Giza, a single man stood in the voting booth. The judge in charge of the room gestured with a pen toward the ballot box. Only about 600 of the district’s approximately 4,000 registered voters had participated so far. “It’s still early,” he said.

In the neighborhood of Imbaba, historically a redoubt of Islamism and political opposition, a steady trickle of voters came and went from two polling places. At one school, the judge descended to the courtyard to help a 100-year-old woman who could not climb the stairs to the voting booths. “Do you want Sisi or Sabahi?” he asked. The woman pointed to Sisi.

The overwhelming majority of voters interviewed expressed support for Sisi. Alia Mohamed, 23, an elementary school teacher said she backed the former army chief. “Honestly, he’s the best person to hold the country.” Some people in her neighborhood opposed Sisi, she said, “but they’re sitting at home.”

On Tuesday evening, as the heat began to ease, turnout picked up at a large school in another section of Giza, a hub for four different electoral districts. A row of armored personnel carriers lined the street outside. A small crowd waving Egyptian flags, and a few Sisi posters, rallied outside the entrance. Speakers pumped patriotic music. Armed soldiers and police, some wearing black face-masks, guarded the demonstration.

A small but vocal minority of voters expressed support for Sabahi. In upscale Mohandessin, a woman who declined to give her name due to an institutional affiliation, said she voted for Sisi’s rival “just to make a point that it was not a landslide.” She said she was skeptical of Sisi. “That’s not what people died for three years ago,” she said, referring to the 2011 uprising that ended the 30-year autocratic rule of president Hosni Mubarak.

Among Sisi’s supporters, jitters about low turnout spilled over on Monday night’s talk shows, with several hosts angrily condemning voters for lackluster participation. “I’m willing to cut my veins for the country right now on air for people to go down and vote,” said an anchor on the show Al Qahera Al Youm.

“Egypt is entering a phase of authoritarian restoration that’s not simply Mubarak 2.0. Mubarak inherited power from Sadat in a relatively smooth transition, with no serious rivals or an upsurge from below,” said Mona El-Ghobashy, a political scientist at Barnard and expert on Egyptian politics. “Sisi takes the reins in a far more challenging political environment.”

“Unlike Mubarak, he’s keen to organize periodic mass spectacles endorsing his person and his policies, to appropriate and channel the authentic mass mobilization made possible by the uprising,” she said. “But as the embarrassingly low turnout for the elections shows, there are limits to how much Sisi can script mass public support. Even his core constituency will tire of being trotted out every few months to perform its adoration, absent an improvement in daily life conditions.”

TIME Research

This Is Why Bacon Smells so Good

Science has an explanation.

It’s a smell that we all know and love, but what is it that makes the aroma of sizzling bacon so enticing?

The folks at the American Chemical Society decided to find out and were able to pinpoint the answer, with a little help from their friends at chemistry blog Compound Interest.

The answer is that the sugar and amino acids in bacon mix in what is called the Maillard Reaction, which produces about 150 aroma compounds that provide the unique smell.

Check out the video from the ACS for more information.

TIME Religion

Pope Corrects Israeli Leader: Actually, Jesus Did Not Speak Hebrew

The Pontiff set Benjamin Netanyahu straight on Jesus' language


One minute into Benjamin Netanyahu’s sit down with Pope Francis on Monday, the Israeli prime minster found himself eating his words—words about Jesus, no less.

“Jesus was here, in this land. He spoke Hebrew,” Netanyahu said, discussing the strong connection between Judaism and Christianity.

Pope Francis looked up and slightly pointed his finger. “Aramaic,” he corrected.

Netanyahu quickly recovered: “He spoke Aramaic, but he knew Hebrew.”

The correction was gentle, even playful—typical Pope Francis style. Everyone smiled and laughed.




Why Mass Killers Are Always Male

Elliott Rodger seen in a video he had posted on the Internet.
Polaris Elliott Rodger seen in a video he had posted on the Internet.

Whenever there's a mass shooting or massacre, there's a 98% chance the perpetrator is a man. Why is that?

There are no absolute certainties when it comes to mass killers, but a few things come close. Someone will use the term “disaffected youth” to describe the perpetrator. Somewhere there will be a diary—either Tweets, blogs, YouTube videos or scrawled musings in a lined notebook. And the murderer will—with more than a 98% certainty—be male.

That was the case again on Friday as Elliott Rodger, a 22-year-old student at Santa Barbara City College, killed six people and wounded 13 others in a stabbing and shooting spree, before taking his own life. If you say that you were surprised that his name was Elliott and not, say, Ellen, you either haven’t been paying attention or you’re playing at political correctness. But the fact remains: it’s almost always boys who go bad. The question is, Why?

There is no shortage of explanations for the overwhelming maleness of the monster population. Some of the answers reveal a lot—and yet nothing at all. Testosterone fuels aggression. Stipulated. Boys take longer to mature than girls. Stipulated. And like the forebrains of young females, those of young males are not fully myelinated until the late 20s or even early 30s. The forebrain is where executive functions—impulse control, reflection, awareness of consequences—live. In the case of males, who are already trip-wired for aggression, that provides a lot of years to behave badly.

There are, too, the social factors: violent video games, a culture of physical aggression fueled by contact sports and the general tendency of all societies to turn their men into hunters and warriors, putting those jobs off-limits to women or at least making them optional.

But there’s more, and a lot of it has to do with status. Males, for better or worse, are ferociously protective of their position in any tribe, community, or society, and any threat to that position goes to the core of their identity and self-esteem. It’s a common observation in times of recession that while loss of a job is miserable for both genders, it’s the males who are likelier to become completely undone by it. Without the role of worker and money-earner, men feel hollowed-out, and that too often calls for revenge. it’s not for nothing that the victims in workplace shootings are often managers who just the month before demoted or sacked the shooter.

As Candice Batton, director of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Nebraska, Omaha, told NPR in the wake of the 2013 Washington Navy Yard shootings:

“Some research supports the idea that males are more likely than females to develop negative attributions of blame that are external in nature, that is: ‘The cause … of my problems is someone else or some force outside of me’. And this translates into anger and hostility toward others.”

[Women], on the other hand, “are more likely to develop negative attributions of blame that are internal in nature, that is: ‘The cause of my problems is some failing of my own: I didn’t try hard enough, I’m not good enough.”

This is also the reason that when women do kill—and they do—it’s typically in a more intimate way, such as by drowning or suffocating. Men tend to go wild, spraying a room with gunfire and the world be damned. That, of course, also increases the male killer’s body count.

Rodger, dead now, his work done now, fits so much of this ugly profile. He did leave a diary—in his case YouTube videos—and his rants bare his resentments toward the women who never found him attractive enough, as primal a kind of status loss as can possibly be imagined.

He now joins the dark gallery of men and boys who have gone before him—each of them less important than the previous ones, since their crimes become so tragically familiar. If there is any bitter satisfaction to take from that, it’s that in their very attempt to be remarkable in some way, mass killers instead achieve a sort of homicidal banality, the anonymity they dreaded in life following them into death.

TIME China

Chinese Hacking Charges Explained

Here's what the Chinese military was looking for and why

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced Monday that members of the Chinese military allegedly engaged in the hacking of American businesses, including U.S. Steel Corp., Westinghouse, Alcoa, Allegheny Technologies, the United Steel Workers Union and SolarWorld.

The 31-count indictment by a feral grand jury in Pennsylvania charges that the hackers stole trade secrets that would have been “particularly beneficial to Chinese companies at the time that they were stolen,” Holder said.

China’s foreign ministry has denied the federal charges, the BBC reports.

Watch the video above for the details.



TIME Infectious Disease

What Is MERS? Here’s What You Need To Know

CDC has confirmed a second case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in the United States. The virus, which has over 500 lab-confirmed cases of the disease worldwide with 145 fatalities, most of them in Saudi Arabia, belongs to the same family of viruses as SARS

Updated May, 17 5:45 p.m

The CDC confirmed last week that there was a second case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in the U.S.. [Update: And today, a third case was confirmed in Illinois. The patient was someone in contact with the first U.S. MERS patient.] You may be wondering what the hoopla is about if there are only three cases in the U.S. Let me tell you.

What is MERS?
MERS is a respiratory disease that is caused by the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus” (MERS-CoV). MERS is in the same family of viruses as SARS and the common cold, but it appears so far to be less transmissible. The virus first appeared in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and to date, there are over 500 lab-confirmed cases of the disease worldwide and more than 145 people have died. The virus has spread to other countries in the Arabian Peninsula, and it’s thought to have originated from camels.

What are the symptoms?
Shortness of breath, fever, and coughing. In some cases it can be fatal, with 30% of people contracting the disease dying, but the first U.S. patient in Indiana has fully recovered and is discharged from the hospital. How severe a case is likely depends on the initial health of the person who contracts it.

How did the virus get to the United States?
In both cases, the virus was imported into the United States by people living in Saudi Arabia who work in health care settings. The second patient in Florida flew from Jeddah to London, and then Boston. From there, the patient traveled to Atlanta and then Orlando. During travel, the patient and started feeling symptoms. When the patient arrived at the emergency room of a Florida hospital on May 8, they were put into isolation, and the patient is currently in stable condition. The CDC has frequently said that cases of MERS in the U.S. have been expected, so the arrival is not a surprise. The third case, as mentioned, was someone in contact with the first U.S. MERS patient, in Illinois.

On desktop, roll over this graphic to get a closer look; on mobile, click to zoom.

Heather Jones

How is the virus transmitted?
What we know about the virus is that human transmission appears to only occur when someone has direct contact with an infected person. That could mean treating a patient in their home or in a hospital setting. Still, the health care workers in Indiana who interacted with the MERS patient have twice tested negative for the virus.

Am I at risk?
The CDC says the risk for Americans is extremely low. The CDC released a travel alert for the Arabian Peninsula, reminding travelers to pay attention to their health before and after their trip. However, health care workers serving in the Middle East are recommended to take necessary precautions to protect themselves from infection. The CDC currently has a team in Indiana and Florida to monitor the infection, as well as a team in Saudi Arabia studying the disease.

But what if I recently traveled to the Arabian Peninsula? How do I know if I’m infected?
The incubation period for the disease is around five to 14 days. If within 14 days after traveling to these countries you experience symptoms of respiratory illness, you can check with your health care provider and explain your recent travel. But again, so far the disease appears to transmit when someone has direct contact with an infected person, usually caring for that person.

Is there going to be an outbreak in the U.S. soon?
Infectious disease experts don’t appear to think so. Take SARS as a model: the disease started in Southern China in the early 2000s resulted in over 8,000 cases and 774 deaths. But only eight cases made it to the United States, and none of those patients died from the disease. MERS is less virulent than SARS, and the spread of SARS was aided by the existence of “superspreaders” who were people who spread the virus in much more excessive amounts than others, according to Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease physician with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center who specializes in pandemic policy. There are currently no MERS superspreaders. “This disease doesn’t spread efficiently. It’s hostile, but it seems casual contacts have not been becoming ill,” says Dr. Adalja.

So, I don’t need to freak out right now?
Take a deep breath. The fact that there are three cases of MERS in the United States is more of a message to health care workers. If a patient comes in complaining of severe respiratory symptoms, it’s a good idea to ask them where they’ve traveled. As for the rest of us, the usual hygiene rules come into play. The CDC recommends the following:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, and help young children do the same. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact, such as kissing, sharing cups, or sharing eating utensils, with sick people.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs.
TIME how things work

How 3D Printers Work

See how 3D printers create everything from guns to chocolate.

3D printers were invented by Chuck Hull as far back as 1983, but they recently rose to prominence after being used to make common items ranging from guns to body parts. But how do they work?

Using a process known as “additive manufacturing,” 3D printers can take a number of different materials from metal to plastic and even chocolate to create every piece of the final structure from scratch, with no material left over.

Hull sees a bright future for 3D printing, saying it’ll be a $4.5 billion business by the end of the decade.


How the ‘World of Tomorrow’ Became a Thing of the Past

What happened to the World’s Fair? On April 30th, which marks the 75th anniversary of the 1939 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, the question becomes especially poignant. How did the global cultural events that inaugurated broadcast television (New York 1939), built the Eiffel Tower (Paris 1889), and introduced the world to the Ferris Wheel (Chicago 1893) disappear?

Actually, they haven’t: World’s Fairs haven’t gone anywhere, it’s just America that has moved on.

The next World’s Fair is scheduled for Spring 2015 in Milan Italy, but expo-goers who are looking to catch the latest glimpse at the “world of tomorrow,” will be disappointed. “A lot of Americans imagine World’s Fairs as they were in the 1930s and the 1960s, but the medium has changed,” says World’s Fair consultant Urso Chappell. “Whereas the focus was on progress or the space age and things like that at one time, the themes tend to be more environmental now,” he adds.

With smaller scope and a concentration on solving problems rather than trumpeting triumphs, World’s Fairs just don’t capture the imagination like they used to. Milan’s theme — Feeding the planet, energy for life — focuses on ending hunger and developing food sustainability. By contrast, the 1939 World’s Fair’s Dawn of a New Day slogan exuded aspirational wonder and 1964’s (which had its 50th anniversary last week), centered on Peace Through Understanding.

Then there’s the problem of proximity. There hasn’t been a World’s Fair in North America since 1986 in Vancouver. During the Fairs’ heydays, wealthy and middle class families would make pilgrimages across the seas to meccas of modernization to see the wonders firsthand, but the internet put an end to that. “I don’t know today how a World’s Fair can be viable, because everybody has a camera in their pocket,” says Louise Weinberg, World’s Fair Archive Manager at the Queens Museum. A quick search on your phone has replaced an expensive trip to a foreign country.

Cost plays a significant role too. Unlike the Olympics, which occasionally have made money for their host cities, there’s no profit from hosting a Fair. “Running a Fair is a losing proposition, you don’t do it to make money” says Weinberg.

Prestige was the prime motivator for hosting Worlds Fairs. Some of New York’s most prominent political figures like Robert Moses, Fiorello LaGuardia and Grover Whalen performed Herculean feats (and spent gobs of money) in order to bring the two Fairs to New York. Now the U.S. leaves the bidding to developing or resurgent countries looking to impress the rest of the world.

But while the U.S hash’t hosted a Fair in decades, it’s still participating in them. Barack Obama announced more than a year in advance that America will participate in Milan’s Expo in 2015, and U.S. cities are already bidding to host ones much further out. “There’s groups in Minneapolis looking to [host the Worlds Fair in] 2023, there’s groups in San Francisco and Houston looking at 2025, so hopefully we will see a World’s Fair in North America sometime soon,” says World’s Fair consultant Chappell. To avoid slipping from “the world of tomorrow” to “the world of the past,” the new U.S. Fairs will have to harken back to the old New York Fairs’ sense of wonder and aspiration.

TIME drinking

How to Drink Scotch Whisky

It may not be everyone’s cup of whisky, but if sales are any indication, Scotch is more popular worldwide than ever before.

Scotch sales have nearly doubled over the past ten years to roughly $7 billion, according to the Scotch Whisky Association. The United States is the world’s leading importer of the drink, buying nearly $1.32 billion worth of the spirit each year. The drink can legally be called Scotch only if it’s made in Scotland and aged in oak casks for at least three years.

And note that it’s also spelled “whisky,” without the e, to differentiate from popular American-style “whiskeys,” such as Jack Daniels or George Dickel.

But the real test comes with the tasting. TIME’s Josh Sanburn met up with Richard Patterson, Master Distiller of The Dalmore, to learn the proper way to enjoy fine Scotch.

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