Newsweek April 26, 2013

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have you heard?

It’s been a rollercoaster two weeks for Gwyneth Paltrow. Low: topping Star magazine’s list of Hollywood’s Most Hated Stars. High: bouncing back as People magazine’s Most Beautiful Woman. Low: attracting vitriol for hawking children’s bikinis on her website, Goop. High: debuting her latest fi lm, Iron Man 3, with costar Robert Downey Jr. Even this Antonio Berardi gown sparked that unique Paltrow cauldron of love and hate-it may look tame enough on top, but the black mesh continues down each hip and leg, revealing a Gwyneth gone commando. The third installment of the already $1 billion-plus Iron Man franchise was “extra fun for me because Pepper got to branch out a little bit and have her moment of glory,” Paltrow said. So, it seems, did the actress who plays her. “I…

game on

I AM sitting at an expansive wooden conference table in the basement of the painfully hip Ace Hotel in New York City snacking on pepperoni drinking the hotel's painfully hip spring water, and listening to a man who is excitedly telling me about the future. But it's hard to pay attention. Because sitting on the table between us is an unassuming black rectangular device attached to a pair of futuristic ski goggles, and linked, by wire, to a desktop computer. Next to it sits an Xbox controller and, inside, a promise: a portal to a digital universe. This is the Oculus Rift, a virtual-reality headset that promises to bring the immersive technology into the homes of videogamers around the world. Nate Mitchell, Oculus's vice president of product, says it "bring[s] you into…

was salinger a phony?

J. D. SALINGER founded adolescent angst, so what a relief to learn that he himself was a mimic of Holden Caulfield. New York's Morgan Library recently acquired 9 letters written between a 22-year-old Salinger and a 17-year-old Marione Sheard, a fan who lived in Toronto. He flirts, brags, vilifies, and complains like a bursting zit. "What do you look like?" he writes on October 9,1941, and when she sends a picture he replies, "Sneaky girl. You're pretty." Cringeworthy, but what could unsettle some fans is how much Salinger might have fibbed about his own life. In one example, he probably exaggerated a fling with the daughter of playwright Eugene O'Neill. "I was supposed to get married on furlough. But she wanted it all said and done at her Daddy's house…

who lives longest?

THE NEWYork Times obituary section can tell us an awful lot. Using 999 consecutive obituaries that were published between 2009 and 2011, Australian researchers collected basic information on life span, occupation, cause of death, and gender of this famous bunch. And, perhaps not shockingly, the first detail they found was a large imbalance between the number of obituaries for men (813) I and women (186), due no doubt to gender inequality as this group was coming of age. Then there's the fact that famous men outlived famous women by about a year. Why? It's likely because famous women of that era were so often entertainers and athletes, the group in the study with the shortest life span, at 77 or 78 years. The authors found more cancer-related deaths among the performers…

the tsunamis are coming

AFTER A decade that saw two of the most devastating tsunamis in recent hi story-the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, which killed 230,000 people, and the 2011 tsunami that struck Japan, killing 20,000 people-seismologists are paying extra attention to the possibility that undersea earthquakes in less seismically active regions might trigger similar waves. Which is why an earthquake that occurred on April 12 of last year, about 170 nautical miles east of Boston, caught the attention of John Ebel, a seismologist at Boston College. In fact, the state of Massachusetts is adding a chapter on tsunamis to the latest version of its hazard plan. The April 12 quake, which registered a magnitude of 4.0, wasn't particularly strong or unusual, but its precise location was intriguing, he says. Though "no one but…

love is in the air

THE GOLDEN-COIFFED president of the Virgin Group, with an estimated net worth of $4.6 billion (half of which he has recently pledged to charity), shared his personal tips for "getting lucky" on airplanes in a goofy YouTube video this week. So what works for the happily married Virgin chief? Try approaching a woman with a check for her favorite charity, delivered in the mouth of a puppy; use your suborbital spaceship to sky write haikus outside her window; and then fly her off in a hot-air balloon to a private island (cue flirtatious laughter). But we're not all high-flying billionaires. For a more cost-effective option to finding mates in the economy seats, Sir Richard announced with a smile, Virgin America's in-flight entertainment system, Red, now comes complete with a wingman: a seat-to-seat…