NASA – Few cosmic vistas excite the imagination like the Orion Nebula, an immense stellar nursery some 1,500 light-years away. This stunning false-color view spans about 40 light-years across the region, constructed using infrared data from the Spitzer Space Telescope. Compared to its visual wavelength appearance, the brightest portion of the nebula is likewise centered on Orion’s young, massive, hot stars, known as the Trapezium Cluster. But the infrared image also detects the nebula’s many protostars, still in the process of formation, seen here in red hues. In fact, red spots along the dark dusty filament to the left of the bright cluster include the protostar cataloged as HOPS 68, recently found to have crystals of the silicate mineral olivine within its protostellar envelope.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
What would happen if the Big Four became the Big Three?
By Francine McKenna – It has been 13 years since energy trading firm Enron imploded in an accounting fraud scandal. That was followed by the collapse of its auditor, Arthur Andersen, which reduced the number of large global audit firms from five to four.
Auditors provide the checks and balances on company financial statements, and are there to reassure investors that an independent and objective eye is looking over a company’s books. Auditors also give an opinion as to whether the company is going to stay in business.
For multinationals, that check usually comes from one of the Big Four, for two reasons. First, multinational organizations are complex, and their accounting requires global and industry-specific expertise that only the Big Four can offer. Second, the US government has mandated demand for the service. Large public companies must be audited by an audit firm registered with the regulator, created by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. Most global companies pay one of the Big Four firms to audit them, and can hire the same firms for tax and consulting advice.
This model was scrutinized after Enron. The US Department of Justice accused Arthur Andersen of going easy on Enron because of a long, cozy relationship, in part due to consulting charges that substantially exceeded audit fees. That scrutiny subsided after Sarbanes-Oxley limited the types of consulting services an auditor could provide to its audit clients. But the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has brought no big cases on this issue against the Big Four since 2002, and audit firms have since regrown their consulting practices, serving both audit and nonaudit clients. Consulting revenues for the two largest firms, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Deloitte, grew faster than audit revenues in fiscal 2013. more> http://tinyurl.com/qyu2b8u
By Paul Livingstone – In the early 2000s, another innovation helped set the stage for the proliferation of LCD displays: Multilayer Optical Film. Invented at 3M Company, Minneapolis, Minn., the film represented a breakthrough in fundamental physics and greatly improved screen visibility and power consumption. Today, the film is an important component in most of the 245 million LCD-based displays sold globally.
Andrew J. Ouderkirk, a corporate scientist for 3M’s Electronics Markets Materials Div., led this research effort, as well as projects that have resulted in 170 patents. Not every product development story is as successful as Multilayer Optical Film, but Ouderkirk’s ability to innovate while anticipating how products will be useful in the commercial space has helped 3M open significant new markets in materials and optical films. more> http://tinyurl.com/m2ooxnd
Posted in Business, Economic development, Economy, History, Leadership, Science, Technology
Tagged 3M, Business improvement, Electronics, Industrial economy, Leadership, Manufacturing, Super regions, Technology, United States
By Felix Salmon – Google went public in 2004 — and they have, since then, been true to their word. They have not been maximizing short-term profits; neither have they been stinting on long-term investments. Today (Jan 14), Google spent $3.2 billion to acquire Nest. Google is drowning in cash: it has more than $58 billion to spend, so this acquisition barely makes a dent in the company’s war chest.
On the same day, Suntory spent even more money — a whopping $13.6 billion in cash, plus another $2.4 billion in assumed debt — to buy Beam, a coveted whiskey company.
If there’s one big lesson to be drawn from today’s M&A activity, it’s that there’s still serious amounts of strategic cash on the sidelines if the right target comes along. As Charter’s $37.3 billion bid for Time Warner Cable proves. more> http://tinyurl.com/n2ehvvm
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