RIO DE JANEIRO – Betto Almeida is the Mr. Lucky of Rio’s Carnival. The 36-year-old artist awakes at 8 a.m. Has a little breakfast. Survives a commute through the city’s tough traffic. Arrives at the office by 11.
Then he spends hours painting the bodies of gorgeous women — and earning as much as $2,000 a day.
“You wouldn’t believe how many applications I get for an assistant,” Almeida deadpanned, never taking his eyes from his work as he brushed bright orange paint on the stomach of a model in his glass-enclosed studio under the grandstands at the Sambadrome, where Rio’s Carnival parades ended Tuesday at dawn.
“But it’s hard work, man. I take my job seriously.” Slight, soft-spoken and unassuming, Almeida devotes his art to a sideshow of the samba parades: models who earn about $250 a night to mingle, clad only in paint, with high-rollers in the luxury boxes. Wearing plaid pants, a green shirt with a red phoenix on it and a denim-and-camouflage hat, Almeida goes about his work with a nonchalant air as the party-crazed hordes outside press their noses to the glass and snap photos.
His day job is art director on television soap operas, but for the past 12 years he has been brushing, dripping and spraying paint on some of the most beautiful bodies Brazil’s Carnival has to display. Michele Peres, a 28-year-old model wearing tiny black shorts, snakeskin stilettos and a watch, said the quality of Almeida’s work was vital to her professional success.
“I’ve been doing this for nine years, for Carnival and other events,” she said as Almeida painted a jaguar on her breasts. “He is the best body painter I’ve come across and his work draws more attention to me. It is good for him, it is good for me.” A gentleman tapped on the studio window and, as gingerly as a drunk Carnival reveler could, requested that Peres turn toward the growing crowd. With a barely perceptible sigh, she complied, not hesitating to light up a smile once the cameras started popping.
Luana Minini, a 22-year-old actress, was making her first appearance as a Carnival body paint model and she took a slightly more timid stance: She had Almeida paint critical areas of her body in a back room before agreeing to have a red parrot with green wings covering her chest completed under the public’s gaze. “I’ve always worked in theater and dance. This is a bit more free- spirited. But I’ve learned to control my nervousness. The paint acts as a cover, it makes me feel protected,” she said, motioning toward the jungle foliage in which the parrot on her breast resided.
Both women said some men — mostly foreigners — get a little frisky in the box seats, where the models mingle for 15 minutes before taking a champagne break for 15 minutes in a glassed-front room next to Almeida’s work space.
“It gets a little rowdy. Not too many men grab us or anything, but there is always one or two who get a little confused,” Minini said. “Brazilians understand the ambiance of Carnival and they come here prepared to see this.”
As the models answered questions, Almeida kept working. On his knees behind Peres, he dipped his brush into one of a dozen plastic water bottles cut in half to hold his paint, carefully painting jaguar spots on the back of the model’s thighs.
Sweat on his brow, he said the hard work is worth it. A modeling agency that employs the women pays him $1,000 for the roughly two hours it takes to paint each model. During the samba parades, he paints two women a night. And in a typical year will paint a minimum of 50 women for various events.
“I started doing it for theater and one of the samba parade officials asked if I would do it for Carnival models. How could I say no?” he asked, diving into a cheeseburger after finishing up with Peres. “A lot of guys are jealous of my job.”
We live on Earth, which orbits the sun. Our sun is really a star, one of the hundreds of billions in our galaxy, the Milky Way. Our galaxy has a few galactic neighbors, and together we’re called the Local Group. Until recently, scientists thought that our beloved galaxy was about half as massive as Andromeda, a nearby galaxy in the Local Group. They also thought the Milky Way was spinning slower than our neighbors.
Just as it’s difficult to tell how large the ocean is when you’re in the middle of it floating on a raft, scientists have been mistaken about the size of the Milky Way. Based on new information, astronomers — scientists who study the universe — have produced a new map of the Milky Way. It turns out our galaxy is about 50 percent more massive and spinning about 100,000 miles per hour faster than scientists thought. These two measurements are connected: The more mass a galaxy has, the faster it spins.
Our galaxy, far from being the littlest member of the Local Group, is actually one of the fastest-spinning and most massive. The new study suggests that our galaxy has as much mass as roughly 3 trillion suns, That’s about as hefty as Andromeda, which the Milky Way now ties with as the largest member of the Local Group. The new measurements also mean that these two galaxies will smash into each other earlier than astronomers thought. (But don’t worry — that’s not for a long, long time.)
The new study also turned up surprising findings about the shape of the Milky Way. Astronomers found that our galaxy has four arms. Two of them contain all kinds of stars (like the sun), and two of them contain only newborn stars. The researchers were also able to count how many times each arm wound around the galaxy’s center.
To study the Milky Way, astronomers led by Mark Reid of Harvard University used an unusual type of telescope called a radio telescope. Instead of looking into the sky for visible light — like we see in the night sky — these telescopes measure the radio waves that move through space. On Earth, we use radio waves to send information through the air. In space, however, cosmic objects also send out radio waves, though they tend to be spaced much closer together than the radio waves we use on Earth.
When astronomers use light telescopes, they can’t see through thick layers of dust in space. But when they use radio telescopes, dust isn’t a problem, and astronomers can “hear” what’s going on in space. In this study, astronomers listened to regions of the galaxy where the radio waves were amplified, or increased, by clouds of methanol gas. By measuring how fast the sources of these waves moved through the sky, scientists were able to calculate the speed of the galaxy. And from the speed, they were able to better estimate the galaxy’s mass.
The new, more accurate map of our galaxy may lead to a new understanding of it. A more accurate mass will give scientists clues about how our galaxy has changed over time. But some astronomers say that more research needs to be done before we’re sure what, exactly, the Milky Way looks like.
View more pictures of Milkyway at Photo Gallery
Six Sigma at many organizations simply means a measure of quality that strives for near perfection. Six Sigma is a disciplined, data-driven approach and methodology for eliminating defects (driving towards six standard deviations between the mean and the nearest specification limit) in any process — from manufacturing to transactional and from product to service.
The statistical representation of Six Sigma describes quantitatively how a process is performing. To achieve Six Sigma, a process must not produce more than 3.4 defects per million opportunities.
Different definitions about Six Sigma from around the web are as follows:
- Six Sigma TerminologyA methodology that provides businesses with the tools to improve the capability of their business processes.
- Process Improvement Glossary –A method or set of techniques. Six Sigma is generally used to indicate that a business process is well controlled.
- Circuit City – In 2001 Six Sigma was introduced as an initiative within Circuit City’s annual report.  Six Sigma is applied to Circuit City’s operational side such as supply chain and distribution centers.
- Tamworth Quality Services – This is a complete system of quality management originating in the USA, but now becoming popular in the UK.
- Wikipedia – Six Sigma is a business management strategy, originally developed by Motorola, that today enjoys wide-spread application in many sectors of industry. Six Sigma seeks to identify and remove the causes of defects and errors in manufacturing and business processes.
- Quality Glossary – A failure rate of 3.4 parts per million or 99.9997%
- Glossary of terms and definitions – A set of practices first created by Motorola that attempts to systematically remove imperfections in manufacturing processes while improving quality and efficiency; also, a set of practices that specifies the mathematical precision of measurements.
- eMJA Glossary – A systematic method for improving the operational performance of an organisation by eliminating variability and waste (“sigma” stands for standard deviation from the mean in a normal distribution).
- Mayo Medical Laboratories – A statistical concept that represents the amount of variation present relative to customer requirements or specifications.
- Industry Forum – A ‘measure of goodness’ involving the application of statistical methods to business processes to improve operating efficiency, reduce variation, avoid defects and reduce waste.
- Pulse – It is a methodology to manage process variations that cause defects and to systematically work towards managing variation to eliminate those defects. The objective of Six Sigma is to deliver world-class performance, reliability, and value to the end customer.
- Obis Omni – A quality management program to achieve “six sigma” levels of quality. Pioneered by Motorola in the mid-1980s, it aims to have the total number of failures in quality, or customer satisfaction, occur beyond the sixth sigma of likelihood in a normal distribution of customers.
- Lean Manufacturing Glossary – Six Sigma is a statistical term that equates to 3.4 defects per one million opportunities. Typical manufacturers operate at around three sigma, or 67,000 defects per million. Six Sigma can achieve dramatic improvement in business performance through a precise understanding of customer requirements and the elimination of defects from existing processes, products and services. Key tenets of Six Sigma: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control. To fully embrace Six Sigma, an organization must work intimately with all internal disciplines in addition to external suppliers and customers.
- Qmi Solutions – A methodology and set of tools used to reduce quality problems to less than 3.4 defects per million or better.
- ISSEL – A quality management and process improvement methodology particularly well-suited to process-intensive industries like manufacturing. Six Sigma measures a given process by its average performance and the standard deviation (or variation) of this performance, aiming to reduce the occurrence of defects in a given process to a level of “”Six Sigma”outside the norm; no more than 3.4 times per million.