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Astronomers Have Located The Centre of The Solar System to Within 100 Metres – ScienceAlert

When you picture the Solar System in your head, most people would think of the Sun, stolid and stationary in the centre, with everything else whizzing about around it. But every body in the Solar System also exerts its own gravitational tug on the st

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Ten million Britons unable to attend funerals in lockdown – The Guardian

Two-thirds of bereaved UK adults had nothing to help them grieve, says study

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Nearly 10 million people were unable to attend the funeral of someone they knew during lockdown, according to a new study from the UKs largest undertaker, which warned that the nation is heading towards a national grief pandemic.
In its report, Co-op Funeralcare found Covid-19 restrictions meant that 9.7 million mourners had to stay away from cremations and burials. The figure is based on an estimate that 243,000 funerals went ahead in the UK during lockdown with an average of 10 attendees due to coronavirus rules, compared with 50 in normal times.
Warning of the long-term psychological impact of being unable to grieve properly, the study said the UK could experience a prolonged period of mourning for months, or even years, to come.
The report, called A Nation in Mourning, looked at Co-op Funeralcares own business data and YouGov research also supported by charity Cruse Bereavement Care. It found that nearly two-thirds (61%) of UK adults who had experienced a loss during lockdown said they had had nothing to help them to grieve.
The chain the UKs largest funeral director with more than 1,000 funeral homes conducting almost 100,000 funerals each year defines lockdown as from 23 March to 5 July.
Government guidelines, drawn up following lockdown in conjunction with ethicists and faith leaders, permitted only close family members to attend funerals while observing physical distancing. Some local councils, however, went further and prohibited any attendees at crematoriums and gravesides.
When asked for the new research about the most important way to say goodbye, 42% of UK adults chose being present when their loved one passes away, while 33% chose attending a funeral or memorial service.
David Collingwood, director of funerals at Co-op Funeralcare, said: A funeral provides a sense of closure for bereaved families and is very often the start of the grieving process. Sadly, the recent restrictions mean an estimated 243,000 bereaved families have been denied the right to say goodbye to their loved one in the way they would have wished.
We completely supported the need to introduce these restrictions at the beginning of the devastating coronavirus pandemic in the UK. Tragically, we dont yet know what the long-term psychological effects will be for families denied the last opportunity to say goodbye, so it is vital that we do everything possible to allow families and individuals to attend funerals, whilst always prioritising the health and safety of our communities.
In April, Co-op Funeralcare warned that funeral homes could go bust without government support because they were shouldering the cost of staging stripped-back services for coronavirus victims. Families did not require the traditional but costly extras where funeral services make their profit such as limousine hire, flowers and chapel of rest viewings.

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Andean condor can fly for 100 miles without flapping wings – The Guardian

World’s largest soaring bird flaps wings only 1% of time in flight, study shows

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A study sheds light on just how efficiently the worlds largest soaring bird rides air currents to stay aloft for hours without flapping its wings.
The Andean condor has a 3-metre (10ft) wingspan and weighs up to 15kg (33lbs), making it the worlds heaviest soaring bird.
For the first time, a team of scientists strapped recording equipment they called daily diaries to eight condors in Patagonia to record each wingbeat over more than 250 hours of flight time.
Incredibly, the birds spent just 1% of their time aloft flapping their wings, mostly during takeoff. One bird flew more than five hours, covering more than 100 miles (160km), without flapping its wings.
Condors are expert pilots but we just had not expected they would be quite so expert, said Prof Emily Shepard, a study co-author and biologist at Swansea University in Wales.
The results were published on Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The finding that they basically almost never beat their wings and just soar is mind-blowing, said David Lentink, an expert in bird flight at Stanford University, who was not involved in the research.
To birds, the sky is not empty but a landscape of invisible features: wind gusts, currents of warm rising air and streams of air pushed upward by ground features such as mountains.
Learning to ride air currents allows some to travel long distances while minimising the exertion of beating their wings.
Scientists who study flying animals generally consider two types of flight: flapping flight and soaring flight. The difference can be likened to peddling a bicycle uphill versus coasting downhill, said Bret Tobalske, a bird flight expert at the University of Montana, who was not involved in the study.
Previous studies have shown that white storks and osprey flap for 17% and 25% of their overland migratory flights, respectively.
The Andean condors expertise at soaring is essential for its scavenger lifestyle, which requires hours a day of circling high mountains looking for a meal of carrion, said Sergio Lambertucci, a study co-author and biologist at the National University of Comahue in Argentina.
When you see condors circling, they are taking advantage of those thermal uplifts, or rising gusts of warm air, he said.
The recording devices were programmed to fall off the birds after about a week.
Retrieving them was not so easy. Sometimes the devices dropped off into nests on huge cliffs in the middle of the Andes mountains, and we needed three days just to get there, Lambertucci said.

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Antique vampire-slaying kit up for auction. Bible, crucifix and pistol included. – Livescience.com

When vampires come calling, it’s important to be prepared

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An antique, brass-trimmed wooden box holds all the tools that you might require in order to slay a vampire
, including a 19th-century bible, crucifixes and a pistol. 
This “vampire-slaying kit” is estimated to be worth about $2,500 to $3,700 (£2,000 to £3,000) according to Hansons Auctioneers
in Derbyshire, England, which is taking bids on the box beginning July 21.
Lined with crimson silk, the inside of the lid is decorated with an oval enamel painting showing Christ’s resurrection. Next to that painting is an ivory carving of a wolf wearing a hooded robe and carrying rosary beads (though it is uncertain if the contents of the box are also suitable for dispatching werewolves
, as the auction listing only mentions vampires).
Related: 7 strange ways humans act like vampires
Inside the box are eight compartments holding: a copy of the New Testament published in 1842; a knife with a silver blade; a percussion cap pocket pistol; pliers, crucifixes and rosary beads; a vial with a metal lid — “contents unknown;” and a small bottle containing sharks’ teeth, according to the listing.
Vampire folklore and the belief in vampires can be traced to the ancient world. Indeed, burials dating to more than 1,000 years ago in Europe took safeguards to protect the living against the restless undead, with suspected vampires buried with stones in their mouths
or pinned in place with rocks or iron bars

Religious items such as crucifixes and bibles were thought to repel vampires. (Image credit: Hansons Auctioneers)
For people who believed in creatures that rose from the grave to drink blood, “the task of killing a vampire was extremely serious and historical accounts suggested the need for particular methods and tools,” Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers, said in a statement
.
However, alleged “vampires” were usually identified as such because people did not understand how infectious diseases spread, or because they misinterpreted a corpse’s appearance during natural decomposition, Live Science previously reported
.
As for the age and origins of this vampire-slaying kit — not to mention any indication that it was ever used to hunt and kill vampires — its current owner purchased it three years ago at an antiques fair in Newark-on-Trent in Nottinghamshire, England, and knows “very little of its history,” the owner told the auction house.
“I loved the look of the Gothic box and, when I opened it, I just had to have it,” said the owner, who lives in West Midlands in the U.K. and declined to be named. “I thought it was so interesting — a great conversation piece.” 
The kit is part of an online auction
of antiques and collectibles offered by Hansons Auctioneers, beginning on July 16. Other items include: 19th-century silver tableware, trays and cups; compacts and snuff boxes; and jewelry such as brooches, lockets and rings — though only the vampire box is described as an object of “supernatural interest,” according to the auction website.
Originally published on Live Science.

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