Another COVID variant has been identified. Known as XBB.1.5. or the ‘kraken’ variant, it has been detected in 28 countries and is showing signs of being able to evade national immunity or protection offered by vaccines. It is cause for concern due to low vaccine intakes in countries such as the US, and the reduction in testing over the past year.
According to research posted in Science, eight glasses of water a day is too much. As someone who needs water with a little flavour, this is good news! No one is quite sure where that figure (eight glasses) came from, although I’m assuming someone divided two litres by a 250ml glass size and came up with eight glasses!
The conclusion seems to be that how much water you need depends on the kind of person you are. Someone who has a desk job and doesn’t move around as much will have a smaller ‘water turnover’ than a professional athlete and therefore, they need less water. Water turnover is the total movement of water throughout the body, including what is taken in and what is lost. Depending on age, climate, gender and living conditions this will vary.
So, there is one size fits all when it comes to drinking water – it all depends on the kind of person you are. Given the benefits of water, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with aiming to drink eight glasses per day. As always, the key is to listen to your body and ensure that you remain hydrated.
How will the cost of living crisis affect people in the UK?
It all began a year ago. I had just finished self-isolating and the first place I ended up in was my local Tesco store. The joy of being released was swiftly overcome by sadness when I saw the increased price of my favourite brand of instant coffee. It was a small increase but it felt significant. I remember walking around the supermarket in a daze, wondering what had changed in the ten days I’d been shut away from the world. I wish I was exaggerating, but I was devastated. Something that was a nice treat for me was about to become a source of stress. A purchase that I couldn’t justify making when I had bills to pay. An increase on one item doesn’t seem significant but apply that across the board and the total price of my shopping seemed higher than it ought to be.
Of course, back then the reason was COVID-19 and global supply chain issues. Now, it’s a combination of the previous explanations, the Russia-Ukraine war and soaring inflation. Wages have either stagnated or increased by amounts that don’t meet the rising costs of household and essential goods. Energy bills have soared within the past year and the general consensus is that others will follow. McDonald’s even put the price of their cheeseburger up for the first time in 14 years.
To put it bluntly, we are in difficult times.
The Institute for Government defines the cost of living crisis as:
The fall in ‘real’ disposable incomes (that is, adjusted for inflation and after taxes and benefits) that the UK has experienced since late 2021.
According to them, the causes are inflation being higher than any increases in wages and benefits. The infographic below shows just how much of an impact this has had on people’s finances within the past year.
From a public health standpoint, if things continue we could see food and child poverty on an unprecedented scale. Parents may not be able to feed or clothe their kids. Families may not be able to turn on their heating this winter, leading to an increase in illness and a further burden on the already crippled NHS.
Mentally, the cost of living crisis is also wreaking havoc on the population. People feel hopeless and like they’re not in control of their own lives. There has been an increase in workforce strikes, with the most important being the upcoming nurses’ strike within the NHS.
There is grave concern about the long-lasting damage of this crisis on predominantly low-income people. This is because low-paying jobs do not reflect the rise in household goods and essentials. They do not have the resources needed because local councils are underfunded and unavailable to provide help. The danger is that these people will fall further and further behind compared to those who are better off.
The most damning part is that it feels like this is merely the beginning and unless the government do more to protect people from the harsh sting of the crisis, hundreds of thousands of people will find it extremely difficult to recover.
I regularly speak to people and groups about how they can reduce their carbon footprints. And of course, most of the things that reduce your carbon footprint also reduce your energy bills. As I’ve tried to make our 1920s family home zero carbon, we have also seen our bills fall. According to Ofgem, the average […]
In this new series, I will be examining the day-to-day questions in which the answer lies in science. You know, those questions that you get when something happens and you find yourself wondering why?
Today’s question is based on a little incident that happened to me recently. And, if I’m being honest, it’s not the first time.
The Big Question is…
Why does metal spark in the microwave?
I am sure most of us have been there. You forget yourself and the next thing you know, your microwave is giving you a mini fireworks display. I have decided to look into why this happens to ensure that it’s on my mind the next time I feel like warming up cold hotdogs wrapped up in foil.
As per How Stuff Works, it turns out its to do with how the microwave heats up the food. A microwave emits actual radio waves at a frequency of 2.4Ghz – and these waves are absorbed by water, fats and sugars and release heat, allowing the food to be warmed up. The waves are not absorbed by plastic, glass or ceramics – hence why you can heat food in these dishes. If you have ever heated something out of a packet, you’ll be familiar with instructions that say to use ‘non-metallic’ containers/bowls/plates.
This is because the radio waves emitted by the microwave are not absorbed by metal.
When they come into contact with small pieces of metal, like the edge of a piece of foil, an electrical current runs through and this is what ignites sparks. If the affected foil is attached to any form of paper, this can be what leads to fires.
Why does this happen?
Well, metals like aluminium foil tend to be flat and thin. When the food inside is heated, the water molecules evaporate into steam – releasing bursts of energy. With the food covered, there is nowhere for this energy to go and the foil itself becomes very hot. This can be very dangerous if the microwave is left unsupervised.
So, the lesson here is to always take precautions and ensure that foil is not used inside the microwave!
1. Make sure you get enough rest. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed and like there aren’t enough hours in the day, but ensuring you’re getting a good night’s sleep is vital.
2. Eat healthy and balanced meals. It’s easy to fall into bad habits when stressed, but overeating junk food can make you feel worse.
3. Don’t pressure yourself. Try to set attainable goals by breaking down more significant goals. This will help you hit your targets more often.
4. Get those feelings out. Talk to a trusted friend or put pen to paper. Keeping pent-up frustration locked away inside can lead to burnout or embarrassing outbursts. It’s always good to have an outlet.
5. Do something that makes you happy. This can be picking up a hobby, listening to music, or watching your favourite show. Take time to do something purely for yourself.
I have always enjoyed writing—whether it’s stories, poems, scripts, silly notes to myself, or pages and pages of unnecessary commentary on my favourite television shows. There is something about putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) that soothes me. One of my goals is to journal more, but in an increasingly digital world, I can never find the time. Writing online in the form of digital diaries and blogs is a great way to keep up with journaling, but I much prefer looking at the clean-lined paper and messing it up with my chicken scrawl.