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City cemetery and its history

Withered trees, rusty gates, crumbling stones, a lonely mourner. These things come to mind when we think about cemeteries. But not so long ago, many burials were busy places with blooming gardens and crowds of people strolling among the tombstones.

How has the city cemetery become what it is today? Some of them have existed for centuries, as the world’s largest, Wadi al-Salaam, where more than five million people are buried. Here, burials have been performed daily for over 1,400 years. But most places that we would call cemeteries are much younger.

In fact, throughout most of human history, we have not buried our dead at all. Our ancient ancestors had many other ways to part with their deceased loved ones. Some of them were left in caves. Others on trees or on top of mountains. Still others were sunk in lakes, sent to sea, ritually eaten or cremated. All of these practices, although some may seem strange today, are a way of worshiping the dead.

The first known burials about 120 thousand years ago were most likely reserved for violators, excluding them from ordinary rituals designed to honor the dead. But the first burials revealed some advantages over other practitices. They protected bodies from scavengers, the influence of the environment, and decay. These benefits may have altered the thinking of ancient people about graves designed to honor the dead, and burial has become a more common occurrence. Sometimes these graves contained household or ritual objects that could be useful in the afterlife.

Community burial sites appeared in North Africa and West Asia about 10-15 thousand years ago. Around the same time as the first permanent settlements in these areas. These burials created permanent places to commemorate the dead. Nomadic Scythians dotted the steppes with burial mounds, the Etruscans built huge network-like streets with tombs, called necropolises, in Rome in the underground catacombs, both cremation urns and intact remains were located.

Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris

The concept of “city cemetery” was first used by the ancient Greeks, who built tombs on the outskirts of their cities. In medieval European cities, Christian cemeteries were located in church yards where the dead were buried, as well as markets, fairs, etc. Farmers even grazed cattle on them, believing that graveyard grass would make milk more sweet. As cities grew during the Industrial Revolution, large suburban cemeteries were replaced by small urban cemeteries. Cemeteries such as the nearly 50-hectare Pere Lachaise in Paris or the 70-hectare Mount Auburn in Cambridge, Massachusetts were lush gardens filled with sculpted stones and richly decorated tombs. Subsequently, the reserved land for the rich and powerful became available to the middle class. People visited cemeteries for funerals, but also for anniversaries, holidays, or just picnics.

By the end of the 19th century, when more public parks and botanical gardens appeared, the city cemetery began to lose visitors. Today, many old cemeteries are secluded places. Some famous cemeteries in the Western world lure visitors with tours, concerts and other entertainment, but even when old cemeteries are reborn, future graves are revised. In cities like London, New York and Hong Kong, the burial place ends. Even in places where space is not so scarce, cemeteries constantly occupy land that cannot be cultivated or developed. Traditional landfills consume materials such as metal, stone and concrete, and can also contaminate soil and groundwater with toxic substances.

Forests over Cemeteries

With increased awareness of environmental issues, people are looking for alternatives. Many turn to cremation and related practices. Along with this, people can now send the remains of the deceased into space, use them to grow trees or make jewelry, fireworks or even tattoos from the ashes of the deceased. In the future, such options may completely replace burial sites. Cemeteries may be our most famous monuments to the departed, but they are just one step in the ever-evolving process of perpetuating and honoring the dead.

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Planet Earth

Michigan nurse shares details of what is happening in hospitals

One of Michigan’s nurses shot a terrifying video of her workday so people would be more careful about their health and especially with coronavirus. The woman added that she felt as if she was in a battlefield.  During her story, she was constantly in tears.

During her last shift, the duration of which was 13 hours, she was separately from her colleagues and was involved in the treatment of two seriously ill patients. She supported them with an assisted breathing apparatus. The nurse encourages people to be more careful and take this problem as seriously as possible.

The nurse plead for hospitals to make every effort possible to eliminate the effects of the coronavirus outbreak, which has only recently intensified. To date, Michigan is in fifth place in case numbers, in which more than two thousand are infected with coronavirus and at least 43 deaths were recorded.

Just a few days ago, two hospitals already announced that they were completely full and they did not have the opportunity to accept new patients. The state expects that over the next three weeks the number of patients may increase to 16 thousand. The government, in turn, said that at the moment there are only 25 thousand beds, 80% of which are already occupied.

The number of cremated people in Wuhan significantly exceeded the death toll from coronavirus

On March 23, Chinese authorities allowed relatives of coronavirus victims in Wuhan to receive the urns with the ashes of their relatives. According to Liu Ping (pseudonym), a local resident who was in front of the Hankou funeral home, there were huge queues of people lined up. Liu Ping arrived in the morning to pick up her father’s ashes, and was only able to pick up the ashes at 14:00.

After leaving the bureau, Liu Ping saw a truck that was transporting bins. She found out from the driver that an order had been placed for 2500 boxes, the same quantity had been delivered the day before. A total of 5 thousand deaths from coronavirus is against the 2531 official cases. This information is from only one funeral home. There are eight in total in Wuhan.

According to Sun Jiatong, deputy director of the Wuhan City Civil Affairs Bureau, 21,703 corpses were cremated in a month and a half, eight times the official statistics.

At first, all the bodies were planned to be taken to the Hankou crematorium, but there were no available spaces there. As a result, other local institutions accepted and shared the dead between them. It is scary to imagine the real number of deaths in the whole of China.

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Planet Earth

Evidence of the “end of the world” by a huge comet found in Syria

During archaeological excavations in the area of ​​the Syrian settlement of Abu Hureira, scientists came across sensational evidence of a global catastrophe that occurred 12,800 years ago.

It is believed that it was caused by the explosion in the Earth’s atmosphere of a huge comet – a piece of rock covered with ice and methane, which led to a powerful cooling, the collapse of ancient civilizations and the disappearance of many animals, such as mammoths.

An amazing layer of “dark matter” brought from outer space was found in Abu Hureira. Rich in carbon and platinum, it contains millions of nanodiamonds and tiny metal spheres formed under the influence of huge temperature.

At a temperature of 2200 degrees, the soil turned into pieces of glass scattered throughout Abu Hureira, even the most refractory elements, such as silicon, flowed.

The temperature that arose on Earth could melt a car in one minute. Even with modern technology it is very difficult to achieve such temperatures, and even on such large areas. This is not observed during lightning strikes and even during volcanic eruptions. A molten mass appeared on the caked earth’s surface, which, upon cooling, turned into thousands of glass fragments. A temperature close to this occurs only in explosions of nuclear devices.

This could only happen when the Earth collided with a cosmic body flying at high speed. The glazed soil turned out to be rich in minerals with chromium, iron, nickel, sulfides, titanium and iridium-enriched iron. All this was also brought to Earth by a comet.

A monstrous cosmic body with a thousand explosions covered both hemispheres of the Earth. That ancient catastrophe reminds mankind that it can be expected any day. Although, even with such a catastrophe, the human race managed to survive and adapt to new conditions.

Comets travel in orbits of incredible length that extend beyond the limits of the solar system, and one can only guess what else will fly to us from distant worlds. The comet materials were scattered over a territory of more than 14 thousand kilometers in the Northern and Southern hemispheres. One of the explosions of a part of a decaying comet occurred near Abu Hureira, which at that time was inhabited by nomads who had settled down to engage in farming. The same glazed samples of molten soil were found during excavations in southern Chile.

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SARS-CoV-2 virus: important questions that are not yet answered

© REUTERS, China Daily via REUTERS

Unanswered questions about the new coronavirus do not let you know what will happen in the near future. Can I get infected twice? How long will a pandemic last? Will the number of victims increase or vice versa decrease? 

To predict the spread and further evolution of SARS-CoV-2 (the official name for the new coronavirus CoVID-19), fundamental data are needed, but so far they have not been obtained. In this case, one of the most important issues is the possibility of re-infection. To date, in addition to the dubious cases described in the press, re-infection has been scientifically proven by only four medical professionals in Wuhan, China. Symptoms in all confirmed repeated cases were mild. We tell you what the next few months may be and whether it is worth worrying for those who have had a new coronavirus.

Is it possible to get the new coronavirus again?

According to the Spanish El Pais, the authors of the work from Wuhan University admit that the results obtained on re-infection can be false positive, since sometimes the tests fail. However, it must be clarified that scientists repeated the test several times. If similar cases occur in the future, then all efforts made to contain CoVID-19 may prove futile.

Of all the possible explanations, double infection is the least realistic. Animal test results indicate that re-infection is not possible. Chinese scientists have found that macaques, who become infected with the new coronavirus and recover, do not get sick again a few days later, even if they are exposed to the virus. Preliminary research results can be found on the BiorXiv preprint server. 

The question also remains open about how quickly after a virus enters the body, a person becomes infectious – after a day or longer. Today we know that the incubation period can last from 5 to 14 days, but there are cases when symptoms appeared 24 days after infection. In this case, the immune system takes about a month to develop immune memory for the virus. 

This is how airports are disinfected

The question of the longevity of acquired immunity also remains unknown. The fact is that immunity to MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) – which jumped from a camel to a person and caused an epidemic that claimed the lives of more than 850 people – lasts less than a year. The same thing can happen with SARS-CoV-2, although at the moment it’s too early to talk about it. However, if the virus is capable of re-infection, it is likely to do so with much lower intensity, and the symptoms will be much easier.

Will the pandemic end in the fall?

The 1918 Spanish flu pandemic claimed the lives of more than 50 million people and raged for a year. However, most died during the second wave, which occurred in October. According to a study published by scientists from Imperial College London, after quarantine cancellation, the second wave of CoVID-19 will be almost inevitable. Researchers also warn that the stronger the quarantine measures, the more people can suffer during the second wave.

The question of whether everything will be as before

It must be understood that the meaning of isolation measures introduced in Italy, Spain and other European countries is not so much to prevent the spread of infection as to save hospitals – about 15% of infected need resuscitation and connection to mechanical ventilation and ECMO devices. Since the main problem of quarantine cancellation is the repeated spread of the virus, scientists propose that after the restrictive measures have been lifted, they establish safe periods of stay in the hospital, an alarm will be raised after the end of each stay and the population will be restricted again.

Does the new coronavirus mutate?

From an evolutionary point of view, the most successful viruses are the most infectious, not deadly, because their main purpose is reproduction. In most cases, the tendency is that viruses become less dangerous and allow the host to lead a more or less normal life. It is possible that such a fate awaits the new coronavirus. However, coronaviruses do not mutate much, since they encode a protein that corrects errors in DNA copying, which raises some concerns. Compared to other viruses, coronaviruses accumulate 10 times less errors in DNA, and therefore are much less variable.

One way or another, no one has been able to accurately predict the future. Therefore, today, as a society, we must take care of each other and follow all the recommendations of the World Health Organization. And yet, something is clear today – the pandemic will not pass quickly, and the usual order of things may change dramatically.

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