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Family thanks maintenance employee for comforting dying mother in long term care facility – National Post



On April 6, Margaret Roper found out her 93-year-old mother, Iris Roper, was diagnosed with COVID-19.

Iris was a resident of the Chartwell Ballycliffe Long Term Care Residence in Ajax, Ontario. On April 12, the care facility announced four residents had died of COVID-19, and another 25 residents and staff had confirmed cases.

Margaret and the rest of her family were unable to see Iris — Ballycliffe was closed to visitors since mid-March — and the facility’s nurses and personal support workers were too busy to use their phones to allow the family to do video chats.

“I know they were pretty stressed with the pandemic,” Margaret Roper told the National Post.

Iris Roper, 93, passed away on April 20, 2020.

Courtesy Margaret Roper

Finally, Roper went to visit her mother at Ballycliffe. Since they weren’t allowed inside, Roper visited her through the window of her ground-floor room. Roper could see her, but Iris wasn’t very responsive — it seemed as though her eyes weren’t focusing. The nurses later told her many of the residents who were diagnosed with coronavirus were lethargic.

“It was heartbreaking,” Roper said.

But there was some light.

On April 17 — the day the facility notified Iris’ family that she had been placed in palliative care — Margaret’s sister was standing by the window when she saw a man attending to her mother. According to Margaret, he began to wave his phone with his number visible and she called it.

“He put the phone close to her ear and she was able to chat with mom,” Margaret said. “All of a sudden, she clapped her hands.”

The next day, Margaret and a few family members visited, and, hearing about her sister’s experience the day before, went to ask the front desk if anybody was available to phone them into Iris’ room, but to no avail.

But Margaret said that when she returned, the man was in her mother’s room again. They gave him a call and she says the family was able to say their goodbyes as the man held Iris’ hand.

You are not just the maintenance guy, you are a saint for your kindness

Before hanging up, Margaret asked if she could speak with the man.

“I said thank you for attending to my mom,” she said. “Are you a PSW or a nurse? He looked around and said ‘No, I’m just the maintenance guy.’

“I said ‘No sir, you are not just the maintenance guy, you are a saint for your kindness.’”

Sharon Ranalli, vice president of marketing & communications at Chartwell Retirement Residences, which manages Ballycliffe, told the National Post the employee was not available for comment. He is “a very humble man.”

“Our staff are working to not only offer care but also, as you heard about at Chartwell Ballycliffe, compassion, support and kindness. Our employees are very special people,” she said.

Iris Roper died on April 20 while listening to big band music — her favourite — on the radio, but Margaret and some relatives were allowed to be by her side.

“She had a peaceful passing,” Margaret Roper said.

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A 2020 space oddity? Mysterious metal object found in Utah desert –



A mysterious slab of metal stands silently in the desert, leaving Earth’s primates puzzled.

That’s how the Stanley Kubrick film 2001: A Space Odyssey begins. It’s also the way things are playing out in Utah in 2020, after biologists made a baffling discovery in the state’s southern desert.

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State wildlife officials say they were counting bighorn sheep from a helicopter last Wednesday when they stumbled upon a mysterious slab of metal sticking up out of the rock. The object stood 3-3.7 metres tall and appeared to be completely solid and undecorated, according to a crew from the Utah Department of Public Safety and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

Its true origin is unknown.

“One of the biologists is the one who spotted it and we just happened to fly directly over the top of it,” helicopter pilot Bret Hutchings told Utah broadcaster KSLTV.

Read more:
Mysterious radio signal from space traced to ‘zombie’ in our galaxy

Hutchings and the crew of biologists touched down nearby and ventured down into a red-rock cove to examine the object up close.

Video shows it’s a solid piece of metal standing as tall as two humans.

“The intrepid explorers go down to investigate the alien life form,” one crew member said with a chuckle, in video they later provided to KSLTV.

Hutchings says the group had some fun with the discovery, though they still don’t know exactly they’re dealing with.

“We were joking around that if one of us suddenly disappears, I guess the rest of us make a run for it,” Hutchings said.

The object appeared to have been planted in place and likely did not fall into position from above, Hutchings said.

State officials did not indicate exactly where they found the monolith because it was in a remote area that is dangerous for hikers. They say they’d rather not inspire amateur adventurers to go out looking for it in hopes of solving the mystery.

Read more:
‘Hell’ planet found with lava oceans, rocky rain and supersonic winds

“That’s been about the strangest thing that I’ve come across out there in all my years of flying,” Hutchings said.

He added that the object is probably an art installation or a tribute to Kubrick’s film.

The opening scene of 2001: A Space Odyssey depicts a race of ape-like human ancestors who swarm over a mysterious slab of metal that suddenly appears in their rocky home. One of the apes learns how to use tools a short time after the object appears.

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No members of the helicopter crew have reported any incredible scientific discoveries to date, but that hasn’t stopped people from speculating about the object’s origin.

The Utah Highway Patrol encouraged followers to guess about the object’s purpose, triggering a slew of guesses about aliens, wormholes, interdimensional portals and Kubrick’s film.

Many users called for the object to be left alone, if only to avoid any further misfortunes during a historically weird 2020.

“If I were y’all I’d wait until at least 2021, maybe 2022 for good measure, before touching it,” one user wrote.

“PUT IT BACK!” another user wrote. “We’ve had enough surprises this year.”

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Scientists produce diamonds in minutes at room temperature –



“Natural diamonds are usually formed over billions of years, about 150 kilometres deep in the Earth where there are high pressures and temperatures above 1,000 degrees Celsius,”  Jodie Bradby, professor at The Australian National University and one of the authors of the study, said in a media statement.

“The twist in this story is how we apply the pressure. As well as very high pressures, we allow the carbon to also experience something called ‘shear’ – which is like a twisting or sliding force. We think this allows the carbon atoms to move into place and form Lonsdaleite and regular diamond.” 

The RMIT team’s pictures showed that the regular diamonds only form in the middle of these Lonsdaleite veins under this new method. (Image courtesy of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology).

To observe and understand how this process works, the researchers used advanced electron microscopy techniques to capture solid and intact slices from the experimental samples to create snapshots of how the two types of diamonds formed.

The pictures showed that the regular diamonds only form in the middle of Lonsdaleite veins under this new method.

“Seeing these little ‘rivers’ of Lonsdaleite and regular diamond for the first time was just amazing and really helps us understand how they might form,” Dougal McCulloch, the study’s lead author and a professor at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, said. 

According to the scientists, Lonsdaleite has the potential to be used for cutting through ultra-solid materials on mining sites. As such, they said that creating more of this rare diamond is the long-term aim of their work.

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Siemens, Deutsche Bahn launch local hydrogen trains trial – The Guardian



MUNICH (Reuters) – Siemens Mobility and Deutsche Bahn have started developing hydrogen-powered fuel cell trains and a filling station which will be trialled in 2024 with view to replace diesel engines on German local rail networks.

The prototype, to be built by Siemens, is based on electric railcar Mireo Plus which will be equipped with fuel cells to turn hydrogen and oxygen into electricity on board, and with a battery, both companies said.

Siemens mobility chief executive Michael Peter told Reuters the train combined the possibility to be fed by three sources in a modular system – either by the battery, the fuel cell or even existing overhead lines, depending on where it would run.

German railway operator Deutsche Bahn has not electrified 40% of its 33,000 kilometre (km) long network, on which it runs 1,300 fossil-fuel emitting diesel locomotives.

Rail transport must be decarbonised over the long-term under European Union and national climate targets.

“Our hydrogen trains are able to replace diesel-fuelled trains in the long term,” Peter said.

The new prototype will be fuelled within 15 minutes, have a range of 600 km and a top speed of 160 km/hour.

It will be tested between Tuebingen, Horb and Pforzheim in Baden Wuerttemberg state.

The main target market are operators of regional networks that typically re-order lots of 10 to 50 trains, Peter said.

“We see a market potential of 10,000-15,000 trains in Europe that will need to be replaced over the next 10-15 years, with 3,000 alone in Germany,” he said.

Each train will cost between five and 10 million euros ($5.9-$11.9 million), creating a market potential of 50-150 billion euros overall.

The Berlin government expects green hydrogen to become competitive with fossil fuels over the long term and to play a key role in decarbonising industry, heating and transport.

(Reporting by Joern Poltz in Munich and Vera Eckert in Frankfurt, editing by David Evans)

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