x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Kick off those heels, girls … at least at your desk

Plus a cape made of spider silk; Disney changes its facial hair policy; British government employees are partial to beach volleyball; and more news you can lose.

Women who wear high heels for lengthy periods are risking serious damage to their muscles and tendons.

A study released this week in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that wearing high-heel shoes every day caused shortened calf muscles and put extra stress on tendons. Researchers also discovered that the women in the sample walked differently even when they were barefoot or wearing flats.

Scientists at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia asked the survey group to bring their favourite high heels to their laboratory for monitoring. As a result they now recommend that women should wear heels no more than "once or twice a week" or if that is too much to ask "to remove the heels whenever possible, such as when you're sitting at your desk".


British MPs head to beach

Questions have been asked about why British parliamentarians bought twice as many tickets for the beach volleyball tournament at this year's London Olympics as they did for the athletics events.

Government ministers spent £26,000 (Dh149,000) for 410 tickets to beach volleyball, which is rarely played in Britain.

Jonathan Stephens, a permanent under secretary at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, said the surge in sales was an "oddity" and had nothing to with the rules of the sport, which specify that women competitors must wear a top "closely fitted to the body" and briefs with "a side width no greater than three inches".

Instead, he claimed there was more demand for weekend tickets, which is when beach volleyball will be played.


Dolphins learn to talk whale

Researchers have found that some dolphins appear to be trying to learn to speak whale. After studying a group of captive animals at a dolphinarium in France, they found them making sounds like humpback whales.

The dolphins had heard the whales on a soundtrack played during their performances at Planete Sauvage, outside Paris. They later repeated the sounds in their enclosure at night. One theory is that dolphins mimic sounds in their sleep as a way of processing memories.


One cape, a lot of spiders

A cape made from spider silk has gone on display in London. The hand-embroidered garment has taken eight years to weave, using silk from 1.2 million Madagascar golden orb spiders. A team of 70 workers extracted about 25 metres of silk from each spider before returning them to the wild.

Spider silk is stronger and softer than regular silk thread, but since it takes 14,000 to produce two grams, the commercial prospects are felt to be limited. Another problem is that golden orb spiders tend to bite each others' heads off in captivity.


Disney embraces the beard

Workers at Disney theme parks are to be allowed to grow beards for the first time in the company's history.

Disney banned facial hair on its male employees when the first theme parks opened in the 1950s and '60s in Florida and California. It lifted the ban on moustaches in 2000, as long as workers grew them while on leave.

Now Disney says beards and goatees will be allowed from February on condition that they are short and neat. The founder, Walt Disney, famously sported a moustache, while six of the Seven Dwarves were bearded.