Bits & Bobs

Cohabitation in the 21st Century

A recent report published by the Jubilee Centre, Cambridge, and authored by Dr. John Hayward and Dr. Guy Brandon sheds some interesting light onto the idea that living together is a good basis for testing if a marriage would work.

Some of its key findings are:
Cohabitation is generally short-lived. Couples live together for a mean of three years, with almost a half separating before two years. More than half of all cohabitees who separate do so in less than two years.

Cohabitation is a less stable form of relationship today than it was fifteen years ago. Even then, cohabitation was markedly less stable than marriage.

The proportion of couples still cohabiting by the time their first child is sixteen has dropped more than five-fold over fourteen years.

Married couples are now more than ten times as likely to stay together until their child is sixteen.

Couples who live together before marriage are 60 per cent more likely to divorce within ten years of the start of their live-in relationship.

The full report is available free at:

What to teach your children in the garden

Photographs of dew drops on spider webs are favourite targets for nature photographers, because they resemble strings of pearls on fine jewellery. But did you know the reason dewdrops bead up so well on webs is due to the fine microstructure of the spider silk? A team of Chinese scientists studied this phenomenon and reported in Nature how it works.

Their description is almost as dazzling as the photos. Many biological surfaces in both the plant and animal kingdom possess unusual structural features at the micro- and nanometre-scale that controls their interaction with water and hence wettability. Anyone who has admired spider webs adorned with dew drops will appreciate that spider silk is also capable of efficiently collecting water from air. It is the structural detail – the pattern of alternating random and aligned nanofibrils – that collects the dew and channels it into drops. Imagine living out in the wild and having your water brought to you. Spiders don’t need to look for water because the silk fibres that they spin are highly efficient at collecting it from moist air.

So, next time you are in the garden, here is something to reflect on with your child. We should never take simple things for granted. It’s clear that the spider can teach humans their design principles, but who taught them to the spider?



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