24.11.2022
Mercedes is charging $1,200/year for quicker acceleration in its cars

German carmaker Mercedes has sparked controversy by introducing a $1,200 (£990) per-year subscription to unlock enhanced performance in its cars.

The yearly fee – which equates to $100 (£82) per month – increases horsepower and torque (‘turning power’) for its EQ series of battery-powered electric vehicles.

With the subscription, the time taken to accelerate from 0-60mph is reduced by up to a one second, depending on the model.

It come shortly after BMW offered a subscription service to turn on heated seats in its cars, with various pricing options reminiscent of Netflix.

The subscription, called Acceleration Increase, is ‘coming soon’ solely for US and Canada customers according to Mercedes, as first noticed by The Drive.

It’s available for Mercedes EQE models (starting from $74,000) and Mercedes EQS models (starting from $102,000), debuted last year.

‘The feeling of driving your Mercedes-EQ is a new experience every day – particularly its powerful, immediate acceleration,’ the firm says on its website.

‘Acceleration Increase boosts this performance even further – electronically increasing the motor’s output also increases the torque significantly, giving you a faster 0-to-60mph time. Acceleration power you can feel.’

Increased torque will let drivers accelerate their vehicle ‘noticeably faster and more powerfully’, according to the firm.

Fine tuning of the electric motors increases the maximum motor output (in kilowatts) by 20 per cent to 24 per cent, depending on the original output.

As noted by The Verge, the subscription doesn’t add to the car’s physical hardware but instead triggers a software update that unlocks capability in its electric motors.

This capability has already been built-in, so drivers are having to pay to access motor performance that their vehicle is already capable of.

It also suggests Mercedes has intentionally limited performance on its vehicles to sell it as an optional extra.

A Mercedes spokesperson told MailOnline that the ability to retrofit special vehicle functions after the initial purchase is ‘a useful way for customers to flexibly adapt their car and use certain functions only when they are really needed or desired’.

‘We are constantly reviewing our offer concept in order to react as flexibly and quickly as possible to our customers’ needs,’ the spokesperson said.

‘The goal is to generally offer on-demand features ex-factory as well as in the shop both as a subscription model and as a lifetime product.’

The spokesperson adeed that Mercedes will be offering Acceleration Increase as a permanent feature at a price that’s yet to be determined.

The feature has gone down badly with car fans, with one calling it ‘madness’.

Taking to Twitter, one user said: ‘So Mercedes is slowing down their cars on PURPOSE so that you can pay a monthly subscription to go faster?? What the heck, we have to stop this madness.’

Another added: ‘Late-stage capitalism is going to have people paying a monthly fee to improve the performance of a car they already bought.’

According to CarDealershipGuy, a tech enthusiast and anonymous CEO of an auto dealer group, there’s a larger trend across industries to create subscriptions.

‘The “Subscriptionization of Everything” is out of hand,’ CarDealershipGuy said on Twitter.

With subscriptions, companies can be guaranteed a constant revenue source rather than a one-off payment upon purchase.

Another example in the automobile industry is BMW, which generated significant controversy earlier this year when it introduced a subscription for heated seats.

BMW’s service charge £15 per month to turn on heated front seats, as well as an additional £10 per month to switch on the heated steering wheel.

One Twitter user pointed out: ‘Its like buying a laptop with a built in camera and having to pay the PC company every month to use that camera.’

Another added: ‘BMW started selling subscriptions for heated seats in their luxury models. I don’t care how wealthy you are, you’re an IDIOT if you go along with this.’

Meanwhile, Elon Musk’s Tesla charges £9.99 per month for ‘Premium Connectivity’, which gives drivers access to exclusive connectivity features over Wi-Fi.

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  • 1 час, 47 минут назад 06.12.2022Science
    Burst water main leaves 2,000 homes without heating in Sheffield as temperatures plunge

    Thousands of households in Stannington, Sheffield, have gone without gas for three nights after a flood cut off vast numbers of homes and businesses from the network. Cadent, a gas company, did warn that the problem would take “a number of days” to fix, adding that engineers and customer support teams are going from door to door to find the affected properties. To resolve the issue, the firm faces a “huge challenge” as it needs to get rid of all the water outside the gas mains.

    Cadent said in a statement on Monday: “This evening we will continue knocking on doors and pumping out water until 11pm. With the extra water tankers we brought in, we’ve pumped more than 400,000 litres of water out of the gas network and there’s still more water to pump out. This is a huge challenge, and we will continue to visit properties in the morning. “We’re working closely with our colleagues at Northern Powergrid. We want to make sure you are not without gas and electricity at the same time, so your help would be appreciated. We understand how challenging the current situation is but at this time the electricity network is at risk of overloading because of extra appliances being used.”

    The company is advising residents to try and limit their energy use, suggesting that they should only use electricity when it is really needed. They are also urging locals not to use too many items all at the same time to avoid the prospect of full-blown power outages.

    A Cadent spokesperson added: “Remember to turn lights off when you’re not using them or when you leave a room. Please don’t leave computers, games consoles or TVs on standby. Northern Powergrid are continuing to monitor the load on the network and have ask that any heaters that are not required are switched off, this will avoid the risk of a power outage in the area.”

    The team has reportedly been able to get rid of 400,000 litres of water so far, but the pipe remains water-logged and must be emptied before repairs are made.

    Lucy Ashton, a political reporter for BBC Sheffield, told BBC Radio Sheffield: “They are now saying they think it might be up to 2,000 homes which are affected. It is still a work in progress.

    “They are still trying to get to grips with how many residents, but they say that the original figure of 1,000 looks as though it has now doubled. They are also struggling to really give a timescale. They think that for the underground gas pipe, it could be another two to three days before that’s fixed.”

    Lib Dem Councillor for Stannington Penny Baker, who is also the deputy chair of the housing policy committee on Sheffield City Council, said that while the situation is tough, residents have been showing “remarkable” levels of resilience, but said that the situation is “very worrying”.

    She told BBC Radio Sheffield: “They are remarkable. They are grateful for any help and support that they get. They are going out there and helping the neighbours…It is a fabulous community spirit, but it is worrying. It is really worrying.

    “It is basically kitchens that are getting impacted…and at this time of year, in these temperatures and the cold snap coming up.”

    This comes as weather forecasters predict that temperatures set to plunge to -5C in certain parts of the UK. The first cold spell of winter will hit Northern Ireland later this week, with sub-zero temperatures at night and wintry showers expected to come.

    The Met Office has now issued a Level 3 amber alert for cold weather for England – the second highest level – from Wednesday until Monday next week.

    But while the Stannington event has left homes without gas purely due to an accident, it could be a taste of things to come as National Grid has warned the UK could experience planned rolling blackouts in January and February.

    Under its “unlikely worst-case scenario” in its Winter Outlook, the energy supplier warns that areas may be subjected to three-hour blackouts if Britain can’t shore up enough energy imports from Europe this winter.

    Back in October, National Grid’s chief executive John Pettigrew said that the firm could be forced to take action on “really, really cold” evenings at the coldest time of year. It may involve planned power cuts between 4pm and 7pm on weekdays in a bid to conserve energy.

    But rather than hitting the entire country at once, it would “roll” the power outages across the UK, with different areas following local timetables. However rolling blackouts were among the most “extreme” proposals in the company’s Winter Outlook, with less severe options including a voluntary incentive scheme for customers.

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  • 1 час, 47 минут назад 06.12.2022Science
    OVO Energy to hand thousands of Britons new lifeline with ‘simple change’ to slash bills

    As millions of families struggle with their energy bills, energy firm OVO has unveiled a new service that it believes will help households slash their energy bills by £260. Under this scheme, which will be first trialled for hundreds in the south west, trained energy experts from the company will visit households to provide a free home assessment on how they can increase their energy efficiency. As the global fossil fuel energy crisis has sent bills spiralling, experts have hailed energy efficiency measures as a way to permanently lower them, by reducing reliance on expensive natural gas.

    OVO believes its Energy Experts service, launching today, could potentially deliver savings of up to £260 per household across the UK, by offering cheap and easy ways to lower their bills.

    This scheme comes after recent polling found that 88 percent of Britons would like more help managing their energy bills, with 76 percent of those surveyed saying that it was their number one priority for saving cash in 2023.

    Speaking to Express.co.uk, Raman Bhatia, the CEO of OVO said: “The UK has some of the leakiest, oldest and coldest homes in Europe. British homes lose heat up to three times faster than homes in Germany, and we are lagging far behind other European countries when it comes to making our houses energy efficient.

    “With warm air escaping through poorly fitted windows, gaps in doors and badly insulated roofs, heating systems are working harder to keep us warm. But this is a fixable problem.”

    OVO noted that according to recent research by the University of Warwick, the UK could save more than £10billion could be saved on energy bills each year if leaky homes were upgraded and insulated.

    By reducing household reliance on expensive imported natural gas, the Treasury could save the huge sums of money it planned on using for the Energy Price Guarantee.

    Mr Bhatia continued: “Energy companies, the housing industry and the Government need to work together to make our homes more energy efficient. If we don’t act now, we will miss the opportunity to tackle the energy crisis head on.

    “We are stepping up. Our latest Energy Experts trial offers a free home health report to help show households how they could save up to £260 on bills per year through simple changes and a free energy tracker to help reduce their energy usage.

    “71 percent of consumers think that green technology is too complicated or too expensive to adopt. Yet small changes – such as draught proofing gaps – could save £125 per year.

    “But these measures aren’t just about getting through this winter – they are about future-proofing our homes for all the winters to come and improving our energy resilience through insulation. “

    While over two thirds of those surveyed (71 percent), believed that “green technology” measures are too complicated and expensive to adopt, OVO noted that even the most simple energy measures – such as insulation for a hot water cylinder and low energy light bulbs – can cost up to £175 but generate a saving of £135 per year.

    In total, the company estimates that their free energy service could help customers save up to £260 by highilighting simple measures and behavioural changes, and will also give them a free Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).

    The OVO Home Health Report includes an option of a free home visit to assess the steps required to make their home more energy efficient and cut costs.

    Following the visit, the experts would provide a full report and occupancy assessment, along with a step by step advice from technicians with no obligation, and a free energy tracker service to help customers understand ways to reduce their energy usage

    Angela Howarth, director of communications at Energy Saving Trust, said: “We know that finding ways to cut down on energy costs is front of mind for many households this winter and beyond. Improving the energy efficiency of homes can make a big difference to bills, as well as reducing carbon emissions.

    “We’re proud to support OVO’s Energy Experts to provide advice to people around both simple measures such as draught proofing and the adoption of green technologies to help make a lasting impact.”

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  • 1 час, 57 минут назад 06.12.2022Science
    The Tile Mate shoppers call a ‘life saver’ for lost items is on sale on Amazon

    SHOPPING: Products featured in this article are independently selected by our shopping writers. If you make a purchase using links on this page, MailOnline will earn an affiliate commission.

    Amazon shoppers are saving themselves time and stress searching for lost keys, phones and wallets thanks to one Bluetooth item finder that has been hailed ‘a must have’ and ‘saves hours of anguish’.

    The Tile Mate has earned over 14,000 five-star reviews from users who claim it’s a ‘life saver’, providing an easy way to keep track of your everyday essentials. And better still, it’s £20 cheaper than the Apple AirTag – now on sale for £14.99.

    If it’s a constant struggle remembering where you put your keys, phone or wallet then the Tile Mate could be the most useful gadget in your arsenal.

    The versatile tracker can be attached to everyday items like keys, backpacks or purses and then you can use the free app to find them.

    Just use the Tile app to ring your Tile Mate when it’s within Bluetooth range, or ask your smart mome device to find it for you. And as it’s on sale, it could be a brilliant stocking filler.

    The Tile Mate is an affordable Bluetooth tracker and alternative to the Apple AirTag. Now on sale for just £14.99, it’s currently £20 cheaper than Apple’s version with many shoppers agreeing it’ ‘saves hours of anguish’.

    While less comprehensive than the Apple AirTag, the Tile Mate is a great option for those everyday items that get lost around your house.

    Working on iOS and Android, the Tile Mate has a handy integrated hole which can attached to your keys or bag – something which is lacking with the Apple AirTag.

    The device has a Bluetooth range of 76 meters so is perfect for if you’ve lost something in your house but if the Tile Mate is lost beyond that distance the app will show where it was last connected to your smartphone.

    And if you’ve lost your phone? Just double press the button on your Tile to make your phone ring, even when it’s on silent.

    With 14,000 five-star reviews the Tile Mate is a confirmed hit, and a real ‘life saver’ for those who are often forgetting their things.

    One impressed shopper wrote: ‘This is the best gadget for years, totally eliminating the early morning head to head battle of who had the keys last! Simple and truly effective.’

    Another agreed, adding: ‘Great product. No more trashing the house to find my keys. I’m a bit of a ditz so I use these all the time! Really easy to use either tile app. Could do with a smaller version to add to my glasses!.’

    A third penned: ‘I’m always misplacing my keys. The tile saves me soooo much time and stress and has never let me down yet. A no brainer purchase.’

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  • 1 час, 57 минут назад 06.12.2022Science
    Scientists reveal why our favourite Christmas films stand the test of time

    In the run up to Christmas, many of us lose our adventurous side when it comes to sticking something on the TV.

    Our desire for a complicated or thought-provoking plot goes out the window, and instead veer towards the festive classics we have seen many times before.

    Studies have shown that there is a set formula to the ‘feel-good’ film, as they all tend to show elements of humour, a happy ending and recurring plots and characters.

    MailOnline discovers from experts exactly what it is that makes our favourite Christmas flick stand the test of time, and why we keep coming back to them.

    As well as elements within the films themselves, viewers also find comfort in the action of watching the same ones over and over.

    We gain comfort from a familiar story, and nostalgia has been shown to make us more optimistic and feel physically warmer.

    Dr Pamela Rutledge, a psychologist at Fielding Graduate University, says that feel-good movies have endless benefits for us.

    She told MailOnline: ‘Happy endings, emotions of joy, laughter and happy tears trigger our neural rewards centre changing our body chemistry and making us feel physically good as well as lift our spirits.

    ‘Laughter is an antidote to stress. Drama and resolution can also be inspirational, uplifting, or profoundly moving, allowing us to reflect and make new meaning out of our lives.

    ‘Movies can boost mood and relieve symptoms of depression, provide an escape from daily stressors, increase relaxation-reducing stress hormones like cortisol.

    ‘Christmas and holiday movies trigger those psychological longings to feel loved and safe.

    ‘They provide a journey into a world of childlike simplicity and innocence — where families were warm, welcoming, and fun.’

    What makes a good Christmas movie?

    A team from the Max Planck Society for Empirical Aesthetics in Germany, published a study last year revealing what constitutes a feel-good movie.

    They asked nearly 450 people to name typical examples, and what factors they think makes them so uplifting.

    Lead author Dr Keyvan Sarkhosh told MailOnline: ‘A key feature – from a viewers’ perspective – of many feel-good films is their perceived fairy-tale-like atmosphere.

    ‘Notably, Love Actually, which was named as the most proto-typical feel-good film by the participants of our study, is set at Christmas-time.

    ‘The Christmas-like atmosphere is indeed closely connected with fairy-tale likeness.

    ‘The period right before and around Christmas is generally considered a time for family and hence social relations.

    ‘More importantly, although the Christ narrative is not a fairy-tale in and of itself, it is a story of redemption — as are typical fairy-tales.

    ‘The promise of redemption from loneliness, contempt and need is likewise characteristic of most prototypical feel-good films.’

    The responses to the survey also pointed to romantic comedies as having a particularly high potential for emotional uplift.

    They highlighted the inclusion of humour and a happy ending as the reasons that made them feel good while watching.

    Many Christmas classics fall under this genre, including ‘Love Actually’, ‘The Holiday’ and ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’.

    The study also found that plotlines that centre around an outsider in search of love proved popular among participants.

    This character also fights against adverse circumstances to prove their worth until they find a fitting role in the community.

    Christmas films that feature this plot include ‘Elf’, where Will Ferrell’s elf character Buddy learns to live in the United States.

    Dr Rutledge added that a predictable plot could also work to make a Christmas film more appealing as ”our brains find comfort in patterns’.

    She told MailOnline: ‘When we rewatch an old favourite, we have the added neural reward of anticipation of the emotional journey we know is to follow.

    ‘This is enhanced by parasocial connections that make characters feel like old friends and settings like familiar places.

    ‘Visiting old friends for the holidays is a good way to get a little oxytocin triggered by the vicarious social connection.’

    However, Dr Sarkhosh added that not all the feel-good films selected in the study were characterised by being ‘unanimously positive’.

    He told MailOnline: ‘Feel-good films are characterised by their potential to – often simultaneously – evoke both positive and negative feelings in their viewers, and in particular mixed emotional feelings such as the feeling of being moved.

    ‘The latter is associated with the invocation of prosocial bonds.’

    Some studies have shown a link between being emotionally moved and acts of generosity, forgiveness and other good deeds.

    ‘One could say that one of the perceived psychological benefits of feel-good films is their invocation and affirmation of prosocial behaviour and social bonds,’ Dr Sarkhosh said.

    Dr Rutledge added: ‘Whatever the conflict, the genre promises a feel-good, grant-your-wishes ending to anticipate.’

    Why do we watch the same Christmas movies every year?

    Christmas movies are not usually looked on fondly by critics, and only a handful – including ‘Home Alone’ and ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ – have ever been nominated for Oscars.

    Therefore, it is unlikely to be their quality that keeps us coming back, but more likely the warm, fuzzy feeling of nostalgia.

    Nostalgia is defined as a pleasant, sentimental feeling towards a period in the past, which can be evoked by watching familiar media, like an old favourite movie.

    Dr Rutledge told MailOnline: ‘Christmas movies intentionally rely on our nostalgia for the ‘good old days’ by leaning into images, stories, and music that stimulate our sentimental and wistful yearnings and associations from the past.

    ‘Our memories of things in the past are recalled through rose-coloured glasses.

    ‘Research has shown that intense negative emotions fade faster than intense positive emotions when we recall past experiences.

    ‘As time passes, we are more likely to remember the positive.’

    Reflecting on his study, Dr Sarkhosh added: ‘Many participants of our study pointed out that they often view their favourite feel-good films repeatedly.

    ‘It stands to reason that the familiarity with the favourite films, their plots and their characters has an impact on the overall enjoyable experience of such films and their perceived positive, or comforting, psychological effects.’

    Research has shown that nostalgia is actually good for you, as it can make you feel more optimistic and less anxious about the future.

    One study from the University of Southampton asked one group of participants to recall a nostalgic event and write about it, and another group to record an ordinary event from their past.

    The team found that the number of optimistic words included in the nostalgic narratives were significantly higher than in the ordinary stories.

    In a second experiment, participants were played either a nostalgic or ‘neutral’ song, and those listening to the former reported higher levels of optimism than the other group.

    ‘Nostalgia raises self-esteem, which in turn heightens optimism,’ said study co-author Dr Tim Wildschut, from the University of Southampton.

    ‘Memories of the past can help to maintain current feelings of self-worth and can contribute to a brighter outlook on the future.

    ‘Our findings imply that nostalgia, by promoting optimism, could help individuals cope with psychological adversity.’

    Another study at the institution showed that that the feelings we get when watching an old favourite actually make us feel physically warmer.

    In one experiment, participants were placed in a cold room and instructed to recall either a nostalgic or ordinary event from their past.

    They were then asked to guess the temperature of the room, and those who recalled a nostalgic event perceived the room they were in to be warmer.

    The participants were next instructed to recall either a nostalgic or ordinary event from their past, before placing their hand in ice-cold water.

    Findings showed that the volunteers who indulged in nostalgia were able to hold their hand in the water for longer.

    It is thought the phenomenon can be explained by a cross-over in the brain, with a region involved in feelings also being key to how the body feels.

    So, along with a mulled wine or warm mince pie, sticking on a Christmas classic could be a good way to stay cosy over December.

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  • 3 часа, 47 минут назад 06.12.2022Science
    NASA Orion spacecraft heads home as countdown for human return to the moon begins

    NASA’s Orion capsule has made one final journey around the moon on its way back home which included going past a couple of old Apollo sites. The craft passed within 80 miles of the far side of the moon as it used lunar gravity as a slingshot for the 237,000-mile (381,414km) journey back to Earth.

    It has spent a week in lunar orbit.

    After it remerged from behind the moon and reestablished contact with flight controllers in Houston, the capsule sent back photos of of a close-up moon and a crescent Earth – Earthrise.

    It is aiming to splashdown in the Pacific ocean on Sunday off the coast of San Diego.

    According to officials, the three week flight has exceeded expectations.

    However, the significant challenge of reentry still lies ahead as the capsule will hit the atmosphere at more than 30 times the speed of sound.

    During the craft’s lunar orbit this week, it passed the landing sites of Apollo 12 and 14.

    However, due to the fact that it was 1,200 miles (1,931km) up it was impossible to make out the different stages of the lunar landers or anything else that had been left by astronauts more than 50 years ago.

    Orion launched on November 16, on the first flight of NASA’s most powerful ever rocket the Space Launch System (SLS).

    The next flight, which is scheduled for early 2024, will carry four astronauts around the moon.

    A third mission, which is planned for 2025, will see the first lunar landing by astronauts for over 50 years.

    It was 50 years ago this month that the last manned mission to the moon Apollo 17 launched from Kennedy Space Centre on December 7, 1972.

    Astronauts Eugene Cernan, Harrison Schmitt and Ron Evans took part in the mission.

    Mr Cernan and Mr Schmitt spent three days on the surface of the moon the longest stay of the Apollo era.

    In contrast, Mr Evans orbited around the moon.

    However, only Mr Schmitt is still alive today.

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  • 9 часов, 58 минут назад 06.12.2022Science
    Why made-up swear words are ideal around young ears

    Swearing can sometimes seem impossible to avoid, especially after stubbing a toe or discovering a parking ticket.

    But for those times when swearing is not an option, like at work or when in charge of a small child, psychologists may be able to help with some alternatives.

    A new study suggests saying ‘sugar’ instead of the ruder alternative sounds less like a swear word, as does blighter instead of b*gger.

    British people have the right idea when they talk about someone getting a ‘rollicking’ instead of the word which rhymes with it – a b******ing.

    Parents of young children could call someone they dislike a ‘bar steward’ instead of a ‘b*****d.

    And if someone is really irate, the word ‘frigging’ may sound nice and inoffensive.

    The theory behind these alternative swear words comes from a study led by Royal Holloway, University of London.

    Researchers presented 215 people, who each spoke one of six languages, with 80 pairs of made-up words and asked them which was the swear word.

    They discovered words with four golden sounds – an ‘r’, ‘l’, ‘w’ and ‘y’ sound – were not thought to be swear words, in almost two-thirds of cases.

    These soft-sounding letters were found more than twice as often in words used as replacements for swearing, like ‘sugar’, compared to the original swear words.

    Dr Shiri Lev-Ari, first author of the study from the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway, said: ‘This helps us understand why replacement words like frigging or fricking, which add in an ‘r’ sound to a swear word, are more suitable for polite company.’

    Professor Ryan McKay, senior author of the study, added: ‘If we know these replacements don’t sound like swear words to people, and also contain soothing sounds, they could be useful.

    ‘Maybe these words would be useful during an argument with your other half, while dealing with an agitated child, or during a tense negotiation, because they sound much less aggressive and less emotional than the swear words they are adapted from.’

    The task set to these volunteers was called ‘How good is your sweardar?’

    People heard pairs of words, apparently from another language, but in fact made up.

    Each pair contained one word with a neutral ‘ch’, ‘j’ or ‘ts’ sound, which the researchers’ previous work showed are not found any more or less in swear words than other words.

    The other word in each pair was nearly identical but contained a sound called an ‘approximant’, which is spoken between a small gap in the mouth created by the lips, teeth or tongue’ and creates an ‘r’, ‘l’, ‘w’ and ‘y’ sound.

    These words were decided not to be the swear word 63 per cent of the time.

    It means ‘shut the front door’ is a good alternative to ‘shut the f*** up’, and parents of young children might want to describe mistakes as ‘colk-ups’.

    The researchers analysed 67 popular swear-word replacements, principally from the Oxford English Dictionary.

    They contained 29 approximants, compared to just 12 in the original swear-words.

    The findings suggest the word ‘fecking’, beloved of the Irish and fans of the sitcom Father Ted, still sounds too rude and like a swear word.

    But ‘forking’, as used in the sitcom The Good Place, because people cannot swear in heaven, works well – at least in an American accent.

    Professor McKay said: ‘The exception to this rule about approximants seems to be the rudest word in the universe according to The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy – Belgium.’

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Science Mercedes is charging $1,200/year for quicker acceleration in its cars