WHEN MONSTERS ROAMED THE EARTH

The more we delve into the history of the Creation and how it evolved millions of years ago, the more we find out of the existence of giant animals who roamed the Earth and cannibals in human form who ate one another. Bones belonging to the biggest creature ever to have walked the Earth have been found in a quarry, experts say.

A dinosaur, known as Patagotitan Mayorum, weighed at least 62 tonnes and measured more than 100 feet from nose to tail. It lived one hundred million years ago, during the Cretaceous period, in what is now Argentina. The Sauropod, a huge plant-eater with a long tail and neck, which stood on four legs, weighed about the same as 10 African elephants, now Earth’s largest land dwellers.

636377813291023328-XXX-Patagotitan--G.-Lio--2.JPG

A ranch workman, called Aurelio Hernandez, discovered the giant bones in 2012 and it took three years to excavate them and a further two years for laboratory analysis. Vertebrae and rib-bones were among the finds recovered from the quarry at La Flecha Ranch, Chubut Province, and now described for the first time.

Its thigh bone alone is 8 foot long and weighs half a ton. Palaeontologists found 150 fossils belonging to at least 6 dinosaurs who died in a floodplain, before being preserved in mud. Just like in a crime scene, they took notes of each bone’s exact position and condition. Analysis shows the species had a probable maximum body mass of 70 tonnes. It is therefore more than 15 percent heavier than Dreadnoughtus, the longest ‘Titanosaur’ from which a thigh bone and forearm bone have been preserved. Although some estimates have given another Patagonian ‘Titoanosaur’, Argentinosaurus, the title of biggest land animal ever, these have not been based on limb measurements and may be unreliable.

‘Vertebrae from Argentinosaurus suggest it was 10 per cent smaller than Patagotitan,’ said Dr Jose Carballido and Diego Pol, from Argentina’s Egidio Feruglio Paleontology Museum who led the excavation team. They wrote in the journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society: ‘The above mentioned body mass estimates, as well as these vertebral comparisons, places Patagotitan as the largest known dinosaur species.’ Pol said: ‘For the first time we can assess how these giants were built, what adaptations they had in their anatomy. How they could cope with such massive weight.’ The ancient giant gets its name Mayorum in honour of the Mayo family, owners of the ranch, who hosted the 15-strong excavation team during the dig.

Dinosaurs must have been terrifying. I’m glad we are living in an age where these monsters are no longer roaming the earth. Instead, however, we have human monsters to fill that gap. Believe me, they are much worse!

A HANDFUL OF NUTS…

The perfect breakfast is something we all aim for but is always hard to achieve, given the disparity of views of what it should constitute. An intriguing new theory on the face of it seems to make sense and is perhaps suitable for those who believe that eating reasonably is the best way to nourish the body without overloading it.

An expert has suggested that eating 8 almonds and 2 dates within 30 minutes of waking is the perfect breakfast for a good night’s sleep at the end of the day. Dr Nerima Ramlakhan, a sleep therapist, has calculated that the handful of nuts and fruits provides the correct balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates to allow the body to fire up the metabolism and stabilise blood sugar. 8 almonds and 2 dates offer between 150 and 200 calories, helping the body to produce the hormone Melatonin later in the evening, which is crucial for a good night’s sleep. And it could help people lose weight.

deskside-snacks-dates-and-almonds_0.jpg

Dr Ramlakhan, who offers sleep coaching and is author of Tired but Wired: How to Overcome your Sleep Problems, said: ‘Believe it or not, eating breakfast can help you sleep. It’s as simple as this. If you don’t breakfast, your body believes it is living in famine and produces stress hormones that are not conducive to restful sleep. But by eating breakfast, you’re letting your body know there is enough food and you are living safely, which switches on your sleep energy systems… What’s more, eating breakfast can help you lose weight by speeding your metabolism by up to 10 percent… It has a “thermogenic effect” that can last hours after eating… Think of it like putting fuel into a fire and getting a bigger fire. 8 almonds and 2 dates is a brilliant start for the day for anyone as they wake up.’

In general, adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night but the exact amount varies from person to person, depending on age, lifestyle and genes. But more than a third of Britons sleep for less than six hours a night, according to the Sleep Council, with modern life blamed for problems nodding off. Sleep problems are also associated with many illnesses including Alzheimer’s, obesity, heart disease, diabetes and even colds and flu, so promoting better sleep could help overall health.

A separate study at the University of Leeds, published in the journal Plos One, found that people who were sleeping an average of six hours a night had a higher body mass index. Dr Laura Hardie, the study’s author added: ‘Because we found that adults who reported sleeping less than their peers were likely to be overweight or obese, our findings highlight the importance of getting enough sleep.’ Dr Ramlakhan added: ‘Often people who have difficulty getting to sleep delay going to bed, then snack or drink alcohol, mistakenly believing it will make them more tired; these are all excess calories that will lead to gain weight.’

The lesson to be had from all this is simply good sleep is vital to achieving good health and a good breakfast with a small measure of almonds and dates are likely to make you sleep at night, so they say.

Why not have a go and see what happens. You might enjoy a novel experience if nothing else.

THE HEAVENS ALMIGHTY…

Astronomy is perhaps the most intriguing science as it progresses with the advancement of technology which enables scientists to probe beyond what we previously thought could be almost unobtainable, due to the vast distances that space the earth from the stars and what infinity defines. NASA is to wake up its New Horizons space-craft next month following a 5-month hibernation, in preparation for a journey into one of the most mysterious regions of the Solar System.

‘New Horizons’, which captured incredible images of Pluto in July 2015, was powered down in April to conserve energy as it travelled through the Kuiper Belt, a vast region of icy debris that encircles the Sun and planets, also known as the Third Zone.

7803196001b54925abf7094480794c9c_18.jpg

On September 11, the spacecraft will awaken for its 16-month journey to MU69, an ancient object which is thought to be one of the early building blocks of the solar system. The space rock was not even discovered when the craft launched in 2006, and the fly-by will be the most distant in the history of space exploration. A billion miles beyond Pluto, 4 billion miles from Earth, recent observations of MU69 from the Hubble space telescope show it is probably two ‘binary’ objects or a pair of space rocks ‘stuck-together’, bodies which are each around 12 miles across.

Alan Stern, Principal Investigator for New Horizons at NASA, said: ‘We are very likely going to a primordial binary in the Kuiper Belt, a 4-billion-year-old relic of Solar System formation and exotic building block of the small planets of the Kuiper Belt like Pluto… New explorations await us. It promises a scientific bonanza for the fly-by.’

After studying objects in the Kuiper Belt, the spacecraft will eventually leave the Solar System, a feat only achieved by Voyager so far.

All this is mind-blowing when you think of it, in terms that a few decades ago, such a project would have been beyond our wildest dreams. It is rather a tragedy that old age will prevent my own generation of marvelling at what the Creation has in store for those who outlive us, and bask in the knowledge of what a human brain is capable of.

All I can say, in total bewilderment, ‘Praise be to the Lord!’

CONFUSION MAY BE ALL

As science progresses it sometimes defies the laws of physics. The latest creation by scientists has just done that. A liquid that seems to defy the laws of physics is the living proof of its creation. Under Isaac Newton’s second law of motion, if you push something, it will accelerate away from you. But the bizarre fluid created by scientists at Washington State University behaves in the opposite way. When pushed it bounces back, and accelerates towards the direction this force came from.

The bizarre phenomenon, known as ‘negative mass’, is described in the journal Physical Review Letters. Professor Peter Engels created the fluid by cooling atoms of the chemical element Rubidium to almost absolute zero (nearly minus 273 degrees centigrade). The substance became what is known as a Bose-Einstein Condensate. In this state, particles move very slowly and flow without losing energy.

By targeting the Rubidium atoms with lasers, changing the way they spin, this created negative mass in the fluids. Michael Forbes, an Assistant Professor at WSU said: ‘With negative mass if you push something it accelerates towards you. It looks like the Rubidium hits an invisible wall.’

The physicists believe their research will give researchers tools to engineer new experiments to study similar behaviours in astrophysics. These could include neutron stars and cosmological phenomena like Black Holes and dark energy, where experiments are impossible.

‘What’s a first here is the exquisite control we have over the nature of this negative mass without any other complications,‘ said Professor Forbes. ‘It provides another environment to study a fundamental phenomenon that is very peculiar.’ In an interview with the website Live Science, he added: ‘These types of negative mass conditions can arise in a variety of contexts. There have been hints of similar behaviour where light travels through materials with special electrical properties, as well as in certain types of crystals.’

I am totally fascinated by this type of mumbo-jumbo scientific creation where contrariness becomes the way forward in some bizarre fashion such as this. It does, however, show the complexities of the universe, part of which includes our small planet.

A CHANCE TO ENCOUNTER ALL OVER AGAIN…

It’s amazing to think my collection of interviews with men is almost thirty year’s old. First published in 1990, it was the follow-up to my best-selling collection of interviews with the fairer sex, Women, published in 1987.

I had become restless when all the brouhaha and promotion had died down after Women’s publication and decided a collection of interviews with men would be a suitable challenge. I was very apprehensive, perhaps due largely to my upbringing: no public school grounding, very little exposure to masculine conviviality – factors which have always left me feeling curiously detached in male society, despite being gregarious at heart. Nevertheless, I began in earnest. Letters were written and, in most cases, replies were received. Initially I was disappointed because it seemed that people were being over-cautious. I could elaborate on the project, define the shape the book was to take, but it was difficult to speculate on those likely to take part.

My enthusiasm grew when my first interview was arranged. It was with Richard Ingrams and I remain indebted to him for encouraging others to take part in the book. Auberon Waugh came next, and thereafter one agreement to be interviewed followed another. My objective was to lay before the reader the experience and thoughts of various men from whom we can perhaps learn something about ourselves and the times in which we then lived. The people who were subjects of Singular Encounters articulated their own views in their own distinct manner and style. I have always felt it is always much more compelling to hear a story at first hand.

Reading them, three decades later, their vim and verve still resonate and what a list of subjects get covered – a unique snapshot on a time when British society was changing in nearly every aspect of its character and ambitions. And what a list of men! Sir Harold Acton, Lord Alexander, Michael Aspel, Mark Birley, William F. Buckley Jr, Sir Raymond Carr, Maurice Cowling, Quentine Crewe, Nigel Dempster, André Deutsch, Dominick Dunne, J K Galbraith, Monsignor Gilbey, Lord Goodman, Derek Hill, Stanley Hoffman, Richard Ingrams, Lord Lambton, Yehudi Menuhin, William Rees-Mogg, Willie Rushton, Arthur Schlesinger Jr, Colonel Townend, John Updike, Sir Fred Warner, Auberon Waugh, Edmund White, Sir Gordon White, A N Wilson. An astonishing mix of men, and just in case some of them are now forgotten, I had the foresight to include brief biographies before the start of each interview.

The reviews were enthusiastic and almost entirely appreciative of my endeavour. Lynn Barber thought me ‘a good interviewer… curious about other people; he is modest enough to let them say their piece without feeling the need to put his oar in… And he gathers some plums…’; Victoria Mather declared ‘the reader of Singular Encounters is a privileged eavesdropper…’; Auberon Waugh, writing in the Sunday Telegraph, maintained: ‘Part of Attallah’s skill as an interviewer is that nothing shocks him…’; Fiona MacCarthy told her Observer readers that: ‘Men are curiously eager to talk about their childhoods… Attallah is very conscious of that Englishman’s fear of self-knowledge and the Englishman’s hatred… of laying himself open to embarrassment’; and Polly Samson, in the Daily Mail, considered ‘the overall effect is rather like being at a gentleman’s club as the port is passed. Witty, indiscreet but sometimes incoherent.’

It’s a wonderful book to dip in and out of, so it was with some excitement that I discovered our warehouse still has some copies left. The paperback edition is still with its original price – £8.95 – that’s 629 pages! A perfect summer read or Christmas present and remarkable value for money. I just thought I’d tell you…

FullSizeRender.jpg

THE SIMPLE ROUTE TO GOOD HEALTH

It’s normally recognised that the best way to live is to breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dine like a pauper, and now scientists have proven that historical maxim to be correct. A study of 50,000 people, published in the Journal of Nutrition, found those who made breakfast their largest meal had a lower body-mass index than people who ate the largest meal for supper, even when they ate a similar amount of calories. For the average man in Britain weighing 13.16 stone, the difference could shave 6 lbs from his weight without him having to exercise more or eat less.

Dr Hanna Kahleova, of Loma Linda University School of Public Health in California, lead author of the study, said: ‘Regular breakfast consumption seems to increase satiety, reduce total energy intake, improve overall dietary quality, reduce blood lipid and improve insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance… Eating meals in the evening has the opposite effect.’

My own formula, however, differs slightly. I have a modest breakfast at 5am having woken up normally at 4am, leave for the office, which is 5 minutes’ walk, have a few teaspoons of goat yoghurt at 8am in the office, followed by an apple, then lunch at noon and eat very little, at 6pm.

This routine has kept me fit and enables me to have a restful sleep at night.I find heavy eating at night to be a killer, and is certainly the main cause of obesity and ill health.

JUPITER RAGES WITH FEROCIOUS STORMS

I have recently become addicted to astronomy; for to me the unknown has always been a topic of great interest, especially now that modern technology is making it possible to advance our knowledge of the vast universe and what it reveals.

Astronomers’ understanding of the solar system’s biggest planet have been shaken up after NASA’s $1.1 billion Juno Mission revealed a ‘whole new Jupiter’ with an environment even more formidable than was thought.

Images taken by the probe showed chemical tempests and whirlwinds, and data found a magnetic field ten times stronger than Earth’s. Densely clustered storm systems, some the size of Earth, churn over the gas giant’s Polar Regions, fuelled by wells of ammonia that extend hundreds of miles though the atmosphere.

Jupiter-Close-Up_Inte.jpg

The oval features in this composite picture of the South Pole are smaller cyclones of up to six hundred miles in diameter.
‘There is so much going on here that we didn’t expect,’ said Scott Rolton, the principal investigator. ‘Juno was launched from Kennedy Space Centre, Florida in 2011 and took five years to travel 1.74 million miles to Jupiter’s orbit. The pictures were the first taken since Juno’s risky insertion into Jupiter’s orbit last July, and are the closest images ever taken.’

The photo, with its details, could conceivably be taken as a great art work by one of our planet’s great painters. It is a colourful piece of work of cyclones in a ferocious rage. In fact, the forces of nature have never been seen in such a dramatic fashion.