Horizon: Is everything we know about the universe wrong? (March 2010)

Even though, I am not a scientist, I found this programme particularly exciting because you look at it from a theistic perspective then the fact that we can’t answer many of these questions is because there is a God out there!

I thought I would share some points I put down;

The first problem with the Big Bang theory…

Is that in any normal explosion, we do not see a uniform temperature forming and all the aspects of the end product look different. However, on Earth we have a relatively uniform temperature range and all aspects look fairly similar.

How was this problem resolved?

The theory of inflation was created. In the theory of inflation the world slowly expands and once a uniform temperature is created, a quick bang occurs and the universe is created.

But what caused the inflation?

Nobody knows.

What is dark matter?

When rotational speeds of galaxies were measured, scientists saw that they were moving way faster than what they expected. This also contradicted Newton’s laws. There simply is not enough gravity for galaxies to be moving at this speed.Therefore, there must be another force like gravity which is causing this.

In particle physics, there are 24 types of particles but according to the concept of super symmetry there are another 24. These other 24 spin in different ways and are invisible (in the sense that they do not emit or reflect light).

Dark matter is almost like an invisible gravity and these invisible particles are claimed to be dark matter. However, the problem is these particles are said to pass normal matter like us all the time so how can they be measured.

Well currently research is being done half a mile underground and last December two unusual incidents might be indicating there is dark matter, However, two incidents is too few to prove anything.

If you are wondering how all of these theories has come about and how scientists know all this – it relates  to maths. Dark matter is the missing piece to what maths predicts and it puts the standard model back on the scene.

However there is another fundamental problem.

Rather than slowing down, as the standard model suggests, there is now evidence that the universe is accelerating in expansion.

The big bang is still banging. And yes you’ve got it there is another dark element to be added. Dark energy. This is the new force powering the universe.

With this as well they do not now what it is. All they know it is dark and expanding. One suggestion is that is could be a type of odd gravity that is making two distant thing repel. And yet this was something that was created to make sense of the mathematical modelling of the Big Bang theory in real terms.

There must be something in nothing. Vacuums and the mere emptiness between galaxies is now said to contain dark energy. It has a weird property too. As it causes the universe to expand, all the gaps are being filled with more dark energy. It is actually increasing.

Sounding simple, here is the creation story so far;

1) Universe starts with a bang

2) Then it suddenly inflates

3)Dark matter forms

4)This helps galaxies emerge

5) Then the universe starts to expand slowly

6) Dark energy takes over – stretching the universe further

Yet, there is another challenge…

There appears to be a distortion in the light coming from energy backgrounds, it seems to be coming from a kind of movement. This does not fit the standard model in the mathematical model and in reality.

All the galaxies appear to be moving in an inexplicable way towards one another on a particular point. It is caused by a mysterious and unseen force. Cosmologists call this the Dark Flow.

It suggest that the universe is part of a multiverse. It also supports the theory of inflation because inflation never completely ends. So what it is trying to say is that in some areas inflation has finished but in others it is still happening.

Could this be evidence that we are not alone?

Is the cosmology changing?

Is the standard model correct?

The programme discusses all of these points in further detail. (Please note I am not a science student and my knowledge of science is limited so some of my information may be wrong. USE THIS INFORMATION AT YOUR OWN RISK!)

The Secret to Healthy Living

 

I recently heard Jessi Pavelka live; he is an American fitness expert who often appears on Sky TV channel in programmes about weight loss. What I liked about Jessi is that he is realistic guy that focus on holistic life changes. His model involves dividing being healthy into 4 quadrants: “Eat, Sweat, Think & Connect”  and by focusing on the individual’s particular lifestyle he looks to bring small changes in each quadrants that in the long-term make a difference as well as encourage individuals to take further leaps.

The  “Eat” quadrant as you would expect concerns food and what we eat. Of course, his recommendations will vary person to person as he doesn’t belief in a one-size-fits-all model, he gave some generic tips. First, he stressed the importance of drinking water to all. This sounds very basic and no matter how many times I hear it, I still have days where I have had two cups of coffee and no water. The second tip is to make your meals more green, where possible when you see your meal whether it’s ramen or a burger add more greens. If this is not possible as you are not a fan of greens, seek to make your meal as colourful as possible. The idea being if you have a meal that you can’t or do not find anything green to add to it, add more colourful fruit & vegetable e.g. tomatoes, orange or beetroot.

The “Sweat” quadrant concerns movement and exercise. He suggests that you take time to look at your lifestyle and implement small changes, could that be getting off a tube stop earlier? Adding a walk in your lunchtime break? He is all about small about that get you moving without you even noticing and building on this model.

The “Think” quadrant refers to mindfulness. He was fairly brief on this quadrant, highlighting the need for anti-stress practices such a meditation to reduce stress, Mental health is equally important and a key contributing factor to physical health and thus needs to be included in the healthy living quadrant model.

The last quadrant “Connect” refers to the individuals you surround yourself with. So if you are on a journey to weight loss or a dramatic lifestyle change, it is important to connect with those on a similar journey so as to keep you motivated.

I really liked this four quadrant model, I think it effectively covers the whole idea “healthy living” and is a great to think of it especially when you are at the start of your journey. However, I found his specific comments a bit generalist, hard to maintain in reality and unnecessary. In my opinion, the secret to healthy living is two words: fun and convenience! I will explain this with particular reference to every quadrant below but the general idea is if you want a healthy lifestyle make it fun and convenient to YOU. This will become clearer as I discuss the quadrants below.

So “Eat”, rather than always finding ways to abide by rules such as have I added something green in my plate.  Sit down and have a real think, for every meal of the day what are things you like to eat. For example, I really enjoy pan fried fish and veggies at dinner. After you have done this, go through the list and cross out those that are unhealthy such as say fast food, pizza etc. Finally, with the food left over put a star next to the ones that are convenient to organise. For example, if you enjoy a couscous salad at lunch, (this would not be crossed out as it’s healthy), is this convenient for you to organise? My answer would be yes, the night before it takes 5-10 mins to make it, as couscous grains need to just be added to hot water for 2-5 mins. Remember, this has to be specific to you, Pavelka, me or anyone else cannot give you this list. You can then use that final short list of food to prepare meals for say 60% off the time. When I used to be really into health and fitness about two years, I would clean eat using the foods that were healthy, tasty and convenient for me for two days and then have one day of where I eat what I like, the cycle would continue.

I think Jessi’s ideas on Sweat are not particularly challenging or ones that you would actually see real results from because you need to be constantly assessing small things to add and subsequently either forgot to add anything new or give yourself too much. I think the way to make sweat for you is to understand yourself and your body (this is why I think healthy living has a lot to do with finding yourself). What is it that you enjoy doing that is physical? And nothing is a definite lie. Do you like lifting weights? HIIT sessions? Circuit training? Dancing? Yoga? There is only one way to find out what you like – try them all. This is exactly what I still do till today, I try something new once a month (of course when you start out you will probably try new things every week). Last month I tried “Beyoncerobics” out, an aerobics/dance class to all Beyonce tracks and I had a ball! Also, another important thing to remember is just because you did not enjoy say running or lifting weights does not in the future or as your grow these preferences would not change. When I first got into gym-ing, I hated yoga, I found it slow, boring and ineffectual on me. However, now three years later I love yoga, probably because I discovered this great yoga school, dedicated 6 consecutive weeks to it and since that point my goals have become more about well-being than body transformation.

Once you start discovering what you enjoy, what is fun for you, you can seek to put these into your routine. In order to do this in a sustainable way, make it convenient for you to do. When I was a student living at home, my gym membership was at a local gym. Then I started working (about 40 mins tube away), I realised my gym attendance tailed off. The reason being it was too much effort for me to make it to this local gym even though my favourite body attack class was held there. Thus, I moved my membership to a gym near work. So my exercise became part of my workday, I did it after work and then went home. I went on a learning curve of discovering new classes, for example spin at this gym was awful so I no longer went spinning.The combination of exercises you enjoy and the convenience of participating in those exercises, is going to make you sweat and add more than adding a small walk at lunchtime.

The third quadrant Jessi was pretty vague on as I mentioned before. This is an interesting one because when I started off my journey into health and fitness, the only mindful activity I engaged in was praying. I believe in God so praying and lighting a candle every night was part of me. I never did this as part of my lifestyle as I have done this for over 5 years now; I never even concerned this to be part of mindfulness. Over the year, I tried things like ‘Headspace’ app out but nothing really sustained until it dawned on me that my act of praying is how I got my peace/mindfulness. The point being, I think this is a personal quadrant and again I will stress the need to dabble in different programmes till you find that part of your routine that gives you peace and space. It could even be that extra 10 minutes early you wake up to have tea and sit in silence or a meditation track you listen to on your way to work.

The last quadrant is “Connect”, I would go one step further than Jessi on this one. I think we all are time scare with pressure to do lots of different things. Healthy living is another pressure on your time from meal prep to exercising. That’s why i think a more extravagant strategy should be opted in the connect quadrant. Think about who are the people that are adding positive value in your life or are living a lifestyle you admire/connect to. Hold onto those people and focus on those relationships. Any relationships where you see the person’s views as backward looking or not bringing any positivity in your life, just cut it out. As an absolute I say this, there is no need when we are all time-scare to waste time on such people. If that leaves you lonely or bored or feeling like you have empty time, great! Look online, find events, meeting-ups and happenings around you! This is great way to surround yourself with thoughts, people and ideas that you aspire to or want to be a part of. Eventbrite is great, I habitually find events that look interesting and sign up, and the best thing is you can filter by location and time so as to make it convenient for yourself!
So remember the secret to healthy living – make it fun and convenient for you to do it! Make it specific and unique to your characteristics and needs and remember this will be continually growing and changing, so have a refresh once in a while!

National Geographic (April 2010) – Water issue

In this video, I discuss a few points I had while reading the April 2010 special edition of water issue. I discuss the water crisis and the solution technological advancements in desalination present. Then I go on to discuss what economic benefits this solution can bring, in theory. Finally, I question why out of all elements water is the most important one.

Cinnamon Soho Review

I have recently founded a Dining Club with am to try as many new restaurants around London and to have fun! The first event was help at Cinnamon Soho, which is a not so new venture by celebrity chef Vivek Singh which brings together Indian Cuisine in an anglo light i.e. it is a fusion between Indian and English. Unlike their other restaurants, Cinnamon Soho provides a more casual place to dine over two floors in the mid-price range. In this post I thought I would talk about my experience of running a group dinner party with them and the food! (I wish I took photos in hindsight!).

Juggling a party of 20 is not easy, but I found the service by Cinnamon Group and the care in which the dealt with the booking very impressive. They required a deposit of 25% of the minimum spend which is subtracted from your total bill. In return, we were given the whole basement floor with a restaurant representative that came to tell us about the group. I liked their level of service as I was quite nervous, my first time organising a professional dinner of this size, and they were always there to answer my queries as well as amend restrictions such as total bill has to be paid by a maximum of 4 cards. They also allowed us to have different seatings plans per course, which many restaurants had a problem with.

We opted for the £25 per head menu called the “Soho Joho” and had a special rate of £5 for any cocktail because of the size of our group. The food was good, but personally I prefer Dishoom or Kricket as I didn’t think there was enough spice/masala. Others found the food to be too spicy or just the right amount, so I guess it is one of those hit/miss things. For me as an Indian though, I’d like the dishes to have more flavour or to be more innovative in the way that we see in other restaurants.

In our menu the starters came shared, which was a good way to encourage networking among the group and to try a range of their dishes. Our shared starters included:

Green Pea Hummus with Flatbread

This was delicious, but we did not feel it tasted largely different to normal hummus. It would’ve been great to have more green pea in it.

Crab & Curry Leaf Balls

This is one of their most popular starters and it is simply divine, I really enjoyed this. The crab comes through quite strong and there is a lot of flavour and fragrance in this starter.

Indo-Chinese Style Chicken

This was my favourite dish, the spice are very strong. It has a beautiful fragrance of burnt chillies and the chicken is tender. I definitely recommend this and the crab balls as starters.

Quinoa Salad

This quinoa salad is accompanied with watermelon and hoisin sauce is a bit of a dark horse, it sticks out because it isn’t necessarily indian, english or ubiquitous combination. However, combined with the Indo-Chinese Chicken & the Crab and Curry Leaf Balls it was a delight. The dish offered a cool and refreshing contrast to the other dishes and was a real success.

Garlic & Plain Naan

There isn’t very much to say about this dish, it was simply a naan. There was no special flavour or taste to it, the way in which the Masala Kulcha at Kricket is. It went down well with the food.

For mains, everyone was allowed to individually order their dish and there was a selection of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes on offer. The most popular dish among our group was the Old Delhi style chicken curry with rice. I did not opt for this main, but did try it and the consensus among most people was that it was too fiery.  

I went for the Paneer 65 which is a stir fry paneer with chillies and curry leafs (yes they love curry leafs at Cinnamon!). The dish was a bit dry and I don’t think ordering a naan or rice on the side would have improved it. I think I would need a more wet curry or vegetable dish to accompany it. Also, as it is just paneer it can get a bit much without anything to break it. Again like the dish, the paneer was pretty spicy. Perhaps the quinoa salad would make a grand accompaniment to the dish!

There is also a good selection of dessert, something that even Dishoom seem light on. I opted for a plum cake, however, I don’t think that is what  I got (!)  The others who went for the plum cake got a tart of some sort with a plum topping. I received a chocolate based tart with berries (not complaining!). The dessert was my favourite part and I could’ve eaten too, it was simply chocolate-y and divine!

All in all a great venue for group parties, the staff were attentive and co-operative. I think the food works really well where you order the right thing like the Indo-Chinese Chicken, overall I would give a 4.5* out of 5 rating!

Tribe January 2017 Subscription Box/Pack Review

I recently did an unboxing video of LoveLula Beauty Box January 2017, this was my first ever subscription box. For those that don’t know a subscription box is as the name says a box you can subscribe to at a set frequency (typically monthly) and will contain the opted for products. So in LoveLula, it is all natural beauty products.

In January, “We are Tribe” or Tribe had a special promotion, that if you subscribe you can have your first box for £1 (RRP £8.65 per box). Tribe produces natural sports nutrition products such as shakes and protein. The box contains 6 products and on order you are prompted to select what is your typical work-out regime so they can send you the most appropriate products. (Apologies, I forgot to take photos!). The box itself it a small cardboard box, fits through the letterbox. I love the packaging, the box had “Anything is Possible” written across the front, its a small touch but one I loved especially as the box is so small I never removed the products from it and kept it on my table!

The products themselves are good, I’d say about 60% were delicious, few did not resonate with me well. However, this is not a big criticism as with subscription boxes products are always hit or miss and going forward you can alternate what is sent to you, by changing you work out regime requirements. One of my favourite things about the products that I have not seen on other products is that the packaging tells you recommended time to eat the product e.g. 45 mins before workout or recovery post workout. This was a great little feature making the products unique. I opted for the “balanced” work-out regime needs and below you will see the products I received (yes a lot of banana!).

What products were in my box?

Tribe – Infinity: Banoffee

This is an energy bar consists of 262 calories and tastes more of banana, than any caramel or banoffee hints. A large part of the bar is made out of Teff flour, I have to be honest this is the first time I have heard of teff. Teff is an ancient grain grown in Ethiopia and from what I see online is making its way more and more to our health food stores. It is high in calcium as well as protein, making it nutritious and filling. I found the product filling (as with most of the Tribe products) and fairly tasty. I didn’t love the taste but I did not dislike it either, it was pleasant though making it a 4 out of 5. If the product had coco nibs, it would improve the taste and make it more in line with the ‘banoffee’ flavour in my opinion.

Tribe – Blaze Trails: Sour Cherry & Buckwheat

This product is less heavy compared to Infinity bar, but nevertheless I still found it to be filling. One of the things I love about subscriptions boxes in general, is they force you to try new products. On appearance, I would never have picked Sour Cherry and Buckwheat as a flavour, but taste wise I quite enjoyed it (more than the infinity bar actually!). Buckwheat is actually quite filling and is actually a seed (not a grass or a wheat!), for that reason is has great amount of fibre and protein The bar tasted like you had something sour on a toast (not texturally but purely on toast). It was a good product and I would give it a 4.5 out of 5.

Tribe – Scafell Trail Mix: Cacao & Banana

This product is a bag of raisins, brazil nuts, dried banana, pumpkin seeds, cashew nuts and cocoa nibs, surprising totalling 184 cals. I say surprisingly because it doesn’t feel like 184 calories the way the other products do, it is quite light. I did not enjoy this product in all honesty and would only give it a 2 out of 5 star rating. The first problem is I don’t eat raisins (going forward should probably tell the company in advance) so I had to pick them out. The second is that the dried banana doesn’t taste very good, it isn’t like those banana chips you normally find (I guess those aren’t healthy), they literally dried squiggy bananas (to see them click here). They aren’t the most nicest thing to eat and I would have preferred dried coconut or mango or apricot for example. I quite like cocoa nibs, so I was disappointed that the pieces were so small, I would call them crumbs rather than nibs. For these reasons, the product was a miss with me.

Tribe – Recovery Shake: Cacao
You get a shake powder for this product that you mix with water or milk. Essentially shake is made up of cocoa powder and pea/rice protein. I did not enjoy this product at all, in fact for me it was worse than the trial mix, about a 1 star out 5. I was actually really excited about this product as I loves shakes and smoothies and love chocolate! The problem for me is that the product is too heavy, its like a cold thick soup more than a shake (perhaps next time i would use the blender to make it). Mine was also a bit lumpy and to be honest I couldn’t finish the whole thing and ended up throwing it. It most definitely is filling but its not an enjoyable experience of getting full up. The chocolate could taste better, perhaps some date syrup instead of the coconut sugar or slightly more coconut sugar?

Tribe 10 – Bogoya Banana

This is a protein bar for recovery and as mentioned with the other products quite filling, totalling at 255 cals. The bar is based on rice protein also containing chia seeds, golden berries, sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Despite the other ingredients, the bar has a very strong banana flavour, even stronger than the banoffee Infinity bar. I ended up having only half and the other half a bit later on as it was such a strong flavour, it is better balanced out with say a cup of coffee. Nevertheless, I would give it a 3.5 out of 5 rating, it is pleasant but I would not say I love it!

Tribe 10 – Mountain Maca

This was my favourite product and I would give it a 5 out 5 rating. This is also a protein bar containing 10g of protein (hence the name Tribe 10). The bar is filling and taste is more subtle, it has a generally nutty flavour (contains cashew, almonds and dates). Also made out of rice protein, it contains the superfoods maca powder and milled flaxseeds, which are amazing for your energy levels. I felt the flavour, the texture and length of time the product keeps you filled make the product amazing and if I were to order another Tribe box, I would definitely request this!

Conclusion

All in all I will give the box a 3.5* rating (out of 5 stars). The products and packaging are great, I am not sure they are really suitable to my needs as I tend to do gym classes rather than regular treks or marathon training. They would have been useful if I knew about them when I was doing the Inca Trail! Going forward, I have discontinued my subscription as I currently in process of trying different boxes (got Goodness Project on its way next month!) and I am not convinced they are the best products to my needs as discussed above. Also the box was a tad too banana heavy for me!