Around the World in One Day

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It is true that the world has become a small village thanks to technology. More than that, with the fastest airplane, it is not inconceivable that soon one could have breakfast in France, lunch in South Africa and dinner in Japan. The thought makes one wonder how trotting around the globe in one day would feel like.

How Lost was the Lost City?

I can imagine our journey starting at 5:30 am. We wake up in the small Peruvian village of Aguas Calientes; early enough to make the first bus that will take us up a mountain range like no other, to the “Lost City” of Machu Picchu. Only at 7:30 am, when the Sun starts rising from behind the mountains and the first rays hit the well-preserved ruins of Machu Picchu, clinging to the steep hillside and surrounded by towering green mountains overlooking the Vilaconta River Valley, and we take that deep breath that follows a moment of awe-struck silence, only then do we understand how this marvel was lost to the world only to be discovered in 1911. What a perfect start for the day.

On the morning of 24 July 1911, an explorer chopped his way to investigate rumors of ancient Inca ruins in Peru. With a small Indian boy leading the way, Hiram Bingham stumbled upon one of the greatest archaeological finds of the 20th century: Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu is formed of buildings, plazas and platforms connected by narrow lanes or paths. One sector is cordoned off by walls, ditches, and perhaps, a moat built not as a military fortification, but rather as a form of restricted isolation. Modern theory suggests that Machu Picchu was a retreat built for the Inca ruler Pachacuti and other elites. Nestled more than 2 km above sea level in the Andean Mountain Range above the Urubamba Valley, it is not surprising this wonder was lost to the world for centuries.

To Breakfast, or not to Breakfast!

Having fed our soul with peace and beauty, we hop onto the plane to feed our hungry stomachs at our next destination; and because we can, we go for the best breakfast that the planet has to offer in Paris, France. Standing there, on 8, rue Monge in the 5th arrendissement, is the best bakery in Paris. To call it a bakery does not give it justice for Eric Kayser is truly an Artisan Boulanger. The croissants simply melt in our mouth; as we savor the subtle buttery flavor of every bite of this piece of art, we start dreaming of the cakes and tarts that are on display, but let us not leap ahead of ourselves, the day is just starting, and the planet has much more to offer.

Your mother is right; breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Not only does it give you energy to start a new day, but breakfast is linked to many health benefits, including weight control and improved performance.

While it might seem you could save calories by skipping breakfast, this is not an effective strategy. Typically, hunger gets the best of breakfast-skippers, and they eat more at lunch and throughout the day.

However, it is worth noting that most studies linking breakfast to weight control and weight loss looked at a healthy breakfast containing protein and/or whole grains; not meals loaded with fat and calories. Adding a little lean protein to your breakfast may be just the boost you need to help keep you feeling full until lunchtime. “Protein blunts your hunger the most, and is the most satiating,” Purdue University Researcher Wayne Campbell, PhD, tells WebMD.

Adrenaline Addict Anonymous

Buzzing with energy after a hearty breakfast, we board our jet to our next destination, the highest and largest bridge in South Africa, the Bloukrans Bridge, to do nothing more than jump from it!

The Bloukrans Bridge is the highest single span concrete bridge in the world, and most importantly, the highest Bungee Jump Bridge in the world. We are secured into a full body harness, and with every step we take on the catwalk our heart beats faster and faster. We take our place at the top of the arch and hear the countdown to our biggest adventure to date. Just as we thought our heart could not beat any faster, we hear the instructor yell “jump” and we take the bravest leap of our life, plunging 216 m towards the flowing waters of the Bloukran River. Hanging there in the depth of the Bloukran’s River Valley, we smile.

Adrenaline, also known as epinephrine, was the first hormone to be identified in 1904. The human body has two adrenal glands, one on top of each kidney; these glands form part of the endocrine system, which works in conjunction with the nervous system and the immune system to help the body cope with different events and stresses, such as high intensity workouts, fatigue and especially life-endangering situations.

When released into the bloodstream, epinephrine increases heart rate and blood pressure, dilates the pupils, elevates the blood sugar level, and redistributes blood flow away from the skin and inner organs. Adrenaline rushes are also described to give a feeling of a natural high, which is why some people try to actively push their bodies to achieve adrenaline rushes, to the point of addiction.

People who are excessive in their participation in exercise, sports, skiing, mountain climbing, car racing or flying airplanes become addicted to the adrenaline rush; they feel depressed when they do not reach it.

Resume our journey and read "Around the World in One Day – Part II".

*The original article was published in the PSC Newsletter, 1st School Semester 2011/2012.

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SCIplanet is a bilingual edutainment science magazine published by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Planetarium Science Center and developed by the Cultural Outreach Publications Unit ...
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