Confession time: I adore chocolate. I’ll never forget a chocolate experience I had almost 20 years ago when I was given the opportunity to try some <em>Gymnema sylvestre</em>. It’s a herb that suppresses your ability to taste sweetness. And eating chocolate straight after the herb was rather distressing. The chocolate had virtually no taste and had the texture of wax, or maybe soap. I could feel it coating my tongue and teeth and I couldn’t imagine ever wanting to eat it again. That’s the power of our taste buds. But not all animals can taste the same flavours we can.
When I was a kid I aspired to live to 100 so I could get my letter from the Queen. These days I have a rather different view of the monarchy and more insight into the pivotal role of good health in old age. If you want to talk old age, there are a plenty of other animals and plants with lifespans far more impressive than ours. The question is: why do some living things live so much longer than others?
Did you ever ride the Gravitron? You're pinned to the wall by forces three times that of normal gravity. It’s fun, unsettling can even make you puke. But what happens if your body experiences extreme changes in gravity for long periods, as is the case for an astronaut?
Is there a smell that has the power to transport you back in time? For me just one whiff of an old-style canvas tent and I’m back camping with my family as a young kid. There are other evocative odours too. The smell of bread dough rising in the sun and a bonfire with damp plane tree leaves…