How Many Seconds Have You Been Alive?

Tim Harford is an economics journalist who among other things presents the Radio 4 “More or Less” which is an investigative programme about the accuracy of numbers and statistics in the public domain.

I mention him because he was the first person to help me understand the difference between a million and a billion.
He did it by talking about a million seconds against a billion seconds. At one time I thought it would be nice to be a millionaire. Think again.

A million seconds is 11.6 days, give or take. A billion seconds 31.7 years…and a trillion seconds 31,709.8 years. Think about that for a moment. A billion seconds is 31 years, a million – 11 days.

When applied to national debts it makes the mind fizzle. As of September 2023 the UK’s national debt was £2,654.3 billion which I think is 2.654 trillion. Correct me if I’m wrong – just over 84,000 years!

But never mind. The main reason for this somewhat wacky blog is because while pondering these strange facts I came across a website that tells you how may seconds you’ve been alive, and how far we’ve traveled on the planet since your birthday. Our planet is going really fast.

If you can’t wait to find out click here and you will go straight to Michael Carroll’s website where all will be revealed.
Or ponder this. If you live to be 95 you will reach 3 billion seconds old.


Saint David

Happy St. David’s Day

Saint David’s Day is the feast day of Saint David, the patron saint of Wales, and falls on 1 March, the date of Saint David’s death in 589 AD.

He was born in Caerfai, southwest Wales into an aristocratic family. He helped found about 1200 monasteries. 

His final words to the community of monks were: “Brothers be ye constant. The yoke which with single mind ye have taken, bear ye to the end; and whatsoever ye have seen with me and heard, keep and fulfil.”

He was recognized as a national patron saint in the 12th century at the peak of Welsh resistance to the Normans and canonised by Pope Callixtus II in 1120.

In the poem Armes Prydein (The Prophesy of Britain), composed in the early to mid-10th century, the anonymous author prophesies that the Cymry (the Welsh people) will unite and join an alliance of fellow-Celts to repel the Anglo-Saxons, under the banner of Saint David: A lluman glân Dewi a ddyrchafant (“And they will raise the pure banner of Dewi”).

Wales had a very short period of independence during the rising of Owain Glyndŵr, but Wales as a whole was never an independent kingdom for long.

Henry Tudor, 2nd Earl of Richmond, who was born in Pembroke Castle as a patrilineal descendant of the Tudor Dynasty of North Wales, became King Henry VII of England after his victory over Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, to end the Wars of the Roses.

Henry’s green and white banner with a red dragon became a rallying point for Welsh patriotism with the memory of Saint David on his Feast Day. Henry was the first monarch of the House of Tudor, and during the reign of that dynasty, the royal coat of arms included the Welsh Dragon, a reference to the monarch’s origin. The banner from Henry’s victory was not adopted as the official Flag of Wales until 1959.


Autumn Equinox

Autumn Equinox and the best to one and all

Everyone here at Healthy Generations wanted to thank you for all your support, donations and more than anything, participation over the last three months. We do consider us being a big community of people sharing activities and time together whether online or in live classes and events.

September is traditionally the beginning of the school year as we go into the Autumn Term leading up to Christmas; summer ends and the autumn begins.

Twice a year the Sun illuminates the northern and southern hemispheres equally – spring and autumn equinoxes.

In 2023 the autumnal equinox was last Saturday the 23rd September at 6:50am GMT (7:50am BST to you and me).

The full moon nearest the Autumn Equinox is the ‘Harvest Moon’ and this year it is this coming Friday at 10.57am. The full Moon rises around sunset for several nights in a row, traditionally providing farmers with just enough extra light to finish their harvests before the frosts set in.

And while we are talking about moons I don’t know if you knew but last month (August) there were two moons on the 1st and 31st of August making the second one a blue moon. I feel a song coming on.

So all the best to one and all for these next three months as we move moment to moment towards Christmas. A big thank you again and all the very best for this new academic year 2023/2024!!


Summer Solstice

Summer Solstice

The Summer Solstice this year will be on June 21st at 14.57 UTC. UTC (Coordinated Universal Time)is the same as GMT but unlike GMT is never a time zone. It is a time standard, a basis for civil time and time zones worldwide. This means that no country or territory officially uses UTC as a local time. The UK uses GMT as a time zone until the change to BST which means for us the solstice will be at 15.57 BST.

Solstice comes from the Latin words sol, meaning Sun and sistere, meaning to come to a stop or stand still. On the day of the June solstice, the Sun reaches its northernmost position, as seen from the Earth. At that moment, its zenith does not move north or south as during most other days of the year, but it stands still at the Tropic of Cancer. It then reverses its direction and starts moving south again. The Tropic of Cancer is not only a book by Henry Miller that you shouldn’t have read when you were 14 but also the most northerly circle of latitude on Earth at which the Sun can be directly overhead. This occurs on the June solstice, when the Northern Hemisphere is tilted toward the Sun to its maximum extent.

Solstices happen twice a year—in June and December. The December solstice takes place around December 21. On this day, the Sun is precisely over the Tropic of Capricorn (another book by Henry Miller that you shouldn’t have read…).

One might think that since it is summer in the Northern Hemisphere, the Earth is closest to the Sun during the June solstice. But it’s the opposite. The Earth is actually farthest from the Sun during this time of the year. In fact, the Earth will be on its Aphelion (the point where a planet is at its furthest from the sun) a few weeks after the June solstice.

The Earth’s distance from the Sun has very little effect over the Seasons on Earth. Instead, it the tilt of Earth’s rotational axis, which is angled at around 23.4 degrees, that creates seasons.

The direction of Earth’s tilt does not change as the Earth orbits the Sun; the two hemispheres point towards the same direction in space at all times. What changes as the Earth orbits around the Sun is the position of the hemispheres in relation to the Sun. The Northern Hemisphere faces towards the Sun during the June solstice, thus experiencing summer. The Southern Hemisphere tilts away from the Sun and therefore has their winter.

Even though the June solstice is the longest day in the Northern Hemisphere, most places do not see the earliest sunrise of the year on this day. The earliest sunrise happens a few days before, and the latest sunset takes place a few days after, the June solstice.

This happens because of the imbalance between time measured using clocks and time measured by a sundial. Don’t ask! Too complicated to go into here.

The hottest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere usually comes a few weeks or sometimes months after the solstice. This is because it takes time for the oceans and landmasses to warm up, which again allows for higher air temperatures.

And one last fact that isn’t really related but I kept thinking about it while putting this blog together:

All the world’s water in two bubbles

68% of the Earth’s land mass is located in the Northern Hemisphere, 32% in the Southern.

About 71 percent of the Earth’s surface is water-covered, and the oceans hold about 96.5 percent of all Earth’s water.

The surface of the Southern Hemisphere is 80.9% water, compared with 60.7% water in the Northern Hemisphere. The Southern Hemisphere is a very watery place.

So have a wonderful longest day whether in London, Stonehenge or the canyons of your very own mind.



Coronation of Charles and Camilla

Westminster Abbey has been Britain’s coronation church since 1066. King Charles III will be the 40th reigning monarch to be crowned in May 2023.

The ceremony is performed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the most senior cleric in the Church of England, of which the monarch is supreme governor.

The two monarchs who did not have any coronation were Edward V (the boy king), who was presumed murdered in the Tower of London before he could be crowned, and Edward VIII who abdicated 11 months after succeeding his father and before the date set for his coronation.

William III and Mary II were the only joint monarchs to be crowned and the chair specially made for Mary’s use in 1689 is on view in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries in the Abbey triforium.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, public spectacle sometimes overshadowed religious significance. At George III’s coronation some of the congregation began to eat a meal during the sermon. George IV’s coronation was a great theatrical occasion but he flatly refused to allow his estranged wife Caroline to enter the Abbey. William IV had to be persuaded to have a coronation at all and spent so little money on it that it became known as ‘the penny coronation’. With Queen Victoria’s coronation in 1838 came a renewed appreciation of the true religious meaning of the ceremony.

By the time Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in 1953 millions around the world were able to witness her coronation on television.

His Majesty The King will be crowned at Westminster Abbey on Saturday 6th May 2023. The Queen Consort will be crowned alongside him.

A full description of the coronation and more history can be found at:


Survey Results

We Wanted To Hear From You

Big thank you to everyone who filled in the questionnaire we sent out over Christmas “We Want To Hear From You”.

Below are the results of ‘what do you attend’ both “Live” and “Online” showing a strong interest in Pilates:

We asked you for suggestions for new classes and the clear favourite was various forms of dance. Out of a total of 53 suggestions 7 were “Dance”, 1 was “Disco”, 2 were Latin Dance, 3 were Zumba, 1 Ballroom and 1 Argentine Tango! Out of 53 that’s 15 wanting dance of one kind or another, 28.3% – that’s a lot. We need to look at doing a lot more dancing.

The complete list without dance (15) is:

Art2More venues1Spinning1
Book Club1Online singing1Studio Painting1
Cooking1Quit Smoking1Walks1
Craft1Record Classes2Water Aerobics1
Knitting1Self Defence1Weights1
Mindfulness1Setting up Website1Writing1
More outdoor classes1Sewing2Yoga3

We are going to look at new dance classes, more craft and art, more and different level Pilates, and more Yoga. It is not the first time we have been asked to record classes and make them available online and it is something we’ve wanted to do but it takes so much time we are going to have to kick it down the road until we are able to either hire someone or find a volunteer. All the rest are noted and are already in the pipeline like a) “More Outdoor Classes”; b) something I’d already like to do but we need to find funding – “Book Club” and “Setting up a Website”; c) something we already do – “Mindfulness”; or d) we simply need to find funding.

And lastly another thank you for participating. In all 81 people completed the questionnaire. I am working with Diana Birtas from who is volunteering her time to help Healthy Generations improve our social media. She said that 81 is a really good response and is a testament to the Healthy Generations’ community.

Music News

Jeff Beck

Jeff Beck

Jeff Beck died Tuesday 10th January in hospital following a battle with meningitis.

He shot to fame in the 1960s with The Yardbirds playing alongside a young Jimmy Page, later of Led Zeppelin, and played on their hits before carving out a career of his own.

Considered one of the most influential guitarists of his generation, Beck’s solos earned him the moniker “the guitarist’s guitarist”.

You will probably know him best for “Hi Ho Silver Lining”. Listen to this great live version from 2003 on Jools Holland.

He was asked to join the Rolling Stones after Brian Jones died and had Rod Stewart in his band The Jeff Beck Group for a while.

My favourite album is from 1975 which he recorded with George Martin called “Blow By Blow”. Beck said of Martin, “To work with someone of that caliber … he gave me a career. I couldn’t wait to get to the studio every day.”


Gianluca Vialli

Gianluca Vialli

Gianluca Vialli sadly died Friday 6th January aged 58 and if you are not into football you probably don’t know who he is.

Gianluca Vialli wrote one of the best books on football I have ever read in my humble opinion (IMHO), and if you need to buy a present for someone who likes football and also likes a good read this is a slam dunk, two birds with one stone, win-win, you can’t lose.

He began his career at Cremonese, his hometown club, before starring in Serie A for Sampdoria and Juventus, and ended his playing career at Chelsea before going into management and coaching. He scored 16 goals in 59 appearances for Italy and featured in the Azzurri’s 1986 and 1990 World Cup squads. Most recently he was Roberto Mancini’s assistant when England lost on penalties to Italy in the Euro 2020 final. Ugh!

And remember if you do buy it and buy it through Amazon, please go through Amazon Smile and select Healthy Generations as your charity of choice. If you go through Amazon Smile each time you login to Amazon everything you buy generates a small donation from Amazon and it doesn’t affect the price you pay; they cough it up!

And thoughts for Gianluca even though he helped beat us with his damned positivity! Gawd bless ‘im!


Sam Interview

Sam Interview

Sam Tomlinson, Healthy Generations’ Operations Manager has just been interviewed by Islington Life, Islington Council’s online magazine about the exercise sessions we are running in Islington Parks. Click here to read the interview.


Chances Of Using Care Homes

Will you need to go into a care home?

by Peter Crockett

Question: what percentage of people go into residential or care homes? Close your eyes, no cheating and come up with a number. I’ll write a couple of lines of nonsense so it’s harder to see the answer: (Why is there a ‘w’ in answer? I have an Argentinian friend who always pronounces the ‘w’. I keep telling him, “The ‘w’ is silent!” But he takes no notice. It’s made me think….where does this ‘w’ come from? Why don’t I pronounce it? If the ‘w’ was silent in swerve I’d be serving instead of swerving.) The answer was one in four 10 years ago. Which surprised me. I asked two people yesterday and they both said 60%. I would have guessed 50%. And the average stay is said to be 30 months. At the moment the answer is 15% which annoyingly at a recent trustee meeting both our Chair Lloyd and our Treasurer Maureen knew; but they both used to run day centres for older people so they are professionals.

This means most of us stay at home as we get older, or perhaps live with family. Not such a bad idea when the average cost is said to be around £35,000 per year. “I’ll look after you for £35k a year mum!”

I read all this in an article by Peter Lilley a former secretary of state who is now in the House of Lords. It was in the Daily Telegraph on or around the 8th September 2021. You may remember at the time it was a hot subject in Parliament and the media. He has an interesting solution which does not involve raising taxes.

Instead of me distilling the article I shall risk suits and opprobrium and you can read the whole thing below or read/download the pdf here: (but it’s still interesting that only 15% of us ever go into care nowadays)


Satellites and Sun

Satellites, Sun and Space Cowboys

The following is taken from a website You can sign up for free space weather alerts at They keep up to date with things happening in space including when the sun is spewing flares towards earth.

In 1859 there was the most intense solar flare in recorded history. At that time there was already an extensive telegraph system and it caused sparks and fires everywhere. A geomagnetic storm of this magnitude occurring today would cause widespread electrical disruptions, blackouts and damage due to extended outages of the electrical grid. And apparently we are overdue a big one.

On the 15th November, just two weeks ago, Russia destroyed one of its own satellites. A missile launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome struck Kosmos 1408, shattering the old satellite into thousands of pieces. Debris came so close to the International Space Station that astronauts took shelter in their crew capsules, just in case they had to abandon ship.

Littering Earth orbit with debris is never a good idea. Space weather could make it much worse. To understand why, turn back the clock 18 years to the Halloween Storms of October 2003, when our planet “lost” half its satellites.

Solar Cycle 23 was winding down. Space weather forecasters were talking about how quiet things would soon become when, suddenly, the sun unleashed two of the strongest solar flares of the Space Age: An X17 flare on Oct. 28th followed by an X10 flare on Oct. 29th. Powerful CMEs struck Earth’s magnetic field only 19 hours later, sparking 3 days of severe to extreme geomagnetic storms.

Commercial airlines scrambled to redirect flights from the poles, where radiation levels were suddenly high. Each detour cost as much as $100,000. Many Earth-orbiting satellites experienced reboots and even unwanted thruster firings. Some operators simply gave up and turned their instruments off. Goddard’s Space Science Mission Operations Team estimates that 59% of NASA’s Earth and space science satellites were affected.

There’s a dawning awareness that something else important happened, too. Many of Earth’s satellites were misplaced.

In a 2020 paper entitled “Flying Through Uncertainty,” a team of researchers led by Thomas Berger at the University of Colorado’s Space Weather Technology, Research, and Education Center report a little-known anecdote from USAF satellite operators. During the Halloween storms, they recalled, “the majority of [low Earth orbiting] satellites were temporarily lost, requiring several days of around-the-clock work to reestablish [their positions].”

“The Halloween storms pumped an extra 3 Terrawatts of power into Earth’s upper atmosphere,” explains Martin Mlynczak, principal investigator of NASA’s SABER spacecraft, which measured the energy dump. “We didn’t feel it down on the planet’s surface, but it was a big event for Earth orbiting satellites. The extra power puffed up the atmosphere, sharply increasing aerodynamic drag.”

Simulations show that even moderate geomagnetic storms can shift the position of a satellite by 10 km or more. The Halloween Storms created far larger uncertainties. This is a problem because, when you’re in a shooting gallery, you can’t dodge the bullets unless you know where they are.

“Fortunately, the Halloween storm did not cause any major collisions that we know of,” write Berger and his co-authors. “But if a geomagnetic storm on the level of the 2003 event were to occur today, the situation could be very different. Most satellite operators today have never experienced anything like the Halloween 2003 storm.”

Right now radars and telescopes in the United States Space Surveillance Network are surely working to pinpoint the debris of Kosmos 1408. Orbital solutions will allow collision warnings to be issued; satellites can dodge. However, a strong geomagnetic storm could wipe out their findings in an instant.

Intensifying geomagnetic activity is almost certain as young Solar Cycle 25 gains steam in the years ahead. It’s something to think about the next time you launch an ASAT weapon…