Notre Dame will rise from the ashes even greater than before – Lonely Planet's travel blog

Notre Dame will rise from the ashes even greater than before – Lonely Planet’s travel blog


Wonderings: rambles through and reflections on travel… this month, James Kay says that Notre Dame will emerge from the recent fire as an even greater monument © Joe Davis / Lonely Planet

Many years ago, I climbed the spiral staircase that winds its way up to the balcony connecting the two towers of the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris’ western facade. From there, you can see many of the city’s greatest landmarks: the Eiffel Tower, the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, the Arc de Triomphe, the River Seine flowing past Île de la Cité.

A close inspection of the gargoyles and chimeras festooning the towers is just as engrossing as that far-reaching, wide-angle view. Jutting out from the walls, the gargoyles’ long necks channel water away from the ancient stone; the chimeras – horned, winged, taloned, feathered; beasts that never were – are there to ward off evil.

But none of them could protect the 12th-century building from the fury of a different element yesterday. Mercifully, the towers still stand, but the fire which began in the afternoon and raged through the night consumed the roof and toppled the spire.

Fire in the heart

I feel for the Parisians who lined the banks of the Seine to witness the conflagration, those vaulting flames mirrored in their tears. So do millions of other well-wishers around the world, for this is a building etched into the collective consciousness, a Unesco World Heritage site visited by millions of people a year.

Hyperbole aside, its destruction is a true tragedy. Notre Dame is the heart not just of Paris, but also of France, and not in a merely abstract sense: the brass plate set into the ground outside the western facade marks the city centre and the point from which the distance from Paris to all destinations is measured.

But, as we mourn, let’s remember that this heart will beat again.

Firefights battling the blaze yesterday as it spread across the roof of Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris Firefights battling the blaze yesterday as it spread across the roof of Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris © Pierre Suu / Getty Images

If you look north from our office in London, you can see across the River Thames to the towers of St Paul’s Cathedral’s west front. The cathedral – a place of comparable cultural clout to Notre Dame – is now in its fourth incarnation. Sir Christopher Wren’s masterpiece was built in the late 17th century after its predecessor was destroyed… by the Great Fire of London.

Contemporary accounts describe molten lead pouring from the roof of Old St Paul’s into the warren of streets below, causing the pavements to glow like flows of lava. So intense was the inferno that witnesses a furlong away – about 200 metres – could not face the flames.

Symbols of resilience

It took 35 years for the St Paul’s we know today to rise from the ashes – but rise it did, an irrepressible phoenix, just as it had from previous fires in 962, 1087 and 1561.

Furthermore, I’d argue that with each rebuild, just as the physical cathedral became a little bigger, so did its psychogeographical scale – that is, the amount of space it occupies in our minds. Along with all the other things for which it stands, St Paul’s became a potent symbol of the city’s resilience.

While I don’t speak for them, I’d wager that the residents of Utrecht, Barcelona and Cologne feel much the same way about St Martin’s, Santa Maria Del Mar and Cologne Cathedral respectively, all of which were ravaged by, and reborn from, fire at one time or another in their long histories.

It won’t take 35 years to restore Notre Dame, which has survived revolutions and wars, and hosted the crowning of kings and the coronation of emperors. French president Emmanuel Macron has already launched an international campaign and hundreds of millions of euros are pouring into the reconstruction fund.

And whenever this storied structure does reopen to the public, its hold on our imaginations will have grown, not diminished. So let’s look forward to the day when the bells of Our Lady ring out over the rooftops of Paris once more.



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More profound than previously reported

More profound than previously reported


Credit: CC0 Public Domain

The effects of exercise on metabolism are even greater than scientists believed. That’s the finding of a unique study published today in Cardiovascular Research, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

The study is the first to examine the metabolic effects of exercise while carefully controlling for differences between participants in diet, stress, sleep patterns, and work environment.

“These results show that metabolic adaptation to exercise is far more profound than previously reported,” said senior author Dr. John F. O’Sullivan of the University of Sydney, Australia. “The results increase our knowledge of the widespread benefits of exercise on metabolism and reveal for the first time the true magnitude of these effects. This reinforces the mandate for exercise as a critical part of programmes to prevent cardiovascular disease.”

One of the major challenges when studying the effects of exercise is controlling for factors that differ between participants and could influence the results. For example: age, gender, weight, baseline fitness, diet (some healthy, some very unhealthy), sleep patterns, jobs (physical work versus a desk job), alcohol, and smoking.

“Our motivation for this study was to overcome this limitation by studying exercise under controlled conditions, thereby revealing the true extent of effects on the body,” said Dr. O’Sullivan. “Therefore, we used a cohort of newly-enlisted healthy male soldiers of similar age and baseline fitness who lived in the same domicile, had the same sleep patterns, ate the same food, and underwent the same exercise regimen.”

One of the major benefits of exercise is on metabolism, which is how the body converts food into energy and eliminates waste. Substances produced during metabolism are called metabolites. “Metabolites are the intermediates of the metabolic machinery in the body and can signal how metabolic health is changing in response to exercise,” explained Dr. O’Sullivan.

The researchers measured approximately 200 metabolites in the blood of 52 soldiers before and after an 80-day aerobic and strength exercise programme and related these to changes in fitness.

Compared to previous studies, the researchers found dramatic changes in many metabolites. Trained, energy-efficient muscle used far more fuel—for example fat—than shown ever before. The researchers also captured heretofore unseen, in terms of scale and scope, changes in levels of factors derived from the gut, factors involved in blood clotting, breakdown products of protein, and factors involved in opening up blood vessels to increase blood flow.

Participants who did not experience these metabolic benefits of exercise had higher levels of a metabolite called DMGV. “This is intriguing because a recent study also found that this metabolite predicted who did not benefit from exercise,” said Dr. O’Sullivan. “DMGV levels are influenced by genetics and diet, rising with sugary drinks and falling with vegetables and fibre. Measuring DMGV may identify people who need strategies other than exercise to reduce their cardiovascular risk.”

He concluded: “The power of exercise to boost metabolism is on top of its positive effects on blood pressure, heart rate, fitness, body fat, and body weight. Our findings cement the central role of exercise in preventing cardiovascular disease.”


Exercise works for those beginning cancer treatment


More information:
Yen Chin Koay et al, Effect of chronic exercise in healthy young male adults: a metabolomic analysis, Cardiovascular Research (2020). DOI: 10.1093/cvr/cvaa051

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Benefits of exercise on metabolism: More profound than previously reported (2020, April 2)
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