The Satur­day brief­ing

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IS THERE any­thing you are des­per­ately yearn­ing to know? Are there any press­ing fac­tual dis­putes you would like us to help re­solve? This is the page where we shall do our best to an­swer any ques­tions you throw at us, what­ever the sub­ject.

IN a book my mother had about the Royal Fam­ily there was a photo of a child, re­ferred to as “the Queen”, meet­ing a com­peti­tor at the Rich­mond Horse Show on Chil­dren’s Day. Can you tell me who the child was and what be­came of her?

Grace Rim­mer, Wind­sor, Berk­shire I KNOW that photo and you can still buy it as a poster. It shows a lit­tle girl, in a coat, floppy hat, socks and sturdy shoes, shak­ing hands with a com­peti­tor who is lean­ing over on a horse.

Who was the lit­tle girl and what be­came of her? Well the photo was taken in 1936, the lit­tle girl was Princess El­iz­a­beth and she be­came our present Queen. I WAS born in March 1926, a few weeks be­fore our Queen El­iz­a­beth II in April 1926. How many prime min­is­ters, and who were they, have been in of­fice since we were both born? Ronald H Beacham, Clac­ton-on-Sea, Es­sex CON­GRAT­U­LA­TIONS! There have been 17 dif­fer­ent prime min­is­ters dur­ing your (and the Queen’s) life­time: in 1926, when you were both born, the PM was Stan­ley Bald­win, there fol­lowed Ram­say Mac­Don­ald (1931-35), Stan­ley Bald­win (again) (1935-7), Neville Cham­ber­lain (1937-40), Win­ston Churchill (1940-45 and 51-55), Cle­ment At­tlee (1945-51), An­thony Eden (1955-57), Harold Macmil­lan (1957-63), Sir Alec Dou­glas-Home (1963-64), Harold Wil­son (1964-70 and 74-76), Edward Heath (1970-74), James Cal­laghan (1976-79), Mar­garet Thatcher (1979-90), John Ma­jor (1990-97), Tony Blair (1997-2007), Gor­don Brown (2007-10), David Cameron (2010-16) and Theresa May (since 2016). US­ING the difference be­tween the yearly birth/death rates is it pos­si­ble to cal­cu­late how long it will take be­fore there is no more room for more peo­ple on Earth?

Brian Fan­non, York THE ba­sic ques­tion is how many peo­ple the Earth can sup­port and es­ti­mates vary be­tween 2.5 bil­lion (which would mean we’re al­ready three times over max­i­mum size) and 100 bil­lion. The cur­rent pop­u­la­tion is 7.5 bil­lion and it is in­creas­ing by just more than one per cent a year. The UN pre­dicts it could reach 9.7 bil­lion by 2050, and more than 11 bil­lion by 2100.

Oth­ers sug­gest the rate of pop­u­la­tion growth is shrink­ing and will sta­bilise at be­low 10 bil­lion in the sec­ond half of this cen­tury. But if food pro­duc­tion and de­liv­ery meth­ods im­prove dra­mat­i­cally there’s room for a much larger fig­ure.

IF the planet Jupiter is made of gas, why don’t as­ter­oids and

comets col­lid­ing with it not pass straight through it and come out the other side?

John Goodall, Ply­mouth, Devon JUPITER is in­deed what they call a “gas gi­ant” but the mas­sive grav­i­ta­tional forces act­ing on it lead to pres­sure pro­duc­ing a liq­uid in­te­rior and a hard core com­pris­ing about five per cent of its mass.

It’s doubt­ful that any as­ter­oid or comet gets through that far as the col­li­sion re­leases so much en­ergy that the smaller body is heated to the point it ex­plodes. We saw this hap­pen in 1994 when comet Shoe­maker-Levy 9 col­lided with Jupiter.

“CACOETHES” is a lovely word. I heard it used by a fa­mous Pak­istani writer to de­scribe the ter­ri­ble urge mem­bers of Pak­istan’s cricket team had to do some­thing aw­ful. Can you tell us the word’s ori­gins?

J Cough, South Molton, North Devon Yvonne Ellen whale plates, set of two, £28. 0345 6049049/ john­ These fun, clev­erly designed plates – 28cm di­am­e­ter for the din­ner plate– could hang on a wall or sit on top of a table. Made of qual­ity bone china, with “sun­beam” flashes and gilt, gold edge de­tail­ing. by PRO­NOUNCED ka-ko-eethees, it means an ir­re­sistible urge to do some­thing harm­ful. First used in English in the 16th cen­tury it was bor­rowed from Latin. The first-cen­tury Ro­man poet Ju­ve­nal re­ferred to “cacoethes scribendi”, an un­con­trol­lable urge to write. One of the orig­i­nal uses in English was to de­scribe a ma­lig­nant dis­ease.

The start, “caco”, came from the Greek “kakos”, mean­ing some­thing bad. That’s why a bad noise is “ca­coph­ony”. The sec­ond half is also from Greek: “ethos” mean­ing dis­po­si­tion or na­ture.

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A ROYAL GIFT: Princess El­iz­a­beth at the Rich­mond Horse Show in 1936

*All prices are cor­rect at the time of going to press

This in­ex­pen­sive cush­ion with the face of Au­drey Hep­burn printed on polyester vel­vet would make a great gift for any fan of the Break­fast At Tif­fany’s star.

Au­drey Hep­burn cush­ion, £9.66. 0800 1690423/ way­

This lovely stoneware bowl is designed to cel­e­brate 100 years of Fin­nish art and tells a story about the wild na­ture of Fin­land with a pat­tern of flow­ers, an owl and strawberries.

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