Because the world is an interesting place we have been collecting Interesting Facts about Interesting Places, Interesting People, Interesting Animals, Interesting Numbers, and Interesting Words.
(Double click any word for its definition.)
Hyphens are disappearing from the English language.
(About 16,000 hyphens have been dropped from the latest edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. Some of the hyphenated words have become two words, like fig leaf, others have become one word, like bumblebee.)
(The recent discovery of fossilised remains of six infant dinosaurs that died in a volcanic mudflow in China has led researchers to believe that the animals were less than four years old, and probably formed a "creche" composed of babies from at least two different clutches. I wonder what age they had to go to junior school.)
The procession caterpillar, which marches in lines - hence the name, can cause severe allergic outbreaks in humans. They are covered in long, toxic hairs which cause dermatitis and respiratory problems and can account for up to 80 percent of doctor visits in any affected area.
(The Belgian army had to be called in recently to deal with an infestation of these little critters. A mini-platoon of soldiers was deployed into the forests of Belgium to tackle a plague.)
Microtia (meaning 'Small ear') is a congenital deformity of the pinna (outer ear). It can be unilateral (one side only) or bilateral (affecting both sides). It occurs in 1 out of about 8,000-10,000 births. In unilateral microtia, the right ear is most typically affected.
The carbon footprint of a packet of Walkers Crisps is 75g.
(In April, Walkers Crisps began labelling its cheese and onion bags of crisps with a carbon footprint - how many grams of greenhouse gases were emitted in its production - and that has been rolled out to other flavours. The calculations are done by the Carbon Trust, a private company set up by the government to reduce the UK's carbon footprint. The problem consumers face is can you trust the Carbon Trust.)
Total lack of sleep will kill you quicker than lack of food.
(If you go 10 days without sleep you're toast, whilst starvation takes a few weeks. In fact if you go for more than three days without any sleep at all, you will lose orientation in place and time, you will hallucinate and eventually your body will begin to break down.
The average human requires between seven and eight hours of sleep every night. This enables the body to repair and refresh itself in order to start the new day. If you try to burn the candle at both ends and don't get enough sleep, it will affect everything that you do. Mistakes can be made, accidents can happen and there is evidence of short-term memory. Good news for the over 60s is that you can get away with between five and six hours sleep.)
According to the TUC (Trades Union Congress),in the UK 112,000 people currently benefit from "non-domiciliary tax breaks".
(Tax loopholes for UK citizens who have spent time abroad have allowed tax breaks worth £4bn. It seems as if the people who are best able to afford to pay tax are also able to afford the people who can help them avoid tax.)
(Scottish and Canadian researchers have shown that sitting up straight places an unnecessary strain on your back. Leaning forward was also bad, but leaning back at an angle of 135 degrees was the best position. So lean back and relax. I wish I could show my mum this one - all those years of "Sit up straight, don't slouch!")
In the UK you can be arrested for using someone's wi-fi network without permission.
(The Communications Act 2003 says a "person who (a) dishonestly obtains an electronic communications service, and (b) does so with intent to avoid payment of a charge applicable to the provision of that service, is guilty of an offence". This practice is known as piggybacking or mooching. Mind you if you can even find a wifi signal in the UK you're doing ok.)
US researchers from the Society for Microbiology and The Soap and Detergent Association have worked out that only 77% of Americans wash their hands in public restrooms (loos to the rest of us).
(This figure is down 6% on a similar study in 2005. So this is for the Americans: When washing your hands you should rub your wet, soapy hands together outside the stream of running water for at least 20 seconds, before rinsing thoroughly and then drying with a clean or disposable towel. In a public loo, after drying, use a dry paper towel to turn off the water (and open the door, if there is one).