Showing posts from April, 2005

Interesting Invention - Cigarette Lighter

The cigarette lighter was invented before the match.

(The cigarette lighter was invented in 1816 by a German chemist named J.W. Dobereiner . Whilst matches were originally invented in 1826, by John Walker, but patented by a sneaky Samuel Jones who went on to produce matches called "Lucifers".)

The Third Light Superstition

There is a superstition about lighting 3 cigarettes from one match (or 1 one burning of a cigarette lighter).

It started in WWI where the theory was that enemy snipers were drawn, at night time, to the flash of light of striking a match and lighting of the first cigarette, lighting the second cigarette allowed the sniper to get set and if a third was lit it gave time for the sniper to aim and to shoot.

Even though the risk of being sniped by a German marksman has reduced considerably since 1918, it is still considered "bad luck" to do so.

Interesting Fact - English

French was the official language of England for over 600 years.

(Yes, but the English language was kept alive by us commoners.)

Interesting Fact - Transport - Podcast

The average person in the UK will spend two weeks over their lifetime waiting for the traffic lights to change.

(I think that here in Germany it's probably longer.)

Interesting Words - Ewe and You

EWE and YOU are pronounced exactly the same, yet share no letters in common.

(They will be appearing in my Learn English homophones list in May!)

Interesting Animal - Slugs

Slugs have 4 noses.

(They also like beer!)

Interesting Words - The Queen or a ship?

The ship, the Queen Elizabeth 2, should always be written as QE2. QEII is the actual queen.

(I never knew that!)

Interesting Fact - eBay

EBay facts and figures

There are 114 million worldwide users, with 7.6 million in the UK. At any given time there are more than 25 million items on sale on the site, with about two million listed on the British site. In the UK someone buys a CD every 11 seconds, a toy car every 35 seconds, a mobile phone every minute, a teddy bear every two minutes, a piece of golf equipment every two-and-half minutes and a football shirt every five minutes. (What kind of person would even think of selling their Teddy Bear? I still have all mine!)

Interesting Animals - Rabbits

There are 40 million rabbits in the UK.

(I want to know who carried out the census.)

Interesting Fact - Housewives

The average housewife walks around 10 miles a day around the house doing her work.

(No wonder Glen Campbell wrote that song "Such are the dreams of the everyday housewife")

Interesting Animal - Butterflies

Butterflies taste with their feet.

(Do you think that everything tastes cheesy?)

Interesting Fact - Health

25% of all prescription medicines are derived from plants.

(This is called phytopharmacology. "Phyto" refers to plant and "pharmacology" refers to the medicinal effects of said plants.)

Interesting Words - Tip - Podcast

The word tip stands for "to insure promptitude."

(The modern tradition of tipping may have begun in England during the sixteenth century. Brass urns bearing the inscription "To Insure Promptitude" were allegedly placed first in coffee houses and later in local pubs. People tipped in advance by putting money in these urns. It should be noted however there are other theories as to its true origins, some going back to Roman times, but this one is my personal favourite.)

Interesting Fact - Chinese

There are more than 40,000 characters in Chinese script.

(So, next time you complain about how complicated the English language is - think on!)

Interesting Food - Eggs

Eggs need to reach a temperature of 144 to 158 degrees Fahrenheit before they’ll turn from a liquid to a solid.

(So, people who say "It’s hot enough to fry an an egg on the pavement," are usually ‘eggs’aggerating!)

Interesting Fact - Makeup - Podcast

Many lipsticks contain fish scales.

(Yes, the pearly effect in many lipsticks is provided by our fishy friends - it's called pearl essence, or "pearlescence." And it's also used in nail polishes, ceramic glazes, etc., to give that shimmery effect. This isn't so much a 'makes you think' fact as a 'makes you sick' fact! Ugh!)

Interesting Words - Pasteurisation - Podcast

Pasteurisation was named after the French scientist Louis Pasteur.

(He demonstrated that wine soured because of microorganisms that could be killed by heating the wine to 55° C for several minutes. When applied to beer and milk, this process soon came into use throughout the world.

As he said, "A bottle of wine contains more philosophy than all the books in the world".)

Interesting Place - Nepal

Today is the start of a new year (Nava Varsha) in Nepal.

So, Happy New Year to all Nepalese! Nhu Dan Ya Bhintuna!

(Nepal has its own calendar which is 56 years 08 months and 16 days ahead of the Christian calendar. From today (14th April) they start the year 2062 BS. The era (BS) is called Bikram Sambat and is named after a King of the valley.)

Interesting Fact - The Human Body

Every part of your body contains protein.

(Proteins are the primary component of numerous body tissues. They are the main component of muscle tissue. Protein helps muscle development, increases strength, and improves athletic performance. Proteins also make up the outer layers of hair, nails and skin. Each gram of protein contains 4 calories. - Now my dog is looking at me strangely!)

Interesting Fact - Sight

If you go blind in one eye you only lose 20% of your vision.

(Don't ask me how I know this one!)

Interesting Invention - The Telescope

Hans Lippershey invented the telescope in 1608.

(Although he applied for a patent it was turned down, because it was felt that the device could not be kept a secret. Watch out Bill Gates!)

Interesting Fact - Water

98% of the weight of water is made up from oxygen.

(I can't get my head round this one!  I don't know - water - you can't live in it, you can't live without it.)

Interesting Fact - Football

The colour of the West German football team's away strip was green.

(This is allegedly in honour of the fact that the first team who would play them after WWII was Ireland. Unfortunately it looks as if the truth is more mundane, in that it's the Deutscher Futball-Bund's official colour. Of course it's all moot now, as the away colours are black, which is probably in honour of John Player.)

Interesting Words - Tegestology

Collecting Beer mats is called Tegestology. Beer mat collectors are called Tegestologists.

(It comes from the Latin - tegetis, which means covering or mat. What do they call collectors of beer?)

Interesting Fact - World's Strongest Beer

The worlds strongest beer is 'Samuel Adams' Triple Bock, which has reached 17% alcohol by volume. To obtain this level, however, they had to use a champagne yeast.

(Writes in diary "Samuel Adams Triple Bock")

Interesting Places - Tokyo

In Tokyo, a bicycle is faster than a car for most trips of less than 50 minutes!

(I have never been to Tokyo, or Japan for that matter, but I am assured that this is true, due to the density of the population. I will have to check it out for myself one day and include it on my travel itinerary.)

Interesting Invention - Lawn Mower

The electric lawn mower was invented by Ransom E. Olds (of Oldsmobile fame) in 1915.

(There is a lawn mower museum in Britain, called Lawn Mower World!)

Interesting Place - San Marino

Located 137 miles north of Rome, San Marino is the oldest and one of the smallest republics in the world.

(In fact it is the third smallest state in Europe (after the Holy See and Monaco) also claims to be the world's oldest republic. According to tradition, it was founded by a Christian stonemason named Marino in 301 A.D. Next time I am in Italy I intend to visit.)

Interesting Food - Cabbage

A cabbage is 91 percent water.

(Just think. Now you can ask your children "Would you like some water?" and then serve them cabbage!)

Interesting Fact - Work

On an average work day, a typist's fingers travel 12.6 miles.

(Never mind "These boots are made for walking." It makes me wonder how many miles my fingers have travelled whilst blogging.)

Interesting Fact - Vision

If you wore a pair of glasses that made what you see appear up-side-down, after about six months your brain would work-out what was wrong and would adjust your vision to turn it the right way up. But upon taking the glasses off again the world would appear up-side-down, and again it would take about six months for your brain to rectify itself.

(Who discovered this? And why?)

Interesting Food - Almonds

Almonds are a member of the peach family.

(Amygdalus Persica - Peach Tree
Amygdalus Communis Dulcis - Sweet Almond

You should never plant a peach shrub or tree near an almond tree. As the peach is related to the almond the two sorts are easily crossed. The result is bitter nuts!

That's just peachy! Does that mean that people who are allergic to nuts are allergic to peaches?)

Interesting Fact - Age

In ancient Greece, women counted their age from the date they were married.

(That means I am 10 today!)