Showing posts from April, 2007

Interesting Animals # 62 - Squirrels

According to the Daily Mail squirrels can peel bananas.

(Well let's face it, if you can shell nuts a banana is not that much of a problem.)

Interesting Fact # 531 - Books - Podcast

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Scouting for Boys by Lord Baden-Powell is the fourth bestselling book of the 20th Century, after the Bible, the Koran and Mao's Little Red Book.

(If you wrote a book called "Scouting for boys" today, you would probably be arrested.)

Interesting Fact - Smoking - Podcast

Smoking will be banned in police interview rooms in England when the new law takes effect on July 1st this year.

(I wonder if this will constitute torture?)

Interesting Fact # 529 - Money

According to the Metro newspaper £26m of pennies have been lost on UK streets since 1971.

(So, if anyone has a penny detector they could be very rich.)

Interesting Fact # 528 - Neighbours

Australian Soap Neighbours is the most watched daytime TV show other than the BBC's One o'clock news.

(According to the Independent the BBC currently pays about £25000 per episode but Fremantle (the makers) are reportedly seeking more than £70000. So, now you know where your British TV licence money goes.)

Interesting Place - North Korea

North Korea is the least visited country in the world – only 1,800 Westerners make the trip each year.

(That sounds like a very good reason to visit.)

Interesting People # 79 - Boris Yeltsin

Boris Yeltsin lost a thumb and index finger on his left hand while playing with a hand grenade as a child.

(Luckily my mum was only worried about me playing with matches.)

Interesting Invention # 22- The windscreen wiper

Mary Anderson, from Alabama in the Southern United States, invented the swinging arm windscreen wiper.

(She patented her invention in 1905, and it became standard equipment by 1913. There was no electric motor and so the driver had to use one hand to move the lever, which nowadays would probably be illegal.)

Interesting Fact # 527 - McDonalds - Podcast

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The German village of Geschendorf, in Schleswig-Holstein, has won a fight to stop McDonald’s opening on its outskirts because it doesn’t sell sausages and sauerkraut.

(In 2008 the A1 will be joined to their village, but the mayor, Fritz Kock, 66, said, "We are quite happy with the local restaurant where we can get sausages and schnitzel," all nine local councillors supported the decision. You can add one English teacher to that.)

Interesting Fact - Dying

Around 430,000 cremations take place in Britain each year.

(There is a problem though - obesity. Standard coffins range from 16-20 inches, but, because of growing obesity coffins up to 40 inches are becoming increasingly common and crematoriums are having to widen their furnaces.)

Interesting Fact # 525 - Work

According to national statistics Germans work 1437 hours per year, on average.

(The British work 16% more hours than their German counterparts.)

Interesting Fact # 524 - Chocolate

According to Dr David Lewis, chocolate is better than a passionate kiss, causing a more intense and longer-lasting buzz, and doubling the heart rate.

(It is well known that chocolate contains phenylethylamine which can raise levels of endorphins, the pleasure-giving substances, in the brain. It also contains caffeine which has a stimulatory effect, which explains why chocolate can give people a buzz, and why people can become addicted to it. Dr Lewis said that allowing it to melt on your tongue could be the secret to maximising the buzz. Of course no one knows who paid for this research to be carried out. Hmmm I wonder!)

Interesting Fact # 523 - Sex

According to the News of the World, the average Briton has sex 4,239 times.

(Who's counting? Rupert Murdoch seemingly.)

Interesting Animals # 62 - Termites

According to the Royal Society's Biology Letters journal, termites are cockroaches.

(The research showed that termites no longer merit belonging to a different order (Isoptera), but should be treated as a family of cockroaches. The study examined the DNA sequences of five genes in the creatures, and found that termites' closest relatives were a species of wood-eating cockroaches. I'm not sure if this will help you if your house is being eaten by termites.)

Interesting People # 78 - Roger Hargreaves

Roger Hargreaves, the author of the Mr Men books, was Britain's third best-selling author, having sold more than 100 million books.

(The most popular characters are re Mr. Tickle Little Miss Naughty, let's just hope they never get together.)

Interesting Fact # 522 - Happiness - Podcast

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According to a study carried out by University of Cambridge, Denmark is the happiest country in Europe.

(Italy was found to be the unhappiest, Germany was 4th, and the UK was 9th out of 15. Worryingly, Britons were found to be getting unhappier, with falling trust in institutions, such as the police and government, to blame. They didn't say anything about Britons living in Germany though.)

Interesting Fact - Sleep

According to a survey by life assurance firm CPP, only 3% of UK adults get the recommended eight hours of sleep a night.

(The survey also reported that Britons are spending £6.7bn a year on quick fix rejuvenating cures such as coffee and vitamins to help them cope with the effects of a bad night's sleep.

It's silly really, but I do it too.)

Interesting Fact # 520 - Translation

The European Parliament employs over 1,000 translators.

(It has the largest translation department in the world. With over 23 languages in Europe this isn't very surprising.)

Interesting Places # 49 - Austria

At 73 million Euros the Aqua Dome is the largest tourism project in Austria.

(Give me 73 million Euros and I think I could build something pretty spectacular too.)

Interesting Fact # 519 - The Human Stomache

Your stomache has to produce a new layer of mucus every two weeks otherwise it will digest itself.

(This overlying layer of mucus buffers your stomache from the acid. Damaging this protective layer can allow the stomach's acid and enzymes to come in contact with the underlying tissue. If this happens often enough, an ulcer develops.)

Interesting Invention # 21- IBM

In the last 12 years, IBM has received 29,021 patents - more than any other company or individual in the world. In 2005 alone they received 2,974 U.S. patents

(IBM inventions and discoveries include the following: DRAM (dynamic random access memory) cells | Magnetic storage | The relational database | The RISC (reduced instruction set computer) chip architecture | Fractals | Superconductivity)

Interesting Fact - Insect Numbers

Insects outnumber humans 200 million to one!

(Insects make up more than half of all living things on Earth, There are about 900,000 known insect species, three times as many as all other animal species together, and thousands of new ones are discovered each year.

Scratch scratch.)

Interesting Fact # 517 - British Law - Podcast

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Political activists in the UK are banned from serving anything more than light refreshments, such as tea and biscuits, at meetings. Anything else is an offence called "treating" and punishable by a year in prison or an unlimited fine, under the the Representation of the People Act 1893.

(The "treating" rules were brought in to end the widespread bribery of voters in the 19C, when people would be plied with food and drink to gain their support. Well I'm afraid it would probably work with me. Two beers and I'm anyones.)

Interesting Animals # 62 - The chicken - Podcast

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The chicken is the closest living relative to T Rex (the dinosaur not the rock group).

(I'm not sure if that makes me less frightened of Tyrannosauruses or more scared of chickens.)

Interesting Fact # 516 - Noise Pollution

The Office for National Statistics' Social Trends survey says that complaints about noise pollution from UK households increased nearly five-fold between 1984/5 and 2004/5.

(Anyone who thinks noise pollution isn't serious has never lived underneath a bunch of DJs. And yes I have.)

Interesting Word - Cremains

Human ashes are called cremains.

(It is a shortened, elided version of cremated remains.)

Interesting Fact - British Elections

Lunatics, idiots, deaf and dumb" people are barred from standing for election under laws dating from 1766 which still apply.

(I think some politicians are definitely flouting this law.)

Interesting People # 77 - Pele

The famous footballer Pele has always hated his nickname, which he says sounds like "baby-talk in Portuguese".

(He should worry. My mum always called me "chicken".)

Interesting Fact # 514 - Asthma

More than five million people in the UK currently have asthma, and one in 10 children is affected.

(During an asthma attack the lining of the airways becomes swollen, the airways produce a thick mucus, the muscles around the airways tighten and make the airways narrower and these changes in the airways block the flow of air, making it hard to breathe. I just can't think of anything funny to say.)

Interesting Fact # 513 - Train Travel - Podcast

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The French TGV (train à grande vitesse), which reached 584km/h, took 10 miles to stop when the brakes were fully applied in test runs. (I do not want to be on that train in an emergency.)