Showing posts from April, 2009

Interesting Word # 90 - Influenza

The name influenza comes from the Italian word, influenza, meaning "influence" (Latin: influentia).

(It refers to the cause of the disease; which ascribed illness to unfavorable astrological influences. Changes in medical thought led to its modification to influenza del freddo, meaning "influence of the cold". The word was first used in English in 1743 when it was adopted, with an anglicized pronunciation, during an outbreak of the disease in Europe. Archaic terms for influenza include epidemic catarrh, grippe (from the French), sweating sickness, and Spanish fever (particularly for the 1918 pandemic strain). No matter what you call it it's horrible.)

Interesting Fact # 1058 - Influenza

According to the CDC (Centre for Disease Control), around 36,000 people in the USA die from influenza-related complications each year.

(Actually records are confusing and not that well kept, so it could be more, or less.)

Interesting Fact #1057 - The Earth

The deepest that humans have ever drilled into the Earth is 12,261 metres (40,230 ft) .

(The drilling took place on the Kola Peninsula in Russia. Some interesting things were discovered within the earth's crust, as the drill made its way approximately halfway through the earth's crust it exposed rocks that were 2.7 billion years old, and along the way they found a fractured area of rock 3 to 6 miles beneath the surface that had been thoroughly saturated with water. Temperatures eventually reached 180 °C (360 °F), making deeper drilling prohibitively expensive.)

Interesting Fact - Domain Names

To date the most expensive domain names are:-


Sold for: $1.4 million in September 2005
Bought by: Leisure and Gaming


Sold for: $2.75 million in July 2004
Bought by: Austin


Sold for: $2.9 million in September 1999


Sold for: $3.5 million


Sold for: $5.1 million in January 2000


Sold for $7 million


Sold for: $7.5 million


Sold For: $7.5 million in 1999 (This was the Guinness World Record holder).


Sold for $9.5 million in 2007.


Sold for: $11 - $14 million (depending on who you listen to) in January 19th 2006
Bought by: Escom LLC

(No surprises in the top 3 then. Power and sex sells.)


The Commonwealth of Nations celebrates 60 years.

Interesting Word # 89 - Guillotine

The guillotine derives its name from its inventor, Joseph-Ignace Guillotin, a French doctor and member of the Revolutionary National Assembly.

(Convicted highwayman, Nicolas J. Pelletier was the first person to be executed by guillotine. At the edge of cutting technology you might say.)

Interesting Fact # 1055 - Weight - Podcast

According to research from France's National Institute of Demographic studies, France has the highest proportion of clinically underweight women in Europe.

(France is the one country in which both sexes are solidly in the "normal" weight bracket, and the only one in which more than five percent of women are officially "underweight". The problem is only half of them think they are too thin.)

Interesting Fact # 1054 - The Brain

A detailed simulation of part of the brain has been constructed.

(The Blue Brain project was set up to simulate an entire human brain, down to the molecular level, they have now announced that they have constructed a region of the brain, the the neocortical column, molecule by molecule and they say they have observed the first indication of thought. Allegedly scaling it up is only a matter of money. I guess this brings the old adage of "I think therefore I am" into question.)

Interesting Word # 88 - Hypermiling

Oxford University Press made hypermiling the word of the year for 2008.

(Hypermiling(aka EcoDriving) was used for the first time in 2004 by Wayne Gerdes. It means to attempt to maximize gas mileage by making fuel-conserving adjustments to a car and your driving techniques. Rather than aiming for good mileage or even great mileage, hypermilers seek to push their gas tanks to the limit and achieve hypermileage. I guess it must be a regular verb: hypermile, hypermiled, hypermiling. )


The Queen's Birthday

(She still has no plans to retire. I just hope she doesn't expect everyone else to follow suit.)

Interesting Fact # 1053 - Music Sales

According to the record industry, global music sales fell by more than 8% in 2008.

(The sale of CDs and vinyl actually fell by 15% globally (31% in the US). Sales of digital music rose by 24%, but didn't take up the shortfall. Maybe we'll see musicians going back to being wandering minstrels.)

Interesting People - Mao Zedong

Mao Zedong worked as a library assistant at Peking University.

(Allegedly this is where he first encountered the idea of Marxism. Working in a library obviously had a profound effect on him, as during the Cultural Revolution, Chairman Mao ordered the burning of many books, condemning them as decadent, reactionary, and poisonous weeds, including many classical Chinese books like the works of Confucius, and the Chinese Book of Poetry.)

Interesting Place # 98 - China

According to a recent survey, the Great Wall of China is much longer than previously estimated.

(It was estimated to stretch for around 5,000 kilometres, but a two-year mapping project, using global positioning systems and infra-red technology, carried out by the Chinese State Administration of Cultural Heritage has measured it at 8,851.8 kilometres (5,488.1 miles). Imagine anyone being so stupid as to try and build a wall to keep foreigners out today. Oh hang on...)

Interesting Fact # 1052 - Suicide

According to a survey, suicide rates go up in the spring.

(They also go up during an economic downturn, and there are a couple of other known risk factors - being a man, a doctor and a smoker. So as it's spring, and being that we're in a recession, if you're a male, smoking doctor, please try to think positive. The survey was conducted by Keith Hawton of Oxford University and Kees van Heeringen of University Hospital, Gent, and published in the British medical journal The Lancet.)

Interesting Fact # 1051 - Carbon Footprint

According to research by climate consultants ICF International and anti-virus firm McAfee, email spam uses more than 33bn kilowatt-hours of energy every year.

(This is enough to power more than 2.4m homes, and amounts to emissions of more than 17 million tons of CO2. Not just that, but searching for legitimate e-mails and deleting spam uses 80% of the energy, so of the 131kg of CO2 created by the average business user 22% of it is related to spam. According to the same report spam filtering would reduce unwanted spam by 75%, the equivalent to taking 2.3 million cars off the road. I've never heard of wanted spam.)

Interesting Fact # 1050 - Spam

According to a report by climate consultants ICF International and anti-virus firm McAfee 62 trillion spam emails are sent globally, every year.

(I know I get more than my fair share. Maybe there should be an 11th commandment, Though shalt not Spam.)

Interesting Animal # 92 - Ants

According to a report published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society, a species of Amazonian ants has dispensed with sex and developed into an all-female species.

(The ultimate goal of evolution.)

Interesting Fact # 1049 - Medicine

A team of researchers in the US has discovered the earliest sample of human-made medicine.

(They found traces of wine compounds and plant-derived ingredients from a jar, basically a medicinal alcoholic drink. The bottles are more than 5,000 years old and were found in the tomb of one of the first pharaohs of Egypt, Scorpion I. So the next time I have a tipple, it will be purely medicinal.)

Interesting Fact # 1048 - Cloning

Scientists in Dubai say they have cloned a camel.

(Injaz, a female one-humped camel, was born on 8 April, after more than five years of work. She joins the world's first mammal to be cloned, Dolly the Sheep, along with several cloned mice, cows, pigs and dogs. Personally I can't see the point. Cloning is extremely complicated and expensive, and sex is much more enjoyable.)

Interesting Fact # 1047 - Promotion

Economics and psychology researchers at the University of Warwick in central England have found that promotion produces 10 percent more mental strain and leaves up to 20 percent less time to visit the doctor in the event of illness.

(They were testing the assumption that an improvement in job status leads to better health due to an increased sense of self-worth, but they found no evidence of improved physical health after promotion, in fact they found that mental health actually deteriorates. So the next time you're offered promotion, think twice and make sure the money's good, that way you can afford to go private.)

Interesting Fact - Easter Fact

The most famous decorated Easter eggs made by goldsmith, Peter Carl Faberge.

(In 1883, the Czar of Russia, Alexander, commissioned Faberge to make a special Easter gift for his wife, the Empress Marie. The first Faberge egg was an egg within an egg. It had an outside shell of platinum and enamelled white which opened to reveal a smaller gold egg inside. The smaller egg, opened to display a golden chicken and a jewelled replica of the Imperial crown.

Me? I make do with a chocolate one.)

Interesting Fact # 1045 - Feet

According to research by Debenhams, the size of men's feet in the UK has gone up a size in the past five years.

(Half a decade ago, the average was a UK size 8. Now it is 9 and, to underline the trend, demand for size 12s has soared, retailers say. Requests for size 14 and above have also leapt in the past few years as men's feet appear to becoming broader and longer. Medical experts believe that Britain's obesity epidemic is fuelling the increase in shoe size. Seemingly eating processed foods during puberty can stimulate the growth hormone not only making your waist larger, but also other parts of the body. They mention hands and feet, but it makes you wonder....)

Interesting Fact # 1044 - Money

Coin testing companies say one in 20 pound coins in circulation in the UK could be fake.

(That's twice the official estimates of the Royal Mint.)

There's a video on the BBC site that explains how to spot a fake coin:-

Interesting Invention - Celluloid

Alexander Parkes patented celluloid in 1856.

(He never saw his invention reach fruition. Probably because he described it as a "hard, horny elastic and waterproof substance" and patented it as a clothing waterproof for woven fabrics.)

Interesting Fact # 1043 - Global Warming

According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), the Arctic ice cap is thinner than ever.

On the other side of the world, an ice bridge linking a shelf of ice the size of Jamaica to two islands in Antarctica has snapped. Scientists say the collapse could mean the Wilkins Ice Shelf is on the brink of breaking away, and provides further evidence of rapid change in the region.

(Recent satellite observations indicates that sea ice cover continues to shrink due to global warming.)


Gertrude Baines, the world's oldest living person, is celebrating her 115th birthday. Officially recognised as the world's oldest person by the Guinness Book of World Records, she was born in 1894 in Shellman, Georgia.

She had a big cake, probably to hold all those candles.


A devastating earthquake hit L'Aquila and other towns and villages in central Italy.

The Italian Red Cross is doing a fantastic job providing relief and assistance to those affected, and I'm sure would appreciate any donations.

Bank account n° 218020 at: Banca Nazionale del Lavoro – Agency of Roma Bissolati - Via San Nicola da Tolentino 67 – Roma Croce Rossa Italiana Via Toscana, 12 - 00187 Roma. IBAN code is: IT66 - C010 0503 3820 0000 0218020 Cause ABRUZZO EARTHQUAKE

(Do be careful when donating your money. Make sure it's going to the relief effort, and not into someone's pocket. Unfortunately there have been a spate of incidents recently where people claim to be collecting for charity.)

Interesting Facts # 1042 - Finance

According to the Independent, the FSA (Financial Services Authority) has brought just one criminal case of insider dealing since its inception in 2001.

(Insider dealing (aka insider trading) is the use of confidential information to profit from mergers and acquisitions. It has nothing to do with the illegal trade in spare parts for organ transplants.)

Interesting Place # 97 - Wincanton

Wincanton, in Somerset, England, is twinned with the fictional city of Ankh-Morpork from the bestselling series of books, Discworld, making it the first town in the world to link up with a fictional place.

(Discworld,is a sci-fi universe created by the novelist, Sir Terry Pratchett. Since Wincanton twinned itself with Ankh-Morpork, there has been an increase in tourism. Wimpey Homes have even got in on the act by using Discworld to name two roads on their new "Kingwell Rise" development, so you can buy a house on Peach Pie Street or Treacle Mine Road.)

Interesting Facts - Sex vs Video Games

According to a survey by, a third of men would prefer to play video games rather than enjoy sex with their partners.

(It gets worse ladies. 72% of those questioned - said they would forgo sleeping with their other halves for the chance to play a brand new game. Two of the reasons given for preferring to press plastic buttons, was that their partners were "hard to please" and their partners "weren't as much fun" as playing computer games. Maybe we need to incorporate some flashing lights, stick some buttons to various parts of our anatomy and keep a score card. Perhaps then we can reinvigorate the failing male libido.)

Interesting Facts - Favourite Brands

According to pollsters the Superbrands Council, Google is the brand Brits like the best.

(The popular search engine took the top spot, and Microsoft came in second. Third on the list was Mercedes-Benz, followed by the BBC at number four. The fifth favourite brand was British Airways.

Foods and supermarkets were quite low down, Coca-Cola at No 14, and Cadbury at 19th.

Of course they probably didn't ask the residents of Broughton in Buckinghamshire, who recently spotted Google's Street View car entering their village, when they saw the camera-equipped vehicle a small mob gathered, and they forced the vehicle into a u-turn before it left the village. Seemingly they were worried about being burgled if people online saw their affluence.)

Interesting People - Tsutomu Yamaguchi

Tsutomu Yamaguchi survived two atomic bombs.

(He was visiting Hiroshima on a business trip for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, when he stepped off a tram the first bomb exploded. He was badly burnt, temporarily blinded and lost much of his hearing, but he managed to return home to Nagasaki. He was in his boss's office explaining how he had almost been killed only days before, when the second bomb detonated. Does this make him the luckiest man in history, or the unluckiest?)

Interesting Facts - True or False

For April 1st, which of the following are true, and which false?

1. Apples are more efficient at waking you up in the morning than coffee.

2. Alfred Hitchcock didn't have a belly button.

3. A pack-a-day smoker will lose approximately 2 teeth every 10 years.

4. People do not get sick from cold weather; it's from being indoors a lot more.

5. Babies are born without kneecaps. They don't appear until they are about 3 years old.

6. The average person over 50 will have spent 5 years queuing.

7. The toothbrush was invented in China in 1498.

8. The average lifespan of a housefly lives is one month.

9. The average computer user blinks 7 times a minute.

10. Your feet are bigger in the afternoon than any other time of day.

11. The only two animals that can see behind themselves without turning their heads are the rabbit and the parrot.

12. John Travolta turned down the starring roles in "An Officer and a Gentleman" and "Tootsie."

13. In most television commercial…