Showing posts from October, 2009

Interesting Fact - Halloween

About 90% of pumpkins grown worldwide are not eaten - instead they are carved for Halloween and the innards discarded.

(Here's a simple, tasty recipe for pumpkin soup to redress the balance.)

You can learn more about Halloween here.

Interesting Animal - Bears

According to US wildlife biologist Lynn Rogers, bears don't like honey.

(Even more shocking it seems they aren't even very keen on berries and nuts. So much for Winnie the Pooh then.)

Interesting People # 140 - Neil Armstrong

Neil Armstrong took Dvorak's New World Symphony and theremin music to the moon.

(It's quite appropriate really, because theremin music was made famous by Star Trek, it's that eerie, woo woo sound.)

Interesting Fact # 1181 - Driving

In the UK 10 million people drive to work every day.

(Luckily they don't all use the M25, although you could be forgiven for thinking that they do.)

Interesting Fact - File Sharing

According to research organisation Demos, people who download music illegally also spend an average of £77 a year buying it legitimately.

(Whilst those who claimed not to use peer-to-peer file sharing sites such as The Pirate Bay spent a yearly average of just £44. Maybe they don't file share because they don't want to pay for the bandwidth.)

Interesting Fact # 1179 - Happy Marriages

According to the European Journal of Operational Research, the secret to a happy marriage for men is choosing a wife who is smarter and at least five years younger than you.

(Which condemns us women to thick old blokes. I wonder how many men work at the European Journal of Operational Research.)

Interesting Fact # 1178 - The Universe

According to Nasa the real colour of outer space is beige.

(They have even come up with a name for the particular shade "cosmic latte". Coming to a paint shop near you.)

Here's a picture of the colour.

Interesting People # 141 - Ringo Starr

According to Terry O'Neill, a celebrity photographer, Ringo Starr's mum wanted him to work in a bank.

(All bankers take note. If only you hadn't listened to your mum...)

Interesting Animal # 105 - Bears

According to Professor Lynn Rogers, who has studied wild bears for many years, they hum when they are content.

(He doesn't mention what they hum, maybe it's "The bear necessities".)

Fact - Los Desaparecidos

Human rights groups estimate that up to 30,000 people were killed or disappeared in Argentina between 1976 and 1983.

(In a series of systematic abductions, men women and children were methodically tortured and murdered. The disappeared have not been heard of to this day. According to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which came into force on 1 July 2002, when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed at any civilian population, a "forced disappearance" qualifies as a crime against humanity, and thus is not subject to a statute of limitation.)


Interesting Fact # 1176 - Extinction

Out of 47,677 species in an international biodiversity study, which red listed threatened species, more than a third are threatened with extinction.

(17,291 species have been deemed to be at serious risk. 21% of mammals, 30% of amphibians, 70% of plants, and 35% of invertebrates. The main threat is habitat loss, so start buying up land and keep it for future generations.)

Interesting Animal # 105 - Bears

Black bears make loud blowing noises and clack their teeth when frightened.

(I think that if I saw a black bear I'd probably do the same thing.)

Interesting Fact # 1175 - Wine

According to research from the Johannes Gutenberg University, white wine is bad for your teeth.

(Their studies found that white wine is acidic, and it erodes the calcium in teeth. Riesling wines tended to have the greatest impact, having the lowest pH. Luckily, my preferred tipple, red wine, isn't as acidic.)

Interesting Fact # 1174 - Meetings

According to a study by online scheduling service, When Is Good, the best time for a workplace meeting is 3pm on a Tuesday.

(Seemingly 3pm on a Tuesday is an "office diary sweet spot", it's when people are available, motivated and willing. Personally my favourite time for an office meeting is - never.)

Interesting Fact - Internet Security

According to Symantec, more than 40 million people have fallen victim to "scareware" scams in the past 12 months.

(Online criminals are making millions of pounds by convincing computer users to download fake anti-virus software. The most important thing you can do is to make sure you have genuine anti-virus software installed and keep it up to date. This will prevent most infections.)

Interesting Fact # 1172 - Life Expectancy

Scientists are promising that centenarians with the bodies of 50-year-olds will one day be a realistic possibility.

(Half of babies now born in the UK will live to be 100, but our bodies are wearing out. So, Leeds University is spending £50m over five years looking at ways we can reach "50 active years after 50". They plan to provide pensioners with own-grown tissues and durable implants; new hips, knees and heart valves are the starting points, and eventually an upgrade of any body parts. They'll have to hurry up though, otherwise it will be too late for me.)

Interesting Fact # 1171 - Work in America

According to a poll in Time magazine, women now make up nearly half of the US workforce.

(40 years ago this was only a third, but the vast majority of Americans think it's a good thing. 80 percent of women said they thought it was positive and 76 percent of men said the same. But, 57 percent of men and 51 percent of women still believe it is better for a family if the father works and the mother stays at home to look after the children. So things haven't changed that much.)

Interesting Place # 117 - London

Two churches in London have been ordered to keep their singing voices down after neighbours complained about their Sunday services.

(The churches face a fine of £20,000 if they break the order. It all seems very strange until you read what one pastor said; "Because we have had to cut down the drums and sing very low and even without a keyboard, most of our members are not enjoying their worship service, especially our youth, and so they go elsewhere," she said." Drums? Keyboard? I think church has changed since I was a lass.)

Interesting Fact # 1170 - The Human Brain - Podcast

According to scientists at Oxford University, juggling can produce changes to the structure of the brain.

(The white matter of an area of the brain that has been shown to contain nerves that react to us reaching and grasping for objects in our peripheral vision was enlarged by learning to juggle. All I need now is to find out what exercise will actually improve my juggling skills.)

Interesting Fact # 1169 - The Internet

A survey published by YouthNet, has found that 75% of 16 to 24 year olds in Britain feel they "couldn't live" without the internet.

(It's not a life support machine guys. Just switch it off and breathe.)

Interesting People # 139 - Silvio Berlusconi

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has described himself as the most persecuted person "in the entire history of the world".

(According to the BBC, he also said he was "the best prime minister we can find today". Me thinks Mr Berlusconi needs a reality check.)

Interesting Fact # 1168 - The Human Genome - Podcast

Scientists have discovered that long strands of DNA code are folded and tightly packed into the nucleus of a human cell.

(Unfolded, the cell's genome - those strands of DNA code - would be approximately 2m in length and it's all packed into a tight ball to fit inside a nucleus, which is about one hundredth of a millimetre in diameter. Aren't we amazing?)

Interesting Fact # 1167 - Nursery Rhymes

According to the Times Online, the most popular nursery rhymes in the UK are:-

1) Twinkle, twinkle little star

2) Incey Wincey Spider

3) Round and round the garden

4) Baa baa black sheep

5) The grand old Duke of York

6) If you're happy and you know it

7) Humpty Dumpty

8) This little piggy

9) Ring a ring a roses

10) I'm a little teapot

(What? No Lavender's Blue, Mary had a Little Lamb or Hey Diddle Diddle!)

Interesting Fact # 1166 - Nursery Rhymes

According to the Institute of Education, more than a third of parents in the UK have never sung a nursery rhyme to their children.

(Instead many parents prefer to sing pop songs to get their little ones off to sleep. I'm really glad my mother preferred "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", to "Like a bat out of hell".)

Interesting Fact - Internet Security

According to security expert Graham Cluley of Sophos about 40% of people use the same password for every website they use.

(I know it's tempting to do so, but really... Don't be silly. Use a variety of passwords, use a mixture of letters and numbers, the more sensitive the information, the more complex your password should be and change them on a regular basis. If you like to enter competitions online, create throwaway accounts.)

Interesting Fact # 1164 - Phishing

According to technology blog, a series of phishing attacks has targeted free mail clients.

(A list of more than 20,000 names and passwords has been posted online, including account details of Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail, AOL and other service providers. The details were posted on 1 October to, a website commonly used by developers to share code. Industry advice is for users to change their passwords straight away.)

Interesting Fact # 1163 - Fraud in the UK

According to Financial Fraud Action UK, the amount of fraud being committed on plastic cards in the UK fell in the first half of 2009, and phone, internet and mail order fraud levels all dropped for the first time, but online banking fraud losses rose to £39m, up 55% on the first half of 2008.

(Losses on cards were only £233m in the first six months! Yippee! This huge sum was actually down by 23% on the previous year. The bad news is that fraudsters seem to have turned to targeting foreign-issued cards. Do you know what? I'm becoming quite fond of paying in cash.)

Interesting Fact # 1162 - Salaries in the UK - Podcast

The median salary in the UK is £20,801.

(The average salary is £26,020, and for full-time employees, that figure rises to £31,323. The top 1% of salaried earners, earn over £118,027, and people who earn £150,000 - the amount that triggers 50% income tax - are in the top 0.6%. Interestingly, in 1654, Oliver Cromwell was paid a salary of £70,000 a year. Kind of puts things into perspective really.)

Interesting Fact - World Record

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the longest bench in the world is 613.13m.

(The record was set on 27th August 2005 at a stadium in Szlachta, Poland. But the seaside resort of Littlehampton in the UK is trying to break the record. People seem to take this all quite seriously, with Geneva claiming to have the longest wooden bench, a 120m structure built in 1767 out of 180 boards. There's also a 501m long bench in Germany, along the Keil canal. Barcelona says it has longest park bench, a twisting, Gaudi-inspired piece of art, and Russia had the longest painted bench before they had it broken into 100 separate structures to be spread throughout Moscow.)

Interesting Fact # 1160 - Scent

Plants that smell of almond or peaches are more likely to be poisonous.

(This is because of the presence of a common plant poison, hydrocyanic acid. Peach stones, apple pips and bitter almonds are all poisonous in this way, because when they are broken up by the acid of the stomach, they release hydrogen cyanide. Luckily it's only fatal if you eat lots of them.)

Interesting Fact # 1159 - Global Warming

According to the UK government's new chief energy scientist, Professor David MacKay, greenhouse gas emissions created by Britons are probably twice as bad as figures suggest.

(The main reason for this is that developing countries manufacture the goods that Britain buys. It is increasingly difficult to "Buy British".)