Showing posts from September, 2010

Interesting Fact - Space

A team of scientists at the University of California, have found a new planet outside our solar system that has the potential to support life.

(The planet, called Gliese 581g, orbits a red dwarf star and is roughly three times the mass of Earth and only around 20 light years away. Of course a light year is 9,460,528,410,545,436.2688 meters, or 5,878,625,373,184 miles, so it might take a bit of time to get there.)

Interesting Place - India

India is launching an identity card scheme.

(Using the latest biometric technology including an iris scan, over the next five years the cards will log details of India's population of more than one billion people on a central database. It's all starting in a remote village, Tembhli, in India's western state of Maharashtra. More than 1,200 cards have been handed out, making Tembhli the first UID-compliant village in India. Well at least they now know who they are.)

Source: BBC News

Interesting Fact - Evolution

According to research from Russia's ANO Laboratory of Prehistory, European Neanderthals may have been wiped out by a catastrophic volcanic eruption over 40,000 years ago.

(A new study says that a massive explosion caused the onset of a 'volcanic winter' that devastated their population. Modern homo sapiens may have survived the fall-out because much of their population was in Africa which was unaffected, and they went on to replace the Neanderthals about 30,000 years ago. Of course Neanderthals may have interbred with modern humans, so there may be a bit of Neanderthal in all of us.)

Interesting Fact - Retirement

According to a study by Barclays Wealth, British people are more likely to carry on working after retirement age than any other nation.

(The study found that over 60 per cent of people under 65 intend to work past retirement age, and those numbers will probably increase over the coming years, as 70 per cent of these under 45 'nevertirees',in the study said they would always 'be involved in some kind of work.'

Ireland was second with 59 per cent, in Spain the number was 44 per cent, and in Japan 46 per cent, but in Switzerland, only 34 per cent plan to carry on working. So, I'm off to Switzerland.)


Interesting Fact - Transport

According to a report in the American Journal of Public Health, in the period of from 2001 to 2007, an estimated 16,000 people in the US, were killed by drivers who were distracted by talking or texting on mobile phones.

(The research also found that a growing number of these drivers were under 30. The problem is everyone thinks it won't happen to them, because they know what they're doing. It's like drink driving - just don't do it.)


Tens of thousands of people have staged a march in Reggio Calabria, southern Italy to denounce the Mafia and organized crime.

Interesting Place - Australia

Following the wettest August in seven years, experts fear this year's infestation of plague locusts could be the worst since records began.

(After years of drought, the Australian climate is now perfect for swarms of locusts to descend on harvests and wipe them out. The Government of Victoria alone is forecasting A$2bn (£1.2bn) of damage. It's almost biblical.)

Interesting Fact - Theatre

There are more than 1,500 lines to learn for the part of Hamlet.

(Along with the famous phrase, "to be or not to be...".)

Source: BBC News


The Karaoke World Championships are starting in Moscow.

The competition lasts for three days and the winner will walk away with the unusual prize of one million Russian dumplings!

Interesting Fact - Evolution

According to a team of researchers from the The University of London, people from traditionally urban areas could be genetically better suited to fighting infection.

(The team studied people who carried a specific gene variant known to give resistance to TB and leprosy. They found it was more common in people from areas with a long history of urbanisation, where the diseases were more likely to have been rife at one point. Dr Ian Barnes, said, "This seems to be an elegant example of evolution in action.” Like poetry in motion.)

Interesting Fact - Money

According to a survey by the BBC, around 38,045 state employees in the UK take home £100,000, or more, each year.

(Going by official figures, that leaves about 545,000 privately employed people earning £100,000 or more a year, after tax, this works out at £65,310. And after average expenses, there should be around £33,310 a year left over. 

According to David Kuo, from the investment advice website Motley Fool, the average person in the UK spends around £32,000 a year. This is made up of £25,000 on basic expenses (transport, food, clothing etc) and £7,000 on mortgage repayments.
So, the average household needs a gross salary of about £45,000 just to break even.  In his opinion the average person in the UK won't be happy unless they earn around £50,000 a year.   And that may still be a hand-to-mouth existence.

Someone earning a salary of £100,000, should be able to retire in reasonable comfort provided they invest their disposable income carefully. They could amass …

Interesting Fact - Obesity

According to scientists at Louisiana's Pennington Center in the USA, a common virus could cause obesity.

(They took stem cells from fatty tissue taken from liposuction patients, and exposed some to adenovirus-36. After the cells had been left for a week, those exposed to the virus had changed into human fat cells, while those left to grow without the virus had not. So, now you know. I'm not fat, I've just got an infection.)

Interesting Fact - Questions

According to the internet search engine, Ask Jeeves, the top ten unanswerable questions, based on around 1.1 billion queries, are as follows:-

What is the meaning of life? Is there a God?Do blondes have more fun?What is the best diet? Is there anybody out there? Who is the most famous person in the world?What is love?What is the secret of happiness?Did Tony Soprano die? How long will I live? (If like me you had no idea why number 9 appeared in the list, seemingly it relates to the final episode of a popular US drama, The Sopranos. and lots of people have asked about what happened to the character "Tony Soprano".  Sorry, I haven't a clue.)

Interesting Fact - Counterfeits

According to helpline "Consumer Direct",  in the UK there were 1,958 complaints about counterfeit goods in 2008-09 year, rising to 2,801 2009-10.

(Well when you hear that  web security firm Cyber Security say that it only takes seconds to set up a copycat website to sell fake goods, it's not surprising.   Just remember that you get what you pay for.)

Interesting Number - Pi

Pi has been calculated to its two-quadrillionth digit.

(Yes, using computers at Yahoo to crunch the numbers, a researcher, Nicholas Sze, has calculated the 2,000,000,000,000,000th digit of the mathematical constant pi.  It took 23 days on 1,000 of Yahoo's computers, but don't try this at home, on a standard PC, the calculation would take around 500 years!)

Interesting Place - Munich

A microbe which eliminates the stench of stale beer will be poured onto the floorboards at his year's Oktoberfest in Munich.
(The bacteria, called Elbomex, is produced by a Bavarian company which sells commercial dishwashers and it seemingly gets rid of all kinds of noxious smells.  The reason they're using it at the Oktoberfest this year is that they're worried the stench of stale beer will be unbearable because of the smoking ban.  Seemingly the stench of stale tobacco used to mask it.  I now no longer regret never having been to the Oktoberfest.)

Interesting Invention - Basketball

Basketball was invented by a Canadian!

(Yes, that great American sport was actually invented by someone from over the border, a Dr James Naismith in 1891.  Okay so he did invent it in America - Springfield, Massachusetts to be exact, but still ...)

Interesting Fact - Top Brands

According to Interbrand's Best Global Brands index the following companies are the top ten brands in the world, the valuation is simply for the brand name, not the company:-

Coca-Cola $70,452mIBM $64,727mMicrosoft $60,895mGoogle $43,557mGE $47,777mMcDonald's $33,578mIntel $32,015mNokia $29,495mDisney $28,731m Hewlett Packard $26,867m
(Unfortunately there are no UK companies in the top 30, although we do have six brands in the top 100.)

Source: The Independent

Interesting Fact - Diamonds

Astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, have discovered the largest diamond in the galaxy. It is 10 billion trillion trillion carats.

(It measures 4,000 km across, and lies some 50 light-years from the Earth in the constellation Centaurus. It's actually a crystallised white dwarf, the compressed heart of an old star that was once bright like our Sun but has since faded and shrunk, and the carbon interior has solidified to form the galaxy's largest diamond. It is technically known as BPM 37093, but astronomers have decided to call it "Lucy" after the Beatles song, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. According to Travis Metcalfe, the leader of the team who discovered it, you would need a jeweller's loupe the size of the Sun to grade it.)

Source: BBC News

Interesting Fact - Languages

According to the Foundation for Endangered Languages every year the world loses around 25 mother tongues.

(That equates to losing 250 languages over a decade. In 2010, the Bo language died out when the only speaker of the language, an 85-year-old member of the Bo tribe in the India-owned Andaman islands died.)

Interesting Fact - Diamonds

The largest diamond on Earth is the 546-carat Golden Jubilee.

(It was cut from a stone brought out of the Premier mine in South Africa in 1985. The rough stone it was cut from weighed 755 carats. It was named "Golden Jubilee" when it was presented to the King of Thailand in 1997 for his Golden Jubilee. Before that it had the uninspiring name of "the Unnamed Brown".)

Interesting Fact - Languages

According to the Foundation for Endangered Languages half a million people in the United Kingdom speak Welsh.

(There are a number of other languages, apart from English, in the UK. A few thousand Scots are fluent in Gaelic, about 400 people speak Cornish, while the number of Manx speakers - the language of the Isle of Man - is perhaps as small as 100.)

Interesting Fact - Inventions

According to the BBC, every year the UK generates over 25,000 patents, trademarks, and design rights for new products and services.

(The British Library is hosting an exhibition of the top 15 British inventions in the past 10 years, these are:-

The Double Broom - A twin-headed broom invented by 5 year old Samuel Houghton after watching his dad struggle to sweep up leaves in his back garden.

Karbon Kinetics Gocycle - An innovative folding electric bike which allows users to use the power assist for up to an hour without between charges - reaching speeds of up to 15 mph - or ride using old-fashioned pedal power for as long as their stamina permits.

SeaRaser Wave Power Generator - A self cleaning, low maintenance wave energy device that exploits the energy of the sea's waves to pressurise water through a system of floating pistons to generate power. Creators Dartmouth Wave Energy Limited say 11,000 units could generate enough power for the whole of the UK and reduce energy bills by …

Interesting Fact - Dance

According to research published this week in the journal, Biology Letters, women are most attracted to male dancers who have big, flamboyant moves.

(The research found that there were similarities between animal mating rituals and what happens in modern dance clubs. So, John Travolta was onto something.)

Interesting Fact - Interesting Date

At 12.34pm and 56.7 seconds today, when you add the date to the end 8.9.10. a rare numerical phenomenon was formed when the time and date read 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

(It's the first "Sequential Day" in more than 20 years. A great way to practise your numbers.)

Interesting Fact - Ageing

According to a study in the journal Science, the financial burden of ageing populations in industrialized societies is less than expected.

(This is because even though wealthy countries face an unprecedented rise in the number of people over 65 the general health of the elderly has improved. This means that although the British population is getting older, it is also likely to be getting healthier. I'll just switch on my Wii Fit now.)

Interesting Fact - Global Warming

According to a study published in the journal Nature, phytoplankton, the microscopic plants that support all life in the oceans, are dying off at a dramatic rate.

(Studies have shown that the phytoplankton of the oceans has declined by about 40 per cent over the past century, with much of the loss occurring since the 1950s. They believe the change is linked with rising sea temperatures and global warming. If you think this won't affect you, according to Dr Boyce, "A decline of phytoplankton affects everything up the food chain", and we are up the food chain.)

Interesting Food - The Apple

According to research published in Nature Genetics, the modern domestic apple's wild ancestor – Malus sieversii – did not grow in the Garden of Eden, but the mountains of southern Kazakhstan.

(In Western Europe, the "forbidden fruit" is often depicted as an apple, because of a misunderstanding of, or perception of intentional dual meaning in, the Latin malus, which as an adjective means evil, but as a noun means apple. In the Vulgate, Genesis 2:17 describes the tree as "de ligno autem scientiae boni et mali/the wood, indeed, of good and evil knowledge" Genesis 2:17 ("mali" is the genitive of "malus"). The larynx in the human throat, noticeably more prominent in males, was consequently called an Adam's apple, from a notion that it was caused by the forbidden fruit sticking in Adam's throat as he swallowed.)

Interesting Fact - Happiness

According to researchers at Princeton University people earning £100,000 and £150,000 are year are no happier than those earning £50,000.

(The reason is probably the strain placed on high earners, which means they don't have the time to actually enjoy the fruits of their labours.)

Interesting Fact - The Internet

According to the Norton Cybercrime Report: "The Human Impact", more than a quarter of people online have lied about their name.

(In addition more than one in five people have done something online they regret. Many felt it was "legal" to download a music track, album, or film without paying (17%, 14% and 15% respectively), while 17% viewed plagiarism as an acceptable practice, and nearly a third had e-mailed or posted pictures of someone else without permission, a quarter had secretly viewed someone else's browsing history. So, which one have you done?)

Interesting Place - Cambridge

A 15-year-old mathematics prodigy is set to become the youngest undergraduate at the University of Cambridge since 1773.

(Arran Fernandez was home-educated in Surrey, and now he's going to start studying at Cambridge at the tender age of just 15. Cambridge has not accepted anyone his age since the 14-year-old William Pitt the Younger was offered a place in 1773. So, 15 years old and home-schooled - good luck young man, be nice to him all you Cambridge dons and no ragging!)

Interesting Fact - The Amazon River

The Amazon river, the second longest river in the world, has dropped to its lowest level in 40 years.

(Following a long spell of dry weather in north-eastern Peru the river has dropped to 106m (347.8ft) above sea level, 50cm (19.7in) lower than a previous low record. At least six large boats have been left high and dry near the port city of Iquitos.)

Source: BBC News