Showing posts from October, 2010

Interesting Fact - Halloween

Orange and black are Halloween colours because orange is associated with autumn and black is associated with darkness and death.

(It must make Halloween very easy to celebrate in the Netherlands, they're always wearing orange.)

You can learn more about Halloween here.

Interesting Fact - Time

According to a report in the British Medical Journal, remaining on British Summer Time would improve our health.

(All in all adults would have on average 300 more useful hours of daylight and children 200 more.   This would allow for more exercise and outdoor activities which boost both physical health and mental wellbeing.  I'm not sure if I want 300 more useful hours, it sounds like 300 more hours of work!)

Interesting Fact - Chess

Alik Gershon, 30,  a chess grandmaster, has broken the world record for simultaneous chess games after a 19-hour marathon match against 523 players.

(He won 454, lost 11 and drew 58 and so took the record from the  former, grandmaster Morteza Mahjoob. 
Mr Mahjoob last year bested 397 out of 500 chess players in Tehran.  How do they do it?  I can't even keep the moves of 1 game in my head!)

Interesting Fact - Genes

According to researchers at the University of California, political bias could be a matter of genetics.  They have identified a so-called ‘Liberal Gene’ that makes people more likely to seek out less conventional ­political views.
The gene, a neurotransmitter in the brain called DRD4, could even be stimulated by the novelty value of radical opinions, claim the U.S. researchers.  It suggests some people are simply born to be politically radical rather than moulded that way either by their friends, family or teachers.

I must have the lefty gene, and I have to say that when people call me a "liberal softy" I say, "thank you". 

Source: Daily Mail

Interesting Fact - Dreams

According to an article in the journal Nature, a US researcher, Dr Moran Cerf, says he has developed a system capable of recording higher level brain activity.  "We would like to read people's dreams," he said. 
(The film Inception, might not be as far-fetched as you think.)

Interesting Fact - Pronunciation

According to the British Library youngsters in the UK are now more likely to say "haitch" than "aitch" when pronouncing the letter H.

(My mum would be dead chuffed!)

Interesting Fact - Food Prices

The World Bank is predicting five years of food price volatility.

( The cost of meat, sugar, rice, wheat and maize is soaring and according to the key Reuters-Jefferies commodity price indicator, global wheat and maize prices recently jumped nearly 30%  while meat prices are at a 20-year high.   Thanks to speculators, it might be time to dig up the garden and plant some veggies.)

Interesting Fact - Wind Energy

One of the world’s most powerful inland wind turbines is being erected at Emden in Germany.

(The turbine is manufactured using 1500 cubic meters of concrete and 180 tonnes of steel.  The top of the turbine weighs 700 tonnes and it should be able to supply enough energy for a small town.  1000 such turbines should be able to supply one third of Germany's household energy needs.)

Interesting Fact - You Tube

According to Youtube, 24 hours of video material gets uploaded onto the site every minute.

(Unfortunately when I try to upload anything it takes me about 24 hours to upload one minute.)

Interesting People - Franz Reichelt

Franz Reichelt was an Austrian, who worked as a tailor in France, and tried to invent a parachute suit.  Unfortunately he's more famous for his death, than he is for his life.

(Reichelt wanted to develop a suit for aviators that would convert into a parachute and allow them to survive a fall should they be forced to leave their aircraft.  He designed an overcoat that would convert into a parachute and repeatedly petitioned the Parisian Prefecture of Police for permission to conduct a test from the Eiffel Tower. He was finally granted permission to test his invention using dummies,  but when he arrived at the tower on February 4 1912, it was clear that he intended to make the jump himself.  He jumped from the first platform of the tower wearing his invention and the parachute failed to deploy. He crashed into the icy ground at the foot of the tower and was taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Interesting Fact - Marriage

A pre-nuptial agreement has been recognized as binding for the first time in the United Kingdom.

(The agreement between German heiress Katrin Radmacher and French banker Nicolas Granatino was signed in Germany, both sides said they would not make any financial claims in the event of a divorce, but when the couple separated, Granatino broke the agreement and took his former wife to court.

In agreeing that the prenup is binding the judges in the case have set a precedent, which means a huge change in English law. Radmacher's lawyer Simon Bruce told reporters. "Pre-nups are now binding, so long as they're fair." Quite right too.)

Interesting Place - Hamburg

Hamburg in Germany has scooped the title European Green Capital of 2011.

(The award is given to a city that:-
Has a consistent record of achieving high environmental standardsIs committed to ongoing and ambitious goals for further environmental improvement and sustainable developmentCan act as a role model to inspire other cities and promote best practices to all other European cities)

Interesting fact - Biodiversity

Species that aren't native to Europe are costing the EU billions of Euros and threatening the continent's biodiversity.

(Europe now has 10,000 alien species. Some 10 percent of these are considered invasive, meaning that when they arrive, they tend to eradicate native plants and animals. These invaders are costing European economies 12 billion euros every year in agricultural losses and health care costs, as well as impoverishing the diversity of local ecosystems.

One of the most harmful invasive plants is the Japanese knotweed, which was deliberately introduced to Europe as a decorative plant around 200 years ago.

The Egyptian goose has been particularly aggressive in its conquest of the Rhine, pushing out other duck species in the process.

The Asian long-horned beetle is another invader. It's the forester's worst nightmare because the beetle lays its eggs inside trees and when they hatch, they basically eat their way out.

Maybe this is what Merkel was rattling on abo…

Interesting Numbers

111,111,111 multiplied by itself equals 12,345,678,987,654,321.

(The result is  the same forwards and backwards, and it contains all the numbers from 1 to 9, which  first increase and then decrease.  If you don't believe me, try it.)

Thanks to  Julliet

Interesting Fact - The Weather

A super typhoon is, by definition, the equivalent of a major hurricane of category 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.*

(In other words, a super typhoon is simply a very strong typhoon.  In order to be designated "super" it has to reach maximum sustained 1-minute surface winds of at least 65 m/s (130 kt, 150 mph).  Super Typhoon Megi, which is heading towards the Phillipines, has reached winds of 195 kilometres an hour near the centre and gusts of up to 230 kilometres an hour, making it a super typhoon.)

*Source -

Interesting Fact - British Music

Organisers of the Glastonbury music festival have allegedly taken the surprise decision to cancel the world-famous music event in 2012 because so many of the nation’s Portaloos will be in use at the Olympics. (I think it's a very sensible idea, because the thought of Glastonbury without enough loos makes my stomach churn.)

Interesting Place - Sedrun

The world's longest tunnel has just been completed at Sedrun in Switzerland.

(The Gotthard Base Tunnel (GBT) cost over 9 billion Swiss Francs.  With a length of 57 km (35.4 miles)  and a total of 151.84 km (94.3 miles) of tunnels, shafts and passages, it is the world's longest rail tunnel, surpassing the Seikan Tunnel in Japan.  After 14 years of drilling, the tunnel is now all the way through.)

Interesting People - Khagendra Thapa Magar

Nepalese teenager Khagendra Thapa Magar is set to become the world's shortest man as he celebrates his 18th birthday.

(Mr Magar comes from a remote village in central Nepal, and he's just under 66cm (2ft 2ins) tall. Up until now he had been the shortest male teenager in the world. He has become a bit of a local celebrity, was invited to meet the prime minister and is a tourism ambassador for the country.)

Interesting Fact - The Internet

According to research by Microsoft, more than 2.2 million US PCs were found to be part of botnets, in just the first six months of 2010.

(A botnet is a network of hijacked home computers that criminals use to send spam, phishing e-mails and to launch attacks on websites. They are also used to search the infected machines for information that can be sold on underground auction sites and markets found online.

The really scary thing is the US doesn't have the highest rate of infections, that dubious honour goes to South Korea where 14.6 out of every 1000 machines were found to be enrolled in botnets. Brazil had the second highest level of infections at 550,000.

It's really important to protect your computer against these people. Sign up for automatic updates of your software (especially your operating system and browser(s), use anti-virus software (again keep it updated) and run a firewall.

It's a bit like locking your front door rather than leaving it wide open with a …

Interesting Fact - Pain

According to research carried out by brain researchers at Stanford University, love can ease pain.

(Unfortunately for me the study focused on people early in a romance, so the "drug of love" may wear off after 13 years of marriage.)

Interesting Place - London

A rather macabre map of London has been put online. Using web application Google Maps it plots more than 400 homicide cases, based on news agency Central News' court reports and the Old Bailey's archives.

(From the evil doer, Jack the Ripper to the nast, notorious Krays the owners of the site plan to map every London murder case since the 19th century. This gruesome piece of social history can be found at

Interesting Fact - Happiness

According to the results of a long-term study in Germany, people who prioritize family, friends, altruistic goals, and exercise are happier than those just chasing money and success.

(Researchers analysed data gathered by the German Socio-Economic Panel Survey (SOEP) from its widespread study of 60,000 Germans over 25 years. They found that the way people prioritise their lives was the key to happiness.

One of the study's authors, Gert Wagner said, "Social goals are more important than materialistic goals." He added, "It's good to be healthy and in order to be healthy, it's good for you if you do a little bit of sport."

So get out there and be happy.)

Interesting Fact - Books

Oxford University's Bodleian Library is entitled to a copy of every book published in the UK.

(Not surprisingly they've been running out of space (around 1,000 new books arrive each day), but they now have a warehouse big enough to store eight million books - which is enough space for about 20 years. And I thought I had a storage problem!)

Interesting Fact - Longevity

Scientists at the University of Milan think they may have found the elixir of life.  By feeding mice a cocktail of amino acids (aminoisohezoic acid, isoleucine and valine) they prolonged their lives "significantly". 

(Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. And the mice fed this cocktail didn't just live longer, theyalso benefited from an increase in the energy intake of their cells and an overall decrease in oxidation damage caused by free radicals. Their stamina also increased and coordination of their muscles improved.  So, maybe Douglas Adams was right; Earth, is actually a complex experiment that white mice have set up to learn the meaning of life, the universe and everything.)

Interesting Fact - Friendship

Over-zealous Facebook users are at most risk of losing their friends.

(According to a study carried out at Denver Business School, being boring is the number one crime on Facebook, and online pals get bored with constant, trivial updates.

The top ten reasons for being "defriended" or "unfriended" are:-
Writing boring postsPosting too many status updatesBeing crude or rudeMaking racist commentsExpressing political viewsExpressing religious views Relationship/friendship ends (online or offline)Having an argument (offline)Having an argument (online) Parents being unfriended by their children for being too nosy.When you think about it, it's actually very similar to why people lose their friends in real life. )

Interesting Fact - Films

The strict anti-smoking laws in Wales meant that special effects had to be used on the set of the film "Mr Nice".

(The film tells the story of Howard Marks (Mr Nice), an amateur drug smuggler from a more innocent time. It's based on the book of the same name and of course involves lots of smoking of various substances, but they had to use special effects machinery to simulate the actual smoking because in Wales it is illegal to smoke on a movie set. How times have changed.)

Interesting Fact - Nobel Prize

The Nobel Prize for medicine has been won by Robert Edwards, the man who developed IVF (in vitro fertilization).

(The world's first so called "test tube baby" was born in July 1978, and since then around 4 million babies have been born using IVF. I think there's going to be a bit of squeaking about this prize from certain quarters, but congratulations to Mr Edwards.)

Interesting Fact - Games Consoles

Interactive games on consoles like the Wii are causing strains and sprains across the world.

(Yes, people are getting tennis elbow without stepping onto a real tennis court. Not just that, but the wild swinging of remote controls is also causing lots of bystander injuries too. I have to admit I now own a Wii, and the bookcase has already suffered a couple of clunks and I learnt a very important lesson - don't play in your slippers.)

Interesting Fact - British Music

Dame Vera Lynn had three songs in the first ever Top 12 in 1952.

(The songs were: Forget me not, Auf Wiederseh'n Sweetheart and The Homing Waltz.)

Interesting Fact - The Human Body

A typical human has enough body fat to keep going for about 40 marathons.

(So if a full marathon eats up about 3,000 calories, that means most people have 120,000 calories worth of fat on them.)

Interesting Fact - UK Law

In the UK, if you buy something on your credit card worth between £100 and £30,000 and it breaks because of a fault, your credit card company is liable.

(According to section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act it's as if they sold you the item. I don't know anyone who has tried this, but it sounds like good news to me.)