Showing posts from June, 2011

Interesting Fact - The Internet

MySpace which was bought in 2005 for $580 million has been sold for a measly $35 million.

(In 2007, at the height of its popularity, it had 300m registered users and was valued at $12bn. Of course this isn't the worst social network disaster; back in 2008 AOL bought Bebo for $850 million, then sold it a couple of years later for less than $10 million.  That's social networking for you, you're only as big as your user base (take note Google).  Best of all, it's been bought by that famous Internet entrepreneur Justin Timberlake!  As for me, I was a member of MySpace and then I stopped using it, but now that Mr Murdoch no longer owns it I will revamp my profile, that should put 2p on the value.)

Interesting People - Hannah Stone

Hannah Stone, 24, has become the official harpist to the Prince of Wales.

(The role, 'Official Harpist to HRH The Prince of Wales', aims to foster musical talent in Wales as well as the raise the profile of the harp. Miss Stone is actually the fourth person to take on the role since it was reinstated in 2000. This all sounds very worthy, but the fact is she isn't paid. She will receive expenses, but no salary and this from a man who makes £19.7 million a year. So Charles, if music be the food of love, pay one.)

Interesting Fact - Patents

European patent applications can cost ten times more than patents registered in the US.

(Now all but two of the EU's 27 member states have agreed to set up a common European patent system that could reduce costs, but Italy and Spain fear discrimination because patents could only be filed in English, French or German. If it does go ahead, the savings to UK business are likely to be around £20m per year in translation costs alone. Good news for business, bad news for translators.)

Interesting Fact - Pets

According to the Pet Plan pet census, 65% of pet owners in the UK believe that having pets in the workplace is good for the health and well-being of employees.

(I'd have to agree with them.  I work from home and my two dogs are always making me get off the computer, hence preventing RSI and back problems.)


Interesting Fact - Socialising

According to the Petplan pet census 50% of people in the UK think that having a pet improves their social life.

(In fact 72% of respondents said that strangers were more likely to interact with them if they were with their pet.  Now of course this could be a good or a bad thing, depending on the stranger, but  it looks like if you want to improve your English, get a dog and move to the UK.)

Interesting Word - E.Coli

The E in E.Coli stands for Escherichia.

(E.Coli is a bacillus which occurs naturally in the intestines of humans and other animals. Usually it causes no harm, but some strains produce toxins that can cause illness in humans. The recent deadly outbreak in Germany and France was caused by a strain called STEC O104:H4, a strain which can cause acute diarrhoea, and kidney failure. Currently no one really knows the source of the outbreak. At first it was blamed on cucumbers, then bean sprouts then organic seeds. At least you now know the E in E.Coli doesn't stand for electronic.)


Interesting Fact - The Internet

That ephemeral thing, the Social Networking phenomena, is still in full swing.  Zynga, the online games developer behind hits including CityVille and FarmVille, is planning an initial public offering (IPO) that could value it at $20bn. 

(And they're not the only ones, LinkedIn, the business-focused social network, has already gone public and is valued at $8.6bn. Next year Facebook is expected to go public – analysts have estimated it could be worth $80bn or more.  But given the nature of the market, I would think twice before investing in any of these issues - unless you have some spare money, in which case I would go for it.  Personally, I'm saving my pennies for when Rovio, the makers of Angry Birds, goes public.)

Interesting Fact - Humans

You could fit the entire human race in the volume of a sugar cube.

(The human body is made up of atoms, and these atoms are practically empty. Imagine an atom the size of St Paul’s Cathedral in London, a grain of sand inside it would make up the nucleus of the atom and the rest of the space would be a void. So, if you squeezed all the space out of the atoms that make up all the humans on earth you would be able to fit the entire human race in the volume of a sugar cube. Tom Stoppard, the playwright, described it like this, "If the nucleus is like the altar of St Paul's cathedral, an electron is like a moth in the cathedral, one moment by the altar, the next by the dome.")

Source: BBC's The Story of Science - 2 / 6

Interesting Place - Australia

According to a report published by the Green Party in Australia, 83% of Australia's mining industry is foreign-owned.

(This means that over the next five years Aus$50 billion (US$53 billion) in profits from Australian mining operations will go abroad. Of course at some point someone sold these assets, I wonder who that was?)

Interesting Fact - The Universe

According to modern physics, 98% of the universe is invisible.

(Only four per cent of the mass of the Universe is in the atoms that make up you and me, the stars and planets. And we’ve only ever seen half of that with our telescopes. 23 per cent of the mass of the Universe is invisible, “dark”, matter. We know of its existence only because its gravity tugs on the visible stars and galaxies. No one knows what it is. And 73 per cent of the mass of the Universe is dark energy. Discovered only in 1998, this invisible stuff fills all of space and it has repulsive gravity.  Although I do think that calling gravity repulsive is a bit over the top, gravity simply sucks.)
Factoid Source

Interesting Fact - The Internet

According to online measurement body UKOM, Facebook attracted more visitors in the UK than Microsoft.

(Yes Facebook had 26.8 million visitors in Britain in May 2011, beating the 26.2 million who visited Microsoft's MSN, Windows and Bing sites combined.  Google is still top of the pile with 33.9 million visitors, whilst Twitter's UK audience was just 6.1 million.  I dread to think how much heat their servers produce coping with all those visitors.)

Interesting Animal - Fish

Clownfish (of finding Nemo fame) can change sex.

(Seemingly Clownfish society is quite hierarchical, with a reproducing female followed by a mating male, lower down the pecking order there is a bunch of non-mating males waiting in the wings, but, if the mating female dies, the dominant male morphs into a girly fish, and chooses a partner from the various non-mating males. Now that's not something they showed in the film, is it?)

Interesting Fact - Work

Over 1.1 million people in the UK have second jobs.

(Now this might seem a bit unfair to people with no job, but the fact is that it's difficult to make ends meet when the minimum wage is £5.93 an hour, and tax rises, inflation and minimal pay settlements have all hit household budgets. As someone who used to have three jobs, each one crappier than the other, I sympathise.)

Interesting Word - Retard

The word retard was first used in 1489, but back then it meant delay, stemming from the French word "retardant".

(According to, it was used in the sense of slow childhood development "mentally slow," from 1895 and around 1970 it took on the more offensive meaning "retarded person," in AmE. Now there's a campaign to have it removed from the English language called "The 'r' word campaign", spearheaded by Sarah Palin of all people. Good luck with getting it removed from the Urban Dictionary Ms Palin.)

Interesting Fact - Transport

According to the International Air Transport Association, mobile phones and other electronic devices have disrupted flight instruments 75 times over the last six years.

(The use of mobile phones on aircraft was banned until 2008, when the communication regulator Ofcom agreed that carriers could offer coverage above 3000ft, but during one flight electronic devices are believed to have caused the autopilot to disengage at 4,500ft. I am about to fly, so on reading this, I'm not a happy bunny.)

Source: Daily Telegraph

Interesting Place - Brazil

Brazil's Sao Paolo has the dubious honour of having the world's worst daily traffic jams in terms of distance. Brazilian traffic jams may stretch up to 265 kilometers!

(On June 10, 2009, they experienced complete gridlock with an accumulated traffic jam of 182 miles (293 km).

China holds the record of the world's worst traffic jam, for A 100-kilometer long traffic jam in 2010, which took ten days to disappear, some drivers were stuck for five days.

Imagine phoning your boss with that excuse. "Er, I'm stuck in a jam, I'll be about five days late.)

Interesting Food - Cucumber

According to a Harris poll carried out for the Metro newspaper, one in six people in the UK, 14%, have stopped or plan to stop eating cucumbers.

(This follows the world’s worst E.coli outbreak, which has so far killed 33 people since May 2011, and left more than 3,000 people ill in Germany. The funny thing is that although Senor Cucumber was initially blamed, beansprouts have now been singled out as the likely culprits, but it looks as if the British consumer will use any excuse not to eat their veggies.)


Interesting Fact - Olympic Fact - The Olympic Torch

The Olympic torch relay will last 70-day relays, and it will be carried from Land's End, travelling 8,000 miles before arriving at the Olympic Stadium on 27 July for the lighting of the cauldron at the opening ceremony.

(There will be 8,000 torchbearers along the way, one for each mile of the stretch, and the route was worked out so that it will come within an hour's travelling time of 95% of the UK population. Funnily though it won't be travelling through Much Wenlock, which is known as the birthplace of the modern Olympics.)

Interesting Fact - Olympic Fact - The Olympic Torch

The London 2012 Olympic torch will be a three-sided golden cone with the flame burning through its perforated shell.

(It was created by east London designers Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby and it's made from an aluminium alloy with 8,000 laser-cut circular perforations in its double-skinned exterior. Edward Barber, one of the designers said, "... it had to feel like a functional object, a piece of sporting equipment like a baton". Unfortunately, some people have likened it to a great big, golden, cheese-grater.)

Interesting Food - Sweets - Podcast

Packets of sweets in the UK are starting to carry health warnings.

(JellyBelly jelly beans, Ferrara Pan Atomic FireBlast candy and some swirly whirly lollipops are all carrying the warning that the artificial food colourings they contain, which include tartrazine -E102 and cochineal red-E122, are proven to have an impact on kids' behaviour. The warning is, "May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children." Now you may think that this shows the manufacturers are being sensible, but they are simply following European Parliament regulations which ordered firms to warn of the risks associated with additives and colourings. The Food Standards Agency called for an outright ban, so I doubt the industry is worried, after all warnings have been commonplace on cigarette packaging for many years, but people still light up.)


Interesting Fact - Shopping

According to research from the EHI Retail Institute, shoplifting costs Germany more than 5 million euros a day.

(They worked out that shoplifters in Germany stole goods worth a total of 1.9 billion euros ($2.77 billion) in 2010. Statistically speaking, that's 50 euros per household. And that's not all! Almost the same amount again was collectively lost to thieving employees, cleaning and delivery staff and sloppy book-keeping, in fact crooked employees, who between them, account for 22.4 percent of retail losses. All told, shops across the country missed out on 3.7 billion euros worth of revenue. As I read this I thought, I'm glad I don't actually sell anything, and then I remembered, some websites steal my content, so I guess no industry is immune from dishonesty.)


Interesting Fact - Science

Under IUPAC (the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry) rules, a new element can't be named after a living person.

(This means that even if you discover an element, you can't name it after yourself. In fact they have a lot of rules for the naming of things: Organic and inorganic compounds are contained in two publications, known as the Blue Book and the Red Book respectively. A third publication, known as the Green Book, describes the recommendations for the use of symbols for physical quantities (in association with the IUPAP), while a fourth, the Gold Book, contains the definitions of a large number of technical terms used in chemistry. Similar compendia exist for biochemistry (the White Book, in association with the IUBMB), analytical chemistry[7] (the Orange Book), macromolecular chemistry (the Purple Book) and clinical chemistry (the Silver Book). Is it just me, or does this all sound a bit Tarantinoish?)

Interesting Invention - Sliced Bread

The first bread slicing machine was invented by Otto Frederick Rohwedder of Davenport, Iowa, USA in 1912.

(His first machine was destroyed in a fire, but he got another machine up and working in 1928 and the first commercially sold slices were sold by the Chillicothe Baking Company of Chillicothe, Missouri, who produced their first slices on July 6th. Nowadays we call any good idea of invention "the best thing since sliced bread".)

Interesting Fact - Science

It took 13 years before element 112 of the periodic table was given a name.

(It ended up being called "copernicium", with the symbol Cp, in honour of the astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus. I guess it took us 7 million years to find it, so 13 years is neither here nor there.)

Interesting Fact - Science

Two new elements have been added to the periodic table, but they haven't got a name, yet.

(It took a three-year review by the governing bodies of chemistry and physics before the nameless elements were added. They are both highly radioactive and exist for less than a second before decaying into lighter atoms. Maybe they could call them caterpillium and butterflyium.)

Interesting Fact - Shopping

UK supermarket giant ASDA is going back to pounds and ounces on fruit and veg for the first time in 16 years.

(Customers asked for the return of imperial measures, as seven in ten shoppers said they still get confused by metric weights. Now they will be able to buy a 1lb punnet of strawberries, which under EU laws would weigh 453.39 grams.)

Interesting Fact - Work

According to a report by 6% of workers in the UK said they would fake a relative's death to get off work in order to attend an interview for another job.

(Most of the people asked used a medical appointment as an excuse, and men were the worst offenders overall. I'm trying to remember what excuses I used to use, and to be honest, I think I just took the day off. One of the biggest "tells" that you are going to an interview is to turn up at work all dressed up and with make-up on.)

Interesting Fact - Work

According to a study by, people in the UK are spending 14 million hours a week looking for a new job - while they are still at work.

(It costs employers around £250 million a week in lost production. 25% waste about half an hour a day searching for a new job and seven per cent dedicate two hours a day of their boss's time to escape. One in ten get caught in the act, and one in 50 get sacked for it. I guess a lot of them spend their time on the Monster UK website.)