Showing posts from July, 2011

Interesting Fact - The Internet - Podcast

Google's browser, Chrome, has become Britain's second most popular.

(According to web metrics firm Statcounter. 22% of UK users now use Chrome, overtaking Mozilla's Firefox browser. Apple's Safari is number four, with a 9% share, but Microsoft's Internet Explorer is still the most popular browser for UK users with 45% of the market. I think the fact that it is pre-installed on almost all computers sold in Britain might explain that. Personally I use Chrome, Firefox and IE. I wonder what the statisticians would make of that.)

Interesting Fact - Money - Podcast

Apple has more money than the US government.

(As of July 27th, the US Treasury held operating cash of $73.7bn, whereas according to its recent financial results, Apple had a few dollars more (cue spaghetti western music) at $76.4bn. It seems that Apple, once the darling of the independent anti-Bill Gates movement, is now the big corporate giant that everyone accused Microsoft of being. It has been valued at $364bn, compared with Microsoft's $230.5bn. At the moment, there is only one other corporation in the world – Exxon Mobil – that is bigger. So how has this maker of toys for the well-heeled become so rich? Well, apart from making diamond studded iPhones, if you want your paper or magazine to be available on the iTunes subscription store, it will cost you 30% for Apple straight off. Let's face it, in the Apple economy, only Apple gets rich.)

Interesting Fact - Makeup

According to a study by Bionsen, women in the UK spend more than £100,000 on makeup in their life time.

(That's a shade over £2000 during every year of adulthood, or nearly £40 in an average week. Who are these women? What on earth are they buying, gold dust?)

Source - Daily Record

Interesting Fact - Health

According to an article in the Lancet 10 million injecting drug users (IDUs) worldwide have hepatitis C, while 1.3 million have hepatitis B.

(According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) 2 billion people worldwide have been infected with hepatitis B. It is preventable with a vaccine.)


Interesting Fact - The Law

Star Wars helmets are industrial props, not works of art.

(So, why is this interesting? Well it's very interesting to a British prop designer and George Lucas. On Wednesday Andrew Ainsworth, said prop designer, won a court battle against US film company boss George Lucas over his right to sell replica Stormtrooper helmets. Declaring the helmets functional and not artistic, means they are not subject to full copyright law, and their only copyright protection is 15 years from the date they were marketed. So, if you want to dress up, you are free to do so.)

Interesting Fact - Names

According to the Office of National Statistics Oliver and Olivia were the most popular baby names across England and Wales in 2010.

(The top 10 boys' names in order were: Oliver, Jack, Harry, Alfie, Charlie, Thomas, William, Joshua, George, James and Daniel.

The most popular girls' names were: Olivia, Sophie, Emily, Lily, Amelia, Jessica, Ruby, Chloe, Grace and Evie.

Not a Moses Amadeus (son of filmmaker Woody Allen and actress Mia Farrow), Brooklyn Joseph (son of David and Victoria Beckham) or Tallulah Belle (daughter of actors Demi Moore and Bruce Willis) among them.)

Interesting Fact - Numbers

If you add the numbers 1 to 36 on a roulette wheel, they add up to 666.

("666" is the "Number of the Beast".)

Thanks to Drago.

Interesting Food - Beer

Russia has officially recognised beer as an alcoholic drink.

(Yes, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a bill on 21st July 2011, that officially classifies beer as an alcoholic drink. This means that beer will no longer be sold in unlicensed kiosks, and its sale will be banned from stores between certain hours, and advertising will be restricted, but don't worry, this won't happen until 2013.

So, why has this blindingly obvious fact escaped the Russians until now? Well, anything containing less than 10% alcohol in Russia had been considered a foodstuff. OMG! I should have been born a Russian.)

Interesting Place - York

York is the host to the largest temporary maze in the world.

(Every year, a field near York creates an amazing maze out of maize, nice little homophone there.  The reason it's temporary is that maize is an annual crop, so they plant it in May, cut the pathways in June, open the maze once it is big enough to get lost in in July, then they have to harvest it in September, and plough the field in order to start again with a new design the next year. Unfortunately it isn't free, but it is fun.)

Interesting Word - Sigma

Sigma is the 18th letter of the Greek alphabet, but it's also a measurement of standard deviation and it's used in particle physics as a measurement for a discovery.

(Seemingly any discovery in particle physics needs a five-sigma level of certainty. This is the equivalent of tossing a coin and getting the same result more than 20 times in a row, because this is very unlikely (try it), a five-sigma result becomes an accepted discovery. So, basically - particle physics is like tossing a coin.)


The last American space shuttle flight rolled to a stop at 5:58 a.m.

Interesting Fact - Space

The space shuttle program cost American taxpayers $93 each year.

(Over the years the United States has spent $196 billion on the space shuttle program over its lifespan. The total cost of the program over its life was supposed to be $90 billion for up to 50 launches per year. The highest number of shuttle launches in any one year was only nine.

With the retirement of the shuttles, the space station will now rely on Russian, European and Japanese rockets to bring up supplies, and now, without its own shuttle program, NASA will have to spend $64 million per astronaut per trip to hitch a ride on a Russian spacecraft.)



The UN officially declared Somalia a famine zone. 2011

Interesting Word - Famine

The word famine is used to describe a time when there is not enough food for a great number of people, causing illness and death.

(But seemingly there are now criteria that have to be met before the word famine can be used. According to the UN a famine is declared when acute malnutrition rates among children exceed 30 per cent, more than two people per every 10,000 die per day, and people are not able to access food and other basic necessities. Chilling, isn't it?)

Interesting Fact - The Internet

Google has found a search hijacking virus on 1 million computers.

(The virus hijacks Google and other search requests and redirects them to websites that pay the cyber criminals behind the scam for traffic. According to security blog KrebsonSecurity, Google users will be greeted with a yellow warning at the top of their search results if they are infected. I'm off to Google now to do a quick search, fingers crossed.)

Interesting Fact - Languages

According to Jakob Uszkoreit, a senior engineer at Google, over 100,000 American students take the National Latin Exam every year.

(With the launch of an additional Latin function into Google translate, it seems we can now read those ancient texts and even listen to Latin pronunciation. So who says it's a dead language?)

Interesting Fact - Numbers

Roulette wheels used to be numbered 1 to 36, but in 1842, Frenchmen François and Louis Blanc added the "0" to the roulette wheel in order to achieve a house advantage.

(And it gets worse, in the early 1800s, roulette was brought into the U.S. where, to further increase house odds, a second zero, "00", was introduced. So you see, the house always wins.)

Interesting Food - Sausages

According to tests carried out by the medical campaign group Consensus Action on Salt and Health, sausages contain more salt than crisps.

(Eighty per cent of the 300 types of sausage tested failed to meet Government guidelines on salt levels, and eating just two bangers would give adults more than half the recommended daily intake of 6g or less. People should look at the packaging, and check that the contents contain 1g or less per 100g - or 0.5g per sausage, which is the same as a bag of crisps. As if I needed another reason not to eat them!)

Interesting Place - The UK

In the UK a burglary takes place every 43 seconds.

(According to the Home Office’s British Crime Survey (BCS), there were 745,000 burglaries committed in 2010/11, and one in 40 households was the target of a break-in or attempted break-in in 2010.

BTW - The Home Office isn't someone working from home, it's a UK government department responsible for immigration and passports, drugs policy, counter-terrorism, police, and science and research. Busy people.)


Interesting Fact - Memory

Scientists at Columbia University, say that using internet search engines and databases to find information is making people lose their memory.

(They're calling it (a bit unfairly) the Google effect, which they say shows people develop poor recall of knowledge if they know where answers to questions are easily found. So, now I know what to blame. Now what was I saying?)

Full Story

Interesting Place - England

According to a report from the Committee on Climate Change, around 12,000-16,000 homes in England are still built on floodplains each year.

(I wonder what part of flood + plain, they don't understand.)

Interesting Place - Isle of Man

The Isle of Man has a President.

(Now the only reason I know this is that I just read that the Manx parliament of Tynwald has elected its first female president, a Mrs Clare Christian. In fact it has its own parliament - the House of Keys, which sounds a bit like a Hammer Horror film.)

Interesting Fact - British Life

According to a study commissioned by home energy management service "AlertMe", the average Brit lies in a semi-detached home and wakes up at 6.57am.

(Half of all the families who replied said their favourite form of entertainment is watching television - the typical British family has the goggle box switched on for nine hours each day and their favourite show is the TV show Doctor Who. The run-of-the-mill British family sits down for dinner at 5.54pm, but they only eat together three times a week and they argue around twice a week. The average weekly food shop came to £76.02 and a further £12 each week was spent on alcohol. Fathers were most concerned about keeping costs down, in more than a third of households he is the person who turns off lights and stand-by switches. Meanwhile, British mothers bear the brunt of chores, doing an average of four and a half hours of housework each week, including at least five loads of laundry!)

Interesting Food - Potatoes

An international team of scientists has uncovered the full DNA sequence of the potato.

(This should make it possible to develop improved varieties of potato, which at the moment takes about 10 years, much more quickly. I think I should ask them to analyse my potatoes, which from the size of them are really a species of pea.)

Interesting Fact - The Internet

According to research carried out by internet consultancy firm Envisional, the number of illegally downloaded films in the UK has gone up nearly 30% in five years.

(According to their research, in 2010, the top five box office films in the UK were illegally downloaded a total of 1.4 million times. I just wonder where they get the patience to wait for the download! Or is it the fact that people are downloading these films that my internet is so slow?)

Interesting Fact - Roulette

The game of roulette has been played in its current form since as early as 1796 in Paris.

(The first form of roulette was devised in 17th century France, by the mathematician Blaise Pascal, who was supposedly inspired by his fascination with perpetual motion devices. If you've ever spun a roulette wheel, you probably thought it would never stop, unfortunately perpetual motion goes against the laws of physics, so eventually it will stop, and probably not on your number.)

Interesting Fact - Sleep

A study commissioned by home energy service Alert Me, shows that the average British family goes to bed at around 10.30pm.

(I have to admit that this makes me Mrs Average.)

Interesting People - JRR Tolkein

JRR Tolkein, of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings fame, was born in South Africa.

(He was born on 3 January 1892 in Bloemfontein in the Orange Free State (now Free State Province), in South Africa. When he was three, Tolkien went to England with his mother and brother on what was intended to be a lengthy family visit. His father, however, died in South Africa and the family stayed in England. And the rest, as they say, is literary history.)

Interesting Fact - The Brain

There are no pain receptors on the surface of the brain.
(According to the Royal College of Nursing web site, some patients undergoing brain surgery have volunteered to have their exposed brain stimulated with electrodes during surgery. When not under general anesthesia, they can even report their sensations to the experimenter.  Volunteered!  I'm feeling queasy again.)

Interesting Fact - Work - Podcast

According to the Daily Mail, there are five times as many full time male staff who earn over £200,000, which is more than the prime minister does, as women at the BBC.

(In addition, there are twice as many men on more than £100,000 at the BBC and the average man's pay is £41,916 while it is only £36,827 for female employees. They spent £212 million on star salaries last year, but I guess with a budget of £3.5 billion, they can afford it. I have to say I wasn't surprised by this story, the BBC is a perfect example of the "old boys network" in action. My question is, is there an ''old girls network'', and how do I get in it?)

Interesting Fact - Health

According to Dr Arthur Tucker, principal clinical scientist at Barts’ vascular unit, up to a third of the weight of your pillow could be made up of bugs, dead skin, dust mites and their faeces.

(In fact, up to 100,000 dust mites could be having a party in there right now, and you don't want to think about hospital pillows, which can have more than one million Staphylococcus hominus per millilitre, and what about hotel pillows! On a more positive note, leading bacteriologist Professor Hugh Pennington said not to worry as your pillows at home simply contain the bugs we already have. Well that's alright then - party on dudes.)

Factoid Source

Interesting Fact - E.coli

According to Jay Keasling, a scientist at the Aspen Ideas Festival, E.coli, the bacteria behind food poisoning worldwide, could be turned into a commercially available biofuel within the next five years.

(E.coli bacteria is already used to make some plastics. Companies usually don't mention the unusual ingredients to customers. I wonder why?)