Friday, December 30, 2005

100 Things (but not about me)

Via Assorted Stuff, the BBC's list of 100 Things We Didn't Know This Time Last Year.

Here are my favorites...

7. Baboons can tell the difference between English and French. Zoo keepers at Port Lympne wild animal park in Kent are having to learn French to communicate with the baboons which had been transferred from Paris zoo. I think the first sentence may be overstating the case a bit.

12. Until the 1940s rhubarb was considered a vegetable. It became a fruit when US customs officials, baffled by the foreign food, decided it should be classified according to the way it was eaten. Where is rhubarb originally from? And isn't it kind of obvious that it's a vegetable, technically speaking, at least?

14. It's possible for a human to blow up balloons via the ear. A 55-year-old factory worker from China reportedly discovered 20 years ago that air leaked from his ears, and he can now inflate balloons and blow out candles. I can't help but wonder how he made this discovery, and how long it takes to blow up a balloon by this method.

15. Lionesses like their males to be deep brunettes.

18. If all the Smarties eaten in one year were laid end to end it would equal almost 63,380 miles, more than two-and-a-half times around the Earth's equator. I am thinking of making this a challenge problem for my students, giving them the total number of Smarties, a package of the candies, a ruler, and a calculator...

19. The = sign was invented by 16th Century Welsh mathematician Robert Recorde, who was fed up with writing "is equal to" in his equations. He chose the two lines because "noe 2 thynges can be moare equalle".

22. The length of a man's fingers can reveal how physically aggressive he is, scientists say.

29. When faced with danger, the octopus can wrap six of its legs around its head to disguise itself as a fallen coconut shell and escape by walking backwards on the other two legs, scientists discovered. Does this work?

35. The name Lego came from two Danish words "leg godt", meaning "play well". It also means "I put together" in Latin.

43. The spiciness of sauces is measured in Scoville Units. Hello, science fair!

60. Newborn dolphins and killer whales don't sleep for a month, according to research carried out by University of California. Future mothers can be relieved they're having humans....

64. New York mayor Michael Bloomberg's home number is listed by directory inquiries. Yup: (212) 772-1081.

78. One in 18 people has a third nipple. Whoa! Where?

90. Ordinary - not avian - flu kills about 12,000 people in the UK every winter. This is probably the most significant fact on the list. Too bad they listed it so far down....

99. The Japanese word "chokuegambo" describes the wish that there were more designer-brand shops on a given street. Is there a word for wishing there were fewer? Or for wishing you could afford to shop in them?

7 Comments:

Blogger i.w. said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:59 PM  
Blogger Amerloc said...

Re: #7.

I complain sometimes about Ankle-Biter, but he actually responds to both English and French. I don't have that talent, however, but only because no one has tried to develop it.

And re: the Smarties in #18.

Didn't I read somewhere just this week that a Canadian teacher stole that idea from you (right before you were going to have it) and her students disproved the notion? Keep in mind, of course, that just because it's been done doesn't mean it's not a valuable activity. I chase the squirrel every day he shows up.

9:08 PM  
Blogger graycie said...

Re: #12 -- and isn't the tomato really a citrus fruit?

10:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't say I'm all that impressed....who exactly didn't know these things last year? Some of it I'm down with, but I thought that #35 (Lego) and #43 (Scoville Units) were fairly common knowledge. It's not like there was a major breakthrough or discovery about these this year.

Also, Challenge Problem warning (just in case you don't know your UK junk food): In the UK, Smarties are a chocolate candy very similar to M&Ms. (Not the weird, fruity flavored, pressed sugar candy that you get in a roll in the US.) I don't know the dimensional comparisons, but the math might not really work out (other than being within an order of magnitude). Just an FYI.

10:49 PM  
Blogger posthipchick said...

Future mother relieved, I guess : )

11:07 PM  
Blogger Mr. Lawrence said...

I think Bloomberg got the idea to publicize his number from rapper/cell-number-giver-outer Mike Jones (281-330-8004).

4:22 PM  
Blogger Pigs said...

I'm fascinated by the ear guy and the third nipple factoid. Who knew??

5:02 PM  

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