Wednesday, January 31, 2007

10 things I didn't know until last week

1. Boeing is America’s largest exporter.
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2. Air India began operating in 1932 as Tata Airlines. It became a public company in 1946 and was re-named Air-India Ltd.
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3. In 1856, William Perkin was working in his lab to create a synthetic form of quinine as a cost-effective treatment for malaria. Instead he chanced upon an oily black substance that, when purified and dried, became a lovely shade of light purple. In short, he had discovered mauve. More specifically, he had discovered a way to produce color synthetically, without relying on natural products like plants and bugs, with their limited hues.
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4. In 1949, tests were conducted at Edwards Airforce base to find out how the forces of rapid deceleration would affect the human body. Colonel John Stapp rode a rocket on rails and would be subjected to g-forces of 40 upwards. He would often emerge from the tests suffering blackouts and temporary blindness. One of the lasting legacies of these tests are seatbelts - which the team first recommended to the airfoce. The second legacy from these tests is Murphy’s Law. After one particularly devastating test, reliability expert Capt. Edward Murphy discovered that the connectors had been wired the wrong way, thereby losing all data. Murphy is said to have uttered his famous law at that moment. Stapp and his team were collectors of adages and aphorisms and this one too was added to the logbook, and took the world by storm soon after.
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5. There are over 400,000 different species of beetles and only about 8,000 different species of mammals. A fact that led JBS Haldane, to conclude that “the Creator, if He exists, has a special preference for beetles, and so we might be more likely to meet them than any other type of animal on a planet that would support life.”
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6. Typically, cities can be a couple of degrees warmer during the day and as much 6 degrees warmer at night compared to the surrounding countryside. This is because concrete and asphalt absorb more heat and retain it much longer than vegetaion; the effect is compounded  by heat thrown out by air-conditioning, vehicles and factories.
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7. The internet’s amorphous nature has led many in the industry to refer to it simply as “the cloud”.
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8. Contrary to how they are depicted in movies and comics, Shuriken - Ninja throwing stars - were very inaccurate and were mostly used as a delaying weapon in chases. They had little chance of hitting the target, but would delay the chaser by making him more cautious.
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9. With $ 16 billion worth of deliveries in 2006, the market for private jets is bigger than the market for fighter planes.
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10. Aromatic is also a scientific term describing any molecule with one or more hexagonal rings of six carbon atoms.
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