Sunday, February 18, 2007

10 things I didn't know until last week

1. The Abel Prize (named for Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel) was instituted to fill the gap left by Alfred Nobel when he excluded mathematics from the prizes he founded. Though it was first mooted in 1897 when Nobel announced his plans, the prize itself was finally instituted in 2003.
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2. The DC-3 - an aircraft built by the Douglas Company - had a reputation of being virtually indestructable. In one instance, a Japanese Zero fighter rammed into a DC-3 and fell to earth, while the American fighter flew home and its pilot was credited with a kill. According to Dwight Eisenhower, the DC-3 was one of the West’s four key weapons in WW2, the others being the jeep, the bazooka and the atomic bomb.
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3. Arsenal football club was originally known as Dial Square, after the name of the workshop from where the founders hailed.
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4. Adolph, Randolph and Rudolph are names of routines maneouvres performed on the trampoline.
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5. The Plantagenet dynasty that ruled medieval England gets its name from the latin for broom flower (planta genesta.) It originated with Geoffrey of Anjou who adopted the flower as his emblem, often wearing a sprig of it.
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6. The giant panda was chosen to be on the logo of WWF because it was recognisable across barriers, was a universally loved symbol and because it “had an impact in black and white to save money on printing costs.”

7. The first recorded use of fingerprinting to identify crime suspects was in India in 1898.
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8. The numbers on a roulette wheel begin at  0 and go up to 36. In American Roulette there is an additional pocket marked 00.
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9. Stamps of the United Kingdom are unique in that they don’t feature the name of the country. In 1951, the special commemorative issue for the Festival of Britain included the name ‘Britain’. It was the first and only recorded instance  of the name of the country “appearing” on a stamp of the UK.
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10. Although the princess known as Sleeping Beauty had differing names in different versions, she was unnamed in the original version by Charles Perrault. Perrault however gave the name “L’Aurore” to the princess’ daughter. Tchaikovsky shifted the daughter’s name to the mother - a move taken up by Disney when they named her Princess Aurora.
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