Saturday, May 10, 2008

10 things I didn't know until last week

1. Tornadoes occur most frequently in the United States - averaging about 700 every year. Australia comes in a distant second at 200.
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2. The De Havilland Comet was the first commercial jet airliner - flying its maiden flight in 1952. Though frequent crashes ultimately grounded the Comet, its military derivative - the Nimrod - is still in service.
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3. Florence Nightingale - better known as the mother of modern nursing - was an accomplished statistician. She in fact used numbers and data (presented innovatively and visually) to successfully campaign for better conditions in the barracks. In 1858, she became the first female fellow of the Statistical Society of London (now Royal Statistical Society.)
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4. In poker, the Nut hand - or simply ‘the nuts’ - is a term for an unbeatable hand of cards.
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5. Until a couple of centuries ago, carrying out a census was known the ‘sin of David’ (and was therefore avoided) - from a story from the Bible where God punishes King David and the Israelites for counting the number of people in the land.
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6. Pareidolia is the name given to the psychological phenomenon where random and vague stimulus - often images or sounds - are perceived as being significant. Examples include seeing images or words in clouds/fire/smoke/toasted bread and hearing hidden messages on records played in reverse.
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7. Human-bred, or human-dependent, plant varities - like seedless grapes - are called cultivars. Cultivars have their own code for nomenclature - distinct from the nomenclature code for natural plants.
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8. Tanks were originally intended to be named landships - but tanks, which was the cover name, stuck instead.
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9. In 1962, Brian Epstein accepted - but, refused to sign - a contract to manage The Beatles, saying their mutual regard for one another was enough.
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10. Worcestershire sauce is made from dissolved fish.
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