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Today I Learnt

  • 2022-07-20: The Celsius temperature scale was initially created in reverse with 100 degrees as freezing and 0 as boiling. I think this was because waters melting point changes in relation to air pressure while freezing doesn't and perhaps their thermometer was easier to configure in "reverse".
  • 2022-07-16: The aubergine, is also called the eggplant because there is a white variety that looks very much like hens eggs. They were also at one point called vegetable eggs.
  • 2022-06-28: In the UK according to 2021 figures 21309 chickens are slaughtered every 10 minutes. Chicken is the only meat whose consumption has increased in recent years.
  • 2022-06-15: In Britain, the initial pricing structure was confusing. Costs depended on the number of pages sent, distance & the distance they travelled, also the receiver of the post would pay the fee. Several techniques developed to get around this like writing crossed ways to reduce the number of pages or hiding a message on the outside of the letter so receiver could reject the post without paying but still get the "message".
  • 2022-06-15: British bank notes carry serial numbers on both sides, because people used to tear them in half and send them separately via the post to foil robberies.
  • 2022-06-15: The early british postal service allowed people to send game in the mail. Rabbits could be sent as long as they included a neck label & "no liquid was likely to exude".
  • 2022-06-15: The early british postal service allowed people to send game in the mail. Rabbits could be sent as long as they included a neck label & "no liquid was likely to exude".
  • 2022-05-14: Forty percent of the world’s ocean freight shipping, consists of just sending fossil fuels around the world to be burned. Who knows how much of that will be replaced with cobalt and lithium as batteries become more common place in industry, but it's likely good news for the earth.
  • 2022-05-31: The Greeks used the term barbarian for all non-Greek-speaking peoples emphasizing their otherness. According to Greek writers, this was because the language they spoke sounded to Greeks like gibberish represented by the sounds "bar..bar.."; the alleged root of the word βάρβαρος, which is anonomatopoeic word.
  • 2022-05-14: Forty percent of the world’s ocean freight shipping, consists of just sending fossil fuels around the world to be burned. Who knows how much of that will be replaced with cobalt and lithium as batteries become more common place in industry, but it's likely good news for the earth.
  • 2022-05-14: Early Greek & Latin texts employed "Scriptio continua", which is the style of writing without punctuation or spaces. Usually texts were read as performance pieces and so quick parsing wasn't concern. The reader had the liberty to insert pauses and dictate tone, making the act of reading a significantly more subjective activity than it is today. However, the lack of spacing also led to some ambiguity because a minor discrepancy in word parsing could give the text a different meaning. For example, a phrase written in scriptio continua as collectamexiliopubem may be interpreted as collectam ex Ilio pubem, meaning "a people gathered from Troy", or collectam exilio pubem, "a people gathered for exile". Thus, readers had to be much more cognisant of the context to which the text referred. Later, this evolved to “boustrophedon”, which included lines written in alternating directions.
  • 2022-05-01: The raw metals in a USA nickel cost ~9 cents so you'd almost double the value by melting down and selling the coin instead of trading with it, though it is illegal to export, melt or treat either a five-cent or one cent coin.
  • 2022-04-21: Lorem ipsum was written in 45 BC making it over 2000 years old. The text is derived from sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of Cicero's 'De finibus bonorum et malorum' (The Extremes of Good and Evil). The translation is worth a read.
  • 2022-04-15: Coca-Cola, held the cost of a 6.5-ounce bottle at five cents for more than 70 years, from 1886 to 1959. Coca-Cola agreed to sell its syrup to bottlers at a fixed price in perpetuity, thinking bottling was just a fad. Then, when the company managed to renegotiate, there was so much five-cent price advertising and so many vending machines that only accepted nickels that it took another couple of decades before Coca-Cola could break the nickel’s spell. Since then Arizona Ice tea have maintained there 99c price for 30 years. Side note the Arizona ice-tea founders had never stepped foot in Arizona when launching the brand.
  • 2022-04-08: The Lobster War was a dispute over spiny lobsters that occurred from 1961 to 1963 between Brazil and France. The Brazilian government refused to allow French fishing vessels to catch spiny lobsters 160 km off Brazil's northeastern coast by arguing that lobsters "crawl along the continental shelf." However, the French maintained that "lobsters swim" and so they could be caught by any fishing vessel from any country. The situation became very tense once the French rejected that demand and radioed a message asking for the French government to send a destroyer to accompany the lobster boats, which prompted the Brazilian government to put its many ships on a state of alert. The dispute was resolved unilaterally by Brazil, which extended its territorial waters to a 370 km zone and took in the disputed lobsters' bed.
  • 2022-03-28: Figure skating (pre 1990) used to be judged based on how the skater drew special figures while skating on the ice
  • 2022-03-22: There is a mosquito festival in Russia with an event called "tastiest girl", were girls go into the forest and pick berries for 20mins, winner is decide by who has the most mosquito bites.
  • 2022-03-21: The great french wine blight was a severe blight of the mid-19th century that destroyed many of the vineyards in France and laid waste to the wine industry, it was caused by an aphid that originated in North America and was carried across the Atlantic in the late 1850s. The solution was to graft American vines which are resistant to the aphids at the root of European ones, today only a small number of vines are not graft.
  • 2022-02-20: Kansas City is in Missouri not Kansas.
  • 2022-02-16: The band the KLF burnt a million quid on the Scottish island of Jura, in an act of performance art.
  • 2022-02-01: Tarrare, A french soldier and showman, known for his unusual appetite and eating habits. He was also caught several times within the hospital drinking from patients undergoing bloodletting, and attempting to eat the bodies in the hospital mortuary. This is the most ridiculous Wikipedia entry, hard to believe most of it, but well worth a read.
  • 2022-01-31: The Magic Minute The magic minute is a custom in the United States House of Representatives that allows leaders to speak for as long as they wish, in contrast with other members, who have to adhere to strict time limits. The convention was notably used by Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy in 2018 and 2021 respectively to speak for records of over eight hours.
  • 2022-01-20: The MGM Lion roar is dubbed with the roar of a tiger.
  • 2022-01-11: Due to Japan's aging population, adult nappies have over taken baby nappy sales.
  • 2022-01-06: Goose egg addling is a wildlife management method of population control for Canada geese and other bird species. The process of addling involves temporarily removing fertilized eggs from the nest, testing for embryo development, terminating embryo development, and placing the egg back in the nest. Returning the egg to the nest misleads the goose into believing the egg is still developing. Otherwise, the goose would begin laying again. Goose egg addling was predominantly used in the aftermath of the plane crash of US Airways Flight 1549 on January 15, 2009. Following an investigation by officials, which determined the plane crash was caused by a bird strike of Canada geese, an estimated 1,739 goose eggs were coated with oil in an effort to prevent any similar incidents from occurring. There is an interesting document which details all you need to know about addling. From defending oneself from the geese with umbrellas and trash cans, the float test to determine if the embryo is fertilized to alternate termination strategies to oiling method like using dummy eggs.
  • 2021-12-27: The Gospel of Matthew is the only one of the four canonical gospels to mention the Magi (aka the Three wise men). The gospel never mentions the number of Magi. Still, most western Christian denominations have traditionally assumed them to have been three in number, based on the statement that they brought three gifts. In Eastern Christianity, especially the Syriac churches, the Magi often number twelve.
  • 2021-12-23: There is no wifi and cell phone signal in Green Bank West Virginia, Resident's who live within 10 miles of the Green Bank observatory are banned from Bluetooth devices and microwaves, unless they are contained in a metal box, known as a Faraday cage, which blocks electromagnetic fields. I worked at snowshoe a ski resort within the national quiet zone and it had restrictions on cell service but there was (very bad) wifi. The resort obviously doesn't advertise this so it was interesting to see how people coped without their phones, most arrived in late and in a mood because the couldn't load google maps and couldn't call the hotel for directions either.
  • 2021-12-15: Every one of 850+ Wetherspoon's pubs has a unique carpet specifically designed for each location. The makers of the carpets also have a royal warrant which means carpets for the queen & Wetherspoons come from the same place.
  • 2021-12-07: 10% of US electricity for the last two decades was generated from old Russian nuclear warheads..
  • 2021-12-05: The Dewey decimal system heavily favors Christianity, dedicating nearly all of the 200 division to it: the world's thousands of other religions were listed under the 290s. For example, Islam is under just DDC 297, despite being almost as large as Christianity by population. There are other biases for example: some categories regarding women were adjacent to categories on etiquette and in 1932 topics relating to homosexuality were first added to the system under 132 (mental derangements) and 159.9 (abnormal psychology). In 1996, homosexuality was added to 306.7 (sexual relations); this remains the preferred location in the current edition. Although books can also be found under 616.8583 (sexual practices viewed as medical disorders).
  • 2021-12-02: clickers, commonly used to train dogs, were used in World War II by Allied paratroopers preceding and during Operation Overlord as a way of covertly identifying friend from foe. A soldier would click once and if two clicks were received in return from an unidentifiable soldier then his identification was confirmed. (Seems like an easy code to crack.)
  • 2021-12-01: In the wake of Napster (2000), Rednex, the swedish band behind "cotten eye joe", outlined a new strategy to become a entertainment group rather than a band. This meant they'd hire different artists in different regions (Australasia, Europe, America) to perform their songs live increasing their concert revenue.
  • 2021-11-26: The Apgar score is a quick way for doctors to evaluate the health of all newborns at 1 and 5 minutes after birth. My mother told me in med school they used the Apgar score to evaluate men too.
  • 2021-11-24: 17th century Japanese Fire Fighters would wet their uniforms to be come less flammable then with hooks and polls try pull down the building in order to smother the fire.
  • 2021-11-22: Company gardens in get's it namesake from the Dutch East India company. They farmed fresh produce for ships passing by as well as the local settlement.
  • 2021-11-12: The lena image widely used as a standard in the field of digital image processing since 1973, when it was used in developing the jpeg, is from a Playboy centrefold of a Playboy Magazine. Later Lena, the model, worked for Kodak and became a Shirley girl which was a photo card sent to Kodak printers to standardise film prints.
  • 2021-11-06: The first man to walk across the USA did it when he was 70, it took just over a 100 days.
  • 2021-11-06: A woman ran for US president in 1872.
  • 2021-11-01: In New Zealand they call civies day 'Mufti' day. This originates from India where British military wore robes on their days off and were said to look like a Mufti. A Mufti is an Islamic Scholar. As of writing this some schools in NZ have changed the name of their casual clothes day.
  • 2021-10-31: A milkman in Cornwall has saved a row of shops by dousing a fire with 320 pints of milk.
  • 2021-10-28: Female African Elephants Are Evolving Without Tusks Due to Ivory Poaching.
  • 2021-10-22: The inventor of the boogey board was a qualified mathematician from USC. He invented a bunch of other things like the remove-able fin system and a board that you could break into 3 for traveling.
  • 2021-10-20: There used to be laws up till as late as the early 2000s which meant margarine had to be coloured (pink) or couldn't be coloured yellow (to mimic butter). #99p.
  • 2021-10-19: The Irish main diet prior to potatoes, for ~1000 years was dairy & oats. Perhaps the reason I can stomach so many milkshakes.