Wednesday, 27 November, 2013
2013’s Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year is… selfie, as in the photos we, or many of us, delight in taking of ourselves with, usually, our smartphone cameras.
I’m not sure how long this will remain unchallenged, but seemingly the… neologism originated in Australia, or at least in an Australian online discussion forum, in 2002.
Who knows, studies of historical transcripts may yet reveal the use of “selfie” dating back centuries. It’s happened before. A word falls from use and then reappears many decades later. “Sleeping beauty” is one term used to describe such situations.
etymology, language, trivia
Friday, 15 November, 2013
Considering the planet we reside on is whipping through space at a rate of eight hundred kilometres per second, I don’t think anyone present could say they’re living life in the slow lane.
physics, science, trivia
Wednesday, 6 November, 2013
Just as we, seemingly, cannot track to their original origin, all the components that constitute the bits and pieces we use daily, the same could be said of the dust we work diligently to clean away from our homes, workplaces, cars, and so on.
A fair amount of it, as it turns out, isn’t even terrestrial, rather it has drifted down to the planet’s surface from space… and the dust you’re sweeping up could be some of the remains, however miniscule, of a long dead star.
Every year, almost 100,000 tons of space dirt falls on our planet. That’s the equivalent of one U.S. Nimitz-class aircraft carrier dropping from the skies every year. Of course, it doesn’t all come at once. Each day, about a hundred tons of material hits the Earth. Most of it is in the form of interplanetary dust caught in the Earth’s gravitational pull. But on any given night, you might also catch the bigger stuff: sand-grain-sized or even pebble-sized bits of the solar system flaring across our sky as meteors. After their fiery journey through the atmosphere, most of that material ends up as dust on the ground too.
astronomy, science, trivia
Monday, 21 October, 2013
I was under the impression, based on the title of this infographic, “How To Cut Toast”, that there may be a correct way, or ways, of doing so. Apparently not, as, by the looks of it, anything goes.
bread, cooking, food, trivia
Wednesday, 16 October, 2013
Movies and, of all things, popcorn are synonymous. Why popcorn though, and not something else, like potato crisps/chips, or choc top ice creams, both of which are reasonably popular film fodder anyway. Given the reluctance of cinemas to make the snack available in the first place, too lowbrow apparently, it’s actually surprising popcorn ever caught on:
“Movie theaters wanted nothing to do with popcorn,” Smith says, “because they were trying to duplicate what was done in real theaters. They had beautiful carpets and rugs and didn’t want popcorn being ground into it.” Movie theaters were trying to appeal to a highbrow clientele, and didn’t want to deal with the distracting trash of concessions – or the distracting noise that snacking during a film would create. When films added sound in 1927, the movie theater industry opened itself up to a much wider clientele, since literacy was no longer required to attend films (the titles used early silent films restricted their audience). By 1930, attendance to movie theaters had reached 90 million per week. Such a huge patronage created larger possibilities for profits – especially since the sound pictures now muffled snacks – but movie theater owners were still hesitant to bring snacks inside of their theaters.
food, history, movies, trivia
Thursday, 26 September, 2013
If it ever falls to you to restock the office teaspoon supply, as it did me once (yep, I’ve held some distinguished roles in my time), here’s some research that might help you make the best buying decision… considering that teaspoons tend to have a “half life” of just under three months.
56 (80%) of the 70 teaspoons disappeared during the study. The half life of the teaspoons was 81 days. The half life of teaspoons in communal tearooms (42 days) was significantly shorter than for those in rooms associated with particular research groups (77 days). The rate of loss was not influenced by the teaspoons’ value. The incidence of teaspoon loss over the period of observation was 360.62 per 100 teaspoon years. At this rate, an estimated 250 teaspoons would need to be purchased annually to maintain a practical institute-wide population of 70 teaspoons.
Who’d have thought that so many teaspoons, of all the things that could be “borrowed” from a workplace, would go walking away?
psychology, science, trivia
Thursday, 12 September, 2013
Eye patches, as once worn by pirates, might not necessarily have been a way of concealing an eye wound… they may have helped the seafaring marauders adjust their sight quickly to the darker, below deck conditions, of the ships they were attempting to plunder.
Pirates frequently had to move above and below decks, from daylight to near darkness, and Sheedy says the smart ones “wore a patch over one eye to keep it dark-adapted outside.” When the pirate went below decks, he could switch the patch to the outdoor eye and see in the darkness easily (potentially to fight while boarding and plundering another vessel).
history, pirates, trivia
Friday, 16 August, 2013
This sounds like a physics exam question. If you ever wanted to stop a 747 aircraft taking off, by trying to restrain it with some cable, how thick would that cable need to be, assuming the craft’s engines were at full power? If you happen, therefore, to be sitting a physics test, then the good news is someone has worked out the answer.
air travel, humour, physics, trivia
Wednesday, 7 August, 2013
We all know that birthday ditty, “Happy Birthday to You” is subject to copyright, and those singing the song, for commercial purposes at least, must pay a royalty to do so. But who actually owns the copyright, and subsequently receives royalty payments when they are made?
Today, the song is part of the Warner Music Group’s portfolio, which is in turn a part of Access Industries, a privately held company owned by Ukrainian-born billionaire Len Blavatnik. At the end of the day, Blavatnik splits any royalties – rumored to be $2 million a year – with the Hill Foundation, which was founded by the song’s unmarried, childless writers and is under the control of the nonprofit Association for Childhood Education International.
music, royalties, trivia
Wednesday, 7 August, 2013
Ah yes, if we were operating an Ouija board solo – a practice that probably defeats the purpose, but never mind – then I’m sure we’d have no trouble willing the numbers and letters we wished to see, pointed at. But what about when a group of people are holding the cup, or marker… what would compel everyone to point to a certain character on the board?
How does that work then? Might some… force therefore be at play? Certainly some sort of “force” is exerting itself, but maybe not the one you were hoping for (and for those who enjoy a little mystique of the supernatural variety, then sorry, this article contains spoilers):
The phenomenon is called the ideomotor effect and you can witness it yourself if you hang a small weight like a button or a ring from a string (ideally more than a foot long). Hold the end of the string with your arm out in front of you, so the weight hangs down freely. Try to hold your arm completely still. The weight will start to swing clockwise or anticlockwise in small circles. Do not start this motion yourself. Instead, just ask yourself a question – any question – and say that the weight will swing clockwise to answer “Yes” and anticlockwise for “No”. Hold this thought in mind, and soon, even though you are trying not to make any motion, the weight will start to swing in answer to your question.
psychology, supernatural, trivia