Tuesday, 4 March, 2014
Non-electric guitars once used to be known simply as guitars*. It was only after electric guitars came along, did people start referring to them as “acoustic guitars”. That is an example of a retronym, a new word, or term, that gives a new name to the original version of an object, device, product, service, whatever.
Landline telephone instead of telephone, is another example, and plenty more retronyms are listed here.
*Anyone care to myth-bust that claim/assertion?
language, neologisms, trends, trivia
Friday, 28 February, 2014
There’ll likely be something for everyone in here… Reddit members have put together a list of historical events, that while unrelated, either occurred at the same time, or say something about the age of well known institutions relative to each other:
- Pablo Picasso died the year Pink Floyd released “Dark Side of the Moon”
- Oxford University is older than the Aztec Empire
- Nintendo formed the same year Van Gogh painted Starry Night
Some of the inclusions may be subject to qualification but that makes them no less fascinating.
history, lists, trivia
Monday, 24 February, 2014
Another of life’s unasked questions possibly, why does the mouse cursor point at an angle, or to eleven o’clock, if you see it that way, rather than straight up? Seemingly it comes down to the low resolution of the early monitors in use at the time the mouse was invented by US engineer Douglas Englebart:
The mouse, and therefore the mouse cursor, was invented by Douglas Englebart, and was initially an arrow pointing up. When the XEROX PARC machine was built, the cursor changed into a tilted arrow. It was found that, given the low resolution of the screens in those days, drawing a straight line and a line in the 45 degrees angle was easier to do and more recognizable than the straight cursor.
history, technology, trivia
Friday, 14 February, 2014
Reddit members attempt to explain complicated scientific notions, such as rocket science, or orbital mechanics, in ten words or less. You never know, you just might find this useful.
Nuclear reactor: hot rock boil water, steam make power.
knowledge, science, trivia
Wednesday, 12 February, 2014
Wes Anderson’s new feature, The Grand Budapest Hotel, opens in Australia on 14 April. In the meantime you can test your knowledge of things Wes Anderson, by way of this Guardian quiz.
movies, trivia, Wes Anderson
Thursday, 6 February, 2014
On the subject of conspiracy theories, I thought it’d be a good idea to lift the lid on how supermarkets actually work… while there’s not really a whole lot of secret handshake stuff here though, one or two myths are nonetheless debunked:
That myth about milk being in the back of the store so you have to walk aisle to get to it? Not quite the real reason: It’s even simpler than tempting you with stuff on the way in, explains Weidauer. “Milk needs to be refrigerated right away; the trucks unload in the back, so the fridges are there so that we can fill the cases as quickly and easily as possible.”
Via Link Banana.
food, supermarkets, trivia
Friday, 31 January, 2014
Ever wondered how normal, or – as the case may be – far from normal, you are compared to others, but were afraid to ask? Here then is a way to discretely learn how you match up.
By the way, normal in this instance refers to the mores and attitudes of about one thousand men living in the US.
lifestyle, psychology, trivia
Thursday, 30 January, 2014
I don’t know when you might ever want, or need, to convey the impression that you are an intellectual, through, in this case, a series of pretty simple hand gestures, but you never know when it might come in handy.
If you happen to be an intellectual though, then you can, of course, disregard this post.
communication, psychology, trivia
Wednesday, 29 January, 2014
Goldfish, contrary to popular perception, do not have three second memories, in fact their powers of recall aren’t too bad at all. You might be surprised to learn though that wasps and honey bees, despite having small brains, likewise have pretty good memories:
When these insects view an individual (be it another insect or the person who just pissed them off by swinging a newspaper at them), their field of vision is broken up into hexagons from the thousands of ommatidia that make up the compound eye. Essentially, they process information based on these chunks from the structures in the eye that act as individual units and put the entire picture together. It might not be very clear compared to what we are used to since they don’t have a pupil to regulate the amount of light coming in onto the retina, but it is good enough to allow wasps and bees to discern prominent facial features that can be used for identification.
memory, nature, trivia
Wednesday, 22 January, 2014
I always though Disney cartoon character Donald Duck’s actual family was restricted to just a grandmother, an uncle, and three nephews. Obviously he would have had parents, and at least one sibling, but I always assumed they were no longer with us, as I could never recall any mention of them, or anyone else, for that matter.
If this family tree , as put together by Gilles R. Maurice, is anything to go by though, he has quite an extensive family. Here’s a larger version in PDF format.
cartoons, genealogy, humour, trivia