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100 Things We Didn't Know Last Year 245

Posted by Zonk
from the the-more-you-know dept.
gollum123 writes "The BBC news magazine is running a compilation of the interesting and sometimes downright unexpected facts that we did not know last year, but now know. some examples — There are 200 million blogs which are no longer being updated, say technology analysts. Urban birds have developed a short, fast 'rap style' of singing, different from their rural counterparts. The lion costume in the film 'Wizard of Oz' was made from real lions. Online shoppers will only wait an average of four seconds for an internet page to load before giving up. Just one cow gives off enough harmful methane gas in a single day to fill around 400 litre bottles. For every 10 successful attempts to climb Mount Everest there is one fatality. Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobiacs is the term for people who fear the number 666. The egg came first."
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100 Things We Didn't Know Last Year

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  • Duh (Score:5, Funny)

    by UbuntuDupe (970646) * on Thursday December 28, 2006 @04:25PM (#17392158) Journal
    Just one cow gives off enough harmful methane gas in a single day to fill around 400 litre bottles.

    That doesn't sound very surprising, given that a gas always fills its container, just like a liquid always takes its container's shape.

    Oh, and by the way, if, like me, you went straight to the bird one [bbc.co.uk], you couldn't but snicker at the picture's caption: "There are an estimated 1.7million great tit pairs in the UK."
    • Re:Duh (Score:5, Funny)

      by Sciros (986030) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @04:31PM (#17392244) Journal
      There's another sentence in there that starts well: "The research focused on great tits in ten major European cities, including London, Paris, Amsterdam and Prague..."

      Reminds me of the vacation I took this past August.
    • While what you say is true, I expect that they are talking about it filling the bottles at sea level pressure.

      And having visited the UK in 2002, I can vouch for there being quite a lot of great tit pairs.
    • Re:Duh (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 28, 2006 @04:49PM (#17392432)
      Just one cow gives off enough harmful methane gas in a single day to fill around 400 litre bottles.

      So how much unharmful methane does it give off? Do you know that you breathe out deadly carbon dioxide? That the earth is infested with deadly dihydrogen monoxide? That 40% of all sick days are taken monday and friday?

      Useless liberal fear mongering.

  • by duguk (589689) <dug@@@frag...co...uk> on Thursday December 28, 2006 @04:31PM (#17392238) Homepage Journal
    Though the 666 term of 'Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobiacs' is true, in 2005, "a fragment of papyrus was revealed, containing the earliest known version of that part of the Book of Revelation discussing the Number of the Beast. It gave the number as 616, suggesting that this may have been the original."

    FYI: Port 616 is officially registered to SCO System Administration Server.
  • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @04:31PM (#17392250)
    I thought The Devil Wears Prada [imdb.com].
  • Sure (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    facts that we did not know last year

    Sure, but I knew I didn't know these facts last year. I'm interested in things that I didn't know that I didn't know.

    Known unknowns just aren't that interesting.
    • Re:Sure (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 28, 2006 @04:39PM (#17392342)
      As we know,
      There are known knowns.
      There are things we know we know.
      We also know
      There are known unknowns.
      That is to say
      We know there are some things
      We do not know.
      But there are also unknown unknowns,
      The ones we don't know
      We don't know.

      Donald Rumsfeld, Feb. 12, 2002, Department of Defense news briefing
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by WhiplashII (542766)
        What's sad is that what he is saying is true, and is a very important part of dealing with the world effectively.

        But nobody gets it, so they think it is funny. Please don't attempt anything important until you understand the statements you just ridiculed...
        • Re:Sure (Score:5, Insightful)

          by JayBlalock (635935) on Friday December 29, 2006 @09:39AM (#17397976)
          Um... I don't know about anyone else, but I got it completely.

          *I* find it funny\ironic\interesting because, when Rummy was just rooting around trying to find a way to dodge a reporter's question, he accidentally made a profoundly poetic, even zen, philosophical statement. When properly spaced out like parent did, I truly believe that could stand alongside the great insights of the great writers of the world. In terms of form, composition, and truth, it is nearly perfect.

          Which means just about the LAST place you'd expect it to come from is the mouth of the man whose job otherwise was to blow up as much of the known world as he could.

          And that's what makes it funny.

          And just for the record, the A.C. parent posted no commentary. Just the moment of zen. And others modded it as funny (and insightful!). Why did you automatically assume he was ridiculing it?

  • Great tits! (Score:5, Funny)

    by garcia (6573) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @04:36PM (#17392302) Homepage
    The research focused on great tits in ten major European cities, including London, Paris, Amsterdam and Prague, and compared them to forest-dwellers.

    I'd be singing faster rap style songs too rather than longer melodies if it attracted mates with great tits.
  • by Zashi (992673) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @04:42PM (#17392362) Homepage Journal
    We know the egg came first because it was the first to light up its cigarette and ask "how was it, baby?"
  • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @04:42PM (#17392370)

    43. There is only one cheddar cheese maker in Cheddar, even though cheddar is the most popular hard cheese in the English-speaking world.

    Not 'round here, sir.

  • by creimer (824291) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @04:43PM (#17392386) Homepage
    In the old days, people would scream "the Devil!" when they pronounced the number 666. These days we have a long word to wrap our tongues around to pronounce the number 666. I guess Word Nazis rule hell.
  • by xilmaril (573709) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @04:49PM (#17392430)
    They say that last year we didn't know that... Panspermia is the theory that life came from other planets???

    I scanned down the list for a bit, but when I saw that, I just had to reread it in surprise, then close that browser tab. I knew that a long, long time ago, as did a lot of other science or science-fiction fans. The wikipedia article on panspermia cites its usage as early as 2000.

    I was kind of disappointed.
    • The wikipedia article on panspermia cites its usage as early as 2000.

      This BBC article doesn't make sense. 1. panspermia is not a "fact", it's an idea. 2. It's been a popular idea for decades... BBC's own article [bbc.co.uk] talks about the 1960s:

      "The main reason why Dr Louis's ideas have not been immediately laughed out of court is because they tie in with a theory promoted by two UK scientists ever since the 1960s."

      Chandra Wickramasin himself has been promoting panspermia since 2001. So why is this special now?
      • Because someone came up with the idea to do a "What do we know this year that we didn't know last year?" column and needed to fill out 100 items.
    • 2000 is a long, long time ago? Geez, getting old sucks - that seems like yesterday for me. :P

      I thought Francis Crick came up with that back in the 1960s?

    • by gad_zuki! (70830)
      The list is full of things like these. Its not really a list of discovery but of off-beat and interesting news. Panspeemia is an old idea, usually held up by discoving tough bacteria that might survive and interstellar trip on an asteroid, fossils, and now this 'red rain.' They also didnt just discover how to say 666 fear in greek, etc.
    • They say that last year we didn't know that...
      No, they said that they didn't know those things last year. They made no comment on what was or wasn't known by you, me, or the rest of the human race.
  • stat on everest (Score:5, Informative)

    by vingilot (218702) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @04:52PM (#17392466)
    For every 10 successful attempts to climb Mount Everest there is one fatality.

    This is per expedition. See:
    http://www.americanalpineclub.org/pdfs/aaj/HueyEve restAAJ_03.pdf [americanalpineclub.org]

    1 in 54 climbers dies. 1 in 10 expeditions will experience a fatality.

    For any climbers out there the above reference has good statistics of risk, including vs denali and k2.
    • by rubycodez (864176) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @05:13PM (#17392712)
      thus we see it is far safer to climb mt. everest than to be president of the U.S.A.
      • by Associate (317603)
        You mean the odds of dying go up for presidents? I always thought it was %100. Good thing I'm not the president.
      • Very true (Score:4, Informative)

        by mangu (126918) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @07:40PM (#17393966)
        These are the POTUS who died in office, with the years of their last election and dates of death:


        William Henry Harrison --- elected 1840, died April 4, 1841 at Washington, D.C.
        Zachary Taylor --- elected 1848, died July 9, 1850 at Washington, D.C.
        Abraham Lincoln --- elected 1864, died April 15, 1865 at Washington, D.C.
        James Garfield --- elected 1880, died September 19, 1881 at Elberon, New Jersey
        William McKinley --- elected 1900, died September 14, 1901 at Buffalo, New York
        Warren G. Harding --- elected 1920, died August 2, 1923 San Francisco, California
        Franklin D. Roosevelt --- elected 1944, died April 12, 1945 at Warm Springs, Georgia
        John F. Kennedy --- elected 1960, died November 22, 1963 at Dallas, Texas


        Of 42 people who were elected, 8 died in office, almost one in five...

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Ars Dilbert (852117)
      No, the original article is correct. Average fatality rate is just under 10%.

      Actually, prior to commercialization of Everest around 1990, the fatality rate was an unbelievable 37%.

      But since about 1990, various commercial outfits have started taking paying climbers to the Everest summit. Everest is now a multi million dollar business! Climbers are supported by experienced sherpas, and the various expeditions have fixed permanent ropes and ladders up on the Everest. That's 1) reduced fatalities and 2) allowed
      • by nuzak (959558)
        > Average fatality rate is just under 10%.

        If you take all other variables into effect, the average mortality rate for everyone is 100%
    • by iabervon (1971)
      At least until recently, there was a high rate of expeditions that had to turn back due to weather or other issues, and everybody made it back okay. So it could be accurate that a climber has a 2% chance of dying, a 20% chance of making it to the summit, and a 78% chance of being turned back by conditions, which would fit both sets of statistics. I haven't reanalyzed the statistics from that paper (and note that the 1 in 10 is only for spring), but it's not too far off. And an error of 25% is surprisingly l
  • *sarcasm on*

    "The egg came first."

    read and weep evolutionists:

    "And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

    And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

    And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and l
  • 1.5p (Score:5, Funny)

    by Paradise Pete (33184) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @05:10PM (#17392676) Journal
    Flushing a toilet costs 1.5p, but the cost of requiring flushing is, of course, only 1p.
  • Most useful (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nick255 (139962) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @05:10PM (#17392684)
    The one I found most useful was:

    79. The best-value consumer purchase in terms of the price and usage is an electric kettle.

    I wonder what the worst is?
    • by dangitman (862676)
      An ALF pog.
    • by StikyPad (445176)
      An eclipse powered kettle?
    • "I wonder what the worst is?"

      A PSP.
    • by wuie (884711)
      The one I found most useful was:

      79. The best-value consumer purchase in terms of the price and usage is an electric kettle.

      I wonder what the worst is?


      Duke Nukem Forever Pre-Orders.
      • by imsabbel (611519)
        I actually knew somebody who preordered it in 1998. Even back then, the delays were notorious, but he found a software-shop who promised him it would be available till chrismas...
  • Ok some of these are really dumb but some of them are actually quite interesting.

    For one I didn't realize that the fatality rate on Everest was so high, that's pretty scarey. I guess there goes my Everest attempt, my wife was never in favor of it anyway.

    I was thinking about it the other night and I had an idea, they need to put a fire escape type of tube on Everest, the kind you see installed on some high rises. Just a super long one on Everest, that way if someone is having a problem just pop them into t
    • by dangitman (862676)

      Would something like this actually work? Could it be done in stages? A tube stretching from one camp to the next?

      All you'd have to do would be set up an internet connection. The only problem is you'd have to get permission from Al Gore, as he owns the patent on tubes in series.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by blugu64 (633729)
      Not sure if it world work or not, but it would make on kickin waterslide for sure!
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by PatPending (953482)
      Reducing the risk would attract more climbers, in spite of the fact that Everest is over-crowded now as it is. (Example: there have been instances of twenty or more climbers in a queue, waiting to summit!) It's "bad enough" that climbers use oxygen, modern gear, and an over reliance on porters, etc. to summit.

      Our so-called modern society is overwrought with OSHA-, FDA-, EPA-, NTSB- (and etc.) mandated warning labels and devices, intended to protect us from ourselves.

      Some places, Nature does not want us to g
  • by GrumpySimon (707671) <email@sTIGERimon.net.nz minus cat> on Thursday December 28, 2006 @05:17PM (#17392778) Homepage
    Dear god that's just stupid - It's got absolutely nothing to do with rapping or urbanisation, just communication. The more I see of science reporting, the more depressed I get (hence I'm trying to do it better myself).

    The original report said that the urban birds have shorter songs with an upshift in frequency, all the better to compete with traffic noise. You can read a more sciency report on it at Science Daily [sciencedaily.com]. The paper's abstract:


    Worldwide urbanization and the ongoing rise of urban noise levels form a major threat to living conditions in and around cities. Urban environments typically homogenize animal communities, and this results, for example, in the same few bird species' being found everywhere. Insight into the behavioral strategies of the urban survivors may explain the sensitivity of other species to urban selection pressures. Here, we show that songs that are important to mate attraction and territory defense have significantly diverged in great tits (Parus major), a very successful urban species. Urban songs were shorter and sung faster than songs in forests, and often concerned atypical song types. Furthermore, we found consistently higher minimum frequencies in ten out of ten city-forest comparisons from London to Prague and from Amsterdam to Paris. Anthropogenic noise is most likely a dominant factor driving these dramatic changes. These data provide the most consistent evidence supporting the acoustic-adaptation hypothesis since it was postulated in the early seventies. At the same time, they reveal a behavioral plasticity that may be key to urban success and the lack of which may explain detrimental effects on bird communities that live in noisy urbanized areas or along highways.


    From Current Biology here [current-biology.com] and you can even listen to the songs yourself [current-biology.com].
    • by dangitman (862676)

      The original report said that the urban birds have shorter songs with an upshift in frequency,

      You mean, like rap songs?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by GrumpySimon (707671)
        Are rap songs shorter with an upshift in frequency? I doubt it.

        Sure, I may be being a little bit uh, anal here, but a glib report along the lines of "it's like a rap song" just trivialises and dumbs down the research which is actually quite neat: these birds have adjusted their songs to compete with the other noises in their environment, showing a high level of behavioral plasticity.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by dangitman (862676)

          Are rap songs shorter with an upshift in frequency? I doubt it.

          Pretty much, yes. It has a "sharp" style, and words are pronounced much more quickly than in rock, folk, opera - in fact, it is sung more quickly than just about any genre I can think of. And while rap is known for deep basslines, the vocals are higher pitched than other genres, both to distinguish them from the bass, and as a side-effect of the quicker pace. Of course, rap varies, and some rappers use a deep voice, but the majority of it is higher-pitched than equivalent songs in other genres like rock.

          Sure, I may be being a little bit uh, anal here, but a glib report along the lines of "it's like a rap song" just trivialises and dumbs down the research which is actually quite neat: these birds have adjusted their songs to compete with the other noises in their environment, showing a high level of behavioral plasticity.

          • Ok, point taken, and I shouldn't have used "urbanisation" in my first post - must have been lack of coffee, I was meaning something along the lines of "the increased urbanisation of modern human societies" (but hey, post hoc redefinition is cheating). It *is* urbanisation. However, rap music is not the only genre with those characteristics, you'll find most, if not all, of these aspects in punk and (heavy) metal music.

            I was more vexed with the hinting ( & I've seen this in a few news articles on this st
  • by StikyPad (445176) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @05:24PM (#17392832) Homepage
    Ouch [bbc.co.uk]. You'd think they could've phrased it a little better.

    Oh, sorry...
  • At least, 10, 11, 27, 28, 42, 43, 44, 90 and 99 are well established.

  • by meckardt (113120) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @05:29PM (#17392878) Homepage

    This article would more accurately be captioned "100 Interesting Things". Perusing the entire list, there are more than a few factoids therein that I did know.

    Come to think of it, the name "100 Things That Some People Might Not Know" would be even more accurate.

  • by Tim C (15259) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @05:32PM (#17392922)
    This isn't "100 things no-one knew last year", it's "100 things we didn't know last year". The "we" doesn't refer to the human race, it refers at the very most to "the average person in the street", and quite possibly only to the person(s) who pick the things that go in the articles.

    This isn't meant to be a list of 100 new discoveries, so can everyone stop commenting on it as though it is?
  • by turrican (55223) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @05:34PM (#17392942)
    "30. The brain is soft and gelatinous - its consistency is something between jelly and cooked pasta."

    Not to jump on the bandwagon late, here - but I'm pretty sure that's NOT something we didn't know last year...
  • by SystematicPsycho (456042) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @06:25PM (#17393426)
    Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobiacs -

    translated in Greek -

    Hexakosio - 600
    hexekonta - 60, but I don't know if this is a spelling mistake, should be hexenta.
    hexa - 6
    phobia - fear of
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by dreddnott (555950)
      Hexekonta seems to be the way 60 was written in Greek of biblical times, at least that's how I learned it and how it shows up in my Greek texts of the new testament.

      For an extra bit of trivia, the number of the Beast is abbreviated in my Greek 'Textus Receptus' as the three letters Chi Xi Sigma, or for short.
  • 100. In the 1960s, the CIA used to watch Mission Impossible to get ideas about spying.

    haha !
    No, seriously, they're joking right ?

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