These facts will not be on the exam

2014-08-14

in Geek stuff, Internet matters, Science

I was wrong a while ago when I said the QI podcast isn’t available through the iTunes Store. It simply doesn’t have a name that makes it obvious that it is the QI podcast: No Such Thing As A Fish.

One nice fact is that Lawrence Burst Sperry, the man who invented the aircraft autopilot, went flying in November 1916 with Mrs. Waldo Polk, whose husband was off driving an ambulance in France. They counted on the autopilot to keep them aloft, but ended up crashing naked into a bay and being found by duck hunters.

Also, if you get a zebrafish drunk and put it among sober companions, the sober ones will follow the drunk one:

Maybe something about the drunk fish’s one-on-one interactions with the other fish made the group as a whole move in the same direction. Or maybe the sober fish looked at their non-sober tankmate and saw a leader. “It is likely,” Porfiri says, that the drunk fish’s uninhibited behavior “is perceived as a boldness trait, thus imparting a high social status.” As they followed the drunk fish, the sober ones also sped up to keep pace, swimming roughly a third faster than they would have otherwise.

The very drunkest zebrafish, though, lost their leader status. Fish that had been exposed to the highest alcohol concentration began to lag behind the rest of the group, following instead of steering. Since higher alcohol doses have “sedative effects,” Porfiri says, the drunkest fish slow down and start to display “sluggishness in response to the rest of the group.”

I listed some fun facts from QI in a previous post.

Report a typo or inaccuracy

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Milan August 14, 2014 at 7:31 pm
alena prazak August 15, 2014 at 9:36 am

As harsh punishments go, Elisha’s is certainly up there. The fish story seems to mimic human behavior. Some people emulate a loud drinker, but a very drunk person ends up slumped somewhere without any admirers.

Milan August 17, 2014 at 3:46 pm

The three symbols of Easter in the Czech Republic are eggs, lambs, and whipping.

In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, a tradition of spanking or whipping is carried out on Easter Monday. In the morning, men spank women with a special handmade whip called a pomlázka (in Czech) or korbáč (in Slovak), in eastern regions of former Czechoslovakia Moravia and Slovakia they also throw cold water on them. The pomlázka/korbáč consists of eight, twelve or even twenty-four withies (willow rods), is usually from half a meter to two meters long and decorated with coloured ribbons at the end. The spanking may be painful, but it’s not intended to cause suffering. A legend says that women should be spanked with a whip in order to keep their health and beauty during the whole next year.

An additional purpose can be for men to exhibit their attraction to women; unvisited women can even feel offended. Traditionally, the spanked woman gives a coloured egg (kraslica) prepared by themselves, invites to eat and drink as a sign of her thanks to the man. If the visitor is a small boy, he is usually provided with sweets, and a small amount of money.

In some regions, the women can get revenge in the afternoon or the following day when they can pour a bucket of cold water on any man. The habit slightly varies across Slovakia and the Czech Republic. A similar tradition existed in Poland (where it is called Dyngus Day), but it is now little more than an all-day water fight.”

Milan August 17, 2014 at 3:48 pm
. April 29, 2015 at 4:08 pm

A railway detonator (torpedo in North America) is a coin-sized device that is used to make a loud sound as a warning signal to train drivers. It is placed on the top of the rail, usually secured with two lead straps, one on each side. When the wheel of the train passes over, it explodes emitting a loud bang. It was invented in 1841 by English inventor Edward Alfred Cowper.

. April 29, 2015 at 4:10 pm

Destruction of the Grand Armée

Spring rains turned the dirt roads into a muddy, rutted morass. Transport of supplies was severely lacking. The soldiers had no choice but to pillage the peasants. This activity brought the soldiers and peasants close together, enabling typhus to spread to the French units. The summer of 1812 was intensely hot and dry. Because of poor supplies of water, many French soldiers suffered from heat exhaustion. Private Walter wrote, “The very great heat, the dust which was like a thick fog, the closed line of march in columns, and the putrid water from holes filled with dead people and cattle brought everyone close to death; and eye pains, fatigue, and thirst, and hunger tormented everybody.”

. April 29, 2015 at 4:12 pm
. April 29, 2015 at 4:13 pm

Back to 1948. The war had ended less than 1,000 days before and the combined impact of that, the wealth of targets for bombing (factories, railway marshalling yards, major junctions, warehouses and docks) and the financial paralysis of the 1930s (in the wake of the Depression and the general strike), had frozen in time scenes that really belonged to the aftermath of the First World War: small, thin men, in cloth caps and ragged clothes, leaning on crutches with their remaining leg against a wall to sell matches, or a woman with a bowler hat and a bulldog selling flowers on a pub doorstep and converting her sales into Guinness.

And the winter air was poisonous with the soot and sulphur fumes belching from the endless rows of domestic chimneys, as well as the railway engines and factories, attacking lungs already weakened by years of tobacco smoke. This mixture famously created the “pea soup” fogs that were exactly that colour and left heavy black deposits on furniture and window sills. The most notorious was the “great smog” of December 1952, when blind people led sighted people through the streets. It suffocated cattle at the Smithfield show and ultimately killed thousands of people.

. April 29, 2015 at 4:14 pm

Spontaneous snowballs’, or ‘snow rollers’, form without human input when a strong wind blows a small piece of snow that gathers more as it goes. Snow rollers grow until they get too heavy for the wind to move, and can be up to a foot in diameter. Most have a hollow centre as the weak inner layers are easily blown away. The Met office describes the process as ‘a natural version of making a snowman.’

. April 29, 2015 at 4:16 pm

Mistake Peak (77°26′S 160°14′E Coordinates: 77°26′S 160°14′E) is a snowy peak, about 2,600 metres (8,500 ft) high, rising 3 nautical miles (6 km) west-southwest of Shapeless Mountain, at the south end of the Willett Range in Victoria Land, Antarctica. It was so named in 1957 by the New Zealand Northern Survey Party of the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition (1956–58), because they mistakenly climbed the mountain in the belief they were on Shapeless Mountain.

Leave a Comment

You can use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Previous post:

Next post: