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100 things we didn't know last year

12:22 UK time, Thursday, 28 December 2006

100_203.gifEach week, the Magazine chronicles interesting and sometimes downright unexpected facts from the news, through its strand 10 things we didn't know last week. Here, to round off the year, are some of the best from the past 12 months.

1. Pele has always hated his nickname, which he says sounds like "baby-talk in Portuguese".
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2. There are 200 million blogs which are no longer being updated, say technology analysts.
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3. Urban birds have developed a short, fast "rap style" of singing, different from their rural counterparts.
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4. Bristol is the least anti-social place in England, says the National Audit Office.
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5. Standard-sized condoms are too big for most Indian men.
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6. The late Alan "Fluff" Freeman, famous as a DJ, had trained as an opera singer.
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7. The lion costume in the film Wizard of Oz was made from real lions.
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8. There are 6.5 million sets of fingerprints on file in the UK.
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9. Fathers tend to determine the height of their child, mothers their weight.
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10. Panspermia is the idea that life on Earth originated on another planet.
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11. An infestation of head lice is called pediculosis.
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12. The Pope's been known to wear red Prada shoes.
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13. The fastest supercomputer in the UK can make 15.4 trillion calculations per second.
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14. Online shoppers will only wait an average of four seconds for an internet page to load before giving up.
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15. Donald Rumsfeld was both the youngest and the oldest defence secretary in US history.
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16. Spending on Halloween has risen 10-fold - from £12m to £120m in the UK, in five years.
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17. Coco Chanel started the trend for sun tans in 1923 when she got accidentally burnt on a cruise.
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18. Up to 25% of hospital keyboards carry the MRSA infection.
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19. The UK population grew at a rate of 500 per day last year as immigration out-stripped emigration.
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20. Sex workers in Roman times charged the equivalent price of eight glasses of red wine.
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21. English is now the only "traditional" academic subject in the top 10 most popular university courses.
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22. The number of people committing suicide in the UK has fallen to its lowest recorded level.
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23. More than one in eight people in the United States show signs of addiction to the internet, says a study.
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24. One third of all the cod fished in the world is consumed in the UK.
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25. In Kingston upon Thames, men on average live to be 78. In Kingston-upon-Hull it is 73.
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26. Each person sends an average of 55 greetings cards per year.
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27. Just one cow gives off enough harmful methane gas in a single day to fill around 400 litre bottles.
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28. More than 90% of plane crashes have survivors.
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29. Tony Blair’s favourite meal to cook is spaghetti bolognaise.
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30. The brain is soft and gelatinous - its consistency is something between jelly and cooked pasta.
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31. The Mona Lisa used to hang on the wall of Napoleon’s bedroom.
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32. Barbie's full name is Barbie Millicent Roberts.
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33. Eating a packet of crisps a day is equivalent to drinking five litres of cooking oil a year.
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34. Plant seeds that have been stored for more than 200 years can be coaxed into new life.
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35. There were no numbers in the very first UK phone directory, only names and addresses. Operators would connect callers.
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36. The InterCity 125 train was designed by the same man who came up with the angle-poise lamp and Kenwood Chef mixer.
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37. Pavements are tested using an 80 square metre artificial pavement at a research centre called Pamela (the Pedestrian Accessibility and Movement Environment Laboratory).
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38. A common American poplar has twice as many genes as a human being.
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39. The world's fastest supercomputer will have its speed measured in "petaflops", which represent 1,000 trillion calculations per second. More details

40. The medical name for the part of the brain associated with teenage sulking is "superior temporal sulcus".
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41. Some Royal Mail stamps, which of course carry the Queen's image, are printed in Holland.
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42. Helen Mirren was born Ilyena Lydia Mironov, the daughter of a Russian-born violinist with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
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43. There is only one cheddar cheese maker in Cheddar, even though cheddar is the most popular hard cheese in the English-speaking world.
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44. For every 10 successful attempts to climb Mount Everest there is one fatality.
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45. Cows can have regional accents, says a professor of phonetics, after studying cattle in Somerset
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46. Involuntary bad language, a symptom affecting about one in 10 people with Tourette's syndrome, is called "coprolalia".
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47. Watching television can act as a natural painkiller for children, say researchers from the University of Siena.
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48. Allotment plots come in the standard measure of 10 poles - a pole is the length of the back of the plough to the nose of the ox.
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49. When filming summer scenes in winter, actors suck on ice cubes just before the camera rolls - it cools their mouths so their breath doesn't condense in the cold air.
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50. There are 60 Acacia Avenues in the UK.
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51. Gritters come out in hot weather too - to spread rock dust, which stops roads melting.
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52. Forty-eight percent of the population is ex-directory.
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53. Red Buttons - real name Aaron Chwatt - took his surname from the nickname for hotel porters, a job he did in his teens.
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54. The CND symbol incorporates the semaphore letters for N and D for nuclear and disarmament.
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55. While 53% of households have access to a garage, only 24% use them for parking cars.
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56. Mortgage borrowing now accounts for 42% of take-home salary.
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57. The word "time" is the most common noun in the English language, according to the latest Oxford dictionary.
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58. Forty-one percent of English women have punched or kicked their partners, according to a study.
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59. Dogs with harelips can end up with two noses.
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60. The clitoris derives its name from the ancient Greek word kleitoris, meaning "little hill".
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61. A domestic cat can frighten a black bear to climb a tree.
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62. Thirty-four percent of the UK has a surname that is ranked as "posher" than the Royal Family's given name, Windsor.
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63. The Downing St garden is actually a Royal Park.
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64. Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobiacs is the term for people who fear the number 666.
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65. The more panels a football has - and therefore the more seams - the easier it is to control in the air.
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66. One in four smokers use roll-ups.
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67. Music can help reduce chronic pain by more than 20% and can alleviate depression by up to 25%.
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68. The egg came first.
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69. Humans were first infected with the HIV virus in the 1930s.
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70. Sir Paul McCartney is only the second richest music millionaire in the UK - Clive Calder, is top.
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71. Publishers have coined the term "Brownsploitation" for the rash of books that have sprung up in the wake of Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code blockbuster.
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72. Modern teenagers are better behaved than their counterparts of 20 years ago, showing "less problematic behaviour" involving sex, drugs and drink.
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73. George Bush's personal highlight of his presidency is catching a 7.5lb (3.4kg) perch.
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74. Britain is still paying off debts that predate the Napoleonic wars because it's cheaper to do so than buy back the bonds on which they are based.
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75. Five billion apples are eaten a year in the UK.
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76. In Bhutan government policy is based on Gross National Happiness; thus most street advertising is banned, as are tobacco and plastic bags.
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77. Metal detector enthusiasts are referred to as "detectorists"; there are about 30,000 in the UK.
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78. The Labour Party spent £299.63 on Star Trek outfits for the last election, while the Tories shelled out £1,269 to import groundhog costumes.
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79. The best-value consumer purchase in terms of the price and usage is an electric kettle.
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80. Camel's milk, which is widely drunk in Arab countries, has 10 times more iron than cow's milk.
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81. Iceland has the highest concentration of broadband users in the world.
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82. There are 2.5 million rodent-owning households in Britain, according to the Pet Food Manufacturers' Association.
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83. Rainfall on the roof and gutters of a three-bed detached house can amount to 120,000 litres each year.
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84. Thinking about your muscles can make you stronger.
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85. The age limit for marriage in France was, until recently, 15 for girls, but 18 for boys. The age for girls was raised to 18 in 2006.
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86. Six million people use TV subtitles, despite having no hearing impairment.
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87. Goths, those pasty-faced teenagers who revel in black clothing, are likely to become doctors, lawyers and architects.
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88. Nelson Mandela used to steal pigs as a child.
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89. There are an average of 4.4 sparrows in each British garden. In 1979, there were 10 per garden.
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90. The Himalayas cover one-tenth of the Earth's surface.
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91. Lord Levy, recruited by Tony Blair to raise money for the Labour party, made his own fortune managing Alvin Stardust, among others.
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92. In a fight between a polar bear and a lion, the polar bear would win.
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93. If left alone, 70% of birthmarks gradually fade away.
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94. There are two million cars and trucks in Brazil which run on alcohol.
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95. US Secret Service sniffer dogs are put up in five-star hotels during overseas presidential visits.
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96. Flushing a toilet costs, on average, 1.5p.
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97. Tufty the road safety squirrel had a surname. It was Fluffytail.
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98. A "lost world" exists in the Indonesian jungle that is home to dozens of hitherto unknown animal and plant species.
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99. The term "misfeasance" means to carry out a legal act illegally.
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100. In the 1960s, the CIA used to watch Mission Impossible to get ideas about spying.
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Phew. If, after all that, you're still craving news-y facts, click here for an archive of 10 things.

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