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100 things we didn't know last year

09:53 UK time, Thursday, 1 January 2009

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Interesting and unexpected facts can emerge from the daily news stories and the Magazine documents some of them in its weekly feature, 10 things we didn't know last week. To kick off 2009, here are some of the best of last year.

1. Victorians believed smoking cleared the lungs - and struck off Dr Thomas Allinson, who founded the bakery of the same name, for describing nicotine as a "foul poison" and advocating healthy eating.
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2. Police are not required to clean up a crime scene once evidence has been gathered.
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3. Octopuses need mental stimulation.
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4. Etiquette dictates that at dinner parties, a man should always talk to the woman on his left during the first course, and right during the main course.
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5. Both men and women find long legs in the opposite sex attractive, but not too long.
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6. Carrots used to be purple.
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7. Only offal-free versions of haggis are available in the United States.
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8. A bear helped carry ammunition for Polish troops during World War II.
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9. Swedes have a word for a man who visits prostitutes - torsk.
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10. The age at which we are most vulnerable to depression is 44, while a 70-year-old who is physically fit is, on average, as happy and mentally healthy as a 20-year-old.
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11. St Kilda has no rats.
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12. The oldest Mormon congregation in the world is in Preston, Lancashire.
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13. A fire at a landfill site in Guernsey has been smouldering for three years.
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14. Brain tumours can be diagnosed by a handshake.
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15. Whales catnap.
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16. If housewives got salaries at the going rate for doing household chores, they would on average earn £30,000.
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17. For the first time in US history, more than one in every 100 American adults is behind bars.
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18. 23% of plastic bags used in the UK are from Tesco.
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19. Prison pay is on average £9.60 a week.
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20. The average midweek bedtime is between 10pm and 11pm.
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21. Short men are more likely to be jealous.
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22. Toasters are banned in Cuba.
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23. The most frequently used term of abuse in schools is "gay".
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24. Men eat more Brussel sprouts and broccoli than women.
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25. Lions were kept in the Tower of London in the 14th century.
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26. Up to one quarter of the sand on shorelines can be composed of plastic particles.
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27. It costs $100,000 to hunt a rhino in South Africa.
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28. The Olympic torch is designed to withstand winds of up to 65km an hour and stay alight in rain up to 50mm an hour.
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29. Each year 40,000 people pay homage at the California garage where the founders of Hewlett Packard started out.
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30. Smells can drift across the Channel.
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31. The language of space is English.
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32. There are 109 journeys between London's Tube stations that are quicker to walk.
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33. A severed finger tip can grow back naturally.
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34. The most common "combination craving" for a pregnant woman is pickles and peanut butter.
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35. Punch and Judy puppeteers are called professors.
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36. Some 1.3 million unopened yoghurt pots are thrown away each day in the UK.
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37. The Ministry of Defence has amassed 160 files on UFOs, containing details of 8,000 sightings.
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38. Sloths aren't lazy.
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39. Brain chemical oxytocin makes us trust strangers with money.
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40. You can lessen jet lag by not eating.
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41. Women are banned by law from Mount Athos in Greece, home to 20 monasteries.
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42. One of the earliest Mars Bars was pineapple-flavoured. It flopped.
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43. Biscuits are key to clinching deals.
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44. Syria has the world's largest restaurant, seating 6,014 diners.
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45. Pigs can suffer from mysophobia, a fear of dirt.
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46. A petaflop is a measurement of computing speed equivalent to one thousand trillion calculations a second.
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47. Schools influence the smoking habits of young people.
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48. A bespoke garment does not necessarily need to be handmade.
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49. A Volvo can accommodate 13 people.
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50. The Royal Family costs the equivalent of 66p per person in the UK.
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51. An income of £13,400 is required to enjoy a minimum standard of living in the UK.
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52. Everton, Aston Villa and Fulham are among the football clubs that were created from Sunday schools.
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53. Pears sink while apples float.
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54. A monsoon is a wind, rather than rain.
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55. Young teenagers are drinking less and consuming fewer drugs.
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56. White Americans are 14% more likely than other ethnic groups to survive cancer.
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57. Faking one's death is known as pseudocide.
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58. Having fat friends increases your risk of obesity.
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59. Bees act in a similar way to serial killers.
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60. Liz Taylor has broken her back five times.
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61. Robins only became a symbol for Christmas in the 19th Century, when postmen - who mostly brought mail at Christmas - wore scarlet waistcoats and were known as Robin Redbreasts.
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62. Pet dogs can catch human yawns.
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63. Mills and Boon still publish at least one sheikh romance a month.
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64. A rooftop luggage carrier increases fuel consumption by 20%.
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65. A 72oz steak is about the size of a large telephone directory. And since 1960, 8,000 people have managed to eat one - plus all the trimmings - in under an hour.
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66. Misheard song lyrics are known as mondegreens.
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67. Twenty-three wedding cakes were made for the nuptials of Charles and Diana.
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68. Shetland is the fattest part of the UK.
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69. E-mail addresses beginning with "A", "M" or "S" get more spam than those starting with "Q" or "Z".
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70. You can dive from 35ft into 12in of water - and only suffer bruising (with a lot of training).
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71. Baseball was played in Surrey in 1755.
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72. Portraits of famous people often look like the painter instead.
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73. Texting impairs drivers more than alcohol.
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74. Kenyan women eat stones.
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75. The ideal drive is 16 minutes long.
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76. Henry V invented passports.
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77. Bradford and Bingley has registered the raising of the bowler hat as a trademark.
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78. There are two £1m banknotes still in existence. Nine were made after World War II.
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79. The word "unbepissed" means "not being urinated on".
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80. Goats wear condoms.
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81. The world's longest insect is 56cm long.
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82. Prince Charles could have had a cameo in Doctor Who.
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83. Gay couples can't commit adultery.
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84. Stars make noise.
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85. The United Arab Emirates, along with the US, has the largest ecological footprint per person.
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86. There's a town in Uruguay called Fray Bentos.
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87. Barack Obama supports West Ham.
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88. Saddam Hussein's yacht had an escape tunnel leading to a submarine.
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89. The QE2 does 49 feet to the gallon.
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90. The song Two Little Boys was probably about the American Civil War.
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91. On the Buses star Reg Varney opened the UK's first cash dispenser.
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92. Camel urine is sought after for its medicinal effects in India's Bihar state and sells for £1.34 a litre.
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93. Police use curry to hasten the re-emergence of swallowed drugs.
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94. The 999 emergency number was chosen over 111 because telegraph wires rubbing together in the wind transmitted the equivalent of a 111 call.
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95. The Sydney Opera House was inspired by a peeled orange.
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96. A street light costs about 15p a night to keep lit.
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97. Emily, of Bagpuss fame, was paid with a bag of sweets.
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98. Councils are banning number 13 houses on new developments.
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99. Sneezing can be a sign of arousal.
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100. Leonard Cohen's original Hallelujah has more than 80 verses.
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