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100 things we didn't know last year

11:40 UK time, Friday, 1 January 2010

10berries_100things.jpgThe most 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 2010, here's an almanac of the best from the past year.

1. Using both hands to read Braille achieves an average speed of 115 words a minute, compared with 250 words a minute for sighted reading.
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2. Gold medal winner Chris Hoy was inspired to cycle by ET.
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3. Moby is related to novelist Herman Melville and was named after his most famous creation.
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4. You can hiccup while asleep.
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5. Countdown is French.
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6. John the Good was bad and William the Bad was good.
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7. In camel racing the jockeys are electronic robots.
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8. The bubonic plague still exists.
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9. Indonesia is the world's largest exporter of edible frogs.
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10pedalo_100things.jpg10. The brain chemical serotonin causes locusts to swarm.
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11. Naked rambling is legal in Switzerland.
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12. Facebook was originally called "The facebook".
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13. Being born with additional digits (fingers/toes) is called being polydactyl.
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14. The famous "Keep Calm and Carry On" poster was never actually used during World War II.
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15. The Channel between Dover and Calais froze over in 1673.
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16. King Henry VIII was a soppy romantic.
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17. You can safely eat more than three eggs a week.
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18. Paraskavedekatriaphobia is the fear of Friday the 13th.

19. Elephants kiss.
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10puds_100things.jpg20. Grizzly bears hate getting their ears wet.
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21. There are two types of intelligence.
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22. Nicolas Sarkozy collects stamps.
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23. The average number of friends is 150.
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24. Barbie dumped Ken.
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25. Monkeys floss.
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26. Holding your hands up on a rollercoaster stretches the torso, enhancing the physical sensations.
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27. 'YR' was an abbreviation for "your" in the 17th and 18th Century too.
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28. Mining output fell more in the periods before and after Mrs Thatcher than during her time as prime minister.
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29. Parts of cremated bodies are recycled.
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10ducks_100things.jpg30. A broken heart is known as Takotsubo cardiomyopathy and it can be cured.
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31. Britney Spears's family comes from Tottenham in north London.
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32. There are 19 countries in the G20.
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33. The song Agadoo by Black Lace is originally French.
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34. Breaking wind is a bookable offence in football.
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35. Britain pays an annual sum to Ireland to cover healthcare costs of Irish workers who have returned home.
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36. Squatters take over islands, as well as homes.
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37. Being sorry originally meant to be distressed and sad.
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38. Paper can be made from wombat excrement.
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39. Five trees make an orchard.
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10lamps_100things.jpg40. Wine varies in taste from day to day.
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41. Many mosques in Mecca point the wrong way for prayers.
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42. An outbreak of swine flu in 1976 killed one person but a vaccine to combat it killed 25.
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43. Britain once sent an envoy with a quadruple-barrelled name to Moscow - Admiral Sir Reginald Aylmer Ranfurley Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax.
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44. Youth hostelling was invented in Germany in 1912.
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45. A tribe in Bolivia has a festival of violence to settle disputes.
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46. Franco had one testicle.
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47. Britain had animal welfare laws before it had child welfare laws.
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48. The man who was the voice of Mickey Mouse was married to the woman who did Minnie's.
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49. Stabbing in the buttocks has its own verb in Roman dialect.
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10mailboxes_100things.jpg50. The Apprentice losers' café featured in Z-Cars.
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51. In the 1970 US Census, the number of people who said they were aged over 100 was about 22 times the true number.
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52. Canada used to border Zimbabwe.
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53. More than half of all Patels in the UK are married to people born Patel.
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54. Streetlights cause problems for bats.
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55. Scotland has the lowest age for criminal responsibility in Europe.
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56. Buddhist monks sleep upright.
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57. There is a long tradition of "medals of dishonour".
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58. Chilli can be used as a weapon in crowd control.
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59. Fred Perry was also table tennis world champion.
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10sailboats_100things.jpg60. The keffiyeh, a chequered scarf worn mostly by Arab men, and made famous by Yasser Arafat, is now mostly made in China.
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61. Trousers used to be called unmentionables.
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62. The best place to put a wind turbine is in Orkney.
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63. Brahms liked his audience to clap in between movements.
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64. The best Italian saffron is made from crocus flowers picked at dawn.
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65. It's always "esq" and never "esquire" as a written honorific.
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66. Football score announcer James Alexander Gordon suffered from slurred speech as a child.
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67. A third of England's coastline is inaccessible.
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68. Bees warn other bees about flowers where dangers can be expected.
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69. Men At Work's Down Under was inspired by Dame Edna's nephew.
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10seashells_100things.jpg70. Bristol is the fourth most visited city in England.
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71. You're as likely to be hit by lightning as killed by a mentally ill person.
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72. Only about one or two in 200 people with autism have a savant talent, or exceptional ability.
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73. North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il has a water slide in his garden.
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74. Emoticons in the East are the right way up (^_^).
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75. The UK population grew more in 2008 than at any time since 1962.
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76. The village of Cambourne, in Cambridgeshire, has a higher birth rate than India and China.
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77. The crease under your buttocks is called the gluteal fold.
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78. Nasa gave moon rocks to more than 100 countries following lunar missions in the 1970s.
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79. Married couples used to always sleep apart.
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10_roses_100things.jpg80. Everyone once used the left-hand side of the road.
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81. There are so few redheads in Mexico they often greet each other in the street.
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82. Sportswear firms Adidas and Puma have had a 60-year feud.
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83. All British industrial action ballots must be by post, except for workers at sea.
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84. Banana skins can take two years to biodegrade.
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85. The only woman ever in the French Foreign Legion was British.
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86. Ken Livingstone was twice rejected for a cameo in EastEnders.
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87. Homes are 4C warmer, on average, than 50 years ago.
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88. In the early days of barcodes, there was a plan for round ones.
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89. Male life expectancy in the UK goes up by about three months every year.
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10things_100things.jpg90. The flash on David Bowie's Aladdin Sane album cover was inspired by the logo from a rice cooker.
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91. Boyzone sold more singles than Take That in the 1990s.
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92. Morecambe and Wise nearly split up, before they had even got on television.
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93. William Pitt's dying words were about House of Commons catering.
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94. Bagged salad is photographed 4,000 times a second.
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95. The city of Bath, in Somerset, was referred to as "The Bath" until the 19th Century.
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96. Tattoos can be done with a person's ashes.
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97. The BBC rejected Sesame Street in 1971 because it was "too authoritarian".
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98. French babies cry with an accent.
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99. Travelling in a "road train" can cut fuel consumption by 20%.
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100. Teeth grinding is known as bruxism.
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Thanks to Margaret Emerson, Hayley Salvo, Vic Barton-Walderstadt, Anita Bekker, Andrew Ferguson, Liam Whelan, Richard Hopkins, Helen Evans and Cate Mackenzie for their photos. Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week.

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