Tell Me Something I Don’t Know

I’m unaccountably sleepy today, and I have work to do, which is keeping me from deep, insightful blogging. So I’m going to punt, and throw this open to you all:

Leave me a comment telling me something I don’t already know.

Well, OK, since I can’t reasonably expect you to be mind-readers, that should be “tell me something that you think I won’t be likely to know already,” but you get the idea.

It could be trivia, it could be an important fact about something or another, it could be a pointer to an entertaining book or web page. Hopefully it won’t be anything that it’s not legal or advisable for you to share in a public forum, but that’s more your problem than mine.

So, go ahead. Tell me something I don’t already know.


  1. #1 Mu
    August 24, 2010

    Fried blood sausage over potato-apple stew is a great dish when the snow flakes fly horizontally (it’s good on other days too, but it gets better once the temperature is below 10 F).

  2. #2 Johan Larson
    August 24, 2010

    Competitive modern sailplanes have glide ratios over 50:1 — one metre down, fifty metres forward.

  3. #3 Matt
    August 24, 2010

    Of the hundreds to thousands of UFO reports the air force actively investigated during Project Blue Book (back when they still acknowledged investigating UFO reports), a surprisingly high 15-20% were ruled “unexplainable,” despite the very, very generous application of “explained”.


  4. #4 mph
    August 24, 2010

    Francis Gary Powers, having survived the U-2 crash in the Soviet Union, later died in a helicopter crash in Los Angeles, where he worked as a reporter.

  5. #5 Sili
    August 24, 2010

    Tin comes in two allotropes one of which is stable at temperatures a bit below freezing. This form is more voluminous than the high temperature form, and as a result stuff made of tin – such as organ pipes – start disintegrating in freezing temperatures in a process dubbed Tin Pest before people understood what was going on.

    But everyone knows that.

  6. #6 Colin
    August 24, 2010

    67% of adults are overweight or obese, 58% of cats are overweight or obese, and 45% of dogs are overweight or obese. Humans are still the #1 species! Oh wait, that’s a Bad Thing.

  7. #7 Eric Juve
    August 24, 2010

    Something I learned this weekend was that Indium dissolves in mercury very rapidly, and once dissolved the resulting amalgam wets Pyrex glass. There also appeared to be an appreciable heat of solution though I didn’t measure it quantitatively (or bother to look it up).

  8. #8 Eric Lund
    August 24, 2010

    How big is California? Yreka (Quantum Pontiff Dave’s hometown) is actually closer to Vancouver, BC (636 miles) than it is to Los Angeles (640 miles).

  9. #9 Wilson
    August 24, 2010

    Because he’s Canadian, and still up-and-coming, I doubt you know that Jeffery Straker is an awesome singer/pianist/songwriter. I’m a big fan, especially since he let me arrange one of his pieces for my show chorus.

    You can hear his songs on his website (which I’m going to leave as something to Google, lest anyone think I am Straker – his site comes up as the first hit).

  10. #10 Felipe
    August 24, 2010

    The Dutch East Indies lost to Hungary 6-0 in the first round of the 1938 World Cup.

  11. #11 Epicanis
    August 24, 2010

    There is nearly 8 times as much cholesterol in a single ounce of human brain as there is in a typical medium-sized egg.

  12. #12 george.w
    August 24, 2010

    A professor asked recently, so I calculated that one terabyte in punch cards would be a 1,500-mile high stack of cards. My mind boggled and I still can’t believe it, but others have checked out the numbers and it seems about right.

    1,099,511,627,776 bytes, or 1tb
    divided by 80 bytes per card =
    13,743,895,347 punch cards, times .007 inches, the thickness of a punch card =
    96,207,267 inches, divided by 12 inches per foot =
    8,017,272 feet, divided by 5,280 feet in a mile =
    1,518 mile-high stack of punch cards to equal 1tb.

  13. #13 Andrew G.
    August 24, 2010

    The 13th day of the month falls more often on Friday than on any other day of the week.

  14. #14 Ken
    August 24, 2010

    Nuclear waste from the first reactor, Chicago Pile One, is buried in a forest preserve just outside of Chicago city limits. You can hike or bike to the spot to check it out.

  15. #15 Markk
    August 24, 2010

    Chris Solinsky was the first person not born in Africa to run 10K in under 27 minutes this spring and he was the tallest and heaviest person ever to do it – by big margins. He was the first person over 150 lbs to do it and he weighed 162-164 (according to him). He is 6’1″ and the average height is around 5’6″.

  16. #16 Anna
    August 24, 2010

    My daughter’s guinea pig died yesterday (it was 6 years old), and we are holding the funeral today.

    The deceased will be buried in a Converse shoe box, and my son will play taps on the trumpet.

    I’m wondering if you knew that the Incas used to sacrifice white guinea pigs by the thousands. When the conquistadors came through, they had planned to wipe out guinea pigs as they were considered indigenous religious symbols, but the first bishop of Lima in the 16th century refused to allow the mass extermination of guinea pigs because he feared it would spark a violent uprising. Indian artists who were forced to create Catholic religious art often added guinea pigs into their artworks.

    In the cathedral of Cuzco in Peru, the painting of the Last Supper depicts Jesus and his disciples dining on roasted guinea pig.

    We, however, will simply be burying ours.

  17. #17 SteveF
    August 24, 2010

    I got to school early to pick up my daughter today. Pulled out the Kindle and rather than buying a new book decided to go through “How to teach physics…” again.

    But more interesting is that in Botswana in the early 1990’s AIDS was thought to, due largely to distrust of the U.S., stand for “American Idea to Discourage Sex”.

  18. #18 Janne
    August 24, 2010

    The world’s supply of IP addresses is going to run out sometime in the next 200-300 days. At that point, all IPv4 addresses will have been distributed to regional IP registries.

    About half a year later, most likely Asia is going to run out of their regional supply, the other regions a few months after that. From then on, a new server put on the Internet might only be accessible to users who are IPv6 compatible (at this moment by far the minority of Internet-connected people).

  19. #19 Flora
    August 24, 2010

    In perfumery, the rocklike substance called “Africa stone” is actually the fossilized excrement of the rock hyrax, Procavia capensis, and is used as a cruelty-free alternative to such animal-derived materials as musk and civet. Interestingly, the tiny hyrax is also a surprisingly close relative of the elephant.

  20. #20 Pierce R. Butler
    August 24, 2010

    “Even the word ‘science’ comes from an Indo-European root meaning ‘to cut’ or ‘to separate.’ The same root led to the word ‘shit,’ which of course means to separate living flesh from nonliving waste. The same root gave us ‘scythe’ and ‘scissors’ and ‘schism,’ which have obvious connections to the concept of separation.”
    – Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash, p. 195

  21. #21 Birger Johansson
    August 24, 2010

    On today: “Richest planetary system discovered (w/ Video)”
    More about the Incas: They had a decimal system like ours (see

  22. #22 Rob Knop
    August 24, 2010

    The cat I had in grad school had a quantum mechanical expression as a name:

    1/sqrt(2) | Zap > + 1/sqrt(2) | Dart >

  23. #23 Jim Rothwell
    August 24, 2010

    A ten gallon cowboy hat actually only holds 6 pints (3/4 of a gallon).

  24. #24 Rick Pikul
    August 24, 2010

    In the wargame Advanced Squad Leader it is possible to win by stealing your opponents equipment and driving off with it.

    @Andrew G: In the past 28 years, the 13th of each month has occurred on each day of the week exactly four times. This is true for any 28 year period which does not include a non-leapyear ending in 00.

  25. #25 Pteryxx
    August 25, 2010

    If you don’t have a microwave or a stove, you can still make instant oatmeal at room temperature by letting it sit in the milk or water for ten minutes or so.

    You can also re-heat leftovers by leaving them in a closed car… at least, you can in summer in Texas.

  26. #26 tceisele
    August 25, 2010

    If you line a crucible with a half-inch layer of fireclay mixed 50/50 with powdered magnetite (Fe3O4), it will reach a red-heat in a microwave oven in about 5 minutes. You can use this to melt lead, pewter, and similar low-melting alloys. In principle, it should be able to melt aluminum and brass as well, but this appears to require adding a lid and insulation to keep down the heat loss.

  27. #27 Andrew G.
    August 25, 2010

    @Rick: it’s easy to demonstrate that the equal numbers don’t hold over longer periods: the calendar repeats exactly after 400 years, which is 4800 months, which is not divisible by 7. So there has to be some inequality in the distribution of the day of the week of the 13th, and it just so happens that Friday is the day that comes up most often.

  28. #28 actinium
    August 25, 2010
  29. #29 actinium
    August 25, 2010

    whoops! didn’t expect href to not work…here’s the link:

  30. #30 Complex
    August 25, 2010

    hot water freezes faster than cold water when putting it into the freezer

  31. #31 chezjake
    August 25, 2010

    Beer trivia: The red triangle on the Bass Ale label is the oldest continuously used registered trademark in the world.

  32. #32 Steven Colyer
    August 25, 2010

    1) Quantum Cascade Lasers

    – actually you may know this one

    2) What is Reality?

    – nobody knows the answer to this question, but you know the answer better than most. That’s why we have people like you, right? Also a cool link to the best Intro to QM for the general public I have ever read, unless you can suggest a better one.

    3) The Detroit Lions

    – nobody understands this NFL team

  33. #33 wfr
    August 25, 2010

    Over half the US States (26, to be precise), include territory north of the southernmost territory of Canada.

  34. #34 estraven
    August 25, 2010

    The Fields Medals were assigned recently. It’s once every four years, same years as the Football World Cup.

  35. #35 paul
    August 25, 2010

    Free chlorine in your pool is a measurement of two factors… hypochlorite ion and hypochlorous acid. Of the two hypochlorite ion has the far better kill rate, but it appears in greater proportion at lower pH (e.g. 7.2, 7.3). That is why you try to keep your pH at 7.5 or lower (but not lower than 7.2 or it will burn you eyes)

  36. #36 chris
    August 25, 2010

    Arthur Conan Doyle introduced the sport of downhill skiiing to Switzerland.

  37. #37 rob
    August 25, 2010

    i am holding three fingers behind my back.

  38. #38 Tyro
    August 25, 2010

    @Complex “hot water freezes faster than cold water when putting it into the freezer”

    That’s not generally true but there are some specific conditions where it may be:

  39. #39 Jeremy L
    August 25, 2010

    Under the pen name “N. Wilkinson”, Graham Greene won second prize in a contest for parodies of his own writing style in New Statesman magazine.

  40. #40 Thonoir
    August 25, 2010

    Black and white ruffed lemurs, whose natural diet is generraly comprised of around 75% fruit, have an oro-rectal through time of between 1.75 and 3.5 hours. The waste is poorly digested and comes to mind any time I’m around over-ripe fruit on a warm day.

  41. #41 Doug Natelson
    August 25, 2010

    In an effort to forestall a surrender by the French government after the German invasion of 1940, Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s government formally offered to create a single, unified country out of Great Britain and France. See here:

  42. #42 Josh
    August 25, 2010

    Suffocation – Pierced From Within is probably the best death metal album ever released.

  43. #43 NoAstronomer
    August 25, 2010

    Kayaks are typically designed with a tendency to face into the wind. This is termed weather-cocking. It’s not really possible to design a kayak with completely neutral handling in all wind conditions. Pointing into the wind is generally safer than the alternative which could lead to the kayak being blown onto shore with little control.

  44. #44 Elaine Ellerton
    August 25, 2010

    If your frozen breast milk tastes like soap and pennies, scald it before freezing to prevent this foul taste from occurring.

  45. #45 lylebot
    August 25, 2010

    P != NP

  46. #46 lylebot
    August 25, 2010

    I want to know how any of the above commenters know that Chad doesn’t know their facts.

    I know Chad doesn’t know mine, because nobody knows it for sure.

  47. #47 Bob O'H
    August 26, 2010

    An order by King Richard II said that the names of towns along the River Trent in England had to start with the letter S. After he was overthrown many towns, like Snottingham, removed the S. Scunthorpe did not.

  48. #48 Mu
    August 26, 2010

    So Chad, are you going to tell us what you learned today?

  49. #49 Andrew G.
    August 26, 2010

    @ Bob O’H: that one is false.

    Nottingham had lost the initial ‘S’ from its name (which derives from a Saxon chieftain named Snot, a fact which is a source of continual amusement to local schoolchildren) long before Richard II’s time. I haven’t been able to pin down the date of the change of spelling very closely, but the S is clearly present in the Domesday Book (1086) and equally clearly absent in archived documents from circa 1300.

    Other towns on the Trent have never had names starting with S, for example Newark.

  50. #50 JoeB
    August 27, 2010

    Of the 50 US states, the one with the fewest indigenous species of orchids is…Hawaii (with three). Nevada, for example, has 7-14, depending on one’s source.

  51. #51 Alan Bombria
    August 27, 2010

    The “Ark of the Covenant” referred to in the christian bible is a perfect capacitor.

  52. #52 plum grenville
    August 27, 2010

    There is a town in Newfoundland named Dildo.

    A Canadian politician named Stockwell Day was the subject of an Internet petition calling upon him to change his first name to Doris. The petition garnered over 100,000 signatures.

  53. #53 Michael Meadon
    August 28, 2010

    I’m 99.99% sure you won’t know this one:

    Victor Mattfield, arguably the greatest lock in history, will play his 100th Test for the Springboks today…

  54. #54 Michael Meadon
    August 28, 2010

    Slightly more interesting ones…

    Hiroo Onoda was the last Japanese soldier to surrender in WWII. In 1974. No, really.

    The Isles of Scilly were with the Dutch Republic from 1651 to 1986…

    Aerican Empire, a micronation, claims sovereignty over the whole Norther hemisphere of Pluto…

  55. #55 dan winter
    August 28, 2010

    (ephraim at purdue is known for measuring that solar events effect radioactivity here on earth..

    Subject: proving phase conjugate dielectrics(fractal field like the solar field) regulate radioactivity
    Date: Sat, 28 Aug 2010 00:51:17 +0200
    CC: jean paul


    I build
    phase conjugate dielectrics ( so called ‘fractal field’

    which are bioactive – increase growth
    (as was nassim haramein’s gravity device)

    more growth effects in my other invention(s)

    It is clear that – this (centripetal) ‘pyraphi’ field effect- phase
    conjugate dielectric
    in addition to adding
    centripetal force to growing plants (life force)

    will modulate radioactivity

    (as did the ark of the covenant –
    also as did focused human attention- per uri geller’s measures)

    I have based the design of this capacitor (pyraphi)
    on my new equation for hydrogen radii and frequency

    both as to scale, ratio, and frequency signature

    so its capacitance like the sun- will adjust radioactive decay

    will you help -me measure the effect on decay rate?

    dan winter

    cc: jean paul biberian- collaborator- with EU fusion research

    related reading:
    how phase conjugation of dielectric causes gravity (centripetal charge) :

  56. #56 Buddhacat
    August 28, 2010

    I know you’ve read the Malazan books, so may be you haven’t caught this:

    Hello all.

    In a response I just posted on the Life As A Human site (not in the last installment, the one before that, I think, the one with 30-odd comments), I described my feeling as if I have staggered out from under an enormous burden. And it was last week, on my facebook page, when I announced the closure of an adventure that has spanned almost thirty years of my life, from those wild ambitions of youth – all that manic gaming with Cam where we forged an entire world from our imaginations and from all that inspired us from the literary genre of Fantasy – to this ageing man stumbling free, finally, not yet ready to look back, not yet capable of making sense of all this, and it may be that I never will.

    I look out the window on my left now, onto the High Street of Falmouth, watching the crowds moving back and forth, and it was while seated on this leather sofa about a week ago that I wrote the last line of The Crippled God, saying goodbye to the most extensive story I will ever tell. I’ve since joked that my next project is a twenty-four volume saga set in the same world, chronicling the life of a character from birth to seven years of age, whereupon said character is jailed for being a career criminal. Called The Malazan Book of the Felon. Flippancy can be a useful defense mechanism, for a while, but eventually the silence returns.

    On the speakers here in Mango Tango, Dylan asks ‘How does it feel?’ and that acerbic tone invites derision, in my case self-directed, as if a voice inside wants to say ‘big deal. Besides, mate, the best is now behind you.’ And I’m reminded of the last poem in the book, which invites something very different, as if to answer my self-doubts with a caustic regard for the willfully blind. What do I mean with all that? Wait and see. As for me, the willful blindness persists, and I see nothing ahead and nothing behind. I’m empty, and it feels all right.

    I often remind myself that The Malazan Book of the Fallen will never challenge the bestsellers within the genre; will never achieve the broad appeal of, say, The Lord of the Rings, or even The Wheel of Time. But still, I feel an immense gratitude for the readers I have found – for you who participate on this site and for all the lurkers staying in the shadows. We have been in conversation for some time now, you and me, sharing an investment in time and energy; and while I have been the one in the know when you have speculated and wondered, the time is coming when the roles will reverse – when I am the one who can only look on, not knowing what is coming next, as you (hopefully) continue to explore the series, with all the authority that only fans can achieve.

    So, I have already begun my wait. To see what you think. What you feel. To see all that you take from these books, and to see what you will make of them. Forgive me if I stay in the shadows. But this is now yours, not mine. And that is as it should be.

    With gratitude,

    Steven Erikson

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