100 things we didn't know this time last year
Each week the Magazine picks out snippets from the news, and compiles them into 10 Things We Didn't Know This Time Last Week. Here's an end of year almanac.
1. The UK's first
mobile phone call was made 20 years ago this year, when Ernie Wise rang the Vodafone head office, which was then above a curry shop in Newbury. More details
2. Mohammed is now
one of the 20 most popular names for boys born in England and Wales. More details
3. While it's an
offence to drop litter on the pavement, it's not an offence to throw it over someone's garden wall. More details
4. An average record
shop needs to sell at least two copies of a CD per year to make it worth stocking, according to Wired magazine.
5. Nicole Kidman is
scared of butterflies. "I jump out of planes, I could be covered in cockroaches, I do all sorts of things, but I just don't like the feel of butterflies' bodies," she says.
6. WD-40 dissolves cocaine
- it has been used by a pub landlord to prevent drug-taking in his pub's toilets.
7. Baboons can tell
the difference between English and French. Zoo keepers at Port Lympne wild animal park in Kent are having to learn French to communicate with the baboons which had been transferred from Paris zoo. More details
8. Devout Orthodox Jews
are three times as likely to jaywalk as other people, according to an Israeli survey reported in the New Scientist. The researchers say it's possibly because religious people have less fear of death.
9. The energy used
to build an average Victorian terrace house would be enough to send a car round the Earth five times, says English Heritage.
10. Humans can be
born suffering from a rare condition known as "sirenomelia" or "mermaid syndrome", in which the legs are fused together to resemble the tail of a fish.
11. One in 10
Europeans is allegedly conceived in an Ikea bed. More details
12. Until the 1940s
rhubarb was considered a vegetable. It became a fruit when US customs officials, baffled by the foreign food, decided it should be classified according to the way it was eaten.
13. Prince Charles broke
with an 80-year tradition by giving Camilla Parker Bowles a wedding ring fashioned from Cornish gold, instead of the nugget of Welsh gold that has provided rings for all royal brides and grooms since 1923.
14. It's possible for
a human to blow up balloons via the ear. A 55-year-old factory worker from China reportedly discovered 20 years ago that air leaked from his ears, and he can now inflate balloons and blow out candles.
15. Lionesses like their
males to be deep brunettes. More details
16. The London borough
of Westminster has an average of 20 pieces of chewing gum for every square metre of pavement.
17. Bosses at Madame
Tussauds spent £10,000 separating the models of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston when they separated. It was the first time the museum had two people's waxworks joined together.
18. If all the
Smarties eaten in one year were laid end to end it would equal almost 63,380 miles, more than two-and-a-half times around the Earth's equator. More details
19. The = sign
was invented by 16th Century Welsh mathematician Robert Recorde, who was fed up with writing "is equal to" in his equations. He chose the two lines because "noe 2 thynges can be moare equalle".
20. The Queen has
never been on a computer, she told Bill Gates as she awarded him an honorary knighthood.
21. One person in
four has had their identity stolen or knows someone who has. More details
22. The length of
a man's fingers can reveal how physically aggressive he is, scientists say. More details
23. In America it's
possible to subpoena a dog. Full story
24. The 71m packets
of biscuits sold annually by United Biscuits, owner of McVitie's, generate 127.8 tonnes of crumbs.
25. Nelson probably had
a broad Norfolk accent.
26. One in four
people does not know 192, the old number for directory inquiries in the UK, has been abolished.
27. Only in France
and California are under 18s banned from using sunbeds. More details
28. The British buy
the most compact discs in the world - an average of 3.2 per year, compared to 2.8 in the US and 2.1 in France.
29. When faced with
danger, the octopus can wrap six of its legs around its head to disguise itself as a fallen coconut shell and escape by walking backwards on the other two legs, scientists discovered.
30. There are an
estimated 1,000 people in the UK in a persistent vegetative state.
31. Train passengers in
the UK waited a total of 11.5m minutes in 2004 for delayed services. More details
32. "Restaurant" is the
most mis-spelled word in search engines.
33. Chelsea boss Jose
Mourinho has only been in an English pub once, to buy his wife cigarettes.
34. The Little Britain
wheelchair sketch with Lou and Andy was inspired by Lou Reed and Andy Warhol.
35. The name Lego
came from two Danish words "leg godt", meaning "play well". It also means "I put together" in Latin.
36. The average employee
spends 14 working days a year on personal e-mails, phone calls and web browsing, outside official breaks, according to employment analysts Captor.
37. Cyclist Lance Armstrong's
heart is almost a third larger than the average man's.
38. Nasa boss Michael
Griffin has seven university degrees: a bachelor's degree, a PhD, and five masters degrees.
39. Australians host barbecues
at polling stations on general election days.
40. An average Briton
will spend £1,537,380 during his or her lifetime, a survey from insurer Prudential suggests.
41. Tactically, the best
Monopoly properties to buy are the orange ones: Vine Street, Marlborough Street and Bow Street.
42. Britain's smallest church
, near Malmesbury, Wiltshire, opens just once a year. It measures 4m by 3.6m and has one pew.
43. The spiciness of
sauces is measured in Scoville Units.
44. Rubber gloves could
save you from lightning.
45. C3PO and R2D2
do not speak to each other off-camera because the actors don't get on.
46. Driving at 159mph
- reached by the police driver cleared of speeding - it would take nearly a third of a mile to stop.
47. Liverpool has 42
cranes redeveloping the city centre.
48. A quarter of
the world's clematis come from one Guernsey nursery, where production will top 4.5m plants this year alone.
49. Tim Henman has
a tennis court at his new home in Oxfordshire which he has never used.
50. Only 36% of
the world's newspapers are tabloid.
51. Parking wardens walk
about 15 miles a day.
52. You're 10 times
more likely to be bitten by a human than a rat.
53. It takes 75kg
of raw materials to make a mobile phone.
54. Deep Throat is
reportedly the most profitable film ever. It was made for $25,000 (£13,700) and has grossed more than $600m.
55. Antony Worrall-Thompson
swam the English Channel in his youth.
56. The Pyruvate Scale
measures pungency in onions and garlic. It's named after the acid in onions which makes cooks cry when cutting them.
57. The man who
was the voice of one of the original Daleks, Roy Skelton, also did the voices for George and Zippy in Rainbow.
58. The average guest
at a Buckingham Palace garden party scoffs 14 cakes, sandwiches, scones and ice-cream, according to royal accounts.
59. Oliver Twist is
very popular in China, where its title is translated as Foggy City Orphan.
60. Newborn dolphins and
killer whales don't sleep for a month, according to research carried out by University of California.
61. You can bet
on your own death.
62. MPs use communal
hairbrushes in the washrooms of the Houses of Parliament.
63. It takes less
energy to import a tomato from Spain than to grow them in this country because of the artificial heat needed, according to Defra.
64. New York mayor
Michael Bloomberg's home number is listed by directory inquiries.
65. Actor James Doohan
, who played Scotty, had a hand in creating the Klingon language that was used in the movies, and which Shakespeare plays were subsequently translated into.
66. The hotter it
is, the more difficult it is for aeroplanes to take off. Air passengers in Nevada, where temperatures have reached 120F, have been told they can't fly.
67. Giant squid eat
each other - especially during sex.
68. The Very Hungry
Caterpillar has sold one copy every minute since its 1969 publication.
69. First-born children
are less creative but more stable, while last-born are more promiscuous, says US research.
70. Reebok, which is
being bought by Adidas, traces its history back more than 100 years to Bolton.
71. Jimi Hendrix pretended
to be gay to be discharged from the US Army. More details
72. A towel doesn't
legally reserve a sun lounger - and there is nothing in German or Spanish law to stop other holidaymakers removing those left on vacant seats. More details
73. One in six
children think that broccoli is a baby tree. More details
74. It takes a
gallon of oil to make three fake fur coats.
75. Each successive monarch
faces in a different direction on British coins.
76. The day when
most suicides occurred in the UK between 1993 and 2002 was 1 January, 2000.
77. The only day
in that time when no-one killed themselves was 16 March, 2001, the day Comic Relief viewers saw Jack Dee win Celebrity Big Brother.
78. One in 18
people has a third nipple.
79. The section of
coast around Cleethorpes has the highest concentration of caravans in Europe.
80. Fifty-seven Bic
Biros are sold every second - amounting to 100bn since 1950.
81. George Bernard Shaw
named his shed after the UK capital so that when visitors called they could be told he was away in London.
82. Former Labour MP
Oona King's aunt is agony aunt Miriam Stoppard.
83. Britain produces 700
regional cheeses, more even than France. More details
84. The actor who
plays Mike Tucker in BBC Radio 4's The Archers is the father of the actor who plays Will Grundy. More details
85. Japanese knotweed can
grow from a piece of root the size of pea. And it can flourish anew if disturbed after lying dormant for more than 20 years. More details
86. Hecklers are so-called
because of militant textile workers in Dundee. More details
87. Pulling your foot
out of quicksand takes a force equivalent to that needed to lift a medium-sized car.
88. A single "mother"
spud from southern Peru gave rise to all the varieties of potato eaten today, scientists have learned. More details
89. Spanish Flu, the
epidemic that killed 50 million people in 1918/9, was known as French Flu in Spain.
90. Ordinary - not avian
- flu kills about 12,000 people in the UK every winter.
91. Croydon has more
CCTV cameras than New York.
92. You are 176
times more likely to be murdered than to win the National Lottery.
93. Koalas have fingerprints
exactly like humans (although obviously smaller).
94. Bill Gates does
not have an iPod.
95. The first traffic
cones were used in building Preston bypass in the late 1950s, replacing red lantern paraffin burners.
96. Britons buy about
one million pumpkins for Halloween, 99% of which are used for lanterns rather than for eating. More details
97. The mother of
stocky cricketer - and this year's Strictly Come Dancing champion - Darren Gough was a ballet dancer. She helped him with his pivots.
98. Nettles growing on
land where bodies are buried will reach a foot higher than those growing elsewhere. More details
99. The Japanese word
"chokuegambo" describes the wish that there were more designer-brand shops on a given street.
100. Musical instrument shops
must pay an annual royalty to cover shoppers who perform a recognisable riff before they buy, thereby making a "public performance".