Friday’s Interesting Facts #2

In this regular Friday post, we list some interesting facts that do not necessarily deserve their own post, enjoy. The colossal squid is the largest known invertebrate, it’s estimated that it can reach 12-14 metres in length. It also possesses the largest eyes in the animal kingdom. Its brain is torus shaped (like a donut) and the oesophagus runs through the middle of it. Which means that if the colossal squid eats something too large it will suffer massive brain damage.

The world’s longest running factory

There is a hotel in Japan, called Nisiyama Onsen Keiunkian, that has been open since 705. And that’s not a typo, not 1705, but 705, the hotel has been open for over 1300 years! There was also a Japanese construction company called Kongō Gumi that was founded in 578 and was continuously operating until 2006, until it fell on hard times and went into liquidation. During the ages they built many famous buildings, including Osaka Castle. But while these two companies might have been the longest running companies to be operating in modern times, they are not the longest running …

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Distribution of first digits: Benford’s Law

Take a large data set, like stock prices, electricity bills or population sizes of different countries. If you were to count how many times each digit appeared as the first digit (for 105 the first digit would be 1, for 34583 the first digit would be 3, etc.), what would be their distribution? You’d expect that each numeral would occur an equal amount of times. But you would be wrong.

The Rise and Fall (and rise again) of Bitcoin

Bitcoins have been causing quite a stir and amassing much interest recently. Part of this is thanks to the price skyrocketing in recent weeks. This digital currency of choice for hacktivists, described as “gold for computer nerds” is a peer-to-peer decentralised currency, meaning it isn’t controlled by any bank or government.

What’s up with the new bird flu?

Chinese authorities have closed live poultry markets in Shanghai and Hangzhou after fears of a new possible bird flu pandemic. H7N9, a flu virus, was confirmed to have infected 21 people. Six have died.

Friday’s Interesting Facts #1

In this regular Friday post, we list some interesting facts that do not necessarily deserve their own post, enjoy! The Amazon river is 6400 km long and has the highest waterflow of any river, it discharges more water than the next 7 put together. Until 2011, there were no bridges crossing it or any of its tributaries. Now there is only 1, the Manaus Iranduba Bridge on the rio Negro, its major tributary.

GPS and Relativity

You were trying to drive to Melbourne, Australia, yet you ended up in Melbourne, Florida. Apart from somehow being able to drive over water, you also probably mindlessly followed the instructions of a GPS device. Practically ubiquitous these days, the Global Positioning System (GPS) is responsible for the ever decreasing ability of people to use maps and their own orientation.

A cloud that tastes of…. raspberries?

Raspberry cloud? Yes, you read that right, a raspberry-flavoured cloud. But we’re not talking about your standard cumulonimbus or cirrus, but a giant dust cloud close to the centre of the milky way called Sagittarius B2.

Should we be scared of the norovirus?

One moment you’re feeling fine, the next you’re expelling fluids from both ends. A typical friday night, if you are Hunter S. Thompson, but in your case, it is likely that you are a victim of the norovirus, also known as the winter vomiting bug in the UK. As someone who’s lived in Africa and has had his fair share of stomach bugs, I feel your pain. It is one thing to be vomiting or having diarrhea, but doing both at the same time is a very unpleasant experience. What is the norovirus and why do we keep hearing about …

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