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.
2. Mohammed is now one of the 20 most popular names for boys born in England and Wales.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
22. The length of a man’s fingers can reveal how physically aggressive he is, scientists say.
23. In America it’s possible to subpoena a dog.
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.
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.
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.
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.
73. One in six children think that broccoli is a baby tree.
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.
84. The actor who plays Mike Tucker in BBC Radio 4’s The Archers is the father of the actor who plays Will Grundy.
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.
86. Hecklers are so-called because of militant textile workers in Dundee.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
Thanks to all the Magazine readers who submitted items and photographs this year. 10 Things will return as normal next weekend.
9. 等号（=）是由16世纪威尔士的数学家Robert Recorde发明的，因为他已经厌倦在他的数学公式里写”is equal to”（是等于）。之所以选择使用2条平行线来做等号是因为“没有2样东西在道德上是平等的”