Mar
17
2010
1

What are the design requirements of a knife?

knife1A knife might seem like a simple object, but its form results from hundreds of design decisions. Does the knife need to cut things? The obvious answer is “yes”, but butter knives and putty knives are more for spreading than cutting. Nevertheless, most knives need a cutting blade. A good kitchen knife has a steel [&hel[more...]

Written by | 3,263 views | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment
Mar
17
2010
--

Do lingonberries have a traditional English name?

lingonberries or cowberriesOver the last few years lingonberry has become a fairly familiar English word. Thanks to a well-known Swedish furniture store putting lingonberry jam, jelly, and cordial on its shelves, and a few foody articles in lifestyle sections of the newspapers, many of us have a general idea that this small red berry is from Scandinavia, [&hel[more...]

Mar
17
2010
--

How do you make Swedish bacon pancakes like Stieg Larsson's?

swedish bacon pancakeMillions of people in 32 countries have read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. In its homeland, Sweden, enough books have been bought for more than a quarter of the population to own a copy. There's a Swedish film version called Men who Hate Women, and talk of a Hollywood movie in [&hel[more...]

Written by | 4,621 views | Tags: , , , , | 0 Comments
Mar
16
2010
1

What is a meander?

river-meanderThe expression meander is used to describe something that winds around without crossing itself, be it it a creek or river, or a repeating decoration in art or architecture, or also the description of such a line in mathematics. The word dates back to classical Greece, the name then and now for a river in [&hel[more...]

Written by | 5,512 views | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment
Mar
16
2010
--

The Fermi paradox: where are all the aliens?

fermi-paradoxIn recent decades our understanding of life has advanced rapidly. Scientists now know that life can exist under a much wider range of conditions than were previously thought possible, and are discovering life in the most extreme parts of the earth: in rocks a kilometer under the ground, in the antarctic ice, in the boiling [&hel[more...]

Written by | 1,402 views | Tags: , , , | 0 Comments
Mar
15
2010
1

Is the green flash of the setting sun a myth?

green-flash-sunsetThe green flash is a real optical phenomenon, but many have thought it was just a seaman’s yarn until they actually saw it themselves. Seamen were—and are—most likely to see it since they have a clear view of the horizon, but the phenomenon, which usually only lasts a second or two, seemed like a figment [&hel[more...]

Written by | 2,605 views | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment
Mar
15
2010
4

What are the most common religions in the world?

University of Sussex chapel.Christianity is by far the largest family of religions in the world, according to Adherents.com and various other sources. With about 2.1 billion (that is, 2,100 million) people belonging to some branch of Christianity, Christians make up about a third of the world's population. Christianity is also the most widespread of the major religious groups, [&hel[more...]

Written by | 3,225 views | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments
Mar
14
2010
1

Who changed Shakespeare’s line in Macbeth from “Out, damn’d spot” to “Out, crimson spot”?

birth-of-venusDid you think it was Dr. Thomas Bowdler (1754–1825) who replaced the line “Out, damn’d spot” with the sanitized version “Out, crimson spot”? If so, you are in good company. Even Wikipedia and William Safire use it as a prime example of Bowdler’s expurgating Shakespeare’s plays of what he thought was offensive language, but it [&hel[more...]

Written by | 2,678 views | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment
Mar
14
2010
2

What is a satisfying perfect anagram of the "Beatles"?

beatles-toyA perfect anagram is one where the letters of the source text are rearranged to make the anagram, and where letters are used the same number of times in the anagram as they appear in the source text. In an imperfect anagram, any number of letters may be drawn from the source text, but imperfect [&hel[more...]

Written by | 4,105 views | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments
Mar
14
2010
2

Is a Glasgow Rose the same as a Mackintosh Rose?

Mackintosh stained glass roseLook at Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s designs for furnishings, textiles, stained glass etc. and it won’t be long before you see a characteristic rose: typically pink, and less symmetrical than classic rose motifs. The petals often have strong outlines, perhaps the leading of stained glass, or the white space of a stencilled image. Is it right [&hel[more...]

Written by | 17,806 views | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments
Mar
13
2010
3

Will human inter-stellar space travel ever be possible?

1898-air-shipDespite the hopes of many people, and the wishful thinking of writers over the decades, it looks as if the physical barriers to inter-stellar travel are so big as to be insurmountable. Although humans will probably visit some of the other planets of our solar system within the 21st century, travel to other stars is [&hel[more...]

Written by | 8,474 views | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments
Mar
12
2010
1

What are the different ways the English Channel has been crossed?

hovercraft dover calaisThe recent success of Christine Bleakley’s attempt at cross-channel water-skiing is just the latest in the long list of channel crossings by various methods. The English Channel, or La Manche to the French, is 21 miles wide at its narrowest point at The Straights of Dover (Pas de Calais), and separates Britain from France. It [&hel[more...]

Written by | 3,697 views | Tags: , , | 1 Comment
Mar
12
2010
--

What inventions did people want?

console television antiqueIn the 1940s, 50s and 60s, Popular Science Magazine ran a column called I’d like to see them make?. The magazine invited readers to write in with suggestions on the gadgets, tools and innovations they would like to see invented to make their lives a little easier. It was a popular item, and published suggestions [&hel[more...]

Mar
12
2010
1

What is reverse graffiti?

reverse-graffitiI have only once in my life created graffiti. in 1980, a  friend and I were visiting Melbourne where the City Council had just installed a public graffiti wall. We thought this was a great idea, so we bought a couple of cans of spray paint and set to work on our masterpiece. We were [&hel[more...]

Written by | 2,489 views | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment
Mar
12
2010
--

Why were the crown princes of France called “Dauphin”, literally, a dolphin?

dolphin-dauphinBetween 1350 and 1791 there were 28 Dauphin de France, the title of the heir apparent to the French throne, similar to the title Prince of Wales in England. But why should he be the “dolphin” of France? Strictly, the correct title was Dauphin de Viennois, the dolphin of Vienne, a town in Département Isère. [&hel[more...]

Written by | 2,933 views | Tags: , , , , | 0 Comments
Mar
11
2010
--

How do you make Quorn stir-fry?

rice-noodlesQuorn can be used instead of meat to make a vegetarian stir-fry. Here’s a delicious recipe. Ingredients Olive oil, 20ml Half a red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped Fresh ginger, a centimeter long, peeled and thinly sliced Half a red onion, chopped A clove of garlic, finely chopped Half a yellow or orange capsicum (bell [&hel[more...]

Written by | 3,417 views | Tags: , , , | 0 Comments
Mar
10
2010
3

What does a dogman do on an Australian construction site?

dogmanThe dogman is the assistant of the crane operator, responsible for assuring that the load is safely on the crane’s hooking and then directing the crane operator by radio when it can be raised and advising him until the load is properly placed for the riggers to remove it from the hook. Why is the [&hel[more...]

Written by | 12,385 views | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments
Mar
10
2010
3

Which Beatles record is sealed in a time capsule until the year 6965?

time-capsule-beatlesThe Westinghouse Corporation constructed and buried time capsules for the 1939 and 1964 World's Fair exhibitions. Unlike most time capsules, which are intended to be opened after perhaps a hundred years, these were designated to be opened five thousand years after they were buried. The idea was that the birth of civilization occurred perhaps five [&hel[more...]

Mar
09
2010
--

What is wrong with Alexander Dumas’ “The Three Musketeers”?

dartagnanWhat’s wrong with Alexander Dumas’ The Three Musketeers? They are musketeers in name only. I believe that there is no mention of their using muskets in their adventures, or even mention of their having them. The first French unit of musketeers was formed in the 1622 by Louis XIII, creating the Mousquetaires de la Garde, [&hel[more...]

Written by | 1,855 views | Tags: , , , | 0 Comments
Mar
09
2010
--

Which waxworks museum is so bad that it's great?

great-yarmouth-seaside-townMany of its visitors have described the Louis Tussaud Waxworks in Great Yarmouth as the worst waxworks museum in the world. Some of them have gone further and described it as the worst museum in the world. And yet, in some ways, that's its charm. Louis Tussaud was the great grandson of Marie Tussaud, who [&hel[more...]

Privacy Policy | Acknowledgements