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In 1995, the number of TV programmes in Britain watched by over 15 million people was 225. By 2004, this had fallen to six.

Biologists cannot agree on definitions for the words ‘species’, ‘organism’ or ‘life’.

Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo all mean ‘capital’, in their respective languages.

Dildos are illegal in Texas.

The amount of water on Earth is constant, and continually recycled over time: some of the water you drink, will have passed through a dinosaur.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

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If all the salt in the sea were spread evenly over the land, it would be 500 feet thick.

Sweden makes biofuel from dead rabbits.

Nine species have been named after Barack Obama – more than any other US President.

Volkswagen has changed its official language from German to English.

Almost two-thirds of the 33,000 annual gun deaths in America are suicides.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

Cows, Kaiser Wilhelm and Daylight Saving Time


Billions of people around the world experience general fatigue all day after losing an hour of sleep to daylight saving time. For years, conventional wisdom has been that it benefits one particular group: farmers, but that’s not actually true. There are no farming activities that benefit from daylight saving.

‘Of course daylight saving doesn’t benefit farmers, cows don’t care what time it is, because they’re cows, and cows are idiots.[1] So if it’s not for them, who is it for?

The modern daylight saving was introduced during the first world war as a fuel saving measure by the Germans. – That’s right, you lost an hour of sleep this morning thanks to Kaiser Wilhelm!

And while back then, daylight saving may indeed have saved fuel, in the modern era, energy consumption is a little more complicated. In fact, when Indiana adopted daylight saving in 2006, guess what happened: the data shows that daylight saving actually led to a 1% overall rise in residential electricity.

Of course it did, because switching on a lamp an hour later in the summer doesn’t really matter when you’re blasting an air conditioner and staying up all night psychotically scrolling through instagrams of your ex’s honeymoon to Morocco.

But that’s not to say daylight saving doesn’t have any effects at all. Studies show there is an increase of car accidents and work-related injuries the week after the time change. – That’s right, what you lose in sleep, you gain in mortal danger.

Despite all this, 70 countries around the world still observe daylight saving and yet by going by local news reports, none of them could tell you why. […]

So if it doesn’t benefit our energy bill, our health or our stupid, stupid cows, it has to make you wonder: daylight saving time, how is this still a thing?’

– Oliver. J. et. al. (2015, March 8) Daylight Saving Time – How Is This Still A Thing?: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)


[1] The authors would like to underline they do not endorse the view that all cows are idiots. A 2004 study by Cambridge University researchers revealed cows have “eureka” moments, taking pleasure in their own learning achievements. When the cows made improvements in learning, they showed emotional and behavioral reactions that indicated excitement.

Conversations: Civilization


Helena
It is important to realize that the distinction between science and religion is not a matter of excluding our ethical intuitions and spiritual experiences from our conversation about the world; it is a matter of our being honest about what we can reasonably conclude on their basis.

Xanthippe
However, there are good reasons to believe that people like Jesus and the Buddha weren’t talking nonsense when they spoke about our capacity as human beings to transform our lives in rare and beautiful ways.

Sappho
But any genuine exploration of ethics or the contemplative life demands the same standards of reasonableness and self-criticism that animate all intellectual discourse. Continue reading

The First Hominids


The road to humanity
13-7 million years ago

The first apes appeared in Africa around 25 million years ago. Then at some point, the group split into the ancestors of modern humans and the ancestors of modern apes. It is hard to say exactly when, but thanks to modern genetics and a host of fossil discoveries, we have a rough idea. The oldest known hominid was Sahelanthropus tchadensis, which lived about 7 million years ago.

See other: History of Life

C4 Photosynthesis


Supercharged plants
32-25 million years ago

Plants have been busily harnessing sunlight to make sugar for hundreds of millions of years – a process called photosynthesis. But fairly recently, some plants have found a better way to do it. C4 photosynthesis is far more efficient than normal photosynthesis, allowing C4 plants to cope with harsh conditions. Today scientists are trying to engineer rice to use C4 photosynthesis, to help feed the growing population.

See other: History of Life

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To repel attackers, the bombardier beetle shoots a noxious mixture of boiling chemicals out of its bottom in a series of rapid blasts.

The National Health Service is the world’s 4th-largest employer after the US Defense Department, the Chinese Red Army, and Walmart.

Palm trees are a type of grass.

The seventh most common sentence in The Hunger Games trilogy is “they swallowed hard”.

In 2015, a town in North Carolina rejected a solar farm because residents believed it would “suck up” sunlight and kill the local plants.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

The First Primates Evolve


Living in the trees
60-55 million years ago

Almost immediately after the dinosaurs were wiped out, mammals evolved the ability to nourish their young inside their wombs using a placenta, just like modern humans. Soon, some of these early placental mammals evolved into the first primates. They would ultimately give rise to monkeys, apes and humans. But the first ones were small creatures. The oldest known primate skeleton is of a species called Archicebus achilles, which weighed no more than 30 grams. They lived in the hot and humid rainforests of Asia.

See other: History of Life