29/vi mmxvii


The names Honda and Toyota derive from Japanese words for different kinds of rice field.

The longest palindrome in the Oxford English Dictionary is ‘tattarrattat’. James Joyce used it in Ulysses: ‘I knew his tattarrattat at the door.’

Each of us is surrounded by bacteria that are released from our bodies; everyone’s personal microbial cloud is unique.

An animal the size of an elephant could evolve to an animal the size of a sheep in 100,000 generations, but for an animal the size of a sheep to evolve to the size of an elephant would take 1.6 million generations.

The ancient Greeks had no word for religion.

See other: Quite Interesting Fact

Advertisements

Jackspeak


Ever been caught between the devil and the deep blue sea? Or maybe you have been told to show a leg, been taken aback or have been made to run the gauntlet?

If so, you have been using just a few of the thousands of slang words and phrases coined or adopted by the Royal Navy – the world’s oldest organised fighting service – over the course of more than 400 years.

Over the centuries, the jargon of the Royal Navy, known as Jackspeak, has contributed to the everyday English vocabulary.

Royal Navy personnel feel that part of its charm comes from its exclusivity, because the terminology used is only understood by fellow naval comrades.

Also, it is believed that the humour of nautical slang is an essential coping strategy for people dealing with the multiple uncertainties and dangers of war.

“The world is a navy in an empty ocean.” – Dejan Stojanovic

The range of slang used by the Grey Funnel Line (the navy) is both instructive and amusing. Whether you serve in the Green Death (3rd Commando Brigade, Royal Marines), or are a snotty (midshipman) or a pickle jar officer (a university graduate who can tell you the square root of a pickle-jar lid to three decimal places but cannot get the blooming thing off), there is a special name for everything that matters.

In addition, the whole spectrum of naval life is covered, from a horse’s neck (brandy and dry ginger) to buckets of sunshine (nuclear weapons), the rather charming putting the Queen to bed (affectionate term for the formal lowering of the White Ensign each evening, at sunset), and helioproctosis (a condition where a person, usually a toffee-nosed officer, believes the sun shines from his backside – from the Ancient Greek ἥλιος meaning ‘sun’, and πρωκτός meaning ‘anus’).

“The sea, the snotgreen sea, the scrotumtightening sea.” – James Joyce, Ulysses

And at the end of a Naval career, one receives the Order of the Golden Toecap (redundancy), and swallows the anchor (retired from a career at sea).

Finally, to get out at Fratton is Royal Navy jargon for coitus interruptus. (Fratton is the last railway station before Portsmouth – home of one of Britain’s largest Naval Bases.)

Freak Wave


Rogue, freak, or killer waves have been part of marine folklore for centuries, but have only been accepted as a real phenomenon by scientists over the past few decades.

They are relatively large and spontaneous ocean surface waves that occur far out at sea, and are a threat even to large ships and ocean liners over 250 meters long.

Rogues, called extreme storm waves by scientists, are those waves which are greater than twice the size of surrounding waves; they are very unpredictable, and often come unexpectedly from directions other than prevailing wind and waves.

Most reports of extreme storm waves say they look like walls of water. They are often steep-sided with unusually deep troughs.

“The sea, the snotgreen sea, the scrotumtightening sea.”
– James Joyce, Ulysses

Since these waves are uncommon, measurements of this phenomenon are extremely rare, making it a very hard natural occurrence to analyse. It is only since 1995 that the by then almost mythical freak wave was substantiated by something more than anecdotal evidence.

The Draupner wave or New Year’s wave is often believed to be the first freak wave to be detected by a measuring instrument, occurring at the Draupner platform in the North Sea off the coast of Norway on 1 January 1995.

Minor damage was inflicted on the platform during this event, confirming the validity of the reading made by a downwards-pointing laser sensor. In an area with significant wave height of approximately 12 metres (39 ft), a freak wave with a maximum wave height of 25.6 metres (84 ft) occurred with a peak elevation of 18.5 metres (61 ft). The freak waves are real, and as yet (conclusively speaking) unexplained by science.

Through the centuries that man has roamed the seas, freak waves have probably been responsible for countless of deaths, and tragically continue to do so, even in modern times. “Seems Neptune has claimed another soul.” (Firth of Fifth – Genesis, 1973).

The European Space Agency stated in 2004 that “Severe weather has sunk more than 200 supertankers and container ships exceeding 200 metres in length during the last two decades. Rogue waves are believed to be the major cause in many such cases”.

“I felt once more how simple and frugal a thing is happiness: a glass of wine, a roast chestnut, a wretched little brazier, the sound of the sea. Nothing else.”
– Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek