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Blog : Posts tagged with ‘factoids’

Answers To Questions

In which we reveal things

Back at the start of the month, I published a list of facts which may or may not be true. As we’re well into April now, I thought it was about time I told you what the answers are.

1, sadly, was entirely untrue, and was merely there so that I could make a tenuous pun around “gratin catalogue”.
2 is true. So is 3, at least according to Robert Graves, whose Greek Myths is good on the myths themselves, less reliable on their interpretation.
4 is most definitely not true.
5 is probably not true, but it was an urban myth for many years in the railway enthusiast world.
6 is true, pretty much. The CPC range could show 27 colours, each referred to by a number which represented the colour’s RGB values when written in trinary. They used a 4-bit hardware palette to map between the trinary graphics chip and the binary video memory.
7 is false, even though lots of people would tell you otherwise – see Wikipedia for details.
And 8 must, if you’ve been counting, be true. Although it’s arguable what the oldest part of the Underground is, the oldest underground railway was the Metropolitan Railway – now the Hammersmith & City Line – and it was originally built to Brunel’s broad gauge standard, about 2′ 3″ wider than standard gauge track.

So, there you are. I’ll try to think up more falsehoods next April.


In which we confuse people

As it’s April 1st, here’s some almost-but-not-quite-believable information. Some of it is true, some of it isn’t. See if you can guess which is which.

  1. A firm from Skegness once offered a mail-order service supplying potatoes sliced and braised in cream, and other similar dishes.
  2. French revolutionary politician and Terror leader Maximilien Robespierre was obsessive about wearing exactly the right sort of silk stockings every day.
  3. Some Ancient Greeks believed that beans were haunted, and that eating them could cause pregnancy.
  4. I have a tattoo of a steam train on the inside of my left thigh.
  5. The British government for many years maintained a secret stash of spare steam engines, hidden in an old quarry just outside Bath.
  6. Sir Alan Sugar’s company Amstrad once sold a range of home computers whose graphics chip used trinary, not binary, arithmetic.
  7. The term “bug” for a computer fault dates from someone finding a moth stuck in an early electromechanical computer.
  8. The tracks of the London Underground were originally about 2′ 3″ wider than they are now.

Seasonal Factoids

In which we try to be misleading

The world’s largest supply of garlic butter is in the centre of the city of Kyiv, Ukraine.

Around 8% of hazel trees are carnivorous.

Jacques de Molay, last known Grand Master of the Knights Templar, invented a method for softening butter by adding hydrogenated vegetable fats. The global dairy industry now channels large amounts of money to the Priory of Sion, the Templars’ underground successor organisation.

The phrase “This tape will self-destruct in five seconds” is never mentioned in the entire first series of TV show Mission: Impossible.

The modern standard housebrick’s size is derived from the length of the radius bone of Egyptian pharoah Tuthmoses IV, who had unusually short arms.

Doctor Who once featured a companion in the shape of a penguin.

The distances to destinations on British road signs are systematically under-estimated, in a (slightly futile) attempt to make the population in general more optimistic.

(but which of these factoids are indeed true?)