Magazine

100 things we didn't know last year

  • 31 December 2016
  • From the section Magazine
Image copyright Alamy

Interesting and unexpected facts from daily news stories are collected in the BBC's regular feature, 10 things we didn't know last week. Here is a selection of the best from 2016.

1. You could probably outrun a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Find out more (Science)

2. Ronald Reagan suggested that Margaret Thatcher read Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy in order to understand Soviet thinking.

Find out more (Daily Mail)

3. German tourists can travel to more countries without a visa than any other nationality.

Find out more (CNN)

4. People played with a fifth suit of cards in the 1930s.

Find out more (Shortlist)

5. There are about three million shipwrecks lying on the ocean floor.

Find out more (Discovery)

6. YouTube was originally meant to be an online dating site.

Find out more (Gizmodo)

7. Parents are worse at telling if their child is lying than complete strangers.

Find out more (Telegraph)

8. London Underground journeys take more than four times longer for disabled people.

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9. Air rage is more common on flights with a first-class cabin.

Find out more (Gizmodo)

10. Boris Johnson knows how to sing Ode to Joy in German.

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11. The spice turmeric may help stave off dementia

Find out more (Telegraph)

12. The world's most dangerous school run may be in south-western China, where children have to climb down an 800m cliff.

Find out more (Guardian)

13. The oldest world title in sport is for real tennis and it dates back to 1740.

Find out more (The Times)

14. Male sparrows retaliate when females are unfaithful by providing less food.

Find out more (Imperial College London)

15. Fish can recognise human faces.

Find out more (Smithsonian)

16. Sadness causes more road accidents than tiredness.

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17. The tattoo policy of the US Marine Corps is 32 pages long.

Find out more (Wall Street Journal)

18. Exercising four hours after learning can help you remember information.

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19. The speed Batman reaches while gliding through the air would probably kill him on landing.

Find out more (Guardian)

20. Elderly monkeys choose to have fewer friends.

Find out more (New Scientist)

21. Albania awards diplomatic passports to its international football players.

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22. Trevor Nunn has directed every one of Shakespeare's plays.

Find out more (The Guardian)

23. Prime Minister Theresa May owns more than 100 cookbooks - but none by Delia Smith.

Find out more (The Times)

24. The fertility drug Pergonal was developed using gallons of nuns' urine.

Find out more (Quartz)

25. Even in the early 1970s, women in the UK frequently had to get a male relative's signature to get a loan.

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26. Every winter, great white sharks swim for 30 to 40 days to congregate at a particular spot halfway between Mexico and Hawaii. No-one knows why.

Find out more (Slate)

27. Fewer than one in five listed statues in the UK are of women.

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28. Every English elm is descended from a single tree imported by the Romans.

Find out more (Nature)

29. The "Arsenal" letters outside the football club's stadium are an anti-attack measure.

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30. "Burn" is the most heavy metal word in the English language, and "particularly" is the least.

Find out more (New York magazine)

31. Australia is moving 7cm (2.75in) north every year

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32. There are at least 42 different fares for rail travel between London Euston and Birmingham, ranging from £6 to £119.

Find out more (The Times)

33. Extroverted CEOs make their companies less money.

Find out more (New York Magazine)

34. One female Greenland shark is around 400 years of age, making the species the longest-living vertebrate known on Earth.

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35. Only about half of perceived friendships are mutual.

Find out more (New York Times)

36. Holding your coffee cup from above in a claw-like grip is the best way to prevent it from spilling.

Find out more (The Times)

37. A hot bath could be better than cycling at lowering the blood sugar levels of type-2 diabetics

Find out more (Telegraph)

38. Being the sole breadwinner is bad for men's health but good for women's.

Find out more (Guardian)

39. Most dogs prefer praise to food.

Find out more (Science)

40. A fifth of UK parents regret the names they gave their children.

Find out more (Independent)

41. New Yorkers would pay $56 a month to trim a minute off their commute.

Find out more (Five Thirty Eight)

42. Georgetown University in Washington sold 272 slaves in 1838 to help pay off the institution's debts.

Find out more (New York Times)

43. Mayors in Pakistan can run cities from jail.

Find out more (Guardian)

44. It would take 112,000 years to fly to the nearest Earth-like world travelling at 25,000mph.

Find out more (Seeker)

45. Woody Allen spends $100 a week on lottery tickets.

Find out more (Guardian)

46. In the Grand Canyon, the US postal service delivers mail by mule.

Find out more (Smithsonian)

47. It's possible to be arrested for being drunk while riding a mobility scooter.

Find out more (Daily Record)

48. Intelligent people tend to be messier and swear more than others.

Find out more (Business Insider)

49. Protesters at a Republican party convention are banned from carrying tennis balls but are allowed to carry guns.

Find out more (Huffington Post)

50. Bees spit water at each other in hot weather.

Find out more (New Scientist)

51. In some remote areas of Malawi, parents pay a man to have sex with their daughters at the age of 12 or 13.

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52. Mosquitoes carrying malaria are repelled by chickens.

Find out more (Gizmodo)

53. At US airports, the usual limits on taking liquids through security do not apply if the liquid is holding live fish.

Find out more (Boston Globe)

54. There is a scientific reason why some people have "uncombable" hair.

Find out more (Refinery29)

55. Some porn sites have a voiceover function for blind people that explains what's going on.

Find out more (Vice)

56. So many Ford Sierra Cosworths were stolen or written off that surviving models have become very valuable.

Find out more (Spectator)

57. The son of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar works as an architect in Argentina.

Find out more (The Lad Bible)

58. There is a way to get people with strong views to consider alternative arguments (that doesn't involve shouting or violence).

Find out more (Vox)

59. Doctors estimate dying patients will live twice as long as they actually do.

Find out more (The Times)

60. How drunk you think you are depends on how drunk your friends are.

Find out more (New York Magazine)

61. A pack of Smarties is more likely to be missing red than any other colour.

Find out more (Mental Floss)

62. Dating app Tinder has 37 options for defining gender, beyond male or female.

Find out more (Vice)

63. Three British and three Dutch World War Two ships have vanished from the bottom of the Java Sea.

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64. Someone has a job making wooden tanks for Islamic State.

Find out more (Reuters)

65. You can get pregnant while already being pregnant.

Find out more (Refinery 29)

66. Industrial spills may be more dangerous in cold weather.

Find out more (New York Times)

67. London's benchmark interest rate, Libor, was invented by a Greek banker arranging a loan for Iran.

Find out more (Bloomberg)

68. The most historically accurate recent Oscar contender is Selma and the least is The Imitation Game.

Find out more (Quartz)

69. The new Bank of England £5 note is not suitable for vegetarians...

Find out more

70. ...But you can use it to play vinyl records.

Find out more (NME)

71. Fidel Castro's obituary cost the New York Times more man and woman hours over the years than any other article in the newspaper's history.

Find out more (New York Times)

72. Pigeons can distinguish real words from nonsense.

Find out more (Mental Floss)

73. Under triathlon rules, competitors are allowed to help each other.

Find out more (Yahoo/AAP)

74. There are only 28 websites on the internet in North Korea.

Find out more (Digital Spy)

75. A litre of cow urine is more valuable to an Indian farmer than a litre of milk.

Find out more (Open)

76. More than 200 UK drivers are at least 100 years old.

Find out more (Financial Times)

77. Giraffes are four species, not one.

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78. Most British tourists in the Spanish resort of Magaluf are on their first holiday without their families.

Find out more (Vice)

79. People spend 1.3 years of their life on average deciding what to watch on television.

Find out more (Now This)

80. Heading a football can reduce your memory for 24 hours.

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81. Urinating men are eroding the world's tallest church.

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82. The world's top institution for undergraduates, measured by Nobel prize winners per 10,000 students, is the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris.

Find out more (Quartz)

83. Your doctor's political preferences can influence the treatment they recommend.

Find out more (Slate)

84. Close-protection security consultants work on the principle that a client should never be more than eight seconds from rescue.

Find out more (Guardian)

85. Teenage acne is not all bad news: Unblemished skin ages faster.

Find out more

86. The mammal that kills the most members of its own species is not the human, the bear or the wolf, but the meerkat.

Find out more (Atlantic)

87. Putting an image of a flat screen TV on a box containing a bicycle reduces the chance of damage during delivery by up to 80%.

Find out more (Independent)

88. Riding a rollercoaster can help you pass kidney stones.

Find out more (Gizmodo)

89. You can run over a golf ball with a steamroller and still not damage it.

Find out more (Boing Boing)

90. About 1.7% of the UK population identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual.

Find out more (Office for National Statistics)

91. Replacing the artificial colouring in blue M&Ms would require twice the current global supply of the natural alternative.

Find out more (New York Times)

92. Cod have regional accents.

Find out more (Financial Times)

93. Rainbows can also occur at night.

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94. You can't return or rescind a Nobel prize.

Find out more (Telegraph)

95. Drivers in China who dazzle other road users with full-beam headlights are made to stare into the lights for a minute as punishment.

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96. The UK's National Sperm Bank has taken on only seven men.

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97. Chimpanzees are as good at recognising each other's bottoms as humans are at recognising faces.

Find out more (Washington Post)

98. Trees on city streets may worsen rather than reduce air pollution.

Find out more (Quartz)

99. Women can improve their chances of winning board games against men by playing rock music in the background.

Find out more (Telegraph)

100. A 66-year-old albatross is still fertile.

Find out more (AJ+)

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