March 22nd, 2013
The speaking clock (somewhat of a British institution) is more popular than ever! It’s hard to believe in the days of the iPhone, Android and Blackberry (even wrist watches are still pretty popular we believe!) but the speaking clock gets 30 million calls per year! 30 MILLION!!!
It was originally created in the 1930s for people who didn’t have a watch or clock to hand.
There are times when it is called more often than others, one of the most popular being (obvious really!) New Year’s Eve. But we find something quite heartwarming and nostalgic about the fact that it’s still there. We once knew someone who got drunk and left it on all night – at 30 pence per minute that was quite a phone bill!
Also, and rather amusingly, the clock is quite popular just before 5 o’clock, when call-centre staff are desperate to avoid picking up a 20-minute call. We can assure you that never happens at 247Moneybox.com though (especially as our offices are open until 7 pm!).
March 15th, 2013
Vital research here! Scientists have revealed the mathematical formula for a perfect slice of toast, showing that it is best cooked for exactly 216 seconds.
According to an article in the Daily Mail, a team of researchers carried out a study which found the optimum thickness is 14 mm and the ideal amount of butter is 0.44 grams per square inch.
The recommended cooking time gives the slice a “golden-brown” colour and the “ultimate balance of external crunch and internal softness”.
We could go on about this, but we’re absolutely astounded that with such brilliant minds in our scientific community, studies like this even exist!
March 8th, 2013
Not a particularly new story in the Telegraph but one that fascinates. When George Michael awoke from his coma he spoke with a West Country accent even though he’s from London!
Apparently it’s not that uncommon in coma victims – awaking from comas speaking another language they learnt at school, etc., is actually a form of brain damage and affects a surprising amount of people.
However, George came back to his normal voice within a few days. He blames it on his obsessive viewing of the comedy show ‘Nighty Night’, set in Cornwall.
He revealed: “The first question the doctors asked me was, ‘Do you know who you are?’ And apparently the first thing I said was, ‘Oi’m the King of the World!’ Apparently that’s true, though I didn’t know it for months afterwards.”
“I scared everyone when I woke up because I basically did two days’ worth of stand-up comedy based on ‘Nighty Night’ in this bizarre West Country accent.”
And now gorgeous George is back on the stage and doing what he does best – wham!
March 1st, 2013
Scientist Professor Israel Abramov and colleagues at the City University of New York have discovered that men and women see colours differently! So says a fascinating article in National Geographic.
He found men tended to find it more difficult to make fine distinctions between colours in the middle of the visual spectrum, such as between greeny-blues (or bluey-greens). Men and women also perceived colours slightly differently.
He said, “Across most of the visible spectrum males require a slightly longer wavelength than do females in order to experience the same hue.”
So, a man would perceive a turquoise vase, for instance, as being a little more blue than a woman who was looking at it too.
This may explain why one of our team’s (no names!) fiancée refused to speak to him for 3 days after re-painting the entire apartment - he couldn’t see what was wrong with army-tank green!
February 22nd, 2013
Studies have shown that dogs prefer classical music to any other genre, reports CBS news.
Research from Colorado State University found that dogs in animal shelters were less likely to bark and more likely to sleep when played the likes of Mozart or Beethoven.
Heavy metal, by contrast, was found to have the opposite effect, inducing nervous shaking and barking, and stopping the dogs from getting any sleep.
Moreover, classical music can reduce dogs’ stress levels and potentially increase the likelihood of adoption.
So you can dress up your pooch in all the studded collars you like … at the end of the day our dogs are a little bit more highbrow than that!
February 15th, 2013
Now, how long do you think you can stay awake for? 24 hours? 48 hours? More? The actual human record is 11 days! By a young chap called Randy Gardner (we always thought it was Keith Richards!).
But dolphins can top that easily: they can stay alert and active for 15 days or more by sleeping with one half of their brain at a time, scientists have learned (see Live Science article).
The trick of keeping half the brain continuously awake is vital to the sea mammals’ survival, experts believe.
It allows them to come to the surface every so often to breathe, and remain constantly vigilant for sharks.
February 8th, 2013
Backward flight is frequently used by members of the hummingbird family as they reverse from a nectar-bearing flower after feeding.
A recent study at the University of California by scientists Dr Nir Sapir and Robert Dudley, recorded the birds’ flight biomechanics using high-speed cameras and oxygen uptake and discovered that, contrary to previously held theories, the birds use the same amount of energy flying backwards as they do flying forwards.
This was discovered by using a respiratory mask to measure the rate of oxygen consumption during feeding.
“The findings were very exciting because we expected that backward flight will come with a greater metabolic cost,” explained Dr Sapir in a BBC article.
He continued, “During backward flight, the bird’s body is held in [a] much more upright posture. We were expecting the body will experience a much higher drag and that the bird will need to invest much more work to overcome this drag.”
A fascinating study – but what amazes us more is that they put a respiratory mask on a hummingbird!!
February 1st, 2013
A great story reported in the BBC from Newquay, Cornwall – as the UK’s premier tourist beach resort, Newquay has long attracted surfers and the classic British stripy windbreak, however over the last 15 years or so this has made way for the ‘stag and hen-do brigade’ … and this has now culminated in the out and out ban of the ‘mankini’.
It’s common for a youngster growing up in Newquay to complain about the council or the lifeguards or the police (or anyone who didn’t like surfing really) about how uncool and out of touch they were with the kids! Now maybe we’re just getting old, but this has to be a good thing, doesn’t it?
Mankinis are a truly revolting sight to see and we don’t think anyone needs that in their lives!
Newquay town council says the ban is to shed the image of the town being a stag and hen haven – we think they have a long way to go on that road before they achieve that, but it’s a start.
January 25th, 2013
The Guardian reports that data analysts have released some information on our pin numbers and apparently 1 in 10 people have the same pin number for their debit cards, credit cards, telephone banking and email passwords.
And that number is?
Is that it!? Now we’re not suggesting if you find a card on the floor that you stick it in the hole in the wall and chance it, but apparently there are 10,000 possible four-digit combinations into which the numbers 0 to 9 can be arranged, and if everyone selected a number entirely at random that would offer a reasonable level of protection.
People, however, seem to exhibit a staggering lack of imagination and select very predictable numbers. This is probably because people choose numbers that are easy to remember, but this lack of originality leaves them vulnerable.
Come on people – did the enigma code mean nothing to you lot?!
January 18th, 2013
A study reported in the New Scientist has shown that it’s not just high-school kids and politicians with the most friends that become the leader of the pack – but also monkeys!
A study by the Free University of Brussels (ULB), Belgium, have found that two species of macaque – Macaca tonkeana and Macaca mulatta – reach group decisions, such as when and where to move, via the same method.
They found that the leadership hierarchy in both species emerged via a simple rule-of-thumb: individuals followed the lead of their closest affiliates. Consequently, the individual with the most social connections becomes the leader in a self-reinforcing hierarchy.
There seem to be advantages to following the most socially connected individual. “If others in the group happen upon a bit of information then maybe [the socially connected leader] will have better access to that as well,” says co-author Andrew King of the Royal Veterinary College in Hatfield, UK. That means the leader will tend to make better-informed decisions. “From a very simple rule of following your mates, you get these decisions that seem to be best,” he says.