Your SINGLE favorite piece of information

I’ve just finished reading The Salmon of Doubt, a delightful copendium of writings and interviews of the late Douglas Adams.

In the beginning of one essay Adams claims to have a favorite piece of information. He describes it thusly:

I got to wondering if I had a SINGLE favorite piece of information, and found it hard to nail down. Not because I know very many - rather I’d just never thought to rate them. But my current favorite is this:

The SR-71 Blackbird spy plane leaked fuel on the ground. But when flying at speeds above Mach 3 the air friction heated up the airframe, causing it to expand and seal the leaks. I think that’s pretty cool.

What’s yours?

Octopuses sometimes walk on the ocean floor. They walk on two legs, hold two legs to the side as arms and wrap the other four legs around their neck. How wacky is that?

Q. Do you know what country has the largest population of ethnic Japanese people outside of Asia is?
A. Brazil.

If anyone ever doubts my knowledge of trivial facts, I throw that one at them. No one has ever gotten it right yet.

0.7 sq feet/bird is the optimal density for cost-effective growth of chickens. I’ve never thought of it as my favorite piece of info, but I’ve gotten to use it a lot more than I ever thought I would.

Euler’s Identity:
e[sup]*itheta[/sup] = cos(theta) - isin(theta), which, when theta is set to pi, reduces to e[sup]*ipi[/sup] + 1 = 0
It just brings together everything in trigonometry, analytical geometry, natural mathematics, et cetera, and gives you the five more important numbers in mathematics.

A close second is transmissable genetic coding in DNA. I believe I first came across this while watching Cosmos when I was 8 or 9, and it just crystalized everything I’d observed about life before, and made evolution (and later, when I came to understand the disctinction natural selection) a slam-dunk, much to the frustration and agitation of various family and community who sought to convince me, by force if necessary, that we were not, in fact, descended from monkeys (as they put it).

Monkeys: 1, Fundamentalist Pentacostalists: 0.


I would have said Peru for sure, but maybe that’s because of seeing that documentary obout ex-President Fujimori. (I mean, how many people go into exile in Japan???)

One of my favourite Odd Facts:

On Highway 7 west of Ottawa, Canada, there is a little town called Perth. If you follow a line drawn straight through the centre of the earth from that town, you will emerge in the Indian Ocean. The closest largish city will be Perth, Australia. :slight_smile:

Mine is probably simple math formulas. It used to be the quadratic formula and then the distance formula. Now, since my major is Finance my favorite formula is the time value of money: Future value (1+rate)^t and the reverse (present value). I never even was a huge fan of math but these little formulas were so simple and elegant.

Radius is the only (English) word that means radius. I just can’t seem to get that one out of my head.

Shakespeare and Cervantes both died on April 23, 1616. But they didn’t die on the same day. That’s because England was still using the Julian Calendar but Spain had changed to the Gregorian. April 23 in Spain was April 13 in England.

Now all I want to know is…Why?

And Perth, the capital of the state of Western Australia, is said to be the most physically isolated large city in the world.

Do you mean that radius has no synonyms? Is that unusual?

Yes - radius (in the sense of the distance from the centre of a circle to its perimeter) has no synonym, as far as I know. I don’t know if it’s particularly unusual - I suspect it isn’t - I just happen to like it, that’s all.


Christopher “Kit” Marlowe, Elizabethan poet/playwright, was a spy for Her Majesty, and his mysterious death in a bar fight may have been an assassination.

…it’s so COOL! He writes plays! He joins secret societies at the university! He FIGHTS CRIME!

The word “Hello” was invented by Thomas Edison. He created it to use as a greeting when using the new invention the Telephone.


A Brazilian would.

São Paulo, a city much larger than NYC. It’s the financial center of Brazil – Rio is for partying, São Paulo is for business.
There are many Japanese in areas around that city; banking and business is their game. My wife says that the Brazilians joke that when they go back to Japan, the other Japanese say that Brazil made them lazy.

Oh, that’s fun to know. I’m filing that away for future use.

You have a cite for sao Pauo being larger than NYC?

Neither kangaroos nor emus can walk backwards. That’s why they were chosen for the Australian coat of arms - Australia can only advance.

Probably not big news to any Aussies but a fun little fact that makes me look bright in the eyes of my American friends.