They say you learn something new every day. Here are some of the things Tom Whitwell learnt in a year.
- Since the 1960s, British motorways have been deliberately designed by computer as series of long curves, rather than straight lines. This is done for both safety (less hypnotic) and aesthetic (“sculpture on an exciting, grand scale”) reasons. [Joe Moran]
Ah, motorways, “the twentieth century’s equivalent of the pyramids”.
- Gravitricity is a Scottish startup planning to store energy by lifting huge weights up a disused mine shaft when electricity is cheap, dropping them down to generate power when it is expensive. Using a 12,000 tonne weight (roughly the weight of the Eiffel tower), it should be half as expensive as equivalent lithium ion battery. [Jillian Ambrose]
Such a simple idea, though something about it reminds me of those perpetual motion contraptions.
- CD sales still make up 78% of music revenue in Japan (compared with less than 30% in the UK). Japanese pop fans have been encouraged to buy multiple copies of their favourite releases to win rewards (buy 2,000 copies, win a night at a hot spring with your favourite star). One 32 year-old fan was charged with illegally dumping 585 copies of a CD on the side of a mountain. [Mark Mulligan]
You really must follow the link to that one and read more about the incredibly bizarre and manipulative marketing practices going on there. It beggars belief.
This next one reminds me of that xkcd comic about Bobby Tables.
- A man who bought the personalised number plate NULL has received over $12,000 of parking fines, because the system records ‘NULL’ when no numberplate has been recorded. [Jack Morse]
Here’s one for Borges and his friend Funes the Memorious.
- SDAM (Severely Deficient Autobiographical Memory) is a rare syndrome where otherwise healthy, high-functioning people are unable to remember events from their own life. There is also an exhausting syndrome called Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory, where people can remember precise details about every single day of their life. [Palumbo & Alain]
And I’m sure this one applies this side of the Atlantic too, as we head into the last few days of general election polling.
- “Polling by phone has become very expensive, as the number of Americans willing to respond to unexpected or unknown callers has dropped. In the mid-to-late-20th century response rates were as high as 70%… [falling to] a mere 6% of the people it tried to survey in 2018.” [The Economist]