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Facts & Figures

It’s a slow news day here at Embedded Technology Journal, so we’re taking this summertime opportunity to review a bit of our world by numbers. Perhaps some of these illuminating factoids will give you some good business ideas. Or just help you win a bar bet.

• According to Microsoft’s own research conducted as it was developing Vista, the second most-popular computer activity is playing games. In terms of time spent in front of the computer, the only thing that trumps games is surfing the Web. These ranked above email, music, shopping – and work.

• Ralcorp produces Grape Nuts breakfast cereal at the rate of 165,000 pounds per day, seven days a week, from a single plant located in central California. The cereal contains neither grapes nor nuts.

• The Oxford English Dictionary sells as well in Japan as it does in the United States.

• Binney & Smith makes an average of 5 million Crayola crayons per day.

• It is a fallacy that there are more people alive today than all those who have ever lived. The current population is roughly 6.5 billion, while the cumulative population from 50,000 B.C. to now was about 106 billion, according to Carl Haub of the Population Reference Bureau.

• Ferrari produced 5,658 cars in 2006, up 5% from the previous year. For comparison, Audi sold 94,000 cars, and Chrysler sold about 2.7 million vehicles globally.

• More than 3 billion Hot Wheels cars have been produced since the toy line began in 1968. There are more than 800 models of vehicles in more than 11,000 variations.

• A typical color ink-jet cartridge sells for about $3 per milliliter. That’s seven times more expensive than the cost of vintage champagne.

• Teflon owes nothing whatsoever to the U.S. space program. It was developed by Du Pont chemist Dr. Roy Plunkett in 1938, and commercialized in 1948.

• The peace sign was invented by British textile designer Gerald Holtom on April 4, 1958. It debuted at an anti-nuclear weapons demonstration at London’s Trafalgar Square. It is reputedly based on the semaphore flag positions for N and D (for nuclear disarmament).

• There are more privately owned super-yachts (e.g., over 100 feet) than there are warships in the British Royal Navy. These vessels are so large and sophisticated that a work force larger than that of the Royal Navy is needed to man them. In fact, yacht owners can contract with the Royal Navy to crew their vessels.

• Nine years before “The Star Spangled Banner,” Francis Scott Key wrote another song, “When the Warrior Returns,” set to the same music.

• The approximate density of gasoline is about 6.15 lbs per gallon at 60 deg F.

• Twenty percent of highway accidents in Sweden involve moose.

• California is one of only five “Mediterranean” climates around the world, which account for just 2% of the planet’s land mass but 20% of its plant species. Chile, Australia, South Africa, and (obviously) the Mediterranean are the others.

• Americans spend $1 billion more on movie rentals every year than on movies in the theatre.

• NASA never spent money developing a “space pen.” Instead, the agency paid $2.39 apiece for 400 pens from the Fisher Pen Company, which had already developed the product on its own, with no government funding. The Soviets also bought 100 Fisher pens for their Soyuz space program.

• McDonald’s uses 250 million pounds of ketchup annually in the United States, none of it from Heinz.

• Because it doesn’t spoil in the heat, some Amazonian tribesmen cook with Vaseline. Its inventor, Robert Chesebrough, ate a spoonful every day.

• Some modern cars produce such low emissions that on a smoggy day, the exhaust is cleaner than the air that goes in. Filling up the tank at the gas station can emit more pollution than draining the tank.

• Before battle, Egyptian, Babylonian, and some early Roman commanders had their hair and nails done.

• Americans consume about 40 billion paper bags per year, 25 billion through grocery stores.

• The line, “play it again, Sam” never appears in the movie Casablanca.

• Sherlock Holmes never says, “Elementary my dear Watson” in any of Conan Doyle’s books.

• The blender was invented by Fred Waring in the 1930s to mix daiquiris.

• A tree can produce about 80,500 sheets of paper. Worldwide production of paper is about 1,510 sheets per person per year.

• The Star Wars movies have generated about $4 billion in total box-office sales, but another $12 billion in related merchandise – more than any other movie franchise.

• “Gesundheit” is the German word for “health. 

• Yahoo’s trademark yodel was performed by 40-year-old Wylie Gustafson. He was paid $590.

• Worldwide sales of diamonds is $64 billion, about half of which is in the U.S.

• During its active life the Queen Elizabeth II covered about 5.3 million nautical miles, more than any other ship in history.

• There are about 105 million parking spaces in America.

• Ever since 2004, tortillas have outsold white bread in the United States.

• According to Intel’s Gordon Moore, the world’s semiconductor manufacturers produced 1018 transistors in 2003, and the world’s printers typed 1018 printed characters on paper. Similarly, the cost of one transistor is about the same as the cost of one character in the New York Times.

• There are about 1016 ants in the world.

• Incandescent light bulbs emit 9 times more energy as heat than light. 

• The average person goes on 100 dates before getting married.

• About 560,000 Holiday Inn towels are stolen every year.

• It takes 625 grapes to make a bottle of wine.

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