Each week the BBC Magazine picks out snippets from the week’s news – interesting newsbites that we learn along the way, and find their way into 10 Things We Didn’t Know This Time Last Week every Saturday. So at the end of the year, here is an almanac of those things we learned.

  1. Street brawlers sometimes arm themselves with potato peelers, according to the Home Office, which wants to make them banned weapons.
  2. Farmers plant their crops up to three weeks earlier than 15 years ago. In the 1960s, temperatures from January to March averaged 4.2C; it rose to 5.6C in the 1990s.
  3. Brussels sprouts have three times as much vitamin C as oranges.
  4. Crows apparently like the taste of windscreen-wiper blades.
  5. 52% of households have five or more remote controls.
  6. Dame Judi Dench sends 450 Christmas presents, according to her daughter.
  7. The heat generated by a laptop, and the knees-together pose needed to balance it, can damage a man’s fertility.
  8. Brazilians are the nationality most likely to read spam.
  9. Some pigeons follow roads and turn off at motorway junctions to navigate their way round.
  10. Ten people die on the UK’s roads every day.
  11. The opening lines of the Communist Manifesto – “A spectre is haunting Europe – the spectre of Communism” – were initially translated as “A frightful hobgoblin stalks through Europe”.
  12. Ronald Reagan started planning his own funeral the year he entered the White House almost quarter of a century ago. He died in June.
  13. Smoking killed nearly one million people worldwide in 2000, according to the World Health Organisation.
  14. Marine biologists say altruistic behaviour is not uncommon in dolphins.
  15. UK scientists have developed a clock which ticks 1,000,000 billion times a second. Technically that’s a quadrillion.
  16. Prince Charles and Paul Dacre, editor of the Daily Mail, were born on the same day.
  17. Ian Hislop, scourge of the media powerful, now knows that his grandfather’s middle name was Murdoch.
  18. There are 75 withdrawals from cash machines every second in the UK.
  19. The collective noun for rhinos is “crash”.
  20. Osama Bin Laden refers to 9/11 as “Manhattan”.
  21. The word “electricity” was first used in English in about 1600 by Elizabeth I’s physician.
  22. George W Bush got the highest number of votes for president of any candidate in US history, in November 2004.
  23. John Kerry got the second highest number.
  24. Germany has an 18-year-old MP – Julia Bonk, a member of the Saxony legislature. Her name is not funny in German.
  25. Half of Britons have a collection of more than 20 carrier bags at home, according to a survey. One in 10 people has up to 80.
  26. The full names of Scooby Doo’s Mystery Inc members are: Fred Jones, Daphne Blake, Velma Dinkley, Scooby “Scoobert” Doo. Shaggy is actually Norville Rogers.
  27. So much for the overworked society, the average British employee actually works 75 minutes less a week than in 1997, according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research.
  28. The word “celeb” is not a recent invention – it was used in a letter to Woodrow Wilson in 1913. The word “sex”, used to mean sexual intercourse, was first used in 1929.
  29. The remains of thousands of mammoths have been found by fishermen in the North Sea.
  30. The Sydney Harbour Bridge contains just 16 nuts and bolts. The rest is held together by rivets, because it doesn’t need to be dismantled.
  31. Herrings break wind to communicate and keep the school together.
  32. Tory leader Michael Howard and wife Sandra watch a video of Brideshead Revisited every New Year.
  33. Bob Dylan originally planned to use his first two given names, Robert Allen, as his stage name, because it sounded like the name of a Scottish king. After he saw some Dylan Thomas poems, he chose Dylan as his new surname instead.
  34. Plastic surgery dates back to 600BC and the first nose job was in 1000AD.
  35. George Bush and John Kerry shared the same debating coach while at Yale University. His name was Rollin Osterweis.
  36. One in five British homes has a foot spa, although mostly they lie idle, among more than £3bn of “useless gadgets” to be found in UK homes, according to insurance firm Esure.
  37. Although it’s nearly 24 years since Jimmy Carter was US president, he still receives about 4,000 letters a month.
  38. Yoda was based on Albert Einstein.
  39. More Brits die each year falling from their hotel balcony than do in diving accidents, according to Foreign Office statistics.
  40. There is a British Hat Council – it’s the body which coined the phrase: “If you want to get ahead, get a hat.” It reports that sales of hats to men have risen by 80% in the past year, and that £51m will be spent on headgear this year.
  41. Twenty years ago, seven out of every 10 pints drunk in the UK were ale. Now, thanks to the rise of lager, stout and cider, the number is just three.
  42. Running a car costs the average motorist £101 a week, according to the RAC.
  43. In 1911, Pablo Picasso was one of the suspects arrested for the theft of the Mona Lisa.
  44. Until 3 September 2004, the fastest bus in London was an old fashioned red double decker, registration number ALD 971B. Unlike other buses, according to reports, this one did not have a speed regulator and so could go above 30mph.
  45. There is a world record for being able to squirt liquids out of a human eye. The existing record is 8.7 feet (2.65m), but a Turkish man claims to have broken the record with a 9.2 feet (2.8m) squirt.
  46. Interesting historical footnote: Greg Dyke was on the Atkins diet at the time of the Hutton Report, he revealed in his autobiography.
  47. A “jiffy” is 10 milliseconds in computer science terms.
  48. Margaret Roberts (later Thatcher) helped invent the chemical process that produces Mr Whippy ice cream.
  49. Guests at the Queen’s coronation in 1953 pilfered toilet paper from Westminster Abbey. “It was found early on Coronation Day, that much of the lavatory paper had been removed, and in future it will be necessary to take steps to prevent this,” official records released this year reveal.
  50. A tribe living in a remote part of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest has no words for numbers beyond two. The Piraha use “one” to mean one or roughly one, two means two, while any larger number is just “many”.
  51. The day after the atomic bomb exploded on Hiroshima, the banks re-opened. They had one customer, John Reader’s book Cities recorded.
  52. Up to 65% of children with a father in jail get imprisoned themselves, according to Home Office figures.
  53. Phrase-turner extraordinaire Clive James says he originated the terms “underwhelmed” and “young fogey”, but is yet to receive the recognition he deserves. He also says he’s particularly proud of his description of the Conan the Barbarian-era Arnold Schwarzenegger as “a brown condom full of walnuts”.
  54. George Clooney listens to The Archers online, according to model Lisa Snowden who says she introduced him to it.
  55. Having breaking news alerts delivered to your mobile phone may seem cutting edge, but the Daily Express pioneered the service back in 1914, offering personal war updates via telegram for a shilling each.
  56. The Shining is the “perfect scary movie”, according to researchers, who have come up with a scientific formula for such things. They identified the isolated setting, escalating music and chase scenes as some of the key elements in its success.
  57. Gibraltar, which celebrated 300 years under British rule this year, was named Jebel Tarik – Tarik’s mountain – by Moorish settlers in honour of their leader Tarik ibn Zeyad. The last syllable was lost over time.
  58. Saddam Hussein’s son Uday kept nine lions as the centrepiece of a bizarre menagerie of exotic animals. In July the lions were moved to Baghdad zoo.
  59. Britons throw away enough rubbish every hour to fill the Royal Albert Hall.
  60. The bookmakers William Hill loses 80,000 little pens a day – the sort used to fill out betting slips.
  61. Ken Livingstone, the mayor of London, has got solar panels fitted on the roof of his Cricklewood home.
  62. The founder of the Natural History Museum, Sir Richard Owen, was the man we have to thank for the word “dinosaur”, literally meaning “terrible lizard”.
  63. Just one in a hundred workers goes to the pub for their lunch, according to a study. The same proportion spend lunch having sex.
  64. Chef Gordon Ramsay says he gets between three and five parking tickets on any working day.
  65. “Square eyes” might be real – Australian researchers have found that children who spend a long time inside watching television or on computers become more susceptible to short-sightedness.
  66. An American girl aged between three and 11 has, on average, 10 Barbie dolls in her toy box.
  67. It’s 30 years since the world’s first barcode was used. It was on a 10-pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit at a supermarket in Ohio. The gum is now an exhibit in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC.
  68. Bill Clinton revealed in his autobiography that he didn’t learn to ride a bike properly until he was 22.
  69. The theme music to Crimewatch UK, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in June, is called Rescue Helicopter – written by John Cameron.
  70. And reports of UFOs have dwindled since the late 1990s. In the UK, sightings have gone from about 30 a week to almost zero; it’s a trend echoed in the US and Norway.
  71. Departing chancellors of the exchequer get to choose a cartoon caricature of themselves to hang on the staircase of 11 Downing Street. Not that the current occupant, Gordon Brown, is going anywhere just yet – this year he became Britain’s longest-serving chancellor.
  72. Desert locusts can travel 120 miles in 24 hours.
  73. Ducks have regional accents. London ducks shout out a rough quack to be heard above the urban din; those in the West Country make a quieter, softer sound.
  74. Lasagne has replaced chicken tikka massala as the favourite dish of Britons. Sainsbury’s sold 13.9 million lasagne ready meals and just 7.4 million chicken tikka massalas last year. Tesco sold 9.8 million lasagnes and 6.3 million chicken tikka massalas.
  75. Freak conditions above Everest can cause the sky to “fall in”. An analysis of weather patterns in May 1996, by University of Toronto researchers, said eight people died when the stratosphere sank to the level of the summit.
  76. More than one billion birds crash into buildings in the US every year. Mirrored office blocks are a particular hazard.
  77. There are at least 17 Maxine Carrs in the UK, all of whom are ex-directory.
  78. Defeated Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry says he once flew upside-down over Israel. It was, he says, the “perfect way” to see the Middle East.
  79. Space is only 62 miles away. That’s 100 kilometres.
  80. Essex is the UK’s book club capital, with more reading groups than any other county and spin-off events such as a walk-and-talk-about-books club.
  81. When people are in love, weird things happen. Men get more female hormones, and women get more male. Scientist Donatella Marazziti says it’s as if nature wants to eliminate what can be different in men and women, perhaps to help the mating process.
  82. Alan Smithee is a prolific director of film stinkers. His is the name directors use if a film is recut by the studio against their wishes. The alias was first used on the 1969 western, Death of a Gunfighter. Its origins are somewhat murky, but one theory goes that it is an anagram of “The Alias Men.”
  83. There’s no mobile reception at the top of the Gherkin in London – it’s too high up at 40 storeys. The phone companies hadn’t expected a tower so tall, and it’s above the reception area.
  84. There are 1,049 offshore British islands. One of the late Norris McWhirter’s great loves was visiting them all.
  85. Poets die young… “On average, poets lived 62 years, playwrights 63 years, novelists 66 years and non-fiction writers lived 68 years,” according to California State University’s James Kaufman.
  86. You can see the back of your own head in some parts of the universe as time and light are so curved. The universe is neither flat, nor football shaped – it looks like a flat-sided trumpet, German physicists believe.
  87. One gigabyte of information – about a quarter of the memory of an iPod mini – is the equivalent of a pick-up truck load of paper.
  88. In the past decade, four people in the UK have died in cemetery accidents, crushed by falling tombstones.
  89. Continuing in this cheery vein, more than 1.2 million people die in traffic accidents worldwide each year. The first was Bridget Driscoll, knocked down by a car travelling at 12mph in London on 17 August 1896. The coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death, and warned: “This must never happen again.”
  90. A quarter of Australia’s population was born outside the land Down Under.
  91. Scientists have developed cress which changes from green to red when it comes near explosives – ideal for spotting landmines…
  92. …which is a good job as there are still about 100m undiscovered landmines in the world, just waiting to go off.
  93. One in 12 of the country’s workforce is a cleaner, according to the British Cleaning Council.
  94. A cruise ship can put more than 130,000 litres of sewage into the sea each day.
  95. There are a third more children at grammar schools now, under Labour, than there were 10 years ago under the Tories (150,750 now compared with 111,846 in 2003.)
  96. One in four 16- and 17-year-old girls in the UK is on the contraceptive pill – more than ever before.
  97. Matt Groening’s father – the inspiration for Homer Simpson – has only complained once about his alter-ego’s actions. It was an episode in which Homer badgered Marge into walking some considerable distance on a hot day to fetch him something.
  98. Lord Baden Powell wanted a section on the dangers of “self abuse” in his Scouting for Boys. His original manuscript read: “A very large number of the lunatics in our asylums have made themselves ill by indulging in this vice although at one time they were sensible cheery boys like you.”
  99. Dom Perignon, the Benedictine monk, was originally employed by his abbey to get the bubbles out of the champagne, according to Gerard Liger-Belair’s new book, Uncorked: the Science of Champagne.
  100. Bill Clinton sent just two e-mails while he was president.