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336791.  Thu May 15, 2008 5:21 am Reply with quote

The invention of Space Invaders led to a national shortage of coins in Japan.

s: Childhood museum

336795.  Thu May 15, 2008 5:23 am Reply with quote

The Bronte sisters' work owes an awful lot to a world of Imaginary friends that they created as children. Agatha Christie and CS Lewis also had imaginary friends.

s: Childhood Museum

336803.  Thu May 15, 2008 5:27 am Reply with quote

Question: What is this?

Forfeit: A russian doll

Answer: A Japanese doll.

...apart from the fact that that particular one was made in Russia, so maybe if we can find one made in Taiwan or something.

Anyway, according to the Childhood Museum (can you guess where I was on Tuesday morning) Matryoshka dolls originated in Japan.

336811.  Thu May 15, 2008 5:32 am Reply with quote

"Spirograph" was invented in 1962 by British engineer Denys Fisher during his research on a new design for bomb detonators for NATO.

Apparantly he was doing some quite compicated maths, the spirograph is a geometric manifestation of said maths (perhaps Will can elucidate).

The idea behind spirographs is used to make the patterns on banknotes around the world. They're called Guilloché patterns. The patterns were also used to decorate fabergé eggs.

s: Childhood museum (lots of maths here)

336813.  Thu May 15, 2008 5:37 am Reply with quote

The "hop rod" was a gas-powered pogo stick - it is no longer available (for obvious reasons). When you landed, the force would push the piston into the cylinder, compressing the fuel and firing a sparkplug, launching the stick (and its jockey) into the air.

It was invented by Gordon Spitzmesser and patented in 1960.

Due a number of accidents when the hotrod landed on a non-level surface, the toy was banned in the 1970s.

Soviet aviation scientists used a similar approach in the late 1980s when they developed piston-driven, gas-powered boots to enable soldiers to take 13-foot strides and run at 25 miles an hour.

s: Chidhood museum

337003.  Thu May 15, 2008 10:09 am Reply with quote

A couple of facts via e-mail from the British Slot Car Racing Association:

Slot racing is still active with club racing throughout the country, national and international racing, although it doesn't have the public profile it had in the 1960s. The World Championships are coming to the UK for the first time in over a decade in October 2008.

Looking at the very fastest slot cars, the world record for a 155ft lap length "Blue king" track is 1.404 seconds an average of just over 75mph.


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