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2351.  Fri Nov 28, 2003 11:56 am Reply with quote

[/topic]Oh, and concerning Louis XIV's anal fistula (see above), his recovery from the operation was considered such a blessed event that Jean-Baptiste Lully, his court composer, conducted a specially-composed Te Deum on January 8th, 1687. Lully conducted in a very antique style, by beating time on his podium with a heavy staff, and during the premiere of the Te Deum, he accidentally smacked his foot. French feet at the time not being perhaps the cleanest in the world, a purulent abcess soon developed at the site of the injury, leading to gangrene, and blood-poisoning -- which killed Lully three months later, on March 2nd. On September 1st, 1715, Louis XIV died of blood-poisoning as well due to gangrene of the knee.[topic]

2368.  Fri Nov 28, 2003 2:32 pm Reply with quote

So could there be a QI question that went 'What beetles do you eat on a regular basis?'

2379.  Fri Nov 28, 2003 8:19 pm Reply with quote

Our friend the bombardier beetle achieves a temperature of 400 degrees C in his explosive emissions, according to a zoologist that Jumping Jack and I met this evening.

2389.  Fri Nov 28, 2003 9:22 pm Reply with quote

Farting at 400 degrees C sounds like a party trick to beat the old light-it-with-a-cigarette-lighter trick.

2401.  Sat Nov 29, 2003 7:28 am Reply with quote

Frederick the Monk wrote:
The short circuit beetle (of the bostrichid family) gnaws holes in lead-sheathed telephone cables, allowing moisture to enter and hence causing electrical short circuits. Adds a whole new spin to the phrase 'eat lead and die'.

Could this be the origin of the programming term "bug"?

AskOxford pours cold water on the entire idea, but FTM's mention of a beetle called the "short circuit beetle" makes me wonder ...

Was the first computer 'bug' a real insect? Printer Friendly Version

The story is told that one of the early electromechanical computers suffered a failure because a hapless insect had crawled into the vitals of the machine and been squashed between the contacts of a relay. The incident was written up in the log-book and spread from there throughout the whole of the infant computer industry. However, although the account seems to be genuine, the word is older: the event was recorded as an amusement for posterity precisely because the term 'bug' was already in use. The term in fact originates not with computer pioneers, but with engineers of a much earlier generation. The first example cited in the Oxford English Dictionary is from the Pall Mall Gazette of 11 March 1889:

Mr. Edison, I was informed, had been up the two previous nights discovering 'a bug' in his phonograph - an expression for solving a difficulty, and implying that some imaginary insect has secreted itself inside and is causing all the trouble.

It seems clear from this that the original 'bug', though it was indeed an insect, was in fact imaginary.

I think the OED places too much reliance on a British Victorian journalist's "sources" concerning US slang ... it's certainly of interest that at the time of this first recorded usage, the telegraph had been in use for 52 years, but the telephone for just over ten.

(Do we all know about what a crook Bell was?)

2408.  Sat Nov 29, 2003 10:00 am Reply with quote

That's interesting Garrick - I hadn't heard of that earlier usage.

2416.  Sat Nov 29, 2003 8:05 pm Reply with quote

The "Bell was a crook" theme was covered in the last broadcast episode of the first series.

2422.  Sun Nov 30, 2003 3:58 am Reply with quote

Morning all. Thank you for the excellent slew of posts while I've been absent.

It is easier for a fairyfly to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a camel to.

GARRICK I apologise for yelling, but the 'bold' button seems to have broken on my machine.It's true (as Flash says) that some of Bell's crookedness was covered in the last series, in that he is said to have stolen Meucci's patent proposal and design for the telephone, but are there more examples of his knavery? A thread entitled 'Bells' might be fun - covering everything from Alexander Graham and that bloke who's supposed to be the model for Sherlock Holmes, to Big Ben and Pavlov's dogs. Will you do the honours?

JENNY I hope you know that I wouldn't dream of correcting your (or anyone else's) punctuation, it was just that the typo meant the sentence didn't make sense. Did I seem rude? I do hope not. Love that St.Peter joke! What about starting a "QI Jokes" thread in the Outer Darkness?

It strikes me there's the germ of an amusing question about Beetle Offspring. There's something totally unexpected about insects having 'nuclear' families.

Something to do with mummy and daddy dung-beetles and how many birthday presents they need to buy in a year...

What's the maximum number of progeny a single female beetle can produce, I wonder?

2423.  Sun Nov 30, 2003 4:08 am Reply with quote

I commend this site

The Cultural Entomology Digest Online written by a guy in Hawaii. Years ago I used to subscribe to the hardcopy version.

2424.  Sun Nov 30, 2003 4:16 am Reply with quote

As many as 16,000 dung beetles have been recorded at a single elephant dropping, 4000 of whom arrived within 15 minutes.

s: ENI

Within two hours, the whole enormous dropping had disappeared.

s: BEB

Last edited by JumpingJack on Tue Dec 02, 2003 3:25 am; edited 1 time in total

2425.  Sun Nov 30, 2003 4:24 am Reply with quote

Q. What's brown and sounds like a bell?

Could be on three threads at once, that...

2426.  Sun Nov 30, 2003 4:35 am Reply with quote

Adult dung beetles feed on the liquid 'soup' in dung. The process of removing the moisture is known as "shredding". The beetles have to arrive promptly because dung dries out fast.

Fresh dung is 90% water but small sheep pellets in hot weather may be a complete waste of time to a dung beetle within three hours.

Dung beetles remove some of the moist dung from the pile, roll it into a ball, take it away and bury it, and then lay a single egg in the middle of it.

A single elephant dropping (>1kg) weighs more than a thousand times a single rabbit dropping (1g).

Most dung pats and mounds are used by dung beetles for 1-4 weeks.

s: ENI

2427.  Sun Nov 30, 2003 4:43 am Reply with quote

Unlike adult dung beetles, the larvae have biting mouth-parts and so can feed on the fibre content of dung after they hatch.

Female dung beetles have only one ovary.

The average dung beetle egg is a third of the length of an adult female.

Most species of dung beetle produce about 20 eggs per female per year, though some species produce as few as five.

The courtship ritual of dung beetles consists of the male tapping the female on the head with his forelegs.


2428.  Sun Nov 30, 2003 4:50 am Reply with quote

Worldwide, there are about 4000 species of dung beetle.

s: ENI

It occurs to me that dung beetles could also feature in questions about Burial

2429.  Sun Nov 30, 2003 4:58 am Reply with quote

Between 1967 and 1995, 46 different species of dung beetle were deliberately introduced to Australia. 26 of these species are alive and well.

The introduction of sheep and cattle in Australia from the 19th century on produced gigantic ziggurats of dung which the local dung beetles were completely unable to cope with. Apart from the recycling problem, this also had the side-effect of a huge increase in the pestilential Australian bush-fly Musca vetustissima which feasted on the dung.

The introduction of dung beetles has substantially reduced the bush-fly population – but not nearly anyone who has been to the outback will testify.

s: ENI

[That's enough dung-beetles –Ed.]


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