Page 96 - Technology Facts

A book on Amazon was mistakenly listed at a price of $23,698, shipping and handling!

The exorbitant price tag for The Making of A Fly on the online commerce site was first spotted back on April 18 by an astute evolutionary biologist. The ridiculous cost of the book was not due to greed or high was actually set by a secret robot price war! Unbeknownst to most Amazon users, book prices are quite often set by companies that sellers pay for algorithm services that update price points automatically. The dark side of this system is apparent - if left unchecked, two algorithms can go wild competing against one another! One book’s formula kept setting its price at 1.27059 times the price of another book, while the other kept automatically setting its own price at 0.9983 times the price of the first! You can see how this could quickly spiral out of control. Fortunately the price has been adjusted back down to a reasonable $158.90, though there is still a new copy listed at $10,000...perhaps they still haven’t worked all the ‘bugs’ out of The Making of A Fly after all?

For a while, a fictional city appeared on Google Maps for no apparent reason!

The nonexistent settlement, called “Argleton,” was located just east of the civil parish of Aughton in West Lancashire, England. In reality the area is just a bunch of empty fields. The supposed town was finally removed from Google Maps and Earth in January 2010 not just because it didn’t exist, but because many online information services were mistakenly listing addresses within the postage zones as being located in Argleton!

It is not known for certain why or how Argleton began - it was most likely a mistake by a programmer at Tele Atlas, the Dutch company that provides all the information for Google’s map database. However, Argleton briefly became quite a cultural phenomenon. A year after its discovery in 2008, it was receiving around 249,000 hits on Google and had become a fairly popular hashtag on Twitter! Shirt were even sold online with slogans such as “New York, London, Paris, Argleton” and “I visited Argleton and all I got was this T-shirt”!

The technical term for the pins and needles feeling you get when part of your body "falls asleep" is 'paresthesia'.

This word comes from the base words ‘para’, which means “altered” or “abnormal”, and ‘aisthesis’, meaning “perception”. Most people are familiar with this sensation - it commonly occurs when a person has slept on their arm or left their legs crossed for too long. The feeling is caused by sustained pressure on a nerve. Paresthesia is typically fleeting, but if it lasts a long time or occurs frequently a medical condition is likely to blame. Chronic paresthesia can be caused by a neurological disease or traumatic nerve damage.

Some awesome lists!

A young man witnessed his girlfriend being murdered on webcam!

The identity of the man has not been made known to the public, but in the early morning on April 15th, he watched helplessly from the other side of the world on webcam as his girlfriend, 23-year-old Quan Liu, was killed. Liu was a Chinese scholar studying English at York University in Toronto. That fateful morning, she was chatting online with her boyfriend (who was 11,000 miles away, back home in China) when she went to answer a knock at her apartment door around 1:00 AM. A still-unidentified man asked to borrow her cell phone, and the boyfriend witnessed a scuffle between the pair that left his significant other dead. The assailant proceeded to disconnect the laptop and stole that, her webcam, and her cell phone.

The killer has been identified as 29-year-old Brian Dickson, a man who lived in an apartment in the same building as Liu. Oddly enough, though Dickson has been charged with first-degree murder, a cause of death has yet to be established. As far as we know, this marks the first time a murder has been witnessed on the Internet, though there have been several instances in which suicide has been carried out in real time online.

The name for PEZ candy comes from the German word for ‘peppermint’!

The name for PEZ candy comes from the German word for ‘peppermint’!

In fact, PEZ were never intended to be candy at all. They were originally invented as an Austrian breathmint back in 1927 and marketed as an alternative to smoking! Because they initially were only peppermint-flavored, the mints were named using letters from the German word ‘pfefferminz’. In the early ‘50s, PEZ made the journey across the Atlantic to try and find a niche in the U.S. candy market. In order to broaden its appeal, fruity flavor varieties were added, as well as the character-themed dispensers the company has become so famous for. The initial selection of dispensers was rather sparse, as it only included a robot, a space gun, and Santa Claus. As the styles grew more diverse, PEZ dispensers soon became a hot collectible item due to their ability to reflect trends in popular culture over the years.

Check out more on the history of PEZ at (their company website)!


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