Did you know about ...

1. Tokyo's incredibly efficient recycling systems. All combustible trash is incinerated, the smoke and gasses cleaned before release, and then the leftover ash is used as a replacement for clay in the cement used for construction.

2. The phrase "He never married" was commonly used by obituary writers in the United Kingdom as a euphemism for the deceased having being homosexual.

3. A group of 15 monkeys once used trees to catapult themselves over a 17ft high electric fence after escaping a research institute in Kyoto University.

4. Arizona has a Stupid Motorist Law that fines motorists the cost of the rescue for getting trapped in floods after going around the road barricades.


5. Oak Ridge, a city built in the US in 1942 where 100,000 people lived and worked in a factory, doing very specific tasks, with most having no idea of what they were making. In 1945 they saw news reports of the atomic bombings of Japan and realised they'd been working on the bombs all along.

Who hears, wins

According to a study in mice, the brain might come with a noise-cancelling feature: it may help you ignore the sound of your own footsteps or the crunching of your bites. Researchers found that the brain of mice cancelled out the sound of their own footsteps, which essentially allowed them to focus on surrounding sounds, such as those from approaching cats.

Optical illusion

"Hard to believe that this new paving in Highbury Birkenhead is actually flat! Probably a device to slow down walkers!"

Astonishing chemistry perfect for big screen

"I'm just saying I wouldn't be uninterested in a feature-length comedy about two cathedral-loving Russian gays whose dream holiday to Salisbury via Bow turns into a nightmare when they're accused of carrying out a deadly nerve attack." (Via @stevenperkins)

Video pick

This is an ad for a real product (or a clever viral promotion for a yet-to-be-released Black Mirror ep) Billy-Billy ($340) is a green flowerpot that tells its senior citizen owners when it needs water and reminds you to take medication. In short a nightmarish artificial companion.

Got a Sideswipe? Send your pictures, links and anecdotes to Ana at ana.samways@nzherald.co.nz