[ Issue 25 ]

Where Three Ways Meet is one of Emily Bronto’s favourite Bikwil features

Bikwil has a thing about Trivia

Where Three Ways Meet

In Issue 25 we continue with our trivia series, Where Three Ways Meet.  Once again the contributor is Bunty, who presents five more facts to charm you: wedding rings, 19th century physiology, CDs, street numbering, computer mice.

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Where Three Ways Meet

The custom of wearing a wedding ring on the third finger of the left hand is very old, and has been traced back to at least the 12th century, and may even derive from betrothal rings given by the Romans as secular pledges. Yet until the end of the 16th century the practice in England was to wear the wedding ring on the right hand third finger. Right or left, why the third finger? Because since ancient Egyptian times it had been believed to contain either a special delicate nerve or a vein (vena amoris) that ran directly to the heart.

At age 72, physiologist Charles-Édouard Brown-Séquard (1817-94) pulverized pieces of dog testicles in water and injected himself with the filtered juice thereof. His hope of experiencing a return of vigour seems to have been realised, for he reported to the Société de Biologie in Paris, “Today I was able to ‘pay a visit’ to my young wife.”

As was the case with vinyl LPs, on a 74-minute music CD and a 680 million byte CD-Rom there are actually no individual tracks. There is only a single spiral track that has a positioning index pointing to the other segments of music/data. It is nearly three miles long.

There was no system of street numbering in London (or, in some districts, street name signs either) until late in the 18th century. Until then, houses and shops made do with hanging boards, which of course in the case of shops served also an advertising purpose and/or signposts to other locations. It was in 1895 that the Common Council in the City directed that the wards must fasten name tablets to all streets, alleys, squares and courts. Two years later Parliament legislated for the numbering of houses.

Most computer users today, even PC owners, would acknowledge that the mouse device first appeared on the Apple Macintosh (1984). Others, slightly more knowledgeable, might assert that it was Apple’s Lisa (1983) that first sported a mouse. “No,” might cry those far better informed, “it was Xerox labs who invented it, in 1973 for their Alto computer.” At which point the computing historian would have to retort smugly, “You’re all wrong. It was actually invented by Douglas Englebart way back in 1964 at the Stanford Research Institute. He called it the X-Y Position Indicator for a Display System.”

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