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Last Updated: Friday, 29 August, 2003, 17:17 GMT 18:17 UK
10 things we didn't know this time last week
Peas in  pod
Ten peas - by Graham Martin

It's easy to lose track of the news. So at the end of the week, it's good to keep an eye on some of those things which shouldn't go unnoticed.

If you spot something you think should be included next week, send it to us using the form at the bottom of the page.


1. George W Bush kept French fries on the menu throughout the Franco-US rift over Iraq, his personal chef has revealed at an international summit in Paris of those who cook for those who count.

2. Not all spammers want to sell you porn, penile enlargement devices and dental plans. Robby Todino of Massachusetts - who was busted for spamming in 2001 - has since sent nearly 100 million messages seeking help in building a time machine, according to Wired News.

Clockwise from top left: Prince, Maggie T, Enya and Bush Snr
Customers who bought books by _____ also bought CDs by _____
3. Customers who bought books about Margaret Thatcher's time in office also bought CDs by Enya and Sarah Brightman. Those who bought Mein Kampf also picked music by Eric Clapton and Prince, while those who chose George Bush Sr's musings also like the nu-metal band Creed. These choices are revealed in a new book by LA artist Angie Walker, who mined the records of the online bookseller Amazon for shoppers' preferences.

4. Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech was an ad-libbed passage at the end of his scripted address at a landmark equal rights march. He had started to wind up when the singer Mahalia Jackson said: "Tell them about your dream, Martin." He went on to flesh out a speech he had given many times before, describing his dream of a society where all races could live together as equals.

Madonna with Yarnwinder, photo from Drumlanrig Castle website
What chance of its return?
5. Just one-fifth of stolen masterpieces are recovered, and even then it may take decades for a famous artwork to be returned to its rightful owner. And contrary to popular belief, paintings such as the 30m da Vinci stolen from Scottish castle this week rarely grace the walls of a nefarious Mr Big, says Julian Radcliffe, of the Art Loss Register. "When we recovered a Cezanne not long ago of similar value to this [the da Vinci], it had been sitting in a bank vault for 25 years."

6. Bugs resistant to antibiotics can be killed off by bacteria-eating viruses known as bacteriophages. Discovered in the Ganges 100 years ago, the bacteria-eating phages had been eclipsed in the West by antibiotics - until now. Researchers are developing phage dressings and stitches for hospitals plagued by superbugs.

7. The world's biggest battery has been switched on this week in Alaska. The size of a football pitch, the rechargeable battery can provide 40 megawatts of emergency power - enough for 12,000 people for seven minutes - in the event of a blackout to Fairbanks, the state's second-largest city.

If you're in the UK, you can now see 10 Things at the weekend on Ceefax, page 129

8. The last time Mars passed as close to the Earth, it was 57,617 BC. Early homo sapiens still shared the planet with the Neanderthals, and were just beginning to fan out from Africa by boat or raft to south-east Asia. While no images of the close encounter have been unearthed, early man was known to have made drawings of the heavens.

9. A mini-leopard named Zeus is the most expensive cat in the world, valued at a cool 100,000. The five-month-old Bengal crossbreed - he is 90% wild Asian leopard cat and 10% domestic moggy - is the creation of specialist breeder Esmond Gay. Prices for Bengal crossbreeds start from 800 and shoot upwards depending on how much wild blood the cat has.

10. Every US astronaut has been the eldest child or first-born boy in the family, and so have more than half of American presidents. An Australian parenting expert says first-born children are ambitious, while their younger siblings are more gregarious and prepared to take risks.

If you see something you think should be included next week, let us know using the form below.

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