Sweet tooth of knowledge

02018Q2 Reykjavik: This is a hodgepodge of various topics. It's been a busy last few months, so there isn't a singular theme. Think of this edition like pick-n-mix candies. Some language sweets, some Scandinavian treats, plus a few things you might not have expected.

Language Lunchbox

In no particular order, here are a bunch of interesting language related fun facts we've collected.


The two parts to the word “helicopter” are not “heli” and “copter”,  but “helico” and “pter”. The etymology comes from French hélicoptère, from Ancient Greek ἕλιξ (hélix, “spiral”) + πτερόν (pterón, “wing”).

Japanese kanji

木 tree
林 forest
桜 cherry tree

Anagram and primes

This was an interesting trick to quickly find anagrams of various word: assign each letter of the alphabet a prime number. Then you multiply all the letters together to get a value for that word which is made up of only prime factors. Any words with the same values will be anagrams of each other. It is a simple trick that probably has wider applications than you think.


We're big fans of words or sentences that can be read forwards and backwards.
  • Yo banana boy
  • Race car
  • Go hang a salami I'm a lasagna hog
These are all great examples, but the same logic can extend to other interesting language representations. Here is a list of 706 words which are palindromes when spelled out using Morse code.
  • SUPERFUNDS • • • • • – • – – • • • – • • • – • • • – – • – • • • • • 
  • RESEARCHER  • – • • • • • • • – • – • – • – • • • • • • • – • 
  • SHEEPISH • • • • • • • • • • – – • • • • • • • • • • 

Double Letters

Somewhere, it was said that "bookkeeper" is only word in the English language with 3 sets of double letters. (This VERY old Guardian article has some others) But the great thing about English is that there is no one in charge and you can make-up your own words. If they catch-on, then who's to say they are wrong. Let the proposal for an even longer word with even more sets of double letters commence. For instance, nookkeeper also has 3 sets of double letters. And if you kept raccoons in nooks, you could be considered a "raccoonnookkeeper", which has 6 sets of double letters. Can anyone do better?

Triple dots

There are not many words in English with three consecutive dotted letters, hijinks is certainly one, Fiji is another.

Material Conference

We are helping to curate and organize this crazy idea of a conference. Let's look at the web as if it were a physical material. What sorts of properties does it have and how can we explore those potentials.

This is the second edition of the Material Conference. Save the date, Friday, November 16th 2018 at Nordic House, Reykjavik, Iceland.

This line-up is coming together with a lovely mix of people from different backgrounds all discussing materials and their relationship to technology and the web. From web-based jewellery creation, to AI experiments, to weaving metallic threads into denim jackets, it should be informative.

Get Your Tickets Today

tried to give a 🏔 as a

Back in 02016, Norway was considering gifting a portion of the mountain Hálditšohkka to Finland as a centenary present. It would have become Finland's highest point. In the end, Norway sent a lovely card, some flowers and kept the mountain for itself.

Read More at the Guardian

In parts of you are not allowed to ☠️

Up in the town of Longyearbyen, which is way, way, way north of Norway on the island of Svalbald, does not inter anyone who has died. If you are near death, you are flown to the mainland. If you unexpectedly die, you are flown to the mainland. This was established in 01950, when they realised that bodies from the 01918 Spanish Flu epidemic were not decomposing. Scientists are worried that the bodies might still contain live strains of the disease which killed 5% of the world's population.

Read more about Lonyearbyen's unique laws on Wikipedia

From , we move to their neighbour

Sweden is probably best known for meatballs, but one of their other claims to fame is Carl Linnaeus. He is known as the father of modern taxonomy. He started the trend of giving every new species the two part Latin nomenclature.

But he also wrote another book called Nemesis Divina. It was only published in 01960s nearly 200 years after his death. This is because, the book is basically small town gossip. His theory was somewhat akin to Karma. He documented all the sins of towns folks and in a case-study like manner watched how it affected their lives. The local priest has an affair and his church is struck by lightening. In a scientific manner, he was trying to quantify "What goes around, comes around".

There is an English translation by Eric Miller published in 02002 for those who might be interested in reading more about small town Swedish exploits.

Part of the reason we mention this is because, over the last few months we've watched plenty of dubious actives, but took the higher-ground. It seems that Nemesis Divina has smitten the guilty parties involved.

88-segment digital displays

A few weeks ago we were in Brussels for some meetings with the EU. Waiting at the train station, the display board caught our eye. In an attempt to try to count all the tiny segments, we lost count. Luckily, someone has done some homework for us.

It seems to be a German designed script by BMG. This is probably the 88 segmented version.

If you are interested in try different text in different segmented displays, there is a website where you can type and select various segment counts, from 8, 16, 24, 34, 43, 66 and 93.