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5 things we learned this week

By Jon Connell of daily online newsletter

1 Elon Musk has 11 children by three mothers. Many, like him, are based in Austin, Texas, says his new biographer, since ‘he likes having his children around’. Do the mothers get on? ‘Not with each other.’

2 Westerners have longer weekend lie-ins than people in Asia, reports New Scientist. Researchers at the National University of Singapore analysed sleep tracker data from volunteers in 35 countries and found that while people everywhere sleep more at the weekend, different nationalities vary. Finns slumber longest, getting up on average 26.5 minutes later than on weekdays, while Britons are mid-range with an average of about 16 minutes of extra weekend shut-eye.

3 Working from home appears to be driving a boom in midweek golf. Researchers at Stanford University in California discovered that the number of people playing on Wednesdays rose by nearly 150 per cent between 2019 and 2022, while numbers on Saturdays declined, reported Tim Harford in the Financial Times. Particularly popular is the Wednesday 4pm tee-off time – up by more than 275 per cent.

4 Uncle Sam, the nickname for the American federal government, was a real person. During the War of 1812 – when British troops set fire to the White House – one supplier to the US army was a meat packer from Troy, New York state, called Samuel Wilson. He labelled his barrels of beef ‘US’, which soldiers joked was short for Uncle Sam. Congress formally adopted a resolution in 1961 saluting Wilson as ‘the progenitor of America’s National symbol of Uncle Sam’.

5 Today, Londoners don’t appreciate just how dirty the capital was when everything was covered in thick layers of coal fire soot. During the restoration of Downing Street in 1954, workers discovered that beneath the ‘familiar dark facade’ of the building was yellow brickwork. The shock of this was considered too much for the country to take, and so the newly cleaned yellow building was painted black to maintain its previous appearance.

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