Tree blocking railway line

Number News

Four hundred trees, 43,000 power cuts and 17 per cent of the UK’s electricity demand during the Christmas storms make up the number news this month.


Network Rail says nearly 400 trees came down onto railway lines during the succession of storms that swept across Britain before and during Christmas and New Year, while torrential rain caused almost 130 floods and 29 landslips in the four weeks from 8 December to 4 January.



Illustrating the maxim that every cloud has a silver lining, high winds across the UK made December a record-breaking month for wind power, with a new high of 2,841,080MWh supplied to the National Grid, according to figures published by RenewableUK. In week beginning Monday 16 December, wind generated 783,886MWh, and within that period, on Saturday 21 December the 132,812MWh produced met 17 per cent of the nation’s total electricity demand for that day.



A survey by discount code website found that two out of three people would be too embarrassed to wear Google Glass in public, while a similar number would be uncomfortable talking to someone else who was using the augmented reality eyewear, which is expected to go on general sale this year. Moreover, 53 per cent said the product’s expected price of around $600 (£350) would be too high.



Following a few withdrawals in 2013, 18 teams are still competing for the $30m Google Lunar XPrize. To win the money, a privately funded team must land a spacecraft safely on the surface of the Moon, travel 500 metres above, below, or on the lunar surface, and send back two ‘Mooncasts’ to Earth before 31 December 2015.



Around 43,000 properties suffered power cuts on Christmas Day as a result of floods and storm damage, with 750,000 properties hit at some time over the Christmas period, according to the Energy Networks Association, representing energy suppliers.



The British Library has released over a million images onto Flickr Commons, making them available for anyone to download from the picture-sharing website. The images were digitised by Microsoft and come from 65,000 volumes. They are tagged by year and by book ID, but the library wants to collaborate with researchers and others to improve the data. It plans to launch a crowdsourcing application to help describe what the images portray.

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