Cultural Comment: Hobson's choice

Years it takes the sun to complete an orbit of the Milky Way: 200 m.

Number of dimensions in which Fields Medal winner Professor Richard Borcherds of Cambridge University, analysed the rotations of a cube: 196,833

Cost, per square foot, of Dermagraft-TC, a biotechnologically engineered skin used to cover burns: $3,000

Number of Nazca lines - drawings in the Peruvian desert which predate the Inca Empire - revealed by Maria Reiche, "the lady of the lines", who was awarded Peru's Order of the Sun, and Unesco's silver medal: 1,000

Odds on a graduate at a British university dropping or failing their degree course: 1 in 5

Number of people sitting Welsh A level this year: 953

Number of Catholic nuns or religious sisters in the world: 828,660

Brides-to-be left without dresses when the wedding shop, Happy Ever After, in Falkirk, Scotland, closed without warning last week: 30

Number of Viking historical re-enactment societies in the UK: 50

Hours of tests and assessments a Viking historical re-enactment society member must pass to become a basic villager: 30

Number of "nasty surprises, irregular or discordant passages" in Smooth Classics, Classic FM presenter John Brunning's selection of "the world's most relaxing and mellifluous music to let go to": 0

Ratio of the murder rate of Geneva to that of London: 2:1

Ratio of the murder rate of Washington to that of London: 33:1

Percentage of prisons in England, Scotland and Wales considered overcrowded by the Prison Service in 1997: 50

Number of 9pm-curfew days which local authorities, with the approval of the Home Secretary, will be able to impose on primary school children from September: 90

SOURCES: Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, The Guardian, Circumcision Medical Journal, The Art Newspaper, The Push Guide to Which University 99, Times Education Supplement, The Tablet, The Daily Record, Innovations, Home Office, US Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, The Daily Telegraph, Universal Media GmbH.

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