Page 351. " the driver of a large Hispano-Suiza "

Hispano-Suiza, which translates as "Spanish-Swiss," is a Spanish automotive and engineering firm.  It is best known for its luxury cars and aviation engines in the pre-World War II period.  The company originated in 1898, when Spaniard Emilio de la Cuadra started producing electric automobiles in Barcelona. He was soon joined by Swiss engineer Marc Birkigt, who designed the company’s first gas-powered engines, and pioneered a number of aircraft design features.  These included a hollow propeller shaft allowing a gun to be fired through the propeller spinner. 

Hispano Suiza 1936
GNU Free Documentation LicenseHispano Suiza 1936 - Credit: Kévin Pourtout
The company mass-produced cars, trucks and aviation engines until the outbreak of World War 2.  Rolls-Royce automobiles featured many Hispano-Suiza patented features under licence, including their power brakes, which were reportedly the best in the world. 

Since the Second World War Hispano-Suiza has focused primarily on aerospace and turbine manufacturing. 

Page 370. " There's something funny going on in "The Raven." "
Edgar Allan Poe, late 1860s
Public DomainEdgar Allan Poe, late 1860s - Credit: Oscar Halling

The Raven is a narrative poem by American writer and poet Edgar Allan Poe.  It was first published in January 1845. It tells of the despair of a young man who has lost his love, and his strange and vaguely supernatural visit from a talking raven.  The poem makes use of a number of folk and classical references.

The narrator asks the raven his name. The bird responds ‘Nevermore.’  The narrator continues to address questions to the raven, always getting the same response.  The exchange sees the narrator descend from weariness and grief, into frenzy and eventually madness.  What the raven makes of it all is not clear.

Read the poem here.

Page 373. " I've never seen a neanderthal in a suit before "
Neanderthals in an artist's impression of earth 600 000 years ago
Public DomainNeanderthals in an artist's impression of earth 600 000 years ago - Credit: Randii Oliver


Amud skull - Example of Neanderthal skull found in Israel
Public DomainAmud skull - Example of Neanderthal skull found in Israel - Credit: José-Manuel Benito

Neanderthals are an extinct branch of our family tree. They used to live in Europe and Western Asia 600 000 to 350 000 years ago. Their range would have overlapped with our own. They were similar to modern humans in that they walked upright but they had a more robust frame and were shorter.  They had a larger brain than we do relative to their body size, but the skull shape suggests a less well developed frontal lobe.  There is still some debate about whether they are a sub species of Homo sapiens or a distinct species and whether there was interaction and interbreeding between the two.  

They are named for the area in which they were first recorded in 1856, in Neandertal valley, near Dusseldorf, in Germany.