100 Amazing Facts for People Who Can’t Get Enough Amazing Facts
Prepare to be amazed!
Some people enjoy learning a new fact every now and then, but others are absolute trivia junkies. And the following 100 amazing facts are for them. From how big the world’s largest plane is (wider than two football fields!) to how tall prehistoric penguins stood (as tall as professional basketball players!) this list of extensive and deeply-researched amazing facts is sure to please. So read on, and prepare to have your thirst for surprising information totally quenched.
The word “sneeze” came about through a misspelling of the original word “fneze” or “fnese.”
“Sneeze” is definitely a silly-sounding word. But it’s not quite as silly-sounding as “fneze” or “fnese,” which is how this bodily function was once spelled. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word “sneeze” originates from the Middle English word “fnese” and came about due to a “misreading or misprinting” of the original term. The dictionary writes that despite that, the word sneeze was “later adopted because it sounded appropriate.”
Benjamin Franklin only received two years of formal education.
After spending just two years at the Boston Latin School as well as a private academy while he was young, Benjamin Franklin left formal education behind to work at his family’s candle and soap-making business before becoming an apprentice at his brother’s printing shop.
However, Franklin continued his education independently by reading whatever books, essays, and articles he could get his hands on. His studious ways not only helped him become a revered writer, politician, and inventor, but also allowed him to earn honorary degrees from Harvard, Yale, Oxford, the College of William and Mary, and the University of St. Andrews.
Whether or not you dream in black and white depends on whether you watched black-and-white television.
If your dreams look more vintage than HD, there’s a high chance you grew up watching black-and-white television. According to one 2008 study published in the journal Conscious Cognition, most people born after the year 1983 said they almost never dream in black and white, whereas people born in the year 1953 and earlier said they dream in black and white about a quarter of the time. Overall, 12 percent of people dream entirely in black and white, leading the researchers to suggest that “true greyscale dreams occur only in people with black and white media experience.”
The word “unfriend” was first used in 1659.
When you disconnect with someone on social media, you might say that you’ve “unfriended” them. The now-common word was even the New Oxford American Dictionary Word of the Year in 2009. But it turns out that “unfriend” is much older than you might expect. According to The Globe and Mail, the word “unbefriended” is cited several times in the Oxford English Dictionary beginning in 1629. But it wasn’t until 1659 that Thomas Fuller used the word as we know it today. In his book The Appeal of Injured Innocence, Fuller wrote, “I hope, sir, that we are not mutually Unfriended by this Difference which hath happened betwixt us.”
It’s against the law to die in the town of Longyearbyen, Norway.
According to IFL Science, “Even if you’ve lived [in Longyearbyen, Norway] all your life, if you are terminally ill, you will be flown off the island to live out the rest of your days. If you do happen to die suddenly in Longyearbyen, your body will be buried elsewhere.”
That’s because, in 1950, it was discovered that bodies in the local cemetery in Longyearbyen were not decomposing as usual because there was so much permafrost in the area. That meant that viruses could survive in the human remains and eventually infect those living nearby when the ground thawed each year.
There are a ton of misspellings on the Stanley Cup.
Winning the Stanley Cup is the ultimate goal for anyone in the National Hockey League. And if you do win it, you’ll have your name etched onto the trophy itself. Unfortunately, whoever is responsible for that task has committed plenty of errors over the years, including accidentally spelling the Toronto Maple Leafs as “TORONTO MAPLE LEAES” and the Boston Bruins as “BQSTQN BRUINS.” Hall of Fame goaltender Jacques Plante won the Stanley Cup for five consecutive years and his name is spelled differently each time, according to the NHL.
NASA thinks it’s detected the first “marsquake.”
Earthquakes are expected in many places on Earth, but it turns out they can happen on other planets as well—although they’re obviously not called “earthquakes.” On April 6, 2019, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory recorded a tremor that they believe was a “marsquake,” making it the first quake recorded outside of either the Earth or the Moon.
If you were to write out every number (one, two, three, etc.), you wouldn’t use the letter “b” until you reached one billion.
You’ll have to trust us on this one: If you spelled out every number, you’d get all the way to one billion before you’d need the second letter in the alphabet.
Casu Marzu cheese is purposely infested with maggots.
If you ever come across maggot-infested food (yuck!), the best course of action is usually to throw the item into the trash as quickly as possible. However, those who make Casu Marzu cheese welcome the fly larva. With a name that literally translates to “rotten cheese,” the Sardinian delicacy starts as Pecorino Sardo. But, instead of being soaked in brine, it’s left out so that Piophila casei cheese flies can lay their eggs inside of it. The larva eventually hatches from the eggs and eats the cheese, which produces enzymes that lead to fermentation and decomposition in what will become the Casu Marzu.
I Love Cheese describes it by saying that it’s a “highly pungent, super soft cheese that oozes tears (‘lagrima’), and fittingly so, as it tends to burn on the tongue.”
Queen Elizabeth II invented a new breed of dog.
It’s a well-known fact that Queen Elizabeth II is a fan of dogs, particularly one breed: corgis. She got her first corgi when she was seven years old after meeting those that belonged to the children of the Marquess of Bath. She’s also credited with the introduction of the “dorgi,” a corgi-dachshund cross.
Over her lifetime, the royal has had more than 30 pet corgis, all of whom were descendants of a dog named Susan, who the then-princess received as a gift for her 18th birthday in 1944. Sadly, Willow, the Queen’s last corgi, passed away in 2018 and the aging monarch will not be getting any new dogs because she doesn’t want to leave any behind when she passes away.
“Witzelsucht” is a condition that causes people to have an uncontrollable urge to make jokes.
Comedians, clowns, and comics like to make people laugh. But for people with witzelsucht, telling silly stories and making groan-worthy puns is an uncontrollable impulse. According to a 2016 article published in The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, patients with the condition can’t resist “excessive and often inappropriate joking and facetious humor” as well as “a childish or silly excitement.”
There are 10 quintillion (10,000,000,000,000,000,000) insects alive at any time.
Unfortunately for anyone who’s afraid of bugs, the creepy (yet crucial) critters certainly hold their own population-wise. There are around 900,000 known species of insects on Earth and an estimated 10 quintillion (10,000,000,000,000,000,000) of them alive at any given time.
In Medieval Europe, a moment was exactly 90 seconds.
If you were whisked back in time to Medieval Europe and someone asked you if you had a free moment, you’d better be sure that you had 90 seconds available before saying yes. That’s because, as late as the early 19th century, a moment was exactly 1/40th of an hour long.
Ben & Jerry’s was going to be a bagel company but the equipment was too expensive.
These days, Ben & Jerry’s may be a beloved brand that offers all kinds of ice cream, but when Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield first started their business in the late 1970s, it was originally going to be a bagel company. However, the cost of the necessary equipment was too high, so they instead decided to take a $5 ice cream course that was being offered at Penn State. And the rest, as they say, is delicious dessert history.
In Back to the Future, the time machine was originally an old fridge.
When you watch 1985’s Back to the Future, you’ll see that the main character, Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) travels back to the ’50s in a DeLorean car that’s been turned into a time machine. And while the DeLorean became a signature part of the film, we have to wonder what the movie would have been like if the producers had gone with their original concept, which was to make the time machine an old refrigerator.
According to HuffPost, “Ultimately, it was determined that it probably was not a good idea to use a refrigerator in such a manner as kids might want to re-enact the scene.” Parents everywhere are grateful.
“Overmorrow” is the day after tomorrow.
You can accurately refer to the day after tomorrow as “overmorrow.” For example, you might say, “We’re leaving on vacation overmorrow.”
Stephen Hawking once hosted a party for time travelers but didn’t send the invitations until after the fact.
In 2009, renowned theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking decided to throw a party, but none of his guests showed up. However, they weren’t being rude. It turns out that they didn’t receive an invitation for the event until well after the fact—which was the plan… to test time travel.
Hawking explained in 2012 to Ars Technica, “I gave a party for time-travelers, but I didn’t send out the invitations until after the party. I sat there a long time, but no one came.”
Birth control for men exists.
Taking birth control is not just for women. In 2016, scientists announced that they had developed an injectable male contraceptive that was found to be 96 percent effective in the men who used it. Using the hormones progestogen (which affects sperm production) and testosterone (which reduces the effects of the progestogen), the treatment could help equalize the burden of control between the sexes.
World War I boosted the bra market.
During the First World War, the U.S. War Industries Board asked American women to forgo their corsets—which required significant amounts of metal to construct, according to NPR. Instead, they were expected to switch to the less-demanding bra. The ladies did their part for the cause, freeing up to 28,000 tons of metal—enough to build two battleships—and changing female fashion from that moment forward.
Eating pistachios can help reduce erectile dysfunction.
For a 2011 Turkish study published in the International Journal of Impotence Research, 17 men with erectile dysfunction were given 100 grams of pistachios to eat for lunch every day for three weeks. The subjects were then measured on the International Index of Erectile Function—and the pistachios proved to improve blood flow and the dilation of blood vessels. Hey, it’s certainly a cheaper option than Viagra!
Caterpillars turn into soup before becoming butterflies.
We all know that caterpillars create a cocoon in which they transform into beautiful butterflies, but what actually goes on inside that cocoon is pretty gross: The insect actually “digests itself, releasing enzymes to dissolve all of its tissues,” as Scientific American explains. Once it’s fully disintegrated (excluding some “imaginal discs”), it then begins “the rapid cell division required to form the wings, antennae, legs, eyes, genitals, and all the other features of an adult butterfly or moth.”
The oldest still-operating amusement park in the world opened in Denmark in 1583.
The Guinness World Records lists Bakken in Klampenborg, Denmark, as the oldest still-operating amusement park in the world. The park, which opened in 1583, features more than 150 attractions, including a wooden roller coaster that was built in 1932.
According to the records book, Bakken wasn’t totally unique in its time. “In medieval Europe, most major cities featured what is the origin of the amusement park: the pleasure gardens,” they write. “These gardens featured live entertainment, fireworks, dancing, games, and some primitive amusement rides.”
Penguins used to be almost seven feet tall.
Researchers from the La Plata Museum in Argentina found fossils in the Antarctic of a “colossus penguin,” measuring six feet, eight inches in height. According to the researchers, the larger penguins would have been able to dive underwater for 40 minutes at a time!
Nicolas Cage and Jake Gyllenhaal could’ve been Aragon and Frodo in The Lord of the Rings.
It may be hard to imagine anyone else as Frodo or Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings film franchise, but before Elijah Wood and Viggo Mortensen nabbed the coveted roles, many famous actors were considered. For example, Nicolas Cage was offered the role of Aragorn but turned it down, telling Newsweek, “There were different things going on in my life at the time that precluded me from being able to travel and be away from home for three years.”
And Jake Gyllenhaal might have been Frodo, but he bombed the audition for one not-so-small reason. “I remember auditioning for The Lord of the Rings and going in and not being told that I needed a British accent. I really do remember [director] Peter Jackson saying to me, ‘You know that you have to do this in a British accent?’” he recalled to The Hollywood Reporter. “We heard back it was literally one of the worst auditions.”
And Sean Connery turned down the role of Gandalf.
The wise wizard of The Lord of the Rings almost had a bit of a 007 vibe. Sean Connery was originally offered the role that Ian McKellen would make into a classic but turned it down—despite the offer of a 15 percent stake in the franchise’s box office profits.
Notre Dame’s 180,000 rooftop bees survived the 2019 fire.
When a massive fire destroyed a large part of Paris’ Notre-Dame cathedral in April 2019, almost 200,000 bees that were set up with homes on the roof survived the blaze. The hives were built in 2013 as a part of a city-wide initiative to increase the bee population.
“Right after the fire I looked at the drone pictures and saw the hives weren’t burnt but there was no way of knowing if the bees had survived,” Nicolas Geant, Notre Dame’s resident beekeeper, told CNN. “Now I know there’s activity; it’s a huge relief!”
The Olympic games were originally a religious festival.
These days, the Olympics represent the ultimate achievement for many of the world’s top athletes. But when the prestigious games first started in Ancient Greece in 776 B.C., they were part of a religious festival in honor of Zeus, the father of Greek gods and goddesses. The athletes were all male citizens from every corner of the Greek world, according to the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
Humans move their eyes more 100,000 times a day.
If your eyes tend to feel tired at the end of the day, it’s because they do a ton of work. Humans generally move their eyes around three times a second, which is more than 100,000 times every single day.
One Brazilian island has so many venomous snakes that the government banned visitors.
The government of Brazil has banned tourists from visiting Ilha de Queimada Grande, an island that has the highest concentration of venomous snakes in the world. By some estimates, there’s one snake for every square meter.
The island is crawling with thousands of golden lancehead vipers. And when these snakes strike, their venom can kill the victim in under an hour. So yes, you’re better off vacationing elsewhere!
Montana has a super toxic lake.
If you’re looking for a place to go swimming in Montana, avoid Berkeley Pit at all costs. This super toxic lake opened in 1955 as a copper mine, which operated until 1982. Now, the lake is a mix of chemicals and heavy metals, such as copper, arsenic, cadmium, iron, and zinc.
To understand just how toxic the lake is, know that in 1995, a flock of geese settled near the pit. Within a few days, their insides had been charred and some 340 birds were found dead, according to the Washington Post. Yikes!
The world’s largest plane is wider than two football fields.
The largest plane in the world is the Stratolaunch. With a 385-foot wingspan and six engines, the plane made its maiden voyage over the Mojave Desert on April 13, 2019. In the future, the Stratolaunch is expected to be used as a stratospheric launch platform for space rockets.
Hippos produce a natural skin moisturizer and sunblock.
Hippopotamuses spend their days under the blazing hot sun, which means their skin could really start to feel the effects of sun damage if they didn’t do anything about it. Fortunately, the creatures produce an oily substance that acts as both a natural moisturizer and a sunblock. The secretion, known as “hippo sweat,” contains microscopic structures that scatter light and protect the animals from burns.
The word “Pez” comes from the German word for peppermint.
Eduard Haas III first invented Pez candy in Vienna, Austria, in 1927, as an alternative to smoking. And when it came to naming his tiny treats, which were originally a minty flavor, he looked to the German word “pfefferminz,” which means peppermint. He took the “p” from the first syllable, the “e” from the middle syllable, and the “z” from the last syllable to form the word “Pez.”
Apples, pears, peaches, plums, strawberries, cherries, and almonds all belong to the rose family.
While it might not shock you to find out that fruits such as apples, pears, peaches, strawberries, cherries, and plums are related, you might be surprised by the fact that they’re also related to almonds. And you’ll probably be amazed to discover that they all belong to the rose family Rosaceae, which includes more than 2,500 species in more than 90 genera.
Ocean-dwelling species are disappearing twice as quickly as land animals.
Climate change is wreaking all kinds of havoc on our planet, including altering habitats, threatening the creatures that live in them. And while every organism on Earth will be affected in one way or another, a 2019 study published in the journal Nature found that species that live in the ocean are disappearing twice as fast as those who spend their time on land. That’s because they can’t adapt to or escape the rising water temperatures effectively.
The African bush elephant only sleeps for two hours per day.
The African Bush Elephant holds the Guinness World Record for being the mammal that requires the least amount of sleep per day. When researchers at South Africa’s University of Witwatersrand conducted a field study on the giant creatures, they found that the elephants, who sleep standing up, snooze multiple times throughout the day. However, those four or five naps only add up to two hours in total.
It’s a myth that we only use 10 percent of our brains.
In the 2014 film Lucy, Morgan Freeman’s character says, “It is estimated most human beings only use 10 percent of the brain’s capacity. Imagine if we could access 100 percent.” But this estimation is merely a myth.
“Unless you have a traumatic brain injury or other neurological disorder, you already have access to 100 percent of your brain,” writes science journalist Jane C. Hu for Slate. “Your brain is available all the time, even when you’re sleeping. Even the most basic functions of your brain use more than 10 percent—your hindbrain and cerebellum, which control automatic bodily functions like breathing and balance, make up 12 percent of your brain, and you definitely need those just to stay alive.”
Four U.S. Presidents have appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
You might be surprised to find a politician as a Sports Illustrated cover star, but that has happened multiple times in the publication’s history. In fact, four presidents have appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated: John F. Kennedy (with his wife, Jackie), Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan (twice), and Bill Clinton.
It’s illegal to kill Bigfoot in British Columbia.
We still don’t have any definitive proof that Sasquatch is out there, but if you do happen to come across one, while you’re in Canada, you may not kill it.
“It has long been rumored that a previous governor of [British Columbia] declared that killing a Sasquatch is illegal,” according to British Columbia Magazine. The magazine notes that “the laws of British Columbia do declare that wildlife is owned by the government and can’t be hunted without a specific license. For your own protection, it’s probably best to let Bigfoot go if he crosses your path.”
Scientists created a 3D-printed heart using a patient’s own cells.
In 2019, researchers from Tel Aviv University successfully 3D-printed a human heart using a patient’s own cells. Biological materials were reportedly used to “completely match the immunological, cellular, biochemical, and anatomical properties of the patient,” the lead researcher said in a statement. “People have managed to 3D-print the structure of a heart in the past, but not with cells or with blood vessels. Our results demonstrate the potential of our approach for engineering personalized tissue and organ replacement in the future.”
Canada’s national parks are bigger than many countries.
Canada is famous for its abundant natural landscape and stunning scenery. But it may surprise you to find out that the northern land’s national parks are so massive that they’re actually bigger than the total area of many other countries. For instance, either Albania or Israel could fit inside the 11,602 square miles that make up the Nahanni National Park Reserve in the Northwest Territories. Denmark or Switzerland could fit inside the 17,300-square-mile Wood Buffalo National Park, which reaches into both Alberta and the Northwest Territories.
The oldest bookstore that is still in operation was established in 1732.
Shops that sell the written word are becoming increasingly rare these days. However, Bertrand Bookstore in Lisbon, Portugal, will hopefully stand the test of time. The shop, which is now part of a nationwide chain that includes 47 other stores around the country, was opened in 1732 and is the oldest operating bookstore in the world.
Gmail was originally called Garfield Mail (as in the cartoon cat).
Introduced by Google in 2004, Gmail is currently one of the most popular email services in the world. But back in the late 1990s, Gmail was something very different. The original Gmail was a feature offered to fans of Garfield, the snarky cartoon cat. Described as “e-mail with attitude” and available via gmail.garfield.com, users received an address suffix that ended in “@catsrule.garfield.com,” according to Gizmodo.
Barnacle geese jump off cliffs when they’re just a day old.
In order to keep their babies safe from predators, barnacle geese make their nests on hard-to-reach cliffs that are hundreds of feet high. However, the mother geese can’t provide their babies with food in the nest and the newborn birds need to eat within 36 hours of hatching. Therefore, the goslings, who still cannot fly, have to leave their perch, which means jumping from staggering heights when they’re just a day old.
While some of the little geese don’t survive the ordeal, David Cabot, an adjunct professor at Ireland’s University of Cork, told National Geographic that the chicks are usually able to make the jump due to the fact that “they are light and fluffy, often appearing to bounce off rocks as they fall.”
Octopuses lay 56,000 eggs at a time.
These eight-legged sea creatures lay a staggering 56,000 eggs at one time. Each egg—which biologist Jim Cosgrove describes as “a gleaming white tear-drop about the size of a grain of rice”—comes out on its own, then is gathered up along with all of the other eggs and kept in a protective braid-like den until they’re ready to hatch.
Space smells like a Nascar race—a mix of hot metal, diesel fumes, and barbecue.
If you were ever able to use your sniffer in space, you’d discover that it smells like a mixture of hot metal, diesel fumes, and barbecue. That’s all thanks to compounds called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that emanate from dying stars. According to Louis Allamandola, the founder and director of the Astrophysics and Astrochemistry Lab at NASA Ames Research Center, the stinky molecules “seem to be all over the universe… And they float around forever,” he told Popular Science.
The largest book ever weighs more than 3,000 pounds.
Avid readers won’t be intimidated by a hefty novel, but they’ll still surely be impressed by what’s been deemed the largest book ever. Weighing more than 3,000 pounds and measuring 16.40 feet by 26.44 feet with 429 pages inside, the book, which is titled This the Prophet Mohamed, was created in 2012 by 50 people working together in the United Arab Emirates.
Autological words are words that describe themselves—like short, unhyphenated, and word.
Words are capable of doing all kinds of quirky things, including some terms that are autological, which means that they describe themselves. Take “short,” for example, which describes something that is small and is a small word itself. Or “unhyphenated” which is, in fact, spelled without a hyphen. And when you use the word “word,” it is definitely a word. Other autological words include English, noun, cutesy, suffixed, prefix, polysyllabic, and buzzword.
The world’s smallest wasp is tinier than most one-cell amoebas.
The Megaphragma mymaripenne wasp has muscles, guts, wings, eyes, a brain, and genitals. However, this teeny-tiny insect—which is the smallest wasp in the world and the third smallest insect in the world—measures around 200 micrometers, which is a fifth of a millimeter and smaller than many one-cell amoebas.
Peas are a popular pizza topping in Brazil.
People in North America are fairly faithful to pepperoni pizza, but in Brazil, you’ll be able to find pizza with green peas on it. And in Germany, you’ll find pizza topped with seafood, such as canned tuna.
Foreign accent syndrome is an actual disorder.
This speech disorder, which can occur after traumatic brain injury or stroke, is when a person’s way of speaking shifts from a native accent to a foreign one. Among the cases identified are American English to British English, Japanese to Korean, British English to French, and Spanish to Hungarian.
There was a third Apple founder.
While the duo of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak have become tech industry legends, there was another guy in the garage when Apple was founded: Ronald Wayne, who had a 10 percent stake in the company at the time. He acted as “adult supervision” of the project (he was 42 at the time). Wayne ended up selling his stake for $800—it would have been worth around $35 billion today.
Pi was almost legally defined as 3.2.
Legislators in Indiana came close to legally redefining the value of pi—the beloved number that begins with 3.14 and continues on forever—as the much more simple 3.2. The reason for doing so is long and a bit jargony, but suffice it to say that while the bill got surprisingly far in the legislature, passing in the state’s House of Representatives, it was stopped by the time it got to the Senate.
Whispering is bad for your voice.
It might seem like whispering can help you preserve your vocal cords, whether you’ve got laryngitis or are auditioning for American Idol. But researchers have found the opposite to be true. A 2006 study published in the Journal of Voice used a fiber-optic scope on 100 subjects while they counted from one to 10 (first in a normal voice, then a whisper). Researchers found that 69 of them put more strain on their vocal cords when they whispered.
Humming is good for your sinuses.
On the other hand, humming, while annoying to the people around you trying to do work, is a good way to fight off sinus infections. Since keeping air flowing steadily between nasal cavities and sinuses is the key to preventing infection, humming is an ideal way to keep your sinuses healthy. One 2002 study published in The American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine found that humming resulted in a 15-fold increase in nasal nitric oxide in the airflow.
Ravens can learn to speak better than parrots.
Parrots have the reputation as the most talkative birds in the animal kingdom, but ravens could hold their own in a debate any day. In captivity, the animals can be trained to mimic human speech, saying basic words like “hello” and “hi” and even coughing like a person. Note: It’s not clear if they can be taught to say “nevermore.”
Poe originally wanted “The Raven” to be a parrot.
In fact, Edgar Allan Poe had originally written his poem to feature a parrot, rather than the gloomy raven.
The Easter Island heads have torsos.
You know the heads of the Easter Island figures, but often overlooked is the fact that they also have bodies. Archaeologists at the University of California, Los Angeles have developed the Easter Island Statue Project to dig deeper into these Pacific Island icons and explore what’s below the surface. The answer? Full-bodies statues measuring as much as 33 feet high.
The cities with the most single women per capita are in the Carolinas.
Straight guys looking to improve their dating odds should head to the Carolinas, where the three cities with the largest ratios of single women to men in the U.S. are, according to Citylab. Specifically, Burlington, North Carolina (with 1,185 single women for every 1,000 men), Florence, South Carolina (with 1,212), and Greenville, South Carolina (with 1,227 single women per 1,000 guys—the highest ratio in the country).
The city with the most single men per capita is in California.
Conversely, ladies looking to land a man should head west, where the city with the highest proportion of single-guys-to-girls can be found: Hanford-Corcoran, California has a whopping 1,859 single guys per 1,000 single women.
Hummingbirds can fly backwards.
As if these animals weren’t already cool enough—with their ability to beat their wings 80 times per second—they can also move forward and backward with the same speed and efficiency. Scientists studying the phenomenon filmed the fast birds as they moved toward a feed. The researchers blasted air, pushing the bird backward and leading it to adjust its direction with ease.
Judy Blume is one of the most banned authors in the U.S.
The author of numerous children’s classics has found herself on the list of most frequently challenged books in school libraries, according to the American Library Association. Five of Blume’s books made the list of most challenged books of the 1990s: Forever; Blubber; Deenie; Are You There, God? It’s Me Margaret; and Tiger Eyes.
The smell of fresh-cut grass is a smell of distress.
The best part of mowing the lawn is that pleasing, herbal scent of fresh-cut grass, but that’s not a pleasant smell for the grass. Researchers have determined that the scent is a chemical compound given off by plants in anguish. They give off a similar odor when attacked by caterpillars or other predatory insects.
Pride and Prejudice was originally titled First Impressions.
Here’s one of our favorite amazing facts for literary lovers. Not quite as catchy, but certainly less of a mouthful, this original title of the Jane Austen classic was rejected by publishers. Following a rewrite and title change, it sold like gangbusters.
In the Peanuts comic strip, Peppermint Patty’s real name was Patricia Reichardt.
Along with Charlie Brown and Snoopy, Peppermint Patty is one of the most recognizable characters from the classic Peanuts comic strip. But have you ever thought about her strangely sweet name? No, her first name isn’t Peppermint and her last name isn’t Patty—the candy-like moniker is her nickname. The fictional character’s real name is Patricia Reichardt.
Fergie once voiced Charlie Brown’s sister Sally.
You knew Black Eyed Peas’ Fergie was multitalented, but you may not have realized that she also was part of the Peanuts universe. In the 1980s, long before taking off as a pop star, she voiced the character of Charlie Brown’s sister Sally in two TV specials and the 1984 season of The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show.
One man who urinated in a reservoir ruined 8 million gallons of water.
In 2011, one 21-year-old man thought it would be funny to urinate in the city reservoir of Portland, Oregon. His little gag ended up requiring the city to get rid of 8 million gallons of the treated drinking water as a result.
In Japan, it’s considered good luck for sumo wrestlers to make your baby cry.
There is actually a competition at the annual Nakizumo festival, going back four centuries, in which sumo wrestlers make babies cry. The longer the wail, the better for the kid’s health and fortune.
The “X” in airport codes is just a filler.
When three-letter airport codes became standard throughout the world, the many airports that had been just using a two-letter code simply added an “X” to their code—which explains where LAX, PDX, and others come from.
Nutella was invented to extend chocolate rations.
The delicious chocolate-hazelnut spread known as Nutella came about due to the restrictions made on chocolate consumption during the Second World War. A resourceful Italian pastry chef realized he could get more out of the limited chocolate available by mixing it with hazelnuts. First marketed as a solid block, he struck gold with the creamy form, which he dubbed “Supercrema” in 1951.
Fear of young people is known as “ephebiphobia.”
Ephebiphobia may seem like a silly condition, but according to sociologists and psychologists, it’s surprisingly widespread and can show itself in a wide range of ways, from the “in my day…” tut-tutting about teenagers’ behavior to restricting our own children’s activities.
It is also a condition long-experienced by society’s adults. One professor studying the subject in 2009 pointed to a quote from Plato: “What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the streets, inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?”
Sex is dangerous for flies.
When certain types of flies mate, they emit a sound that catches the attention of predatory bats, so they only copulate briefly.
The world’s longest man-made beach is in Mississippi.
The next time you plan a beach vacation, you might want to forget about Florida and California and head to Mississippi instead. That’s because the Mississippi Gulf Coast is the world’s longest man-made beach. At 26-miles long, the beach boasts stunning white sand from Biloxi all the way to Henderson Point.
There’s a mammal that mates for 14 hours straight until it dies.
The antechinus, a small, mouse-like mammal in Australia, kills itself for sex. When the males of the species hit their first mating season, they mate for as many as 14 hours straight with as many females as they can encounter. Ultimately though, the animal’s fur falls off, he bleeds internally, and his immune system fails, causing him to die. “By the end of the mating season, physically disintegrating males may run around frantically searching for last mating opportunities,” Diana Fisher from the University of Queensland told National Geographic. “By that time, females are, not surprisingly, avoiding them.”
When eagles flirt, they also flirt with death.
Courtship between eagles can be rather death-defying. As New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation puts it, “The pair soars high in the sky, begins a dive, and interlocks talons while descending in a series of somersaults.” But it usually all works out, with the two producing one or two offspring each year.
After Roosevelt’s teddy bears, toy companies tried to create a William Taft stuffed animal.
President Teddy Roosevelt’s legacy includes the beloved and ubiquitous teddy bear toy. Trying to replicate its success, a toy company created “Billy Possum,” the marsupial that was served at a banquet following his election. It served as an anti-Teddy symbol, and was featured in songs, picture books, and more—but it never took off like the bear.
AOL was once responsible for half of all the CDs produced.
When AOL was giving away internet via CDs in the mail, spending some $300 million to produce and mail them during its peak in the 1990s, the early online giant was producing a whopping 50 percent of all CDs being made in the world.
The original seven dwarves had even stranger names.
Though the seven dwarves of Snow White have pretty goofy names, originally, Disney had considered even odder monikers for the pint-sized miners: Chesty, Tubby, Burpy, Deafy, Hickey, Wheezy, and, awfully enough, Awful.
Botox affects your emotions.
You know that Botox can reduce wrinkles by paralyzing parts of your face, but the changes aren’t just cosmetic: It has also been found to make it harder for those using it to identify emotions as deeply as those who don’t. A 2011 study published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science found that Botoxed women were less able to identify the emotions felt by those in photographs than the people who did not use Botox.
Cicadas expand and contract their exoskeletons.
You know that near-deafening chirp that cicadas create? It’s done by essentially expanding and contracting their exoskeleton really fast, about 300 times a second.
A study on the creature described it this way: “If your body were like that of a cicada … you would have a thick set of muscles on either side of your torso that would allow you to cave in your chest so far that all your ribs would buckle inward one at a time into a deformed position. Releasing the muscle would allow your ribs to snap back to their regular shape and then pulling the muscle again would repeat this.”
Some rocks are natural solar panels and can convert light into electricity.
Solar panels are becoming an increasingly popular way to harness energy. And it turns out, they also exist in nature, too. In 2019, Peking University’s Anhuai Lu discovered electric currents on the surface of certain desert rocks that have thin coatings of iron and manganese. According to IFL Science, “The weaker the light, the less current, demonstrating the coatings are turning the photons into moving electrons. The coatings are also quite stable, so generation probably lasts all day.”
“Shivviness” is a word for the uncomfortable feeling of wearing new underwear.
If you’re the kind of person who needs a little time to get used to a fresh pair of panties, boxers, or briefs, then you can add “shivviness” to your vocabulary. This word refers to the uncomfortable feeling of wearing new underwear.
Ulysses was once banned in four countries.
Though now considered one of the greatest books ever written, James Joyce’s Ulysses was once banned in the United States, Canada, Ireland, and England, due to its sexually explicit content, leading the British director of public prosecutions to call it a “filthy book.”
The author of The Da Vinci Code was a failed pop star.
Before he wrote blockbuster thrillers about religious history, Dan Brown worked as a songwriter and pop singer in Los Angeles. One of his albums was Angels & Demons, using some of the same design elements in the liner notes that he would use in his novel of the same title six years later.
James Patterson coined the “Toys R Us Kids” jingle.
Before he got into writing massive-selling thrillers, James Patterson worked for advertising firm J. Walter Thompson, where he is credited with coming up with the jingle “I’m a Toys R Us Kid.” With earworms like that, he worked his way up to creative director in no time.
Columbus thought he saw mermaids.
During his travels, in 1493, Christopher Columbus believed he saw mermaids in the ocean, which he described as “not half as beautiful as they are painted,” History.com. More than likely, he had simply spotted manatees in the water—not quite as beautiful.
Truman Show Delusion is a real disorder.
Also known as Truman Syndrome, this is the belief in which “the patient believes that he is being filmed and that the films are being broadcast for the entertainment of others,” according to the researchers who first coined the affliction.
Male platypuses are venomous.
They may look silly and harmless, but platypuses can be dangerous—at least certain ones. The males come equipped with sharp stingers on the heels of their rear feet that can add some extra pain to a kick via venom. This venom has been found to resemble that in animals such as snakes, starfish, and spiders—though it’s an odd thing to find in mammals.
Female platypuses lay eggs.
Did we mention these are mammals? Despite that, these odd duck-billed creatures lay eggs, like a reptile or bird might, making it an intriguing example of evolution at work.
Janis Joplin left $2,500 to her friends for a funeral party.
Janis Joplin set aside $2,500 in her will “so my friends can have a ball after I’m gone.” They did just that at her wake, held at the Lion’s Share in San Anselmo, California.
There’s a basketball court in the Supreme Court Building.
Dubbed “The Highest Court in the Land,” this basketball court, on the fifth floor of the Supreme Court Building, is not open to the public and not open on court day. But it has hosted the likes of Byron White and Chief Justice William Rehnquist.
Ray Bradbury wrote the screenplay for Moby Dick.
The man had many talents. In addition to his popular short stories and classic novels like Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury also penned the screenplay for the 1956 film Moby Dick, directed by John Huston. It was not a pleasant process though; Bradbury called it “eight long months of agonizing work, subconscious work.”
The FBI investigated the song “Louie, Louie.”
We all know the chorus to The Kingsmen classic version of “Louie, Louie,” but that’s about it. And for the FBI, that was a problem. The organization, concerned it might contain indecent lyrics, spent several years investigating what exactly the song said—playing it backward, at different speeds, and otherwise—and whether it was suitable to play on the radio. They eventually gave up when they determined it was “indecipherable.”
Snakes have two reproductive organs.
Called “himipenes,” these two reproductive organs only work one at a time.
Tug of war used to be an Olympic event.
This even existed all the way up until 1920. Now, it’s been relegated to field days and family reunions.
The biggest bat colony is in Texas.
If you’re creeped out by bats, stay away from Bracken Cave, Texas. This location, about 20 miles outside of downtown San Antonio, hosts the largest bat colony—consisting of more than 15 million Mexican free-tailed bats that pack onto cave walls, with as many as 500 per square foot when they are pups.
Shakespeare disappeared from history from the year 1585 to 1592.
Despite the fact that William Shakespeare lived hundreds of years ago, we still know many details about his life. But one thing we don’t know is what he was up to between the years 1585, when the baptism of his twins was recorded, and 1592, when playwright Robert Greene wrote in a pamphlet that Shakespeare was an “upstart crow”—and that’s because the writer left no historical records during that time.
History.com explains that historians have speculated that during those seven years he may have “worked as a schoolteacher, studied law, traveled across continental Europe or joined an acting troupe.” There’s also a 17th century account that Shakespeare “fled his hometown after poaching deer from a local politician’s estate.”
“Twelve plus one” is an anagram of “eleven plus two.”
Check for yourself. It’s true!
The Mona Lisa has the highest insurance value for a painting in history.
In 1962, the painting was assessed at $100 million. If you adjust that for inflation, the value today would be around $780 million. That means it has the highest insurance value for a painting in history, according to the Guinness World Records.
Barry Manilow wrote State Farm’s “Like a Good Neighbor” jingle.
While best known for tunes like “Mandy” and “Copacabana,” Barry Manilow was a prolific writer of ad jingles for Band-Aid, Stridex, KFC, and, most famously, that perennial ditty for State Farm insurance. And for more hilarious jingles, check out these 30 Funniest Jokes Found in TV Commercials.
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