30 Astonishing Facts That Will Make You Doubt Everything
Is nothing true?
Have you ever seen the look of wonder and astonishment on a child's face when they've just learned something remarkable about the world and their mind has been blown? As adults, too often do we get complacent with our knowledge. We think we're too old to be easily impressed or to have the free time anymore to be curious and discover things we never learned in school. But there are always more brain-reeling facts out there that will make your jaw drop like a kid who just learned about gravity.
Did you know, for instance, that the Mona Lisa used to hang in the French monarch's bathroom? Or that the way letters are organized in the alphabet is entirely random? Or that Fergie of the pop group The Black Eyed Peas was the voice of Charlie Brown's sister Sally during the mid-'80s? You probably didn't know at least one of those things. And if you did, well, we've got plenty more factoids where these came from. Herein, you'll find 30 astonishing facts that will remind what it feels like to be a kid again. In other words, you'll question everything. And for more life-changing trivia, brush up on the 30 Amazing Facts That Will Change the Way You View the World.
We've explored less than five percent of the ocean.
There's more ocean than land on our planet; the ocean actually covers more than 70 percent of the Earth's surface. But human beings have yet to explore 95 percent of it. What could be down there? Who knows? Perhaps some future Jacques Cousteau will find out. And for wild info about this third rock from the sun, check out these 30 Craziest Facts About Planet Earth You Never Knew.
You've never seen your own eyes, just reflections of them.
Unless you've plucked out one of your eyes like the character in a Greek tragedy, you've never actually seen your own eyes. You've seen reflections of them in pictures or mirrors, yes, but that's about it. We only catch fleeting glimpses of our noses and lips, but our eyes, which are so fundamental to our personalities, are something we only experience secondhand.
A Japanese man survived both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings and lived to be 93.
He was a 29-year-old naval engineer on a business trip to Hiroshima when the first bomb dropped. He got home to Nagasaki just in time for the second bomb. It's remarkable that Tsutomu Yamaguchi didn't perish in either of those atomic blasts, and it's even more remarkable that he somehow lived for another 65 years before dying of stomach cancer in his early 90s. For more life lessons, check out these 50 Basic Facts About Life Everyone Should Know.
Image via Wikimedia Commons
There are more ways to shuffle a deck of cards than there are stars in the sky.
There are around 100 billion stars out there, which seems like a lot. But it's nothing compared to what you can do with a deck of 52 cards. TEDucator Yannay Khaikin claims there are 80,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (for the counting-averse: that's 67 zeros) different ways to arrange a deck of cards, and that might be a low estimate. "Any time you pick up a well-shuffled deck, you are almost certainly holding an arrangement of cards that has never before existed and might not exist again," he says.
The 50-star American flag was designed by a high school student who got a B-.
Ohio teenager Robert Heft designed America's current flag for a high-school history class project. His teacher was unimpressed and gave him a B-, but promised a better grade if he somehow got his flag was accepted by Congress. "Good luck with that, kid. Oh, wait!" And for more valuable school lessons, check out these 20 United States Civic Studies Lessons You Forgot.
Saudi Arabia imports sand and camels from Australia.
More than half of Saudi Arabia's geography is desert, but all that smooth sand doesn't do them much good for construction, where they need sand the most. Australia's garnet sand is the ideal quality for sandblasting, and for materials like paint and cement. As for camels, the wild camels of Australia are considered a delicacy in Saudi Arabia, where the camel population has been decimated by disease, drought, and political instability. Yes, Saudis eat camels like Americans eat cheeseburgers.
Oxford University is older than the Aztec Empire.
When Oxford gets described as the oldest university in the English-speaking world, it's hard to fathom just old that is. We're not talking old in American terms, where a few hundred years seems like forever. Oxford was founded almost a millennium ago, in the year 1096. The Aztec city-state of Tenochtitlan was founded in 1325. That means the university that educated Stephen Hawking, Oscar Wilde, and 27 British prime ministers is 200 years older than the Aztec Empire. And for more ways to boost your trivia night game, check out these 30 Crazy Facts About Life That May Freak You Out a Little.
Four-year-old girls ask an average of 390 questions per day.
This, according to a report by retailer Littlewoods, is just the average number of questions four-year-old girls ask. This means that parents and teachers are answering these questions every one minute and 56 seconds of their waking hours. On the other end of the chatty spectrum, nine-year-old boys ask an average of 144 questions per day. Which, in all honesty, still seems like a heavy dose of curiosity.
The Google founders tried to sell their company for $750,000.
Back in 1999, when Google was still considered a startup, founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin tried to unload their company on Excite, one of the original Internet portals. They originally offered $1 million and were talked down to $750,000, but Excite passed. They're probably still kicking themselves, as today the brand is worth an estimated $120.9 billion. And for more about the omnipresent e-giant, check out the 15 Things You Definitely Didn't Know About Google.
Once a year, the sky rains with fish in Honduras.
In Yoro, Honduras, life is hard. Most of its 93,000 inhabitants live in poverty—except for that one special day of the year the sky rains with fish. This rain of fish, or as the locals call it, "Lluvia de Peces," happens once a year during a torrential downpour that can last hours. After the rain clears, locals come out of their houses to collect the hundreds of fish that lay scattered on the ground. National Geographic sent a team to investigate this phenomenon in the 1970s. While they confirmed that the event does it indeed take place, they have never been able to state why and how it actually does.
The probability that you've consumed the same water as Cleopatra is 100 percent.
There's no such thing as "new water." We're essentially drinking the same water that other human beings enjoyed over 2,000 years ago. That means in any given glass of H2O, scientists estimate that there will be at least one molecule found in the same water that satiated Cleopatra. Congratulations, you've just swapped spit with a dead Egyptian queen.
Our bodies have more bacteria than human cells.
The human body has about 30 trillion cells in it. It also has about 39 trillion bacterial cells. That means your body is more bacteria than human. That's not an urban myth, it's been proven with science. The human cell to bacteria ratio is 1:1.3, and the bacteria is winning. There's a zombie joke in here somewhere, but we're too dizzy from all the bacteria in our bodies to think of it.
There are three times as many chickens as people.
Of all the animals you worried might be outnumbering us, you probably never suspected chickens would have an advantage. But it's true! According to the United Nations' Global Livestock Production and Health Atlas, there are 19 billion chickens inhabiting the Earth. For comparison, there are only about 7.4 billion humans. They've got us outnumbered three to one. And we eat their eggs! Every time you crack one open, try not to think about the fact that the chicken population is growing, and somebody they could come for revenge.
If sound waves traveled through space, the sun would be louder than a chainsaw.
The sun is about 92.96 million miles away from us, but it's also a huge sphere of burning plasma with temperatures reaching 27 million degrees Fahrenheit. If that sound was somehow able to travel through space and make it to Earth, solar astrophysicists estimate that the sound intensity would be around 100 decibels, which is the decibel equivalent of a chainsaw, jackhammer, or tractor. But the noise would never stop. After about eight hours of that decibel range, we'd all go deaf.
There's a garbage swirl in the ocean that is the size of Texas.
This swirl, officially called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, is located between Hawaii and California. In the patch, there are an estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic that come together to weigh roughly the equivalent of 500 jumbo jets. It will probably come as no surprise that all of this plastic has a deadly effect on wildlife in the area. Out of every sample collected from the garbage patch, 84 percent contained toxic chemicals in access.
Native Americans could already speak English before meeting the Pilgrims.
As you probably (and hopefully) learned in history class, Native Americans Squanto, of the Pawtuxet tribe, and Massasoit, chief of the Wampanoag tribe, befriended the Pilgrims and helped them survive when they found themselves ill-equipped against the wrath of their new home. Squanto became the translator and go-between for the Native Americans and Pilgrims during this time.
However, the story of how Squanto learned English is the most interesting, if not neglected, part of the story. A decade before he ever encountered the Pilgrims, Squanto was taken captive by a British ship and sold into slavery in Spain. He was purchased by a Spanish monk who treated him well and taught him English. Then, Squanto worked for John Slaney, who sympathized with his desire to go home and ultimately sent him back to America a few years later.
There are 200 dead bodies on Mount Everest.
Since 1953, over 4,000 people have tried to scale this famous (or infamous) summit. Many have succeeded, and quite a few have died. The dead ones don't always make it down the mountain, especially if they expired above 26,000 feet, in the top portion of Everest known as the "death zone." The most famous corpse, known as "Green Boots"—a nickname he got because of his distinctive green boots—died in 1996 and was a familiar sight to climbers on the main Northeast ridge route for centuries until his body was removed in 2014. There are possibly hundreds more—the official estimate is 200—and they remain up there as grim reminders to climbers who think Everest might be too easy to conquer.
One in every 200 men alive are related to Genghis Khan.
Yep, that's right, fellas. You might be related to history's most legendary warmonger. An international team of geneticists made the astonishing discovery that the Mongol leader has about 16 million men in the world with the same Y chromosome.
More people are killed by lawnmowers than sharks.
Every year, an average of 69 Americans are killed by lawnmowers. Sometimes it's their lawnmowers, or their parent's lawnmowers, or lawnmowers that fly out of the sky during football games. Shark attacks are far less common, with just five people killed by sharks worldwide last year.
There are more public libraries in the U.S. than McDonalds and Starbucks combined.
If you're like us, you've probably grumbled that there seems to be either a McDonalds or Starbucks on every corner of America. But we've never complained about all the libraries. Nobody has ever said, "Oh for Pete's sake, another library opened up in my neighborhood. Do we not have enough of those things?" But as it turns out, libraries vastly outnumber both McDonalds and Starbucks. There are a staggering 119,487 working libraries in the U.S. in 2018, and just 14,146 McDonalds and 8,222 Starbucks. Think about that the next time you feel pessimistic about our country: It's technically easier to find books for loan than a Big Mac.
J.P Morgan offered $100,000 to anyone who could tell him why his face was so red.
J.P Morgan, a hugely successful banker and financier during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, had everything money could buy, except an answer to why his face was so red. He offered a $100,000 reward to anyone, medical professional or otherwise, who could explain or cure his weirdly red face and huge, purple nose. Nobody had a clue, and the red-faced Morgan died in 1913, years before he condition would've been diagnosed as rhinophyma.
Russia and Pluto are roughly the same size.
You've got to feel bad for Pluto. It finally got spotted in 1930 and was classified as the 9th planet in our solar system, only to be downgraded to dwarf planet in 2006, and then (kinda) reinstated as a (kinda) planet in recent years. Pluto's public image problem only got worse when the little-planet-that-could was determined to have a surface area of just 16,647,940 square kilometers—slightly smaller than Russia, which spans 17,075,200 square kilometers. But then NASA sent the New Horizons probe for a closer look in 2015, and found that Pluto was a tiny bit larger—by 0.1 percent, just over a mile—giving it a slight advantage over Russia. It seems like a victory, but when a freaking planet is playing "who's bigger" with a country on a much, much larger planet, it's just embarrassing for everyone. It'd be like a 50-year-old man arguing with a toddler about who has bigger pants.
British teens believe in Sherlock Holmes more than Winston Churchill.
According to a 2008 survey, 20 percent of British teens were convinced that Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during World War II, was a fictional character. Even more depressing, a staggering 58 percent of them were convinced that Sherlock Holmes was a real person.
If you put your finger in your ear and wiggle it, it sounds just like Pac-Man.
It sounds stupid, but you should seriously try it. Be prepared to spend the next hour arguing with your friends about whether the creators of Pac-Man were inspired by scratching their ear or if it's just a bizarre coincidence.
Alabama is the only U.S. state with booze as its official state beverage.
They picked Conecuh Ridge Whiskey, a 86 proof brown liquor that was originally a Prohibition-era moonshine, as the official Alabama beverage in 2004. The whiskey maker was then busted for liquor law violations. Sweet Home Alabama, indeed.
Jousting is the official sport of Maryland.
Maryland became the first to declare a state sport when they decided, in 1962, to adopt jousting, of all things, as their official recreation. Jousting has been around since the Medieval era, and Maryland has held tournaments since colonial times, with many of the same practices and costumes.
Squirrels inadvertently plant hundreds of new trees every year.
The great thing about squirrels is they love hiding nuts, and they have terrible memories. Apparently, the average squirrel doesn't find 74% of the nuts they bury. And some of those nuts, especially if they're acorns, end up becoming baby oak trees. The next time you see an oak tree, be sure to thank a squirrel.
More people in the world suffer from obesity than from hunger.
Recently, scientists have discovered a shift towards bulging bellies—and away from hunger. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies noted that approximately 1.5 billion in the world are suffering from obesity, while only 925 million are undernourished. Though, this development makes sense when you realize that just in the last 200 years, we have mastered the art of food production, meaning that we are a society that, for the most, will never experience starvation.
Mars is populated entirely by robots.
There are no life forms on Mars unless you count robots. Since 1997, when the Mars Pathfinder landed successfully on the red planet—sending a wheeled robotic rover named Sojourner to conquer…er, we mean explore the planet—Mars has been inhabited entirely by robots.
The Arkansas School for the Deaf's football team is called the Leopards. They are the Deaf Leopards.
If you think it's a tongue-in-cheek reference to the rock band Def Leppard, you'd be wrong. The team has been called the Deaf Leopards since at least 1941. And for more awful band names, check out these 30 First Names for Your Favorite Bands.
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