50 Incredible "Did You Know" Facts That Will Astonish You
These are the incredible trivia questions you'll want to ask all of your friends.
One of the best things about learning something new is being able to share that knowledge with others. And while some facts are weird and wonderful and others are totally useless, there's a whole category of trivia that is just so incredible you can't resist asking everyone you meet "Did you know this?!" From why grapes catch on fire in the microwave to how long it takes the average mammal to urinate, these are the facts that will fascinate you and your friends. And for more facts that might shock you, check out these 50 Science-Backed Health Facts That Will Blow Your Mind.
Grapes light on fire in the microwave.
Back in 2011, a physicist at the University of Sydney went viral after he placed a grape in the microwave and filmed the fiery aftermath. And oddly enough, scientists couldn't explain the phenomenon until quite recently. A March 2019 study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reported that the fruity fireball occurs as a result of the loose electrons and ions that cluster to form plasma when grapes get hot. And here are more of the 100 Fascinating Facts You'll Want to Share with Everyone You Know.
There are almost 8 million possible seven-digit phone numbers per area code.
Each area code has 792 possible prefixes or NXX codes (for example, NXX-XXXX or 555-1234), explains the Public Utility Commission of Texas. And each "NXX" has 10,000 possible phone numbers attached to it. So, with a little math, we know that theoretically, there are 7,920,000 possible seven-digit phone numbers in each area code. Obviously, not all of these numbers are put into use, so you don't have to try nearly 8 million numbers if you want to randomly dial a friend who lives nearby.
Spaghetto, confetto, and graffito are the singular forms of spaghetti, confetti, and graffiti.
Although it might sound a little strange, the word for an individual piece of spaghetti is spaghetto. The same goes for a single piece of confetti, which is confetto, as well as a single piece of graffiti, which is graffito, according to Merriam-Webster.
McDonald's once created bubblegum-flavored broccoli.
McDonald's is always introducing new items for their loyal customers. And obviously, some are more successful than others. But their bubblegum-flavored broccoli, which the fast-food chain developed in 2014 as a tastier version of the leafy green for children, was a complete failure. McDonald's CEO Don Thompson admitted that kids were confused by the taste.
The average mammal takes 21 seconds to empty its bladder.
No one will blame you if you've never bothered to time yourself on the toilet. But you may be interested to know that researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology found that most mammals weighing more than six pounds take 21 seconds to pee. According to Live Science, this oddly consistent time is due to the fact that the urethra is "appropriately scaled" to be a "flow-enhancing device." And apparently, the perfectly enhanced flow takes 21 seconds to complete.
Chewing gum is banned in Singapore.
Along with having laws against spitting and urinating anywhere but in a toilet (which you're then legally obligated to flush if it's a public washroom), Singapore has also banned chewing gum in an effort to keep the city clean and orderly. The ban was established in 1992. In 2004, exceptions were made for therapeutic, dental, or nicotine gums. And for more trivia tidbits, check out 55 Facts So Interesting You'll Kick Yourself for Not Knowing Them.
The average U.S. household has 300,000 things in it.
Whether you've been inspired by Marie Kondo or not, you probably still have close to a third of a million items in your home. One report found that the average U.S. house has around 300,000 things in it. Yeah, we like stuff. Lots of stuff.
The 1939 novel Gadsby is the longest book ever published that doesn't contain the letter 'e.'
Back in 1939, American author Ernest Vincent Wright published Gadsby, a 50,000-word novel that doesn't use the letter 'e' once. What's more, it's not the only novel that ditched the letter. Author Georges Perec also wrote the French-language book La Disparition without the letter 'e' in 1969. That's even more astounding when you consider that 'e' is the most commonly used letter in the English (and French!) language. And these are the 23 Words You Need to Stop Mispronouncing.
Lobsters have clear blood.
Most of us are well aware that lobster shells change color when exposed to heat (like in a pot of boiling water, for example). But the sea creatures' blood is also intriguing. Lobster blood is initially clear and turns blue when it hits oxygen.
The first item sold on eBay was a broken laser pointer.
Buyer beware, as they say. Thankfully, buyer Mark Fraser was apparently aware of the fact that he was getting a broken laser pointer when he purchased it for $14.83 from eBay's founder Pierre Omidyar in 1995. And for more cool quiz questions to test your friends, check out 50 Facts About Life You Won't Believe You Didn't Already Know.
Japan is suffering from a ninja shortage.
If you ever dreamed of being a ninja, now might be the time to make it a reality. The Japanese city of Iga, which has a rich history of martial arts masters and claims to be the birthplace of the ninja, suffered from a ninja shortage in 2018, despite the fact that they're willing to pay salaries as high as $85,000 for the performative ninjas willing to take on the job of staffing their annual ninja festival.
The longest place name in the world is 85 letters long.
Unfortunately, this is one of the facts you probably can't repeat to your friends—and that's because it's nearly impossible to pronounce. Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu is in New Zealand and is 85 letters long. And when it comes to other super long place names, it's followed by Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch in Wales, Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg in the U.S., Tweebuffelsmeteenskootmorsdoodgeskietfontein in South Africa, and Azpilicuetagaraycosaroyarenberecolarre in Spain.
There was a prehistoric dragonfly that's wings spanned more than two feet.
More than 300 million years ago, the Meganeura established itself as the largest known flying insect to ever exist on Earth. The dragonfly-like creature had a wingspan that stretched around 2.5 feet. The bugs were also big enough to hunt prey like frogs and newts, which it could eat with its teeth-like mandibles.
Bubble wrap was originally invented as wallpaper.
If you can't wait to pop every air-filled pocket the minute you pull a piece of bubble wrap out of a package, can you imagine how irresistible it would be if it were covering your walls? Engineer Al Fielding and Swiss inventor Marc Chavannes probably didn't consider that when, in 1957, they invented bubble wrap while trying to create a textured wallpaper by sealing two shower curtains together to trap air bubbles.
Shakespeare invented more than 1,700 words.
Shakespeare wrote some of the most beloved and revered pieces of literature the world has ever known, but in order to craft his plays and poems, he sometimes resorted to making up his own words. In fact, The Bard is said to have come up with more than 1,700 words including moonbeam, laughable, eyeball, bump, puking, champion, bedroom, excitement, and zany.
Santa Claus was given an official pilot's license in 1927.
When Santa Claus makes his trip around the world on Christmas Eve, you can rest assured that he's legally allowed to drive his sleigh—at least in the United States. In 1927, the jolly man in the red suit was given a pilot's license from the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Aeronautics William P. MacCracken.
According to the Library of Congress, "The old saint called at the Commerce Department in Washington" and when he arrived, his picture was taken as he was given his license, airway maps, "and the assurance that the lights would be burning on the airways on Christmas Eve."
Einstein's brain was stolen when he died.
When Nobel Prize-winning physicist Albert Einstein passed away on April 18, 1955, he left behind specific instructions when it came to the disposal of his body, according to one National Geographic investigation. Einstein didn't want his corpse to be worshiped or his brain to be studied, so he instructed those who were responsible for his remains to "cremate them, and scatter the ashes secretly in order to discourage idolaters."
However, Thomas Harvey, the pathologist on call when Einstein died at New Jersey's Princeton Hospital, didn't quite follow those instructions. Instead, he stole Einstein's brain. From there, things got even weirder. When Einstein's family found out, his son apparently didn't object to the theft and Harvey was able to keep the brain in two jars in his basement before moving it to "a cider box stashed under a beer cooler."
A single watermelon once sold for $6,125.
In 2008, a man in Japan bought a nearly black Densuke watermelon for ¥650,000 or $6,125. The specialty fruit is only grown on the island of Hokkaido and, according to a Japanese agricultural expert in the Los Angeles Times, is crisp and hard with "a different level of sweetness" than the watermelon we're used to eating.
A Brazilian man was killed in bed when a cow fell through the roof and landed on him.
In 2013, Joao Maria de Souza was lying in bed when a cow that had been grazing on a hill behind his house walked onto the asbestos roof and fell through, landing on de Souza, according to the BBC. The injured man was taken to a hospital where he later passed away. As strange as this incident might seem, locals claim that it was the third time a similar thing had happened in the area in the past three years, although no one was killed the first two times.
Scientists made a "nanoguitar" the size of a human blood cell.
Cornell University researchers carved the tiny musical instrument out of crystalline silicon and claim that it's the world's smallest "nanoguitar" at 10 micrometers long. The guitar's six strings are each about 50 nanometers (100 atoms) wide. And while it was "made for fun to illustrate the technology," it also demonstrates how this tech could be used in fiber optics, displays, sensors, and electronics.
The top speed of the winning car in the first U.S. race was seven miles per hour.
Frank Duryea reached a top speed of 7 mph when he raced the second car he had ever built with his brother, Charles, on Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 1895. The Chicago-Times Herald sponsored race featured a 54-mile course that ran from downtown Chicago to Evanston and back.
Antarctica is covered in a sheet of ice that's 7,000 feet thick.
For reference, that's about 19 football fields. The U.S. Antarctic Program also notes that if the ice sheet ever suddenly melted, it would raise the sea level worldwide an estimated 200 feet and submerge much of the Gulf and Atlantic coastal areas of the U.S.
"Arachibutyrophobia" is the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth.
It's pretty common to be afraid of heights and scared of spiders, but if you have arachibutyrophobia, you're among the smaller group of people that suffer from a fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of their mouths. This phobia is often connected to a fear of choking or a fear of sticky textures, but it can also be its own isolated fear.
Crowds at one Louisiana State University football game once cheered so loudly that it registered as an earthquake on a local seismograph.
The game, which took place between LSU and Auburn University, took place in front of a crowd of 79,431 fans at LSU's Tiger Stadium. The crowd's reaction to the game's final pass registered as an earthquake by a seismograph located around 1,000 feet from the stadium. A seismologist noticed the reading the next day and the game went down in LSU history as the "Earthquake Game."
There's a Guinness World Record for the stretchiest skin.
Garry Turner from the U.K. holds the Guinness World Record for the stretchiest skin thanks to the fact that he can extend the skin on his stomach 15.8 centimeters. Turner is capable of such an elastic-like feat thanks to a collagen-defective condition called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. The Good Place actress Jameela Jamil recently confirmed that she also has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, even demonstrating the stretchiness of her skin on social media.
One of the largest pyramids in the world is a Bass Pro Shops in Memphis, Tennessee.
If you're not able to travel all the way to Egypt to see the great pyramids in Giza, then you might want to plan a trip to Memphis, Tennessee, to see the local Bass Pro Shops Megastore. At 321 feet tall, with a 535,000-square-foot interior, it's one of the largest pyramids in the world and features a hotel, an indoor swamp, an aquarium, a bowling alley, and the world's tallest freestanding elevator, which can take you to an observation deck.
Scientists once gave mice superhero-like night vision using nanoparticles.
Fictional Marvel characters aren't the only beings with superhero-like powers. A few lucky mice were given the ability to see perfectly in the dark when scientists utilized nanoparticles that convert infrared light to visible light. The same method could be used to give humans the same night-vision superpower sometime in the future. We'll just have to wait and see.
Extreme ironing is an actual sport.
There are plenty of extreme sports out there if you happen to be an adrenaline junkie. From the classics like skydiving and surfing to newcomers like parkour and blobbing (A.K.A. human catapulting), there's truly something for everyone. But if you want to combine your love of cleaning with your love of getting wild, then perhaps you'd like to try extreme ironing, which was founded in 1997 and has been challenging competitors to press shirts in unexpected locations—like high up in trees, hanging over cliffs, or paddling white-water rapids—for more than two decades.
A lifeboat drill was canceled the morning of the Titanic tragedy.
Other than the fact that it hit an iceberg and sank, a lot went wrong during the Titanic tragedy. But one of the most jaw-dropping facts about the incident is that, according to passenger Arthur Godfrey Peuchen, who later recalled what had happened during his testimony at congressional hearings in Washington, a routine lifeboat drill was supposed to take place the morning of the disaster, but the crew never assembled and the drill was canceled. And for more on this disaster, check out the 13 Surprising Artifacts Found in the Titanic Wreckage.
There's a Starbucks cup in every shot in the movie Fight Club.
It's not quite true that there's a Starbucks on every single corner in every major city. But there does happen to be a Starbucks cup in every scene in the 1999 movie Fight Club starring Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, and Helena Bonham Carter. The cup's appearance was reportedly inspired by a line in the film, when Norton's character explains, "When deep space exploration ramps up, it'll be the corporations that name everything, the IBM Stellar Sphere, the Microsoft Galaxy, Planet Starbucks." You can view all of the cups on this comprehensive Tumblr page.
Birds in Minnesota get drunk off of berries.
In October 2018, the Gilbert Minnesota Police Department issued a public notice about birds that appeared to be "under the influence." It turns out that the airborne animals were apparently eating berries that had fermented due to early frost, which was making them "tipsy." Unfortunately, this meant that the buzzed birds were acting confused and flying into windows. Hopefully, they were able to sleep it off.
Lady Liberty wears a size 879 shoe.
It's no secret that the Statue of Liberty is a mighty monument. The copper section alone is 151 feet and one inch tall. But if Lady Liberty needed a new pair of sandals, it would take size 879 shoes to cover her massive feet.
It's illegal to own just one guinea pig in Switzerland.
Guinea pigs are social animals that prefer the companionship of another guinea pig. That's why it's illegal to own just one of the little critters in Switzerland. Thankfully, if one of your fuzzy pets passes away and you're not ready to commit to another, Switzerland also allows you to rent a guinea pig for your remaining pet.
Almost half the world's population watched both the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cup games.
In 2010, the FIFA World Cup South Africa was shown in every country and territory on Earth, including Antarctica and the Arctic Circle, which meant that a record-breaking 3.2 billion people around the world watched the game in their homes, or 46.4 percent of the global population. Four years later, FIFA World Cup Brazil drew the same staggering number of viewers.
There's a basketball court in the U.S. Supreme Court building.
"The Highest Court in the Land" is the name given to the basketball court that's located in the U.S. Supreme Court building. Located on the top floor (and therefore higher than any other court in the building, which is how it got its name), the former storage room was turned into an exercise area for courthouse workers in the 1940s before nets were eventually installed.
There's a planet that's shaped like a potato.
Not every celestial object has a shape that's as perfectly majestic as planet Earth. In fact, some of them are downright hilarious to look at. Take Haumea, for example. This dwarf planet is cool for a number of reasons. About the same size as Pluto, Haumea orbits the sun beyond Neptune and has rings similar to Jupiter. But what makes this object even more interesting is that it's shaped like a potato.
There are 118 ridges on the side of a dime.
There are also 119 ridges (which are called reeded edges) on the side of a quarter, 150 on the side of a half dollar, 198 on a dollar coin, and 133 on a Susan B. Anthony dollar coin.
Wombat feces is cube-shaped.
Wombats produce around 80 to 100 pieces of excrement each night and until recently no one knew why it was cube-shaped. But in 2018, researchers concluded that it's the wombat's intestines, which are made up of some "stretchy" and some "stiff" sections, that create "the edges and the cubing" during the digestive process.
Cheesemakers are studying if music can change the taste of cheese.
Beat Wampfler, a Swiss cheesemaker, plays songs from bands like Led Zeppelin and A Tribe Called Quest during his cheese-producing process and, with the help of students from the University of the Arts in Bern, he's studying to see if and how music can change the flavor of his Emmental cheese. Wampfler told AFP, "I am convinced that humidity, temperature, or nutrients are not the only things that influence taste… Sounds, ultrasounds, or music can also have physical effects."
It only takes six minutes for alcohol to affect your brain.
Just one drink can quickly go to your head, whether you feel it or not. Researchers at Heidelberg University Hospital found that just six minutes after consuming alcohol, changes are already taking place in the brain. So even if you don't feel tipsy right away, you're definitely not totally sober either.
Daniel Radcliffe went through nearly 70 wands and 160 pairs of glasses during the making of the Harry Potter films.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the production team also made 40 versions of Salazar Slytherin's locket, 250 paintings for the Marble Staircase, 900 Memory Vials for the cabinet in Dumbledore's Office, and 210,000 coins for the Gringotts bank scene in the last two films alone. And for more on the wizard phenomenon, check out the 35 Ways Harry Potter Is Still Crazy Relevant.
There are actually two Air Force Ones.
Every vehicle needs maintenance to stay in tip-top shape, especially if it's expected to transport a country's leader around the world. So when Air Force One's SAM 28000 Boeing 747-200B plane is getting a tune-up, there's an identical SAM 29000 standing by. One plane is always ready for the president's use whenever needed.
"Strengths" is the longest word in the English language with one vowel.
With nine letters and eight of them being consonants, "strengths" is the longest word in the English language with only one vowel, according to the Guinness World Records. Which, on reflection, makes it a really weird looking word.
It would cost $18.3 million to make a replica Darth Vader suit.
There's no doubt that Darth Vader's getup is pretty snazzy in Star Wars, but according to Time, it's probably out of your budget. That's because it would cost $18.3 million to make a real-life replica of the suit that features a voice modifier, breathing apparatus, prosthetic limbs, and an augmented-reality filter.
Shark attacks threaten the internet.
If shark attacks give you the chills, you're not alone. And the people over at Google can sympathize thanks to the fact that they deal with shark attacks that threaten the internet. And this isn't a new problem. Back in 1987, The New York Times reported that is was an issue with phone lines at the time due to the fact that "sharks have shown an inexplicable taste for the new fiber-optic cables that are being strung along the ocean floor linking the United States, Europe, and Japan."
"Q" is the only letter that doesn't appear in any U.S. state name.
What state do you live in? Does it have a "q" in the name? We can guarantee that it doesn't because that's the only letter that doesn't appear in any U.S. state name, from Alabama to Wyoming and everything in between.
You can get your eyeballs tattooed.
If you've ever considered getting your entire body tattooed, be sure not to forget about your eyeballs. Hardcore body-art fans have started inking their eyes all kinds of colors, from purple to green. But beware of the risks that come along with such an extreme modification.
Three U.S. presidents—Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter—have won Grammys.
Jimmy Carter won three Grammy Awards in the Best Spoken Word Album category for Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis in 2007, A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety in 2016, and finally Faith: A Journey For All in 2019.
In 2004, Bill Clinton won Best Spoken Word Album for My Life, just a year after he earned the Best Spoken Word Album for Children thanks to Prokofiev: Peter And The Wolf/Beintus: Wolf Tracks.
Barack Obama has won two Grammys, including Best Spoken Word Album in 2006 for the Dreams from My Father audiobook and another in 2008 when he took home the Best Spoken Word Album Grammy for the audiobook version of The Audacity of Hope.
There's a toilet museum.
The Sulabh International Museum Of Toilets in New Delhi, India, features a rare collection of objects "detailing the historic evolution of toilets" from 2500 BCE to right up until today. Learn about the toilet systems of ancient societies, the elaborately decorated toilets of 18th- and 19th-century Europe, and even a toilet from Austria that's shaped like a lion so that you can feel like you're riding the wild beast while doing your business.
It's against the law to feed pigeons on the streets or sidewalks of San Francisco.
You might think that throwing a little bread to the birds is a nice thing to do, but in San Francisco, it could get you into trouble. That's because it's illegal to feed pigeons in the streets or on the sidewalks of the California city. San Francisco's Public Works Department explains that there "are dozens of reasons why" you shouldn't feed our flying friends, "but mainly: feeding pigeons harms our neighborhoods and also harms the birds." And for more crazy facts check out these 35 Fascinating Fast Facts for When You're Bored.