150 Random Facts So Interesting You’ll Say, “OMG!”
Space smells like... what?!
Everyone loves a surprising and interesting fun fact that makes you question the world around you—challenging your assumptions and long-held beliefs and ultimately proving that there’s never a time in your life when you stop learning. But you know what everyone loves even more than a fun fact? A fun fact so surprising and interesting that you stop dead in your tracks to say, “No way! Really?”
To help you channel that feeling once more—well, actually, 150 times!—we’ve compiled the most interesting facts we could find in every genre imaginable that are guaranteed to stoke your curiosity. So read on, and enjoy!
Superman Didn’t Always Fly
The original comic book Superman could leap tall buildings in a single bound. But then he had to come right back down to Earth—because he didn’t fly. It wasn’t until the 1940s, when animators for a new animated series decided it would be too difficult to routinely draw him bending his knees, that it was decided that Superman could take off into the air. Readers got to see smooth animation and a superhero gained a new power.
The First Computer Was Invented in the 1940s
These days, supercomputers are everywhere—and they really don’t need much space at all. Have an Xbox One posted up in your living room? That’s a supercomputer. A laptop-tablet hybrid in your bag? That’s a supercomputer, too. (Don’t even get us started on the thing in your pocket…) But when supercomputers first came around, they needed much, much more space. Just take a look at the world’s first one: The Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC).
Originally built at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering, in 1946, ENIAC weighed 60,000 pounds and took up a room larger than most studio apartments (1,500 square feet). Shortly after construction, ENIAC was sent off to the military, where it was used to calculate ballistic trajectories (translation: launch missiles) with frightening accuracy. Today, computer experts at Penn credit ENIAC with heralding in the “dawn of the information age.”
Space Smells Like Seared Steak
When you see footage of astronauts floating peacefully in space, do you ever wonder, What does space smell like? Well, according to some former astronauts, space does have a distinct odor that hangs around when they come back in the ship after a spacewalk. They’ve described it as “hot metal” or “searing steak.”
The Longest Wedding Veil Was the Same Length as 63.5 Football Fields
When Maria Paraskeva, a woman from Cyprus, got married in August 2018, her goal wasn’t just to say “I do.” She was also determined to set a record. “My dream as a child has always been to break the Guinness World Record title for the longest wedding veil,” she explained. She fulfilled her dream by wearing a lace veil that stretched 22,843 feet and 2.11 inches, or as long as 63.5 football fields.
The Unicorn Is the National Animal of Scotland
While Scotland proudly boasts the Loch Ness Monster, one of the world’s most famous fabled creatures, the country opted to make another mythical beast its national animal: the unicorn. Although this might seem like an odd choice, Visit Scotland explains that unicorns played an integral role in the country’s history. Back in the 12th century, William I used the “proud beast” in the Scottish royal coat of arms.
Bees Sometimes Sting Other Bees
Bees are notorious for their stings, but humans aren’t the only ones who experience this pain in the neck (or the arm, or the leg…). In protecting their hives from outsiders, some “guard bees” will stay by the entrance and sniff the bees that come in, says Marianne Peso from the biology department of Macquarie University. If there’s a rogue bee from another hive trying to steal some nectar, the guard bee will bite and even sting the intruder.
Kids Ask 300 Questions a Day
A 2013 U.K. study from online retailer Littlewoods.com observed young children and recorded the questions they asked the adults around them. The children tended to turn to their mothers for answers, and these moms could end up answering an average of nearly 300 questions per day, or one question every two-and-a-half minutes, the study found. The moms reported that the hardest questions they were asked included “Why is water wet?” and “What are shadows made of?”
The Total Weight of Ants on Earth Once Equaled the Total Weight of People
Entomologists have estimated that there are at least one million trillion insects and only one percent of that number is ants, according to the BBC. And if you took all those ants (about ten thousand trillion) and put them on one side of a giant scale, you could almost put all of the people in the world onto the other and balance things out. Unfortunately, as humans have become heavier, this probably wouldn’t hold up today—but it once did. Francis Ratnieks, professor of Apiculture at the University of Sussex, told the BBC this might have held true around 2,000 years ago.
“E” Is the Most Common Letter and Appears in 11 Percent of All English Words
Try writing out a few sentences—anything at all. Now take a minute to look at how frequently each letter in the alphabet appears. Chances are you’ll see a lot of the letter “e.” That’s because the commonly used vowel appears in around 11 percent of all words in the English language, according to Oxford Dictionaries. The next most popular letter was “a,” which appears in around 8.5 percent of all words. The least common letter is “a,” which appears in just 0.2 percent of words.
A Dozen Bodies Were Found in Benjamin Franklin’s Basement
But were you aware of the fact that multiple skeletons were found in the basement of Benjamin Franklin’s London home? The bones were discovered during a 1998 renovation of the house and were identified as being from nearly a dozen people, including six children. “The most plausible explanation is not mass murder, but an anatomy school run by Benjamin Franklin’s young friend and protege, William Hewson,” wrote The Guardian.
That’s not to say there wasn’t any funny business going on. “The resurrection men could deliver bodies stolen from graveyards to the Thames wharf at the bottom of the street, while there was a weekly public execution at the gallows on the other side of the garden wall.”
The Healthiest Place in the World Is in Panama
A small valley near Volcán in Panama has garnered the distinction of being the world’s healthiest place to live, according to a 2018 report by International Living. Called Shangri-La Valley, the area is home to beautiful scenery, a low cost of living, and a significantly longer life expectancy than the surrounding areas. All in all, the world’s healthiest areas have some common factors, according to the ranking: a warm climate, an active social scene, healthy food, and a slower pace of life that makes for less daily stress.
A Pharaoh Lathered His Slaves in Honey to Keep Bugs Away From Him
The pharaohs of ancient Egypt were believed to be literally divine. The word pharaoh itself means “great house,” as in the house of God. In fact, King Pepi II, who supposedly ruled for 90 years, thought so highly of himself that when he was bothered by insects, he would command that one of his slaves be covered in honey to lure the flies away from himself.
Some People Have an Extra Bone in Their Knee That Is Getting More Common
If you were under the impression that the human body had finished evolving, think again. It turns out that some people have a bone in their knee called a fabella. And while this particular little bone with an unknown purpose was once fading away, over the last century and a half, it’s gotten more common. Back in 1875, nearly 18 percent of people examined had a fabella. That number dropped to 11 percent by 1918. However, by 2018, 39 percent of individuals had this mysterious bone.
Pringles Aren’t Actually Potato Chips
The next time you see a can of Pringles, take a closer look—you won’t see the word “chip” anywhere on the packaging. That’s because Pringles aren’t made of thinly-sliced potatoes, but instead dehydrated potato flakes pressed into their signature parabolic shape. That’s what makes them less greasy. But when other potato chip manufacturers complained, the Food and Drug Administration ruled that Pringles couldn’t be marketed as chips. The company eventually settled on “potato crisp.”
There’s a Giant Fish With a Transparent Head
The deepest levels of our oceans are some of the least explored areas of the planet. Because of the extreme pressure, cold, and dark at these depths, only the very strangest of creatures can survive there. These include giant tube worms, vampire squids, goblin sharks, and viperfish with teeth so long that they can’t close their mouths. Perhaps the strangest, though, is the barreleye, a large fish with a completely transparent head.
There’s a Decorated War Hero Dog
While in the trenches of World War I, the U.S. First Infantry Division found themselves unable to communicate with other troops because shellfire had damaged the telephone wires. A young private came up with a unique solution: Rags, a mixed breed terrier whom the soldiers had adopted in Paris, would carry the messages from one division to the next tucked into his collar. He saved many lives, and when Rags passed away—in Maryland, at the very advanced age of 20—he was buried with military honors.
Showers Really Do Spark Creativity
Showers aren’t just good for your hygiene—they’re good for your creativity, too. For a 2012 study published in the journal Psychological Science, researchers gave volunteers creativity problems to solve followed by a period of rest. During that period, some were assigned demanding tasks, while others did simpler tasks that allowed their minds to wander (just like a shower does). Those doing the simpler tasks during the resting time were more likely to solve the original creativity problems.
Abraham Lincoln’s Bodyguard Left His Post at Ford’s Theater to Go for a Drink
You already know that Abraham Lincoln was shot and killed by John Wilkes Booth while watching a performance at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., on April 14, 1865. But what you might not have been aware of is that the president had a bodyguard named John Frederick Parker with him on that fateful night, according to Smithsonian.
Unfortunately, Parker was a police officer with a less-than-stellar reputation. After arriving three hours late for his shift, the officer left his post protecting the president to get a drink at the Star Saloon next door to the theatre. It was during this time that Booth entered the box seats where Lincoln was sitting and shot the president.
Dolphins Have Been Trained to Be Used in Wars
Dolphins are known widely as adorable, intelligent animals. What is not as widely known is that these crafty creatures were used largely by the U.S. and Soviet Union during the Vietnam War and the Cold War. Both countries studied the creatures for their sonar capabilities, but also trained them to detect mines, bring equipment to divers, find lost equipment, and guard submarines amongst other nifty tricks.
Playing the Accordion Was Once Required for Teachers in North Korea
The most popular instrument in North Korea is the accordion, so much so that all teachers used to be required to play to get their teaching certifications. Because the accordion is portable in a way that, say, a grand piano isn’t, it was thought of as the “people’s instrument” that could be taken outside and played for laborers in the fields.
Children’s Medicine Once Contained Morphine
If you were a baby in the middle of the 1800s and you cried while teething, your parents might have given you Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup. This “medicine” claimed that “it soothes the child, it softens the gums, [and] allays all pain.” It may have done plenty of soothing, but it was also extremely dangerous—this concoction, like many patent medicines of the time, contained morphine.
Plastic Easter Eggs and Plastic Easter Grass Were Invented by a Man Who Holds More Patents than Thomas Edison
If you’ve ever enjoyed an Easter basket with plastic eggs and grass, then you can thank Donald Weder, the man who invented both. Weder not only holds the patents on these holiday staples, he also holds a total of 1,413 U.S. patents—including ones for water-based inks, flower-pot covers, and decorative wrappers. That’s compared to Thomas Edison, who held just 1,093 U.S. patents.
Water Makes Different Pouring Sounds Depending on its Temperature
If you listen very closely, hot water and cold water sound slightly different when being poured. The heat changes the thickness, or viscosity, of the water, which changes the pitch of the sound it makes when it’s poured. What we feel as heat comes from the molecules of the water moving faster. Cold water is thicker and therefore makes a slightly higher-pitched sound.
Most Laughter Isn’t Because Things Are Funny
Every culture in the world laughs, but surprisingly, most of our laughter isn’t necessarily a response to humor. Less than 20 percent of laughter comes after jokes, according to neuroscientist Robert Provine; the rest is a reaction to regular statements and questions like, “How have you been?” The ensuing laughter, however brief, helps form social bonds since people who laugh together grow closer.
One Man Saved More than 200 People from Suicide
It’s a sad fact the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is a site where many suicides take place. However, one California Highway Patrol officer has done more to combat this problem than any other individual. Officer Kevin Briggs, who battles depression himself, has personally talked more than 200 people down from the proverbial ledge throughout his career. After retiring in 2013, Briggs wrote a book called Guardian of the Golden Gate and now goes on speaking tours to encourage public discussion of suicide and mental illness.
Our European Ancestors Were Cannibals
In 16th and 17th century Europe, cannibalism was actually a fairly common practice, and it was all for medical purposes. The practice seems to have started because Egyptian mummies were thought to have magical curative properties—so they were ground up and put in many remedies.
As the idea evolved, human bone, blood, and fat were all used in medical concoctions. Got a headache? Crush a skull and make it into tea! While medical cannibalism has fallen out of favor, modern medicine still sometimes uses one human body to heal another in the form of blood donations, organ transplants, and skin grafts.
Dogs Actually Understand Some English
Some owners of disobedient dogs may have trouble believing this, but dogs can learn to recognize a vocabulary of about 165 words. Unsurprisingly, dogs respond best to short words, as well as words with hard consonants like “t” or “r,” which may explain why they can hear “treat” from three rooms away.
If you want to try to expand your dog’s vocabulary, be consistent—for example, always call a meal “dinner” instead of breakfast, lunch, or supper. And don’t believe the myth: Old dogs can learn words just as well as young dogs.
You Have a Nail in Your Body
Or, at least, the components of one. Iron is an important nutrient that the human body needs. It helps your red blood cells carry oxygen, which is necessary for producing energy throughout the body. That’s why an iron deficiency can present itself with feelings of exhaustion. Amazingly, a healthy adult has about three grams of iron, enough that, if it were pulled out and melted down, it could form a nail up to three inches long.
Redheads Aren’t Going Extinct
Periodically, a rumor starts on the internet that says natural redheads will become extinct by the year 2060. Lucky for gingers everywhere, this is a myth. It’s true that the gene that causes red hair is recessive, meaning that both parents must have it for their child to have red hair. However, even non-redheads can carry the red hair gene, and it can pop up unexpectedly in generations down the line.
Pro Baseball Once Had Women Players
While there are currently no female players in Major League Baseball, there have been plenty of women in professional men’s leagues. The first was Lizzy Arlington, who pitched during the ninth inning for the Reading Coal Heavers in 1898 and won her team the game. A little over 30 years later, an African-American woman, Jackie Mitchell, pitched against the Yankees during an exhibition game, striking out both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. What’s more impressive: Mitchell was 17 years old at the time.
Koalas Have Fingerprints
Chimpanzees and gorillas have human-like fingerprints and so do koalas. In fact, koala prints are very similar to human fingerprints, even to expert crime scene investigators. As of yet, no koalas have framed humans for their crimes, but now we know it’s not impossible…
Humans Are Just One of the Estimated 8.7 Million Species on Earth
Human beings may dominate the planet with our sprawling cities and far-reaching technology, but we are, in fact, just one species among some 8.7 million that live together on planet Earth. One 2011 study published in the journal PLoS Biology estimated that “the various forms of life on the planet included 7.8 million species of animals, 298,000 species of plants, 611,000 species of mushrooms, mold and other fungi, 36,400 species of protozoa, and 27,500 species of algae or chromists.” And it’s worth noting that the researchers did not venture to put an estimate on the number of bacteria.
Riding a Roller Coaster Could Help You Pass a Kidney Stone
After multiple people reported they had passed a kidney stone while riding Walt Disney World’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride, a research team from Michigan State University decided to investigate the phenomena in 2016. They conducted tests with a model kidney and found that there was a 64 percent kidney stone pass rate for those seated in the rear of the Thunder Mountain ride. That number was just 16 percent for those seated in the front.
Dinosaurs Lived on Every Continent
Back in their day, dinosaurs lived on every continent on Earth, including Antarctica. The reason we only find their bones in certain places, though, is that weather and soil conditions in those places were just right for the bones to be fossilized. Scientists also speculate that there may be many smaller-sized dinosaurs that we know nothing about because their bones were too small to fossilize well.
Bee Hummingbirds Are So Small They Get Mistaken for Insects
Hummingbirds are known for being itty-bitty creatures, but Bee Hummingbirds are the teeniest versions of these shockingly tiny flyers. They’re actually the smallest bird in the world. They are so minuscule that they are sometimes mistaken for insects (which explains their name), according to the National Audobon Society. The birds are just two and a quarter inches long and weigh less than a dime.
Sea Lions Can Dance to a Beat
There are only two mammals on Earth with the proven ability to move their bodies in time with an external beat: humans (though not all humans, to be fair) and sea lions. When researchers at the University of Santa Cruz rescued a stranded sea lion in 2013, they found that she was very smart, and she was even able to learn how to dance. Though parrots can also keep a rhythm, it was previously thought that only animals capable of complex vocal learning could do this.
Rolls-Royce Makes the Most Expensive Car in the World
Currently, the most expensive car in the world is a Rolls-Royce Sweptail that sold for $13 million. However, even if you have that kind of dough lying around, you won’t be able to buy it—only one was made, and it was custom-built from the ground up according to the buyer’s specifications. But brand-new custom cars have nothing on used classics; the recent sale of a 1963 Ferrari GTO for $70 million is supposedly the highest price ever paid for a car.
The Famed “Typhoid Mary” Infected More Than 50 People by Cooking for Them
“Typhoid Mary” was a real historical person who became notorious in the early 1900s. She was an Irish woman named Mary Mallon who immigrated to the United States in the 1880s. Though she had no symptoms of typhoid fever, she carried the bacteria in her blood and could pass it on to other people. Because no doctor could convince her that this was true and she didn’t feel sick, she insisted on working as a cook. During her career, she infected at least 51 people, three of whom died, before she was isolated in enforced quarantine for the last decades of her life.
The Legend of the Loch Ness Monster Goes Back Nearly 1,500 Years
There’s a tale written in the year 565 A.D. that speaks of an Irish monk traveling through Scotland. While there, Saint Columba heard stories of a “water beast” that attacked and killed the local people when they went in the river. Wanting to help, the monk used his friend as bait to lure the beast into sight, at which point Columba commanded it to “go no further,” and the creature stopped and swam back upstream. That river is now known in Scotland as the River Ness, which flows out from the famous Loch Ness.
Nutmeg Can Be Fatally Poisonous
A little dash of nutmeg in a pumpkin pie or on your egg nog can give it some extra flavor and a lovely spicy scent. Too much nutmeg, however, can be toxic. Two to three teaspoons of raw nutmeg can induce hallucinations, convulsions, pain, nausea, and paranoia that can last for several days. Actual fatalities are rare, but they have happened.
Chinese Police Use Geese Squads
You’ve heard of police dogs, but police geese? As of 2013, 12 police stations in a rural area of China have begun to use geese as sentries. They are alert animals and, as you probably know, can create a lot of noise and commotion, which creative Chinese law enforcement officers are taking advantage of. While this trend has yet to spread throughout China, Dongwan police claim that the geese have already stopped at least one theft.
The First iPhone Wasn’t Made by Apple
The first mobile device to be called an “iPhone” was made by Cisco, not Apple. It allowed the user to use the voice functions of Skype without a computer. Apple announced its own product just 22 days later, and Cisco sued for trademark infringement. The lawsuit was ultimately settled out of court and both companies were allowed to keep using the name. However, you’ve probably never heard of the Cisco iPhone.
There’s a Country Where Twins Are Most Likely to be Born
Benin, a country in central Africa, is notable for having the highest birth rate of twins in the world. While the world average is just 13 twins per 1,000 births, Benin more than doubles that rate, at nearly 30 twins per 1,000 births. There’s no single factor that causes this, but genetics, diet, and even the mother’s height are thought to play a role.
The Comic Sans Font Came from an Actual Comic Book
Most adults nowadays who know anything about graphic design steer away from using the Comic Sans font in formal documents. The font was designed by Vincent Connare, who drew direct inspiration from his favorite comic books, including Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ celebrated Watchmen series.
For 100 Years, Maps Have Shown an Island That Doesn’t Exist
Almost nothing is known about Sandy Island, a land mass about the size of Manhattan in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Australia. Supposedly, explorer James Cook discovered it in 1876, and it began appearing on nautical maps in 1908. It wasn’t until 2012, when a team of Australian scientists set out to survey the island, that they discovered there was no island there at all. The scientists guessed that Cook may have in fact spotted a “pumice raft” of floating volcanic stone and gas. The Sydney Morning Herald even published an obituary for Sandy Island.
Babies Are Physical Anomalies
Babies, particularly newborns, are surprisingly different from the children they’ll grow up to be. When they’re born, their heads account for a quarter of their full body weight, and the size of their brains will double in the first year of life. Babies have 300 bones and around 10,000 tastebuds all over their mouth. Some of the bones will fuse as they age (into 206, as an adult), but the tastebuds not on the tongue will eventually vanish.
The Queen Has Some Hidden Hideaways
Since the early 13th century, the city of London has officially paid rent to the Crown for two small pieces of property. Fortunately for the city, the price has stayed the same for more than 800 years: one knife, one ax, six horseshoes, and 61 nails, presented every autumn in the Ceremony of Quit Rents. Although one of these properties is located in the Moors in Shropshire and the other is near the Royal Courts of Justice in the city itself, no one knows the exact location of the Queen’s land. And for more weird celebrity trivia, don’t miss the 20 Craziest Celebrity Rumors of All Time.
The Man Who Wrote Dracula Never Visited Transylvania
Bram Stoker was an Irish author who is now best remembered for his gothic horror novel Dracula. Partially set in Transylvania, a mountainous region in central Romania, the story cemented the legend of the vampire in mainstream European and American culture. Despite Stoker’s many world travels, he never visited Eastern Europe—and, by virtue, Transylvania—at all.
The Australian Government Banned the Word “Mate” for a Day
There are probably slang or informal words that get on your nerves from time to time, particularly when you think something should be taken seriously. In 2005, Australian Parliament took a few citizen complaints a little too seriously and banned anyone on their staff from using the word “mate” while at work. Fortunately, Prime Minister John Howard objected, claiming that “mate” was an important part of Australian culture, and the ban was overturned within 24 hours.
Many Languages Have the Same Roots
English, Portuguese, Latvian, Pashto, and Greek all sound very different today, but these languages all have a common ancestor called Proto-Indo-European. Though we don’t have any written examples of it, linguists have worked backwards from a variety of modern languages to try to reconstruct it. Using their reconstruction, the sentence “The king wanted a son” would be written as “H3rḗḱs súhxnum u̯l̥nh1to.”
A Tick Bite Can Make You Allergic to Red Meat
Plenty of people have food allergies, but few are the result of an insect bite. In a strange and growing trend, some people who get bitten by the Lone Star tick can develop a sudden allergy to red meat. Beef, lamb, and pork (which are technically classified as red meat) can make people with this allergy experience headaches, sneezing, a runny nose, and nausea. In severe cases, it can cause the person to be unable to breathe. For some sufferers, the allergy fades over time, but for others, it’s permanent.
Harriet Tubman Was Even More Heroic Than You Thought
You probably know that Harriet Tubman was a former slave who became a political activist for the abolition movement. But in addition to smuggling escaped slaves through the Underground Railroad, during the Civil War she was the first woman to lead an armed assault. She planned and executed a number of raids and was known to carry a revolver for personal protection.
Tornadoes Can Cause “Fish Rain”
Tornadoes can develop over water just as well as they can over land. When they do, they’re called “waterspouts,” and they suck up large amounts of lake or sea water—as well as whatever’s swimming in that water. If the waterspout travels on to the land and the winds decrease, there’s nowhere for those fish to go but down. As far as we know, there’s no tornado powerful enough to pick up sharks, but a fish-nado is entirely possible.
Napoleon Was Once Attacked by Thousands of Rabbits
Napoleon Bonaparte was once one of the most powerful men in Europe, but he suffered an ignominious defeat at the hands (or paws) of rabbits. After a military victory, Napoleon’s chief of staff organized a rabbit hunt to celebrate. Thousands of rabbits were brought in to be set loose, but instead of hopping away when the cages were opened, they turned to attack, swarming the partygoers. After trying and failing to shoo them away, the great Emperor Napoleon ran for the safety of his carriage.
Star Trek‘s Scotty Stormed the Beach at Normandy
Canadian actor James Doohan, best known for playing Montgomery “Scotty” Scott on the original Star Trek series, served in World War II with the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division. As a commissioned lieutenant, he led his troop up a mine-strewn Juno Beach as part of the Allied Forces’ D-Day invasion. Later in the day, he was wounded by friendly fire that caused the amputation of the middle finger on his right hand. You might not have noticed it because, during his time on Star Trek, directors did the best they could to avoid showing the injury on screen.
Apple Pie Isn’t Actually American
Apples originally come from Asia. The first pies were baked in Medieval Europe. Even the concept of putting apples in pie traces back to a recipe from England in 1381. Nevertheless, the phrase “as American as apple pie” turned up by 1924 and became a common saying during the years of the Second World War.
Pigs Are Constitutionally Protected in Florida
First written in 1838, the Constitution of the state of Florida guarantees the right to privacy, the freedom of speech, and the right of pregnant pigs to be free from cages. Unlike many crazy or outdated laws, this amendment is recent (passed in 2002) and comes from a well-meaning place: the prevention of cruelty to animals. During pregnancy, a pig must not be caged or even tethered such that it can’t turn around freely.
Mr. Cherry Breaks All the Records You’ve Never Heard Of
Japan’s record breaker for most records broken is Cherry Yoshitake, a children’s entertainer who goes by “Mr. Cherry.” In 2018 alone, Mr. Cherry set one-minute records for the most pairs of underwear pulled on (36), the most baked beans eaten (71), and the most apples bobbed (37).
Sweat Doesn’t Actually Stink
You might notice that any sweat you produce right after a shower doesn’t smell so bad. That’s because your sweat itself isn’t stinky; it’s the bacteria on your skin that breaks the sweat down that causes the odor. Additionally, you’ll find that the sweat on your arms and legs doesn’t smell as much as your armpits. That’s because sweat glands in your armpits secrete more protein into a dark, damp environment—the perfect place and food for bacteria.
Some Planets Produce Diamond Rain
Saturn and Jupiter are gas giant planets that produce a truly unique form of weather. Recently, scientists discovered that there is plenty of carbon in these atmospheres. When carbon soot gets hit by lightning, it hardens into graphite and falls downward, where the pressure of the atmosphere hardens it further, until it becomes… a diamond! Storms on these planets may literally rain diamonds as big as a centimeter across.
Sharks Can Live For Five Centuries
Greenland Sharks are known to be some of the oldest living animals in our world. Researchers did carbon dating on a Greenland Shark that was caught in 2014 and found it to be around 392 years old. Further testing revealed that our fishy friends could be up to 500 years old. Yes, that would mean that our geriatric friends would have been alive when Leonardo Da Vinci painted the “Mona Lisa.”
There’s an Entire Town Under a Rock
If you’ve ever been accused of “living under a rock,” you’ll feel right at home in Setenil de Las Bodegas in Spain. Many of this tiny town’s 3,000 residents live and work and play in a gorge beneath a huge rocky outcropping, where homes are built right into the rock. It provides so much shelter that historians think this area has been occupied by human settlements since the Stone Age.
It Is Illegal to Sell a “Bounceless” Pickle to Somebody in Connecticut
This law put Connecticut Librarians in quite the pickle. The law actually arose as a legend and the people demanded the truth. For hours, librarians in the state scanned past archives of laws within the state until one librarian eventually found the truth in the Hartford Courant. The law was in fact an ordinance that was created in 1945 to thwart pickle packers Moses Dexler and Sidney Sparer. These two men were selling inedible pickles, so laboratories conducted experiments and found that if it doesn’t bounce, don’t eat an ounce!
The Bermuda Triangle Isn’t Any More Likely to Cause a Mysterious Disappearance Than Anywhere Else
This area in the North Atlantic Sea is also called “The Devil’s Triangle” because it is an area of the ocean that stretches between the tip of Florida, Bermuda, and Puerto Rico. It has been thought to seemingly swallow up ships and aircrafts. Explorers as far back as Christopher Columbus have reported odd occurrences, like fireballs in the sky (that turned out to be a meteor crashing).
But historians, scientists, and the U.S. Coast Guard have proven that vessels are no more likely to disappear in the Bermuda Triangle than they are anywhere else in the ocean. Many prior disappearances have been demystified as remains of numerous wrecks were discovered or explained by weather patterns in the area at that time.
There’s a World Record—and a Happy Ending—for the Greatest Distance Thrown in a Car Accident
This is one world record you may not want to try and top. A car traveling 70 miles per hour struck Matthew McKnight, an off-duty paramedic, when he stopped to help out with an accident on the side of an interstate in 2001. He was thrown 118 feet, almost half a football field.
Dr. Eric Brader, his emergency room physician, told McKnight he should send it into the Guinness Book of World Records, but McKnight brushed it off as a joke. Brader was so impressed by the feat that he sent in the paperwork anyways, which was approved in 2003, but didn’t make the cut until its 2008 edition.
You Can Sneeze Faster Than a Cheetah Can Run
Clocking in at 100 mph, we can sneeze faster than cheetahs run, four-and-a-half times faster than Usain Bolt’s record, and 20 times faster than Michael Phelps. (Unfortunately, we also expel about 100,000 germs when we sneeze.)
The Fire Hydrant Patent Was Lost in a Fire
The fire hydrant patent is credited to Frederick Graff Sr., who was the chief engineer for Philadelphia Water Works during the early 1800s. Unfortunately for Graff Sr., the patent was destroyed when the patent office in Washington, D.C., burned down in 1836. After 100 years, retired firefighter George Sigelakis reinvented the hydrant after they had been failing to work in too many critical emergencies.
Saudi Arabia Imports Camels From Australia
Saudi Arabia is known for its vast expanse of desert, so it may seem unbelievable that they rely on Australia to supply them with animals that dominate their landscape.
Australia originally had camels imported to be used for transporting heavy loads or for riding. They were let loose when their work was done, causing an unwanted spike in their population. Australians then sold the camels back to desert-based countries like Saudi Arabia, which use camels at a much higher volume.
One Man Survived Two Atomic Bombs
Tsutomu Yamaguchi survived both nuclear attacks to Japan when the U.S. dropped atomic bombs during World War II. Yamaguchi, sent to Hiroshima on business on August 6th, 1945, saw the U.S. drop the first atomic bomb. Miraculously, he survived with burns across his face and arms, but made it home to Nagasaki. Three days later, the second atomic bomb hit, flattening Yamaguchi’s home. Because his family was out finding ointments to treat his already existent burns, they were safe in a tunnel and miraculously survived as well.
The Cast of Friends Still Earns Around $20 Million Each Year
When the show came to an end, the cast of the popular TV show Friends negotiated syndication rights for themselves. That means they receive a percentage of the revenue (2 percent) from reruns airing across all broadcasting companies. Since the much-loved TV show still pulls in around $1 billion of revenue, Courteney Cox, David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, and Matthew Perry all make major dough each year for doing, well, nothing—$20 million is the estimate.
Pluto Technically Isn’t Even a Year Old
Pluto was discovered on February 18th, 1930. It is the farthest (dwarf) planet from the Sun, requiring it to go a much farther distance than we are used to on Earth. It takes 248 Earth-years for Pluto to complete one rotation of its own around the sun. This places Pluto’s first birthday since its discovery on Monday, March 23, 2178.
Cows Kill More Americans Each Year Than Sharks Do
While sharks account for about 53 bites per year, only one of those ends up being fatal. Cows, on the other hand (or hoof), kill around 20 people per year.
Newborns Don’t Have Kneecaps
This belief is only a half truth, as babies actually technically do have kneecaps when they are born. Those knees just aren’t hardened yet, and remain soft cartilage throughout their childhood until they eventually turn into bone.
In Germany, People Help Toads Cross the Road
You might not want to bring up the popular video game Frogger in Germany. There, they like to protect their frogs, toads, and other amphibians. In order to save them from harm when crossing the street, conservation organizations installed more than 800 fences along popular roadways. Along these fences are buckets, so when they try to cross, they eventually hop into one. At the end of the day, wildlife conservationists collect the buckets and release frogs across the road into a nearby forest with ponds and lakes.
Cheetahs Don’t Roar
France Has A Dozen Time Zones
The country with the widest stretch of land, Russia, spans 11 different time zones. France, though, technically has the most, clocking in at 12—but that’s due to the fact that its territories are dispersed in various parts of the world. The U.S. ties with Russia in second, but not all time zones are inhabited.
So, Russia is the only place in the world where one citizen could be waking up at 8:00 a.m. and another could be going to bed at 11:00 p.m.
Humans Aren’t the Only Species to Adopt
We’ve seen the heartwarming videos of dogs nursing baby squirrels back to health—and that’s actually much more common than we think. It becomes mutually beneficial to have more furry friends in the group to take on other roles in survival—whether that be hunting, gathering, or just simply cute companionship. Though the phenomenon isn’t completely understood, it’s clear that both humans and animals have an instinct to care for others.
Blue Ivy Carter Is the Youngest Person Ever to Appear on a Billboard Chart
In January 2012, Jay-Z released his hit “Glory,” a dedication to his firstborn child, Blue Ivy Carter. The rapper decided it would make sense to have her featured on the song, so he included a clip of her crying before the track ends. Because her dad officially credited her in the song’s title, she became the youngest person ever to have a Billboard hit—at a mere two days old.
The Majority of Americans Choose Dogs Over Love
Dogs have been known for the longest time as man’s best friend, but Americans are increasingly taking that to a new level. A 2017 study from Rover.com conducted over three years found that 54 percent of dog owners are willing to end a relationship if their pup doesn’t like their partner.
The study also found that 94 percent of dog owners consider their dogs to be a part of their family, and 78 percent include their pups in major family moments. Since one in four people said they bring their cuddly companions on first dates, maybe consider bringing dog treats instead of flowers next time.
Star Wars Was Expected to Be a Flop
The original 1977 Star Wars had a budget of $8 million, which distributor 20th Century Fox was reluctant to give to director/writer George Lucas, so he accepted a lower salary in order to keep the budget. The movie went on to make $775 million around the world, and Disney picked up the entire franchise for $4 billion. For comparison, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which was released in 2017, had a reported budget of $317 million.
Your Liver Can Regrow Itself in Three Weeks
The Greeks had it right with Prometheus, it turns out. According to Greek mythology, the titan was punished by having an eagle eat his liver day after day. The liver would regrow at night, leaving Prometheus at the bird’s mercy.
It turns out, the regenerative properties of this story are partially true: Doctors have found that the liver can regrow in three weeks, not one day.
Danes Bred a Pig to Look Like the Flag
In the early 20th century, those who resided in North Frisia under Prussian rule were not allowed to raise the Danish flag. But some crafty North Frisians took action by breeding a pig, known as the Danish Protest Pig, to be red in color, with a large white stripe around its belly—thus creating an animal version of the flag. As they technically did not break the law, and because it wouldn’t have been feasible to ban the breeding of pigs, the Danes successfully protested Prussia.
A 70-Year-Old Woman Completed Seven Marathons in Seven Days, Across all Seven Continents
Chau Smith was always an avid runner, and, in 2017, she decided that for her 70th birthday, she would complete seven marathons in one week across all of the continents. Traveling made it challenging—for example, Smith made the race in Egypt just minutes before the start because her plane to Cairo was delayed. But despite the obstacles, she completed her goal.
Dogs Like Squeaky Toys For a Dark Reason
Ever wonder why your little puppy obsesses over those squeaky toys? Because dogs are descendants of wolves whose instincts include hunting smaller animals. The sound a squeaky toy makes is very similar to the sound a small animal makes when being hunted. When Ol’ Lassie hears that, she gets excited because of these killer survival skills.
The Man Who Founded Atari Started Chuck E. Cheese
In 1972, Nolan Bushnell started the gaming company Atari, which gave us the classic arcade game Pong. Bushnell sold the company just four years later and the following year, he opened Chuck E. Cheese! In fact, there is one game in Chuck E. Cheese that actually is called Ping, a knockoff of his original arcade game, which he couldn’t use since he no longer owned it.
One Man Was Constipated for Nearly Two Months
In 1965, 26-year-old Angus Barbieri, who weighed 456 pounds, was put on a fasting program. It wouldn’t be ethical to conduct a study like this today, but at the time, things were different, allowing Barbieri’s doctor, William Stewart, to experiment. On a strict regimen of multivitamins and minerals, Barbieri got his nutrients without eating a scrap of food, which resulted in nearly two months of constipation. By the end of the year, Barbieri was 180 pounds. (Note: Fasting to this degree is not recommended, as it can lead to serious health conditions.)
Most People Break up on Mondays
Searching through public Facebook data, Lee Byron and David McCandless found that relationships statuses changed for the worse two weeks before Christmas, around Easter, and on Mondays. Though this data may be somewhat misleading, as people might not be live-updating their breakups, it shows an obvious trend.
There May Be 2,000 Active Serial Killers in the U.S. Right Now
Thomas Hargrove has been archiving homicides for years through his Murder Accountability Project. Through his experience, he came up with an algorithm that found patterns in recent unsolved murders linked to at least one other murder through DNA. This allowed him to estimate the number of unsolved cases in the U.S. at any given time. According to the New Yorker, he believes that the number of active serial killers in the U.S. is around 2,000.
Beethoven Could Still Hear After Going Deaf
Upon going deaf, Beethoven discovered that if he bit onto a metal pole that connected to the piano he was playing, he could hear almost perfectly well. This process is called bone conduction, and while technology has evolved, the science is the same: Vibrations are transferred from the conductive metal into our bones. When this happens, our ears pick up the signal with no sound distortion.
Ants Have a Built-In FitBit
While previous research found that ants use visual cues, a 2007 study discovered that desert ants have an internal pedometer that helps them keep track of their travels and find their way back home.
Stressed Men Have Altered Proclivities
A 2012 study published in the journal PLoS ONE found that men who are feeling stressed out prefer women with curvier figures. The study had one experimental group perform a stressful activity, while the other control group did not. Afterward, they were shown pictures of women with various body types. When the men in the control group were asked to rate the women on a scale of one to nine, they rated pictures of women with higher BMIs as the most attractive.
Crows Holds Grudges
In 2010, researchers in Seattle found that formerly captured crows were able to remember the face of their abductor even years after the incident. Once they identified the suspect in question, they would threaten them by diving down and swarming the person that they had felt threatened by years before.
Canada Once Heavily Targeted LGBTQ Individuals
Our Canadian neighbors may not have been as friendly as we thought. During the Cold War era, Canada spent thousands on its historic “Fruit Machine.” This device was supposedly able to identify gay men and lesbian women by monitoring subjects as they were shown pornographic images with homosexual content.
This, unfortunately, led to the wrongful persecution of many of Canada’s fine citizens. In 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized for the mistreatment of these men and women.
Bill Gates Has Donated Nearly Half His Fortune
Microsoft founder Bill Gates encourages the Giving Pledge, a notion that, if you are fortunate enough, you should be giving 50 percent of your wealth to those who need it most. As of 2013, he has donated $28 billion and has saved around 6 million lives by bringing vaccines and better healthcare to people worldwide.
You Can Always “See” Your Nose
The human brain is capable of amazing things, but in order to do those things, it needs to block out distractions through a process called unconscious selective attention. The nose is one of those distractions. In his landmark 1960s study, Ulric Neisser discovered this phenomenon after he asked participants to count the number of times basketball players passed a ball in a video. What the large majority failed to notice in the video was a girl walking through the middle of the court with an umbrella, because they were so focused on counting.
A Restaurant in New York Employs Grandmas as Chefs
It is true that everybody thinks their Italian grandma—or nonna—is best cook around. So it was a genius idea when Joe Scaravella decided to gather up as many nonnas as he could to work in his restaurant in Staten Island. Enoteca Maria combines the skill of these delightful, talented grandmothers and has them create and cook recipes from their own family cookbooks.
Shaq Only Made One Three-Pointer
Shaquille O’Neal made the only three-point shot he would ever make in his entire career on February 16, 1996. When the Orlando Magic played the Milwaukee Bucks, O’Neal received an almost full-court pass before he shot the three-pointer. Despite being the only official three-point shot in his career, he went down in NBA history as one of the greatest of all time.
America’s First Bank Robber Deposited the Money Back Into the Same Bank
At the Bank of Philadelphia on August 1, 1798, a sum of $162,821 was stolen from the vault. There was no sign of forced entry so it was thought to be an inside job. Patrick Lyon was imprisoned as the prime suspect, as he had been the carpenter that worked on the vault doors.
But then, they realized a man named Isaac Davis had been depositing large sums of money into the Bank of Philadelphia. It turned out, he was one of the robbers involved. In 1799, Lyon was freed, and Davis only ended up repaying the money without serving a day in jail.
Germany Uncovers 2,000 Tons of Unexploded Bombs Every Year
During World War II, the Allied forces dropped over a total of 2.7 million tons of bombs on Germany. Due to certain defects in their delay timers, a large number of bombs never exploded—around 10 percent, or 200,000 tons. As they’ve been discovered in years since, it’s routine for German citizens to be evacuated from buildings or sectioned off on streets, while bomb experts handle the devices.
Sharks Existed Before Trees
Trees are young’ns compared to the geezer sharks that rule the sea. Sharks have existed for around 400 million years, while trees became their own official species only 350 million years ago. Other notable animals that outlive our leafy ancestors are the horseshoe crab as well as the jellyfish.
And Trees Weren’t Always Biodegradable
Today, bacteria and fungi eat away at fallen trees, but that wasn’t always the case. Bacteria had to evolve to eat wood, so hundreds of millions of years go, trees would fall at death, leaving large piles of dead wood. Forest fires of unimaginable proportions would burn the massive mounds of dead wood. And that’s where most of the coal today on Earth came from, according to National Geographic.
Detroit Undercover Cops in A Drug Ring Fought Another Group of Undercover Cops
“Put your hands up!” … “No, you put your hands up!” That’s likely what went down in November 2017 when two groups of undercover cops in Detroit accidentally mistook each other for the drug dealers and buyers they were respectively trying to bust. What ensued during the raid was a stand-off, resulting in fists being thrown while guns were pointed at each other. Internal affairs had to be contacted to put the officers under investigation in an attempt to figure out the unfortunate miscommunication.
You’re Pronouncing Dr. Seuss’ Name Wrong
Dr. Seuss, the popular children’s book author who is known for his rhyming skills, was born with the name Theodor Seuss Geisel. Seuss is his mother’s maiden name, and their family pronounces it as “soice” (rhyming with voice). Seuss’ college friend Alexander Liang even wrote a poem about the common misconception.
Nearly All Species to Have Ever Existed on Earth are Extinct
We walk an Earth that has seen the extinction of 99.9 percent of all of the species who’ve ever lived on it, according to PBS. Congratulations—that means you are technically in the .1 percent… at least for now!
The Silverback Gorilla Can Lift Almost a Literal Ton
The Silverback gorilla can lift up to 10 times its body weight on average: a total of about 1,800 pounds, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. This makes them one of the strongest living animal species on Earth. Though they are feared, the Silverback gorillas will only use their strength when they feel threatened.
Every Time You Shuffle a Deck of Cards, You Get a Combination That’s Never Existed
Your angsty teenage dreams of being the most original, unique person alive could actually come true! Grab a deck of cards and shuffle. Most likely, you will have created a combination of cards that had never existed yet until that moment. Any math experts out there know that this is because the probability comes out to 52 factorial or 52! (52 x 51 x 50 … x 2 x 1). The probability that two card shuffles are exactly the same is so small, it likely will never happen.
There Is an Immortal Jellyfish
When it’s an adult, the “Immortal Jellyfish,” scientifically named Turritopsis dohrnii, can transform its cells back to its childhood state. This usually happens when it is physically harmed, sick, or even when it is starving. The jellyfish evolved this skill in order to survive throughout history, specifically when latching onto ships. Since it can hitchhike, its DNA has spread and the not-so-rare species is emerging all over the world.
America Accidentally Dropped an Atom Bomb on South Carolina in 1958
In March 1958, a B-47 plane was headed to the United Kingdom and was armed with an atomic bomb. This bomb was even bigger than the “Fat Boy,” the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki.
During the flight, the pilots noticed a fault light, so one of them decided to check it out. In doing so, he accidentally released the emergency pin, watching in horror as the bomb dropped to the ground. The good news was, the critical part of the bomb needed to set it off was still on the plane, so it never exploded.
Baby Blue Whales Grow 200 Pounds Per Day
Blue Whale calves grow 200 pounds per day for the first year they are alive. They can move at a brisk pace of five miles per hour when fully grown, but can get up to 20 miles per hour if need be. They can also hear up to 1,000 miles away in the ocean.
Actor Bill Murray Uses a 1-800 Number Instead of an Agent or Manager
Bill Murray is famous for starring in movies like the original Ghostbusters (1984) and Groundhog Day (1993). But anyone in Hollywood who’s interested in working with him must first navigate a somewhat strange situation in order to get his attention. That’s because the star uses a mysterious 1-800 number instead of an agent or manager.
“You just call the 1-800 number,” filmmaker Theodore Melfi, who directed Murray in St. Vincent (2014), told USA Today. “You have to record the message and send the message. I started calling once a week … He never called back. I finally called his lawyer and said, ‘I’m trying [to] reach Bill.’ And he goes, ‘What number do you got?’ And I go, ‘I’ve got the 800 number.’ And he goes, ‘Well, that’s what I got.’”
Cats Once Delivered Mail in Belgium
In the 1870s, the city of Liège, Belgium, attempted to employ 37 felines as mail carriers, according to the BBC. Messages were tucked into waterproof bags that the kitties would carry around their necks. However, while one cat apparently made it to its destination in under five hours, the other felines took up to a day to complete their journeys. Due to the fact that the cats weren’t particularly reliable and definitely weren’t speedy, the service didn’t last very long.
It’s a Myth that People Are Either “Left Brained” or “Right Brained”
You may have been told at some point in your life that you’re either left brained or right brained. The story goes that “people who are left brain dominant are more quantitative, logical, and analytical, while right-brained individuals are more emotional, intuitive, and creative free spirits,” writes Psychology Today.
However, this theory isn’t true. “On the contrary, most behaviors and abilities require the right and left sides of the brain to work together to achieve a common objective,” the website explains. So while you may have certain qualities and characteristics that define you who are, they have nothing to do with which side of your brain you use more. You can thank both sides of your noggin for contributing to your unique personality.
Women Are Attracted to the Scent of Good & Plenty Licorice Candy and Cucumber
Perfumes and colognes offer alluring aromas, but it turns out that there is another smell combination that is likely to turn a lady on. One 2005 study by the Smell and Taste Treatment Research Foundation found that the most “attractive” scent for women was Good & Plenty licorice candy combined with cucumbers. The smells of cherries and barbecue were turn-offs, but “banana nut bread also had positive effects.”
There’s a Device That Creates Energy from Snowfall
It’s pretty darn impressive that scientists have been able to harness energy from the sun, wind, and water, providing us with all kinds of alternative sources of power. And now they’ve managed to create energy from snowfall. According to a 2019 study in the journal Nano Energy, engineers and chemists from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have developed a device made of silicone that can harness a charge from static electricity.
“Snow is positively charged and gives up electrons, while silicone is negatively charged and accepts the electrons,” IFL Science explains. “So, as the snow lands on the silicone, a charge is produced and then captured.” Think of it like the spark of energy you create when you rub a balloon against your hair.
A Mermaid Documentary Fooled So Many People That the U.S. Government Had to Issue a Statement
In 2013, Animal Planet aired Mermaids: The New Evidence, a documentary—or rather, a mockumentary—that “proved” the half-human-half-fish beings exist. And while the program was fake, plenty of the 3.6 million viewers that watched believed that the fictional claims were real. In fact, so many people were fooled that the U.S. government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a statement on its website addressing the confusion, saying: “Mermaids: The New Evidence is just entertainment. No evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found.”
The Iowa State Fair Holds Quirky Competitions Like a Beard-Growing Contest and a Husband-Calling Contest
If you’ve ever been to the Iowa State Fair, you’ve experienced the sort of carnival-based fun that it’s been providing since 1886. And if you’ve never been to the annual event, then you should know that you’re missing out on quite a few quirky competitions, including cow-chip and rubber-chicken throwing contests, a husband-calling contest, and a beard-growing contest.
There’s a Textbook Written Entirely by an AI Author
Publishers are always eager to release something unique—and Springer Nature did just that when they published a textbook by an author named Beta Writer in 2019. No, that’s not a cheeky pseudonym; it’s the name of a machine-learning algorithm designed by researchers from Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany. The book is called Lithium-Ion Batteries: A Machine-Generated Summary of Current Research. And while it doesn’t sound like the most interesting material, it is “the first machine-generated research book,” according to the academic publishing company.
Earth Won’t Always Have the Same North Star
The North Star might seem like a fixed marker in the sky. However, what we now recognize as the North Star, Polaris, hasn’t always been our guiding light—and it won’t always be in the future. By the year 13,000 A.D., the star Vega will take its place, according to NASA. And by the year 26,000, Polaris will be right back where it was and return to its status as the North Star.
There’s an Entire Family in Italy That Feels Almost No Pain
Members of the Marsili family handle injuries remarkably well and that’s because they only experience pain for a moment before it fades away. Letizia Marsili told Smithsonian Magazine, “I just thought of it as part of who I was. I was strong, I was resilient. I bounced back.”
However, when a researcher at the University of Siena, where Letizia works, noticed her unusual tolerance for pain—which is something her mother, sister, and son all share—the two decided to collaborate to see what was going on. They discovered that Letizia experiences “the good pain, the pain that alerts us to danger. Then it disappear[s]. The bad kind of pain, the chronic pain, the ongoing pain that we take painkillers for—she simply [doesn’t] feel that.”
The Word “Hipster” Goes All the Way Back to the 1930s
While “hipster” is used these days to describe someone who tries (perhaps too hard) to be stylish and trendy, the term is actually much older. According to Dictionary.com, the word was originally used (along with the similar “hepster”) in the 1930s to refer to someone in the jazz scene.
Guinea Pigs Were Once Sacrificed Wearing Earring and Necklaces and Wrapped Like Sushi
Lidio Valdez, an archaeologist from the Institute of Andean Studies, made a surprising discovery in Peru when he came across 100 dead guinea pigs that had been sacrificed by the Incan people during the 16th century. The rodents, which had clearly been a part of some sort of ritual, were adorned with earrings and necklaces made from colorful string. “Some were even wrapped in cotton rugs like a sushi roll,” wrote Gizmodo of the findings, which were published in the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology in 2019.
Hitler Had a Flatulence Problem
In 2012, Adolf Hitler’s medical documents were being auctioned to the public by Alexander Historical Auctions. According to the files, The Telegraph reported, flatulence had become such a pervasive issue for Hitler that he had to regularly ingest 28 different drugs to keep it under control. But some of the anti-gas pills he used contained a base of strychnine, a poison that caused further stomach and liver issues.
Scientists Were Able to Take a Picture of an Atom’s Shadow
Whether you’re a professional photographer or not, you’ll probably be impressed by the photo-related feat accomplished by a team at Australia’s Griffith University in 2012. Using an electrical field to suspend a charged atom in a vacuum chamber, the team shot a laser beam at the atom and took a photo of the shadow it produced. While atoms have been photographed before, their shadows have not, making this accomplishment unprecedented.
Maine Is the Only State that Borders Just One Other State
If you’re in Maine, you’ll find the Atlantic Ocean to the south and Canada to the north. But if you want to stay in the U.S., you’ll have to head west to New Hampshire, because Maine is the only state in the country that borders just one other state.
The Twitter Bird’s Official Name Is Larry
If you truly want to be among the savviest social media users out there, you should know that the Twitter bird has an official name: Larry the Bird (yes, like Larry Bird, the former pro basketball player who played for Twitter co-founder Biz Stone’s home team, the Boston Celtics).
The Longest Book Title Contains 1,809 Words
The title of Srijan Timilsina’s 2014 Guinness World Record-setting book is practically a full text in itself. Including 1,809 words (or 11,284 characters) it begins, The historical development of the Brain i.e. from its formation from Annelida: Earthworm, Lugworm, Rag worm, Amphitrite, Freshwater worm, Marine worm, Tubifex, Leech. etc, Arthropoda: Housefly, Butterfly, Honey bee, Fairy shrimp, Horseshoe crab, Tick, Bluebottle, Froghopper, Yellow crazy ant…,” and continues to list pretty much every insect, fish, and mammal you can think of, including humans.
It then goes on to ask questions like, “What did they find and what did they eat? How did they defend from their enemies and attack them? Which is the oldest stone ever discovered? Which ancestor of human being first started to walk with the help of two limbs?” It finally ends with, “Solutions of above inquisitiveness are included in this book,” which you think would go without saying, but perhaps not if you want your title to set a world record.
Allergy Season Is Getting Longer and More Intense Each Year
If you’re one of the millions of Americans who suffer from allergies, we’ve got bad news for you: Allergy season is getting longer and more intense each year, according to a 2019 study published in The Lancet Planetary Health. Likely another unfortunate result of climate change, scientists have found that pollen counts across the Northern Hemisphere have increased over the last 20 years and that pollen season is increasing 0.9 days a year worldwide.
There’s a Reason There Is a Hole in Your Pen Caps
And that’s because they’re a choking hazard without them. “In addition to help prevent the pen from leaking, all of our BIC caps comply with international safety standards that attempt to minimize the risk of children accidentally inhaling pen caps. Some of these vented caps … have a little hole in the top to comply with the existing safety standards,” the BIC pen company explained on its website.
You Can Learn the High Valyrian Language from Game of Thrones With an Online Course
Fans of George R.R. Martin’s best-selling books and HBO’s hit series Game of Thrones will be able to tell you that High Valyrian is the Latin-like language used in formal circumstances by the fictional nobility of Essos and Westeros. And while the stories may be make-believe, the language is a fully developed form of communication that you can learn yourself thanks to an online course from Duolingo. By the end, you’ll be able to say phrases in High Valyrian like “kirimvose” (thank you) and “avy jorrāelan” (I love you), as well as “bantis zōbrie issa se ossȳngnoti lēdys” (the night is dark and full of terrors).
Some Maryland Residents Are Taxed for the Rain
As they say, “nothing is certain but death and taxes.” Depending on where in the world you live, rain may be just as much of an inevitability. And for some Maryland residents, rain and taxes are both inescapable and tied together thanks to the “rain tax,” which was passed by the state legislature and signed into law in 2012.
Nine counties, as well as the city of Baltimore, pay the annual fee that the Center for Watershed Protection describes as a “user fee charged to property owners for the service of managing the polluted runoff coming from their property.”
Scientists Partially Revived Disembodied Pig Brains
In April 2019, a team at Yale was able to restore partial functionality to the brains of decapitated pigs for 10 hours or more after the animal’s death. Neuroscientist Nenad Sestan, who participated in the experiment, explained that the result might allow us to “better understand how brain cells react to circulatory arrest” and “test whether some cellular functions can be restored in the brain after death.”
Astronauts in Space Are Exposed to the Same Amount of Radiation as 150 to 6,000 Chest X-Rays
When astronauts leave Earth, they face a range of factors that affect them physically. That includes the intense amount of radiation that they’re exposed: According to NASA, it’s the equivalent of anywhere between 150 to a staggering 6,000 chest X-rays.
Beaver Bum Goo Is Occasionally Used to Enhance Vanilla Flavorings
The next time you eat something that flaunts the rich flavor of vanilla, you might want to be aware of—or do your best to ignore—the fact that castoreum, a goo that beavers excrete to mark their territory, is sometimes used to enhance the flavor of vanilla in food, according to National Geographic. The goo is “generally regarded as a safe additive” by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but you’ll probably never come across it in real life because it’s difficult and expensive to collect.
The U.S. Almost Went to War With Canada Over a Pig
In 1859, the U.S. almost went to war with Canada because of a pig. Just a few years after the Oregon Treaty was signed to end a border dispute between America and Britain (which still ruled over the area that came to be known as Canada), things got a little heated on San Juan Island where citizens from both countries were located. Historic UK explains that “a pig belonging to the British accidentally wandered onto the land of Lyman Cutlar, an American farmer. When Cutlar noticed the pig eating some of his potatoes he was incensed, and in a fit of rage shot and killed the pig.”
Despite efforts to resolve the situation between the two men, things spread into the rest of the community and got to the point where the governor of British Columbia sent three warships to the area. The two sides continued to increase their military force over the following month until British Navy Admiral Robert L. Baynes arrived and ended things by stating that he would not “involve two great nations in a war over a squabble about a pig.”
Tornados Used to Be Called “Twirlblasts” and “Twirlwinds” in the 18th Century
If you lived in the 18th century, you might have referred to tornados using the words “twirlblast” or “twirlwind.” Honestly, we might need to bring these back!
The Sundance Kid Took His Nickname from the Town of Sundance, Wyoming
You may not recognize the name Harry Alonzo Longabaugh, and that’s because he was famously (or infamously) known by his nickname, the Sundance Kid. The American outlaw, who was born in 1868 and was killed in 1908, took his now-historical moniker from the only town that put him behind bars: Sundance, Wyoming. He was jailed there when he was just 15 years old for stealing a horse and was sentenced to 18 months. The Sundance Kid went on to join the Wild Bunch, a group of robbers and rustlers who ranged through the Rocky Mountains in the late 19th century.
Eating Your Offspring May Be a Sign of Good Parenting in Some Species
The thought of any creature devouring its babies may be horrific to us, but for some animals, such as certain fish, reptiles, and amphibians, that’s not the case, according to 2019 research published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. Among these creatures, sacrificing some of their young via cannibalism may be a way to help their other offspring survive when overcrowding becomes a problem.
The Word “MacGyvered” Is in the Oxford English Dictionary
The original MacGyver series that ran from 1985 until 1992 featured a main character who could fashion pretty much whatever his heart desired with random objects. As a result, we’ve been using the word “MacGyvered” as an adjective meaning “adapted or improvised in an ingenious or expedient way.” And in March 2019, the term was officially added to the Oxford English Dictionary. It only took 34 years!
Kentucky Has More Bourbon Than People
If bourbon is your drink of choice, then you might want to plan a road trip to Kentucky. The state is not only responsible for 95 percent of the world’s bourbon, according to The Atlantic, but there is also so much of it that the 4.7 million barrels in the state’s distilleries outnumber the 4.3 million people living in the area.
Jupiter’s Red Spot is Getting Taller and Smaller at the Same Time
Jupiter’s red spot is almost as well-known as the planet’s remarkable rings. But the spot, which is, in fact, a storm, has been shrinking for a century and a half. Although NASA can’t predict what will happen to the storm that was “once big enough to swallow three Earths with room to spare,” they do know that it “seems to have increased in area at least once along the way, and it’s growing taller as it gets smaller.”
Three Eagles Were Found Co-Parenting Three Eaglets in Illinois
In a nest overlooking the Mississippi River, one female and two male eagles were found raising three babies together in April 2019. The situation is unusual for the birds, which are normally very territorial. The unexpected family has baffled experts and thrilled fans, according to the National Audobon Society.
There Is a Town in Nebraska With a Population of One
Elsie Eiler lives in a town called Monowi, which is in the state of Nebraska—and she’s the only one. She used to live there with her husband Rudy, but when he passed away in 2004, she became Monowi’s sole resident. Elsie is also the town’s mayor, bartender, and librarian, and is responsible for paying herself taxes and granting herself a liquor license. As of 2018, the tiny population makes Monowi the only incorporated town in the U.S. with only one resident, according to the BBC.
When President Carter Pardoned Draft Dodgers, Only Half Returned
During the Vietnam War, many men who were drafted into the military refused to serve for various reasons and instead left the country to avoid prosecution. Then, in 1977, newly inaugurated President Jimmy Carter fulfilled one of his campaign promises by pardoning draft dodgers. This allowed them to return home without the fear of being arrested. Despite this, only around half actually came back. Many of them assumed that they would still face ill-will from the American public and had already settled into places like Canada that welcomed the healthy and educated workforce.
The Amazon River Dolphin’s Brain Capacity is 40 Percent Larger than Humans’
It’s fairly well known that dolphins are incredibly clever animals—and that’s thanks in part to what’s inside their noggins. Amazon River dolphins—the wonderfully pink creatures that are also known as Boto or Boutu—have a brain capacity that is 40 percent larger than that of humans. Bottlenose dolphins also have larger brain capacities than humans do—1,600 grams versus 1,300 grams, according to the American Association of Advancement of Science.
There’s a Scottish Term for Hesitating When Introducing Someone Because You’ve Forgotten Their Name
We’ve all likely been there: You run into someone and you go to introduce them to whoever you’re with and you can’t remember their name for the life of you! There happens to be a Scottish term for this awkward hesitation. So if you (unfortunately) ever find yourself in that situation you can say, “Pardon my tartle!”
Earth Is Hit With More Energy from the Sun Each Hour than the Planet Uses in a Year
Solar panels are a popular choice for anyone who’s interested in living a more planet-friendly existence. And if you ever thought there might not be enough sunlight to go around, then think again. Some 430 quintillion Joules of energy from the sun hits the Earth every hour, while the entire population of the planet only uses 410 quintillion Joules each year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy via Business Insider.
The Queen Celebrates Two Birthdays Every Year
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was born on April 21, 1926, which is why she celebrates her actual birthday each spring. However, the head of the British royal family also observes a second “official” birthday celebration called the Trooping the Colour. King George II started the tradition in 1748 because his own birthday was in November, which was too cold for an annual parade. He decided to hold an additional ceremony during the warmer weather.
Scientists Can Identify the Brain Waves That Signal Someone is Having an Angry Dream
Scientists are getting better at decoding our dreams. A 2019 study published in the Journal of Neuroscience included the fact that researchers had identified brain activity patterns that predict states of anger during dreams. Pilleriin Sikka, the lead author of the study from the University of Skövde, explained, “Previous studies have shown that frontal alpha asymmetry is related to anger and self-regulation during wakefulness. We show that this asymmetrical brain activity is also related to anger experienced in dreams. Frontal alpha asymmetry may thus reflect our ability to regulate anger not only in the waking but also in the dreaming state.”
McRib Sandwiches Contain About 70 Ingredients
The McDonald’s McRib is a popular choice for fast-food lovers, but those who indulge in the saucy sandwiches might want to be aware of the fact that they’re made with a lengthy list of ingredients. According to Time, the McRib contains 70 ingredients, 34 of which are in the bun alone. And while you might assume that these ingredients are spices or other natural food-related flavors, anyone who eats one of these sandwiches will also be ingesting azodicarbonamide, a flour-bleaching agent used in the production of foamed plastics for things like gym mats and the soles of shoes.
The Apollo Astronauts’ Footprints on the Moon Could Stay There for 100 Million Years
When the Apollo astronauts walked on the surface of the moon, they left behind footprints that will remain there for a very long time. Due to the fact that there is no atmosphere on the moon and therefore no wind or water to blow or wash anything away, Arizona State University scientist Mark Robinson told Space that traces of the Apollo exploration could last between “ten and a hundred million years.” And for more incredible facts, check out these 50 Incredible “Did You Know” Facts That Will Astonish Everyone.
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