100 Totally Useless Facts That Are Too Entertaining for Words
Take cover, because we're about to drop some serious knowledge on you.
There are random facts, there are animal facts, there are wonderful facts, and there are historical facts. And then, perhaps least importantly, there are useless facts—or facts that you will absolutely, never, ever need to know. From how long it takes your fingernails to grow to which state capital is the only one without a McDonald’s, these are the useless facts you’ll love to learn, and then try to find a reason to use.
The King of Hearts is the only king in a deck of cards without a mustache.
There are four kings in every deck of cards. And while they all look similar, the king of hearts is the only royal fellow who doesn’t have a mustache. According to The Guardian, the so-called “suicide king” (who earned his name because it looks like he’s stabbing himself in the head with a sword), wasn’t always bare-faced. He mistakenly lost his facial hair in a redesign.
Dreamt is the only word in the English language that ends with “mt.”
The English language is full of idiosyncrasies, and the word dreamt is one of them. According to Oxford Dictionaries, “dreamt” (and its variations, such as “undreamt”) is the only word in the English language that ends with the letters “mt.”
The opposite sides of a die will always add up to seven.
If you take a look, you’ll see that one and six are on opposite sides of the cube (1+6=7), as are two and five (2+5=7), and three and four (3+4=7).
Those metal studs on your jeans have a name and a purpose.
The next time you’re wearing a pair of jeans, take a look at the pockets. Do you see those little metal studs at the corners? They’re not just there to add some extra pizzazz to your pants, they actually have a purpose. Rivets, as they’re called by Levi Strauss, are placed on certain spots to add extra support where the denim is more likely to wear out and rip.
No number from 1 to 999 includes the letter “a” in its word form.
Unless you live in the United Kingdom where it’s proper to write 101 as “one hundred and one,” there is no number from 1 to 999 that includes the letter “a” in its word form. One, two, three, four, five, six… twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, sixty… You can keep going, but you won’t find the first letter in the alphabet until you hit “one thousand.”
The average adult spends more time on the toilet than they do exercising.
We’re not all as physically active as we should be, and it can be hard to fit workouts into our daily routine. On the other hand, when it comes to relieving ourselves (yes, we mean going to the bathroom), we can’t really deny our regular need to do our business. That’s why, according to a 2017 study by British non-profit UKActive, adults spend an average of three hours and nine minutes on the toilet each week, but only spend around one hour and 30 minutes being physically active during that same time span. Perhaps it’s time to figure out how to exercise while using the restroom?
Cats can’t taste sweet things because of a genetic defect.
Cats can jump surprisingly high, slip through the tightest spaces, and seemingly have nine lives. But there’s one thing they can’t do: taste sweet things. According to a 2007 article in Scientific American, unlike other mammals, felines can’t taste sweetness due to the fact that they “lack 247 base pairs of the amino acids that make up the DNA of the Tas1r2 gene. As a result, it does not code for the proper protein … and it does not permit cats to taste sweets.” While that may sound a little complicated, you don’t really need to understand the specifics to get that Fluffy won’t enjoy sugary desserts.
Tesseradecades, aftercataracts, and sweaterdresses are the longest words you can type using only your left hand.
If you find yourself only able to use the left side of your computer’s keyboard, there are still plenty of words that you can type out. By using Q, W, E, R, T, A, S, D, F, G, Z, X, C, V, and B—the letters on the left side of the standard QWERTY keyboard—you can not only tap out whoppers like tesseradecades, aftercataracts, and sweaterdresses, you can also type great, vast, water, starter, cascades, retracts, affects, trees, caves, crests, waver, reverberate, sat, far, raced, faster, created, craters, graves, wasted, arrested, and (perhaps best of all) abracadabra. And if that’s not a writing prompt, we don’t know what is.
Your fingernails grow faster on your dominant hand.
If you’ve ever broken a nail way down near the base—or lost one completely—you know they take quite a while to grow back. In fact, the American Academy of Dermatology says that a fingernail takes around six months to grow from base to tip and toenails can take up to a year. Fingernails also grow faster on your dominant hand as well as on your bigger fingers. Nails also grow faster during the daytime as well as during the summer months.
A “jiffy” is an actual unit of time—but you’ll absolutely never use it.
If you’ve ever said you’ll “just be a jiffy,” you probably know it’s an expression used to indicate a short amount of time. However, according to Dictionary.com, a “jiffy” is an actual unit of time. Sometime during the late 18th or early 19th centuries, scientist Gilbert Newton Lewis defined a jiffy as the amount of time it takes light to travel one centimeter in a vacuum, which is about 33.4 picoseconds or one trillionth of a second. That’s a short (and pretty much useless) amount of time indeed!
Montpelier, Vermont, is the only U.S. capital without a McDonald’s.
If you’ve recently picked up a Quarter Pounder or Chicken McNuggets, then you’re among the nearly 70 million customers that McDonald’s serves every day. However, it’s not as easy for residents of Montpelier, Vermont, to get a Big Mac. That’s because it’s the only U.S. state capital that doesn’t have a McDonald’s. As the smallest state capital in terms of population (approximately 7,500), the city doesn’t have a Burger King, either. Sorry, Whopper lovers! Luckily, to enjoy a meal from either fast-food chain, those from Montpelier can simply head over to the neighboring city of Barre.
People used to answer the phone by saying “Ahoy!” instead of “Hello.”
When the public started using the phone back in the 1800s, inventor Alexander Graham Bell thought they should answer a call with “ahoy.” That’s likely why the incredibly elderly Mr. Burns on The Simpsons says “Ahoy-hoy” when he picks up the phone. However, Bell’s rival, Thomas Edison, wanted users to answer the phone with “Hello.” And, according to The New York Times, by 1880, “hello” had won out.
Riding roller coasters might help you pass kidney stones.
After multiple people claimed that they had passed kidney stones while riding Walt Disney World’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride, a research team from Michigan State University decided to take a look at the situation in 2016. When they conducted tests using a model kidney, they found that there was a 63.9 percent successful pass rate for those seated in the rear of the coaster. That number was just 16 percent for those seated in the front.
Unfortunately, this only worked on Big Thunder Mountain. “We tried Space Mountain and Aerosmith’s Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and both failed,” said one researcher. “The ideal coaster is rough and quick with some twists and turns, but no upside down or inverted movements.”
Pound cake got its name from its original recipe.
Desserts don’t have to be super complicated to be delicious. Take pound cake for example. Not only is it made from some pretty common ingredients—butter, eggs, sugar, and flour—according to What’s Cooking America, its name comes from the fact that the original recipe called for a pound of each item. While that may seem like a lot, the simple recipe (which dates back to the 1700s) was easy to remember during a time when not everyone could read.
The largest bill to go into circulation in the U.S. was a $10,000 note.
While your wallet may be filled with $5, $10, $20, $50, or even $100 bills, the government once decided that it might be handy to have some higher denominations available. That’s why, at one point, there were banknotes of $500, $1,000, and even $5,000 value.
But the largest note ever issued for public circulation was the $10,000 bill, which featured a portrait of Salmon P. Chase, the Secretary of the Treasury from 1861 to 1864. The bills were first printed in 1945, and on July 14, 1969, the Federal Reserve and the Department of the Treasury announced that the larger bills would be discontinued due to lack of use. (Honestly, we can’t image why.)
Messages from your brain travel along your nerves at up to 200 miles per hour.
The human body is capable of amazing things. For instance, when your brain sends messages via your nerves, the signals travel along billions of nerve cells (neurons), synapses, and neurotransmitters in a process that can be as speedy as 200 miles an hour.
Apple seeds contain cyanide.
As they say, an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Unless you eat too many apple seeds, that is. The tiny black seeds found in the fruit contain a plant compound called amygdalin which turns into hydrogen cyanide if the seeds are chewed or digested, according to Medical News Today. Cyanide is poisonous (even deadly in high doses), which is why you should definitely spit those seeds out. Do the same for apricot, peach, and cherry seeds, which also contain the compound as well.
Mulan has the highest kill-count of any Disney character.
Mulan is fierce, brave, and incredibly inspirational. But she’s also incredibly deadly. In fact, she was not only the first Disney princess to kill someone on-screen in the 1998 film Mulan, but she also has the highest kill-count of any Disney character, according to UNILAD. Mulan took out 1,995 people over the course of the film, including the evil Hun leader, Shan-Yu, and 1,994 Huns by triggering an avalanche.
A Greek-Canadian man invented the “Hawaiian” pizza.
There will always be fierce debates over whether or not pineapple has any place on a pizza, but there’s no question about where the Hawaiian pizza originally came from: Chatham, Ontario, Canada! Restaurant owner Sam Panopoulos was born in Greece but moved to Canada when he was 20 years old. And in 1962, the entrepreneur decided to put pineapple on pizza.
According to Time, Panopoulos, who passed away in 2017, once told the BBC, “We just put it on, just for the fun of it, see how it was going to taste. We were young in the business and we were doing a lot of experiments.” The name apparently came from the brand of canned pineapple that was used when they invented the Hawaiian pizza.
Dr. Seuss invented the word “nerd.”
Dr. Seuss is responsible for coming up with some wild and wacky words. But we can also thank the children’s book author for a very common term: nerd. American Heritage Dictionary explains that “nerd” first appeared in Seuss’ 1950 book If I Ran the Zoo. The passage reads, “And then, just to show them, I’ll sail to Ka-Troo and bring back an It-Kutch, a Preep, and a Proo. A Nerkle, a Nerd, and a Seersucker, too!”
According to Merriam-Webster, a year later, Newsweek included the word “nerd” in an article about the latest slang, writing, “In Detroit, someone who once would be called a drip or a square is now, regrettably, a nerd, or in less severe cases, a scurve.” Too bad “scurve” didn’t catch on.
A cubic inch of human bone can bear the weight of five standard pickup trucks.
Human bodies can sometimes feel vulnerable and fragile. But if you want to feel like a superhero, keep in mind that human bone is actually stronger than both steel and concrete. “Bone is extraordinarily strong—ounce for ounce, bone is stronger than steel, since a bar of steel of comparable size would weigh four or five times as much,” biomedical engineer Cindy Bir at Wayne State University told Live Science in 2010. “A cubic inch of bone can in principle bear a load of 19,000 lbs. (8,626 kg) or more—roughly the weight of five standard pickup trucks—making it about four times as strong as concrete.”
A frigate bird can sleep while it flies.
Birds can do some pretty amazing things. For example, frigate birds (Fregata minor) can sleep while flying. That’s because they can snooze while using only one hemisphere of the brain at a time, according to the National Audobon Society.
You are 13.8 percent more likely to die on your birthday.
According to a 2012 study published in the journal Annals of Epidemiology, humans are 13.8 percent more likely to pass away on their birthday than on any other day. That’s according to Swiss mortality statistics from 1969 to 2008. We’ve got to say, this study is (morbidly) interesting!
Playing dance music may help ward off mosquitos.
Playing electronic dance music (EDM) may scare people away, and it turns out, it could do the same with mosquitos. According to one 2019 study, the Skrillex song “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” combines “very high and very low frequencies” as well as “excessive loudness and constantly escalating pitch” that discourages the yellow fever mosquito from biting victims and mating.
“Spoonfeed” is the longest English word with its letters in reverse alphabetical order.
The nine-letter “spoonfeed” is the longest word that’s spelled with letters that are arranged completely in reverse alphabetical order. “Trollied” comes in second place with eight letters.
There’s a city called “Rome” on every continent except Antarctica
If you’re trying to locate Rome on a map, you’d probably head right to the boot-shaped country of Italy. But Europe isn’t the only place that decided to use that particular name, or rather, the Italian version, “Roma.” In fact, there’s a Rome on every continent except Antarctica.
Marie Curie’s 100-year-old belongings are still radioactive.
Nobel Prize-winning scientist Marie Curie died as a result of the vast amounts of radiation she was exposed to during her groundbreaking work. But her body wasn’t the only thing to absorb the emissions. Her clothes and belongings—including her furniture, cookbooks, and laboratory notes—were also saturated with the deadly radium particles. That’s why, even though Curie died around 85 years ago, her possessions are still radioactive.
And since radium has a half-life of 1,601 years, they’re likely to stay that way for a while. Currently, Curie’s laboratory notebooks are being safely stored in lead-lined boxes at France’s Bibliotheque National in Paris. Anyone who wants to see them has to first to sign a liability waiver and then agree to wear protective gear.
Alaska is the only state whose name is on one row on a keyboard.
With “a” and “s” being beside each other on the middle row of the keyboard and “k” and “l” over on the other side of the same row, Alaska is the only state name that you can type out using a single row on a standard keyboard.
Most pandas in the world are on loan from China.
If you’re lucky, you may be able to see a panda or two at a nearby zoo, but that cute creature is most likely on loan from China. In fact, the majority of pandas around the world either come from China or, if they’re born somewhere else, have to be sent to a Chinese breeding program before they turn four in order to expand the gene pool of the species.
You produce about six pounds of stool per week.
Some of us eat more than others, but according to Kim Barrett, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego, on average, men and women both produce around a pound of poop every day. That equals around six or seven pounds per week!
Pope John Paul II was an honorary Harlem Globetrotter.
When you think of the pope, you probably envision a holy man in robes, not an athlete. But Pope John Paul II was, in fact, a member of one of the most famous basketball teams in the world.
In 2000, the Harlem Globetrotters made the head of the Catholic church an honorary member of their squad. The CBC reported that the team’s owner and chairman, Mannie Jackson, and some players met with the pope during a visit to the Vatican City where the pontiff was given an autographed basketball and his very own jersey.
Queen Elizabeth II is a trained mechanic.
During World War II, then 18-year-old Princess Elizabeth was a member of the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service, making her the only female member of the British royal family to have served in the armed forces and the only living head of state to serve in the Second World War.
Second Subaltern Elizabeth Windsor, as she was called during her service, trained as a mechanic and military truck driver. This is even more interesting when you find out that she’s also the only person in Britain who doesn’t need a driver’s license to get behind the wheel.
Basenji dogs are the only breed that doesn’t bark.
Some smaller dogs have high-pitched yappy barks while larger dogs tend to have deep howls and low growls. But the Basenji is a breed of dog that doesn’t bark at all—although that doesn’t mean they’re silent. Instead, the Basenji lets out a sound that is more like a warbling yodel.
Many oranges are actually green.
While we assume that all oranges are orange in color because they’re called, well, oranges, the fruit is often green when ripe, thanks to plenty of chlorophyll. In South America and tropical locals, oranges are green year round.
But in the U.S., where it’s colder, oranges lose their chlorophyll and take on the color that matches their name. And because North American shoppers are used to oranges that are actually orange, imported fruit is either exposed to ethylene gas or shocked with cold water in order to remove the chlorophyll.
Jupiter is twice as massive as all the other planets combined.
Maybe you already knew that Jupiter was the biggest planet of them all. But did you know just how big? If Earth were the size of a grape, Jupiter would be the size of a basketball, according to NASA.
Your body contains about 100,000 miles of blood cells.
Blood cells are incredibly small, measuring around five micrometers (for reference, a human hair is about 17 micrometers). However, because we have so many blood cells in our body, The Franklin Institute explains that if you laid them out in a single row, a child’s blood cells would stretch more than 60,000 miles, while an adult’s blood cells would be around 100,000 miles long.
The first email was sent by Ray Tomlinson to himself in 1971.
Ray Tomlinson is often credited with inventing email (although that claim has been disputed) and, according to Business Insider, he sent the first email message to himself while trying out the revolutionary form of online communication in 1971. “The test messages were entirely forgettable,” he said. “Most likely the first message was QWERTYIOP or something similar.”
The lint in the bottom of your pocket has a name.
At some point in time, for whatever reason, someone decided to give a name to the lint that collects in the bottom of your pockets. And that name is hilariously “gnurr.”
The most common password is “123456.”
Hopefully, the passwords you choose are unexpected and cryptic, unlike the vast majority of people who still use incredibly common ones. According to an analysis by SplashData, the most popular passwords of 2018 was “123456.” That was followed by “password,” “123456789,” “12345678,” “12345678,” “12345,” “111111,” “1234567,” and then, delightfully, “sunshine,” and “iloveyou.”
The little dot above a lowercase “i” and “j” has a name.
Dictionary.com explains that while many other languages include written accents throughout their alphabets, English only has two letters that include a “diacritic dot.” The small mark you make over a lowercase “i” and a lowercase “j” is called a “tittle.” It’s likely a combination of the words “tiny” and “little” since it is an itty-bitty dot.
The average person has four to six dreams a night.
If you’re over 10 years old, you likely have around four to six dreams every single night, according to The National Sleep Foundation. And according to a 2003 study published by the Association for the Study of Dreams, the most common dreams include being chased or pursued, falling, school and studying, and sexual experiences.
The chicken and the ostrich are the closest living relatives of the Tyrannosaurus Rex.
While we used to think that dinosaurs were giant lizard-like creatures that roamed the Earth, it’s now widely accepted that dinosaurs have more in common with present-day birds than they do with oversized reptiles. Research published in the journal Science in 2008 confirmed that the Tyrannosaurus Rex shared more of its genetic makeup with ostriches and chickens than with alligators and crocodiles.
There’s a trademark on the world’s darkest shade of black.
In the late 2010s, artist Anish Kapoor won the exclusive rights to use the shade deemed vantablack, the “blackest black,” meaning no other artist could use it. This didn’t sit well with other creative-types, which is why Stuart Semple created the “pinkest pink,” which he made available for purchase to anyone except Kapoor.
He even included a message to potential buyers, writing, “By adding this product to your cart you confirm that you are not Anish Kapoor, you are in no way affiliated to Anish Kapoor, you are not purchasing this item on behalf of Anish Kapoor or an associate of Anish Kapoor. To the best of your knowledge, information, and belief this paint will not make its way into that hands of Anish Kapoor.”
The average American spends about 2.5 days a year looking for lost items.
In April 2017, Pixie commissioned the nation’s largest independent lost and found survey and discovered that Americans spend around 2.5 days each year in total looking for their lost things. The most commonly misplaced items include remotes, phones, keys, and glasses. Luckily, the survey also found that 29 percent of people who have lost their wallet or purse have had returned to them. Those are pretty good odds!
Sweat doesn’t smell bad.
Yes, you might stink when you’re sweaty, but it’s not the sweat that smells bad. Medical News Today explains that body odor—also known as B.O., bromhidrosis osmidrosis, or ozochrotia—is actually caused by bacteria breaking down the protein in sweat and turning it into certain (unpleasant) acids. Unfortunately, this is one of those useless facts since there’s nothing you can do about it—except shower, of course.
A group of hippos is called a “bloat.”
If you ever see a group of hippos, you can inform everyone around you that you’re looking at a “bloat.” The BBC laid out the story behind the word, which comes from The Book of St Albans (also known as The Book of Hawking, Hunting and Blasing of Arms), written by Juliana Berners, a 15th century English Benedictine prioress. She came up with multiple terms to describe groups of animals including a “swarm of bees” and a “gaggle of geese.”
Dolphins give each other names.
According to a 2013 study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, bottlenose dolphins each have their own special whistles, which are just like human names.
“Bottlenose dolphins develop their own unique identity signal, the signature whistle,” according to researchers. “This whistle encodes individual identity independently of voice features. The copying of signature whistles may therefore allow animals to label or address one another.
Punctuation wasn’t always a part of writing.
It would be impossible to properly read without periods, commas, exclamation points, and question marks. But it turns out that punctuation wasn’t always a part of writing. According to the BBC, a librarian named Aristophanes from the Egyptian city of Alexandria in the 3rd century B.C. attempted to introduce a form of punctuation into a system that not only didn’t use it, but also didn’t bother to use capital letters or include spaces between words. While Aristophanes’ version of punctuation didn’t stick around, Christian writers in the 6th century began to punctuate their text, and eventually, we ended up with the punctuation we use today.
More Monopoly money is printed each year than real U.S. currency.
The U.S. government prints $974 million annually in order to replace old money. But, according to USA Today, Parker Brothers, the company behind Monopoly, prints $30 billion in fake currency each year.
The average American produces 4.5 pounds of trash per day.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency informs us that in 2015, Americans produced an average of 4.48 pounds of trash per person. Paper and cardboard products were the biggest culprits, while yard trimmings, plastic products, and consumer electronics also made up the bulk of trash.
While that may seem like a lot of trash, it was actually one of the lowest estimates since 1990. So we’re certainly improving when it comes to taking care of the Earth!
If you plug your nose, you can’t tell the difference between an apple, a potato, and an onion.
If you’ve ever been told to pinch your nose while taking medicine so that you don’t have to suffer through the awful taste, you might want to follow that advice. Our sense of smell is responsible for interpreting around 80 percent of what we taste. That means that without being able to smell apples, potatoes, and onions, they’re indistinguishable. If you want to watch a few people try, check out this video. Or just trust us—it works!
It’s possible to turn peanut butter into diamonds.
While most of us are happy to slap some peanut butter between two slices of bread, scientist Dan Frost of the Bayerisches Geoinstitut in Germany did something a little bit different with his peanut butter: He made a diamond. Frost studies the conditions of Earth’s mantle and has found ways to mimic them in his lab. According to Frost, the high pressures of the mantle can strip oxygen from carbon dioxide and leave behind the carbon to form a diamond. And since peanut butter is already rich in carbon, the scientist was able to transform the nutty goodness into a shiny jewel.
One man set a world record by putting on 260 T-shirts.
When Ted Hastings’ son asked him whether he could set an official Guinness World Record, the father decided to give it a try. And on February 17, 2019, he reached his goal by wearing 260 T-shirts at one time. Ted was able to get 20 shirts on by himself. After that, he required assistance from a team to help him into sizes ranging from medium to 20X. Around the 150-shirt mark, there were concerns about Ted’s ability to breathe due to the weight of the fabric, but he was determined to keep going and beat the previous record of 257 shirts.
There are giant technicolor squirrels in Southern India.
The squirrels in your neighborhood are most likely brown, black, or grey. But in southern India, there are giant technicolor squirrels. Weighing around four pounds and measuring up to three feet from head to tail, the Malabar giant squirrel looks more like a rainbow-inspired muppet than something that you’d find in the forest. Amateur photographer Kaushik Vijayan was able to snap some spectacular shots of one of the creatures in 2019 and told CBS News, “I felt so amazed by how drop-dead gorgeous it looked. It was indeed a jaw-dropping sight to behold.”
Pogonophobia is the fear of beards.
You probably know your fair share of men who sport some sort of facial hair. But if you suffer from pogonophobia— the fear of beards—then you’d probably rather avoid them. And it turns out, this fear could be justified: A 2019 study suggests that beards contain “significantly higher” amounts of bacteria than dogs.
Maryland tried to ban Randy Newman’s song “Short People.”
In 1977, Randy Newman sang, “Short people got no reason / To live … Well, I don’t want no short people … Round here.” Although it’s meant to be a satirical take on short-sighted people’s intolerance and prejudice, the state of Maryland didn’t take kindly to the tune. In 1978, delegate Isaiah Dixon Jr. tried to introduce legislation to make it illegal to play the song on the radio. However, his effort was unsuccessful; the assistant attorney general deemed that the move would be a violation of the First Amendment.
The cheesiest pizza ever was topped with 154 varieties of cheese.
Johnny Di Francesco of 400 Gradi restaurant in Melbourne, Australia, set the Guinness World Record for the cheesiest pizza by creating a pie using 154 different kinds of cheese. Di Francesco said he was inspired by the 2014 film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in which the Donatello character claims that a 99-cheese pizza was a “culinary impossibility.”
As a direct response to the movie, Di Francesco first came up with a pizza topped with 99 kinds of cheese. And it was such a success, he wanted to outdo himself. “We had an overwhelming response from our customers, so much so that they petitioned to have it a permanent menu item,” he said. “Since then we decided to up the ante and create a 154-cheese pizza. So my apologies Donatello, culinary impossibility debunked!”
The sun makes up 99 percent of our solar system’s mass.
The Earth may seem like a giant place, but our planet is incredibly small compared to the sun, which makes up an incredible 99 percent of our solar system’s entire mass, according to the experts at Space.com.
There’s a tiny home in Virginia called the “Spite House” because that’s why it was built.
In the Old Town district in Alexandria, Virginia, John Hollensbury once owned a house on Queen Street. He apparently hated the fact that horse-drawn wagons would travel down the alley beside his building and wasn’t fond of the people who liked to hang out in the space either. So, to spite them, he built a second tiny house in the alley to keep everyone out, which is how the home earned its name: the “Spite House,” according to the New York Times. The house is seven feet wide and 25 feet deep. There’s also a walled patio outside that goes back an additional 12 feet.
Dragonflies have six legs but can’t walk.
You might have seen a dragonfly hanging out on a plant in your garden or zipping around in the air above a pond. But we can guarantee that you’ve never seen a dragonfly parading across a picnic table or strolling along a branch. That’s because, despite having six legs like other insects, a dragonfly’s legs are too weak for them to walk on for lengthy amounts of time.
An earthquake might have shrunk Mount Everest.
The mighty Mount Everest was first measured in 1856 by the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India and was deemed to be 29,002 feet tall. However, in recent years, surveyors have come up with different numbers for the height of the peak (although its official height is 29,029 feet, thanks to a survey from the 1950s). And while it might just be human error that resulted in these contradicting measurements, another reason for the discrepancies could be that Everest has changed heights in the past few years.
In April 2015, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit the Himalayas and reshaped parts of the mountain range. Satellite data showed that some areas around Kathmandu lifted and the Langtang region dropped more than three feet while Everest sank around an inch. A $2.5 million expedition set to take place in May 2019 will tell scientists for sure.
Rainbows were called “bows of promise” in Victorian English.
The word rainbow is already one of the most beautiful words in the English language. And it turns out that those who spoke Victorian English had a similarly beautiful term for the stunning arches of light: bows of promise.
The oldest representation of the devil in early Christian art showed Satan as blue instead of red.
If you were to draw the Devil, you’d probably give him horns, a tail, and a pitchfork. And even if you decided to take a few creative liberties, there’s still a good chance you’d make your demon red from head to toe. But this is a modern interpretation. The oldest representations of the Devil in early Christian art actually showed Satan as a blue angel, while the good angels were red.
The thing used to measure your feet at the shoe store is called a Brannock Device.
Whenever you got a new pair of shoes as a kid, your parents likely had you sit down in the store while the shoe salesperson measured your foot with a weird-looking metal device. You probably never gave that handy-dandy feet-measuring contraption a second thought. But if you were curious, it happens to be called a Brannock Device, and it was invented by Charles Brannock and patented in 1926. The devices are still sold by the Brannock Device Company, which operates in Liverpool, New York.
There’s an optical illusion at bottom of the sea.
There are so many wonders waiting to be discovered deep within the ocean and scientists came across one of them in March 2019. While exploring an underwater volcano with a remotely operated vehicle some 6,500 feet under the sea, they spotted what appeared to be a small lake-like pool that was upside-down (and, obviously, underwater). And if that doesn’t seem like it makes sense, that’s because it doesn’t.
Along with a video of the underwater illusion, the Schmidt Ocean Institute expedition explains, “The liquid in these upside down pools is hydrothermal vent fluid. Up to 320 degrees in temperature, it is a ‘soup’ of harsh chemicals (including sulfur and metals) that allows life to thrive in a deep dark ocean.”
Mandy Joye, a professor at the University of Georgia and the lead scientist of the expedition, described the experience, saying, “The immense beauty and majesty of the scene was overwhelming. It is something I will never forget.”
Massachusetts is home to Busta Rhymes Island.
In Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, there’s a small 1,600-square-foot piece of land that sticks out into a pond. This little area may not have an official name, but some know it as Busta Rhymes Island—yes, as in Busta Rhymes the rapper. Shrewsbury resident Kevin O’Brien has been diligently geo-tagging the spot on Google Maps in hopes that it will eventually come to be known by the moniker.
However, a celebrity has to have been dead for at least five years before a place can officially be named after them—and so it will probably (hopefully) be a while until every Massachusetts map lists Busta Rhymes Island.
Ketchup was once used as medicine to cure diarrhea, indigestion, jaundice, and rheumatism.
It’s hard to imagine ketchup without the sweet tomatoey taste, but when the condiment was originally invented, it was actually a fish or mushroom-based mixture. Dr. John Cooke Bennet was one of the first folks to add tomatoes to ketchup in 1834. And because it was rich in vitamins and antioxidants, the doctor claimed that the product, which he sold in pill form, could help cure diarrhea, indigestion, jaundice, and even rheumatism.
Space travel makes mice run in loops.
Scientists are aware of the fact that space travel takes a toll on the human body. But it turns out that it also does something strange to mice. When 20 of the rodents were sent up to the International Space Station, they started to suddenly run in loops around their cage after just a week, according to a 2019 study published in Nature. Once one mouse started to run, the others quickly joined in. While researchers don’t know exactly why the mice were acting like race cars circling a track at top speed, they think the little critters might simply have been enjoying the “rewarding effects of physical exercise.”
Cap’n Crunch’s full name is Captain Horatio Magellan Crunch.
Even casual cereal eaters probably know that the Rice Krispie mascots are called Snap, Crackle, and Pop. But only cereal connoisseurs will be able to tell you that Cap’n Crunch is a nickname. The next time you’re enjoying a bowl at the breakfast table, you can tell everyone around you that his full name happens to be much more formal: Captain Horatio Magellan Crunch (yes, Magellan, like the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan).
Sloths can hold their breath for longer than dolphins.
If you’re ever lucky enough to see a sloth, it will likely be lounging around in a tree or slowly making its way from one branch to another. Or, it could be in the water. That’s because the animal’s arms, which are both long and strong, make them great swimmers. And you don’t have to worry about their slow-moving ways being a danger: Sloths can hold their breath for up to 40 minutes, which is 30 minutes longer than a dolphin.
“Schoolmaster” is an anagram of “the classroom.”
“Schoolmaster” is an old-school word for a male teacher. It also happens to be an anagram (meaning it uses the exact same letters) as “the classroom.”
The first Nerf Ball package claimed the toy “can’t hurt babies or old people.”
When Parker Brothers released the first Nerf ball in 1970, they wanted the public to be aware of how safe the four-inch foam toy was. To do that, they included text on the box that told buyers, “Throw it indoors. You can’t damage lamps or break windows.” They also added, “You can’t hurt babies or old people.” What a selling point!
The tallest supported bamboo sculpture is more than 164-feet high.
In April 2019, the Kasama Kita Sa Barangay Foundation and the people of Bayambang in the Philippines set the Guinness World Record for the tallest supported bamboo structure. They built a sculpture of St. Vincent Ferrer that stood 164 feet and 9 inches tall.
Around 16 million people alive today are direct descendants of Genghis Khan.
Genghis Khan wasn’t only famous (and infamous) for being the leader of the Mongol Empire from 1206 to 1227—he also fathered a lot of children. In fact, he sired so many offspring that a 2003 historical genetics paper found that around 16 million people alive today are direct descendants of Genghis Khan.
A Harry Potter book filled with typos sold for $90,000.
Although American readers may recognize the book as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the British story was originally titled Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. And when a few of the first editions were printed, there were some mistakes inside. On top of the word “philosopher” being misspelled on the back cover, “1 wand” was listed twice when it came to the supplies Harry was meant to take to school. When one of these books was up for auction in March 2019, it sold for a staggering $90,000.
There is a metallic asteroid shaped like a dog bone named “Kleopatra.”
Space is filled with all kinds of wonders, including an asteroid called “Kleopatra.” While it sounds like an Egyptian queen, the metallic minor planet—which has two of its own moons, deemed Alexhelios and Cleoselene—is similar in shape to a dog bone.
There is only one walled city in North America.
The next time you’re planning a trip and want to head somewhere that’s both breathtakingly beautiful and incredibly unique, be sure to check out Quebec City in Canada. In the capital of the province of Quebec, the Old Town (Vieux-Québec) area is the only fortified walled city in North America. It was founded by French explorer Samuel de Champlain in the early 17th century.
Queen Elizabeth II’s cows sleep on waterbeds.
It turns out even Queen Elizabeth II’s cows enjoy a life of luxury. The monarch’s 165 dairy cows spend much of their time snoozing and relaxing on waterbeds, said Mark Osman, the manager of the royal’s farm at Windsor Great Park, in an episode of BBC’s Countryfile. “As the cow lies down, the water pushes underneath the pressure points where the cow lies, and the cow ends up floating,” he said.
An expert in 1950 thought that ladies in the year 2000 would be amazons like Wonder Woman.
In 1950, an Associated Press article titled “How Experts Think We’ll Live in 2000 A.D.” included a prediction from editor Dorothy Roe, who thought that in the future, the average woman would “outsize Diana,” AKA Wonder Woman.
“She will be more than six feet tall, wear a size 11 shoe, have shoulders like a wrestler and muscles like a truck driver,” Roe said. “Her proportions will be perfect, though Amazonian, because science will have perfected a balanced ration of vitamins, proteins, and minerals that will produce the maximum bodily efficiency, the minimum of fat.” She also thought that women would forgo traditional meals and instead opt for “food capsules.” Roe added that a woman in 2000 “may even be president.”
Two-thirds of millennials sleep nude.
There are two kinds of people in this world: those who love to sleep naked and those who could never drift off if they aren’t wearing proper PJs. But according to a survey conducted in 2018 by MattressAdvisor.com, plenty of people prefer to head to bed in the buff. The poll found that two-thirds of millennials say they sleep in the nude.
The real name of Monopoly mascot Rich Uncle Pennybags is Milburn Pennybags.
The game of Monopoly dates back to 1903. And while it’s seen plenty of changes throughout the years, the current version we know and love features a snazzy top hat-wearing man with a mustache who’s holding a cane. While you may know him as Rich Uncle Pennybags, his real name is Milburn Pennybags. And he’s not the only member of the game who has a name. The Monopoly policeman is officially called Officer Edgar Mallory.
The infinity sign is called a lemniscate, which means “decorated with ribbons” in Latin.
If you were to draw an infinity sign, you would create a sort of figure-eight that looped in a continuous, unbroken line. You could also say that you’re sketching out a lemniscate, which is another word for the infinity sign and means “decorated with ribbons” in Latin.
Ravens know when someone is spying on them.
Ravens are notoriously clever creatures—so much so that they’re aware of when they’re being watched. A 2016 study in Nature found that the super smart birds display what’s called “theory of mind,” which is the ability to attribute mental states to others. That means that ravens can tell when someone (or something) else can see them. Researchers in Vienna put this idea to the test and found that ravens acted as if they knew they were being watched when there was an open peephole available for other birds to spy on them.
Taco Bell was named after its owner, Glen Bell.
Taco Bell may feature a big bell on its logo, but the fast-food chain didn’t take its name from the musical instrument. Instead, the restaurant was named after its owner, Glen Bell, who opened the first Bell’s Drive-In and Taco Tia in the San Bernardino, California, area in 1954. His first namesake Taco Bell restaurant opened in Downey, California, in 1962.
Frank Sinatra was offered the starring role in Die Hard when he was in his 70s.
Bruce Willis played the legendary John McClane in the Die Hard action-film franchise. But before Willis landed the role, the part was offered to singer Frank Sinatra, who was in his 70s at the time. While this may sound strange, it all has to do with a legal obligation.
The movie was based on the 1979 Roderick Thorp novel Nothing Lasts Forever, which was a follow-up to 1966’s The Detective. In 1968, that novel had been made into a film starring Sinatra (not as John McClane, but as a former New York cop who becomes a private investigator). When Sinatra signed on for the first film, it was in his contract that the studio had to offer him the main part in the sequel. However, when that eventually happened, Ol’ Blue Eyes refused the role.
Golf balls tend to have 336 “dimples” for the sake of symmetry.
When you’re on the golf course, you’re probably paying more attention to what club you’re using than the details of each golf ball. But if you did take notice of the specifics, you might discover that your golf balls can have anywhere between 300 and 500 “dimples,” though most tend to have 336. The University of Illinois’ Department of Physics explains that “golf balls are usually covered with dimples in a highly symmetrical way,” which “is important or the ball will wobble.”
The largest scrambled eggs ever made weighed more than two tons.
You know what they say: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And if you’re the kind of person who wakes up hungry, then perhaps your mouth will water over the fact that in October 2018, more than 20 chefs in Bagatelle, Mauritius, worked together for more than two hours to cook the largest scrambled eggs ever.
After months of preparation that involved more than 250 people, the eggs wound up weighing 5,436 pounds and 9.58 ounces. The recipe included some 947 pounds of butter, 246 liters of milk, 22 pounds of salt, and more than four pounds of pepper.
The U.S. Air Force introduced Bob Ross to painting.
Bob Ross, the host of The Joy of Painting, was known for being a soft-spoken artist with a signature hairstyle and a stunning talent for painting dreamy landscapes filled with happy trees. But he might not have ever been the painter we came to adore if he hadn’t been in the U.S. Air Force, according to an interview with the Orlando Sentinel.
While rising to the rank of Master Sergeant, Ross was also able to take a painting class at a U.S.O. club. He didn’t like the teaching, which focused on color theory and composition, but he was inspired by the scenery in Alaska where he was stationed. The state’s landscape would often pop up in his work throughout his artistic career.
You can’t hunt camels in Arizona.
While you probably wouldn’t consider hunting down a camel even if you did see one, you should know that in Arizona it’s actually illegal, according to the Maricopa County Bar Association. And while this might seem like a useless law, it was once totally necessary. That’s because camels did, in fact, populate the Arizona desert back in the 1800s after they were brought there the U.S. by the army.
A teenager broke a record by changing his name to “Captain Fantastic Faster Than Superman Spiderman Batman Wolverine Hulk And The Flash Combined.”
In 2008, 19-year-old George Garratt from the U.K. legally changed his name to this incredibly long moniker, which was believed to be the longest name in the world. Once he “decided upon a theme of superheroes,” he apparently just went for it.
Unfortunately, the name change also meant that his grandmother was no longer speaking to him, Mr. Captain Fantastic told the Telegraph.
Movie trailers got their name because they were originally shown after the movie.
If you’ve ever wondered why movie previews are called trailers even though they’re shown before a film, then you’ll be interested to discover that their name was once more accurate. When trailers were first introduced in the early 1910s, they weren’t shown before the movie. Instead, they were shown afterward.
Sleeping through summer is called “estivation.”
You surely know that when bears and other animals sleep through the colder winter weather it’s called “hibernation.” But did you know that there’s a name for sleeping through the summer? If you were to snooze the sun-soaked months away, then you would be indulging in “estivation.”
Snails, tortoises, salamanders, and crocodiles all estivate, as do the Malagasy fat-tailed dwarf lemur and East African hedgehogs.
If you open your eyes in a pitch-black room, the color you’ll see is called “eigengrau.”
Go into the darkest room that you can find, one where there’s no light at all, and spend a few minutes with your eyes closed. Then, open them up and take a look around. While you’d expect to be staring into pitch-blackness, you’ll actually notice that you’re seeing a sort of dark grey shade. That color has a name: It’s called “eigengrau.”
According to the Bible, the chicken came before the egg.
If you pick up a Bible and flip to Genesis 1:20–22, you’ll find the following: “Then God said, ‘Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.’ So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.’”
Therefore, according to Moses, who is credited with writing Genesis, God made birds first and the egg would have come afterward when those birds were “fruitful” and multiplied.
Scientists discovered the fossil of a 430-million-year-old monster.
Those who love creepy creatures will likely know that the Cthulhu is a fictional monster that first popped up in H. P. Lovecraft’s 1928 tale The Call of Cthulhu. But when scientists found a 430-million-year-old fossil with tentacle-like features that reminded them of the Cthulhu (which was much like an octopus), they officially named the newly discovered species the Sollasina Cthulhu, according to the research they published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Octopus and squid have three hearts.
You surely know what it feels like when your heart starts pumping wildly, so imagine what it must be like for an octopus or squid, which each have three hearts. The cephalopods both have one systemic heart that circulates blood around the body and two branchial hearts that pump blood through the gills.
Facial reconstruction was used to see what dogs looked like 4,000 years ago.
In April 2019, Historic Environment Scotland (HES) gave us a look at a Neolithic dog that lived around 4,000 years ago—or rather, they gave us a glimpse at what the ancient canine probably looked like by using a skull that was found in 1901 on Scotland’s Orkney Islands. A CT-scan of the skull was taken and a 3D print was created, which forensic artist Amy Thornton then used as a base to add fake muscle, skin, and hair, resulting in a model of the pup.
HES interpretation manager Steve Farrar explained the importance of the outcome. “Looking at this dog helps us better relate to the people who cared for and venerated these animals,” he said.
The Bubonic plague encouraged Shakespeare to write poetry.
In an attempt to prevent the plague from spreading back in Shakespeare’s time, many public places were shut down until things improved. That’s why theaters were closed in January 1593 and didn’t reopen until the spring of 1594. This closure meant that playwrights like William Shakespeare were temporarily out of work. That’s why the Bard spent this time writing poetry instead of focusing on his famous plays. It’s likely when he began his 154 sonnets.
You would likely “mutate” in space without a spacesuit.
We’ve all seen movies where people are sucked (or blown?) into space before meeting their doom in various nasty ways. However, the truth is probably much more intense. According to IFL Science, if you found yourself in outer space without a spacesuit “you’d swell up, burn, mutate, pass out, and your lungs might explode.” Yikes!
While each aspect sounds rather horrible, if you’re curious about the mutation part, the UV and other high energy photons (X-rays and gamma radiation) would apparently “damage your DNA, leading to mutations that would likely cause cancer (if you survived),” which you surely wouldn’t.
Antarctica is the largest unclaimed territory on Earth.
The continent is “governed internationally” through the Antarctic Treaty System, which includes Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway, and the United Kingdom, according to antarctica.gov. However, the land can only be used for peaceful purposes. That, and a whole lot of science. And for more interesting facts, check out these 40 Mind-Blowing Psychology Facts that Seriously Explain Everything.
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