99 Jaw-Dropping Facts That Will Make You Rethink Everything
From the real name of the hashtag to Chuck E. Cheese's sad origin story, here are 99 random facts that you'll probably tell your friends you already know.
Once you finish reading this, you may never eat another avocado again. And there's a 50-50 chance that Oreos will no longer be your family's favorite cookie.
"King of the Wasteland" Is Cool Too
Think you know everything there is to know about everything -- how to make ice, how to know if you have the stomach flu, and what the name of a hashtag really is? Not even close.
Here's an assembly of 99 ridiculously weird facts that will definitely make you rethink a few things -- if not everything.
Even though males are called the "king of the jungle," lions actually prefer scrublands and savannahs. The whole jungle mistake likely comes from a bad translation of the Hindi word "jangle," meaning wasteland.
Even though it's not an actual country, Antarctica has an international dialing code -- 672.
Everybody Gets a Medal
Between crashed probes, random spacecraft parts, one-time experiments, and a whole lot of bags of human waste, it's estimated that the moon contains about 400,000 pounds of trash.
From 1912 to 1948, the Olympics celebrated a lot more than sports. Like, for example, sculpture. And painting. There were also competitions for architecture and music composition, though many of the contests were chaotic and randomly didn't award medals if the judges didn't feel like it. Those categories were discontinued after the International Olympic Committee decided the artists were professionals, rather than amateurs.
They Sound Cute, But They Aren't
The music from “The Star Spangled Banner” was taken from the traditional British drinking song, "To Anacreon in Heaven.” It also didn’t become America’s national anthem until 1931, when it replaced "America (My Country, 'Tis of Thee).” And that song isn't even an original. It took its music from England’s national anthem, “God Save the King.” Call it the original British Invasion.
The traditional tall white chef's hat has 100 folds in it, meant to represent the chef's maxim that there are 100 ways to cook an egg.
The small pellets that are softened and molded to make plastic products are called "nurdles." Despite their cute name, nurdle pollution in the ocean is a major problem. One estimate says that 250,000 tons of nurdles enter the ocean every year.
The first item bought on Amazon.com by a non-staff member was a book on artificial intelligence called "Fluid Concepts And Creative Analogies: Computer Models Of The Fundamental Mechanisms Of Thought,” written by neuroscientist Douglas Hofstadter. The buyer was a computer scientist named John Wainwright, who had a building on Amazon's campus named in his honor. Wainwright says he still has the book.
In 1990, all government agencies were given seven years to completely audit their budgets. The Department of Defense stalled on the audit for decades, then finally finished it in 2018. That audit cost $413 million and found massive errors... which cost another half a billion dollars to fix.
Brown eggs and white eggs have no difference in quality, only cost. Brown eggs cost more because they come from red-feathered chickens, which need more food than white feathered chickens.
Jack the Ripper Can Have A Seat
Under certain conditions, hot water can freeze faster than cold water. This is called the "Mpemba Effect," after a schoolboy from Tanzania who determined that ice cream would freeze faster if it were already warm.
Even though it spans five time zones, China has just one unified time. Beijing Standard Time puts the entire country on the same time as China's largest city. This means there are places in China where the sun rises at 11 a.m. and sets at midnight.
The first serial killers in recorded American history were brothers Micajah and Wiley Harpe. The Harpe Brothers (who may have actually been cousins) murdered between 40 and 50 people in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Illinois from 1797 to 1799, usually horribly, and usually with knives. Their spree ended in 1799 when Micajah was killed by a posse. Wiley was captured and hanged four years later.
Please Don't Tell Our Boss
The myth that humans use just ten percent of their brain has been part of pop culture since the late 1920's. It has no basis in fact, and there is no evolutionary reason to have a brain mostly made of empty jelly.
Alaska is the westernmost state in America -- but it also has the country's most eastern point. The uninhabited island of Semisopochnoi is part of Alaska's Aleutian Islands, but crosses the International Date Line, and is technically in the Eastern Hemisphere.
The term "nomophobia" has been applied to the fear of being without one's cell phone. However, this is not a medically recognized condition.
Despite being the cause of countless sick days and excuses to get out of things, there is no such actual illness as “stomach flu.” Those stomach pains and nausea are actually gastroenteritis, which can be caused by anything from mild food poisoning to a virus.
It’s Still Better than “Password”
During a Nov. 20, 1973 show in San Francisco, Keith Moon, the drummer for The Who, passed out. The Who needed help to finish their show. They called out for someone from the crowd to play drums, and 19-year-old Iowan Scot Halpin got the gig. He played three songs, and was given a tour jacket -- which someone promptly stole.
The number of Grammy Awards won by Chuck Berry, Bob Marley, KISS, Morrissey, Jimi Hendrix, Rush, the Kinks, the Who, the Velvet Underground, Queen, Led Zeppelin, and Journey totals zero. Several have won honorary awards, though.
In 1962, President Kennedy ordered all nuclear commanders to add an eight-digit password to their launch computers. The Air Force, afraid that a crew member would waste time if they didn't know the password, made those digits “00000000.” The story was leaked by a former Air Force launch crew member, though the Pentagon disputed it.
Useless! Sad! Bad Paper!
Except for cases of extreme malnutrition, carrots don't help your eyesight. This myth was a piece of disinformation that the British circulated during World War II. The British didn't want the enemy to know they had secret radar tech that could spot Axis planes, so they lied and said that carrots gave their soldiers excellent eyesight. The Germans lost, but the myth won.
Polar bears store up so much vitamin A in their livers that eating one can easily kill a human.
Donald Trump’s uncle John was an MIT-trained physicist who helped develop radar and x-ray machine technology. John Trump also analyzed the final papers of famed inventor Nikola Tesla, finding them to be mostly useless.
4chan Came Later
While it's held up as an American ideal, the first recipe for apple pie actually emerged in England in 1381, and was full of figs and spices. Apple pie didn’t become popular in the U.S. until the early 1800’s.
Despite its mention in the Journey mega-hit "Don't Stop Believin'," there is no such place as "South Detroit." Heading due south from Detroit puts you first into the Detroit River, then in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.
Now That's Just Depressing
There are about 18 different species of electric catfish native to Africa, capable of delivering a 450-volt jolt of electricity to hungry predators or prey. (And yes, that's enough to, theoretically, injure a human.)
While the terms poisonous and venomous are often used in place of each other, they mean totally different things. Venomous only applies to life forms that bite or sting to inject their toxins. Poisonous refers to life forms that deliver their venom when eaten. Generally, snakes and spiders are venomous, while toads and toxic plants like nightshade are poisonous.
Children's pizza chain Chuck E. Cheese has a ten-page booklet that tells the story of how their mouse mascot came to be. And it's really sad. Chuck was an orphan who loved singing "Happy Birthday" because no one had ever sung it to him. Once he aged out, the orphanage booted him, and he wound up living in a New York City a pizza parlor, only to be hired as a singing mouse by the pizza place's owner. He even got booed at his first singing performance.
Reigning from Sept. 15 to Sept. 27, 1590, Pope Urban VII died of malaria 12 days after his election. As the shortest-lived Pope, his only act of note was to ban Catholics from using powdered snuff tobacco, as he considered sneezing a form of sexual ecstasy.
There’s no difference between charging a half-full phone battery and an empty one. In fact, it’s better for your phone not to let the battery run out. You also can’t “overcharge” your phone.
Dissed for years as a cheap Oreo knockoff, Hydrox cookies actually hit the market four years before Oreo cookies did. Oreo, in fact, copied Hydrox - and became far more successful.
Water You Even Talking About
Upon the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in June 1919, the leader of the entire Allied military, French marshall Ferdinand Foch bitterly remarked, “this is not peace, it is an armistice for 20 years.” Sure enough, 20 years later, almost to the day, Germany invaded Poland and began the Second World War.
Contrary to the pop culture myth of the genius murderer, the average IQ of serial killers is about 95. Most are caught because of either their own dumb mistakes, or simple arrogance.
You do not need to drink eight glasses of water every day. This figure has been in pop culture for decades, but has only one mention in a 1945 paper, which claims that an adult needs to consume 64 ounces of water total. You'll get most of this from food.
The Three Musketeers candy bar originally contained three flavors – chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. When the Second World War made artificial flavoring hard to get, the others were ditched. They never bothered changing the name, though.
While it’s the cornerstone of the Goop empire, Gwyneth Paltrow-style "detoxification" is a completely unnecessary and useless concept. Some of them are outright scams. Your body naturally detoxifies by going to the bathroom.
The American bison is one of the only known animals to have both its lungs in one cavity. Because the animal can easily be killed with a slight injury to the chest, their numbers have massively dropped in the last few centuries.
The Second-Shortest Binge Watch Ever
When casting the evil android in “The Terminator,” studio executives suggested OJ Simpson to director James Cameron. Cameron rejected the idea, finding it unbelievable that good natured OJ Simpson could be seen as a killer.
The inventor of the Pringles can, food scientist and chemist Frederic Baur, died in 2008. He requested his ashes be buried in a Pringles can.
Thanks to the post-WWII hit sitcom "Honeymooners," Jackie Gleason was a star. But some of his ideas were... not that great. His new game show, “You’re in the Picture,” aired on January 20, 1961. It was based on the carnival game of sticking one’s head through a hole in a wooden body and having celebrities guess who you were supposed to be. But the show’s reviews were horrible, not to mention the people playing the game had no idea how it worked. So Gleason used the next week's timeslot as an episode-long apology.
Vanished Into Thin Air
The famed children's building toy Lincoln Logs were invented by the child of a famed builder: John Lloyd Wright, son of legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright. They were based on the interlocking timber beams that John helped Frank devise for an earthquake-proof hotel in Tokyo.
Both Russia and the U.S. have thriving black markets for illegal cheese -- though for very different reasons. In Russia, Vladimir Putin banned the importing or sale of American-made cheese, and the U.S. FDA has banned unpasteurized cheese less than 60 days old. In 2015, Russian police made a bust of illegal cheddar worth over $30 million. And in 2012, law enforcement took down a U.S./Canadian cheese smuggling ring.
The “D.B. Cooper” hijacking, where a man calling himself “Dan Cooper” ransomed $200,000 and jumped out of a plane over Washington, is the only unsolved air piracy case in aviation history. Some of the money has been found, but both the fate of the hijacker and his real identity remain unknown.
Mickey is Still Just Mickey, Though
While it's a hot topic in wellness and nutrition, there are no “negative calorie” foods. Nothing costs more calories to chew than it contains in nutrition.
Getting a jump on the vape craze, RJ Reynolds introduced a smokeless cigarette called "Premiere" in 1988. It was supposed to be a "safer" cigarette that heated tobacco, thanks to steam, rather than smoke. Except people hated it, in particular, its taste and smell. The company pulled it after four months, at a loss of over $300 million.
Minnie Mouse’s first name is actually a nickname for “Minerva.”
Escape From Inception Island
The melody to the children's songs "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star," "The ABC Song," and "Baa Baa Blacksheep" is identical. The tune is an anonymous French lullaby first published in 1761, and later adapted by Mozart.
Located in the Philippines, Vulcan Point is an island sitting in a lake, which is inside a volcano, which sits within another lake on the largest island in the country. Vulcan Point's volcano is one of the most active in the world, and nobody has ever lived on the tiny peak inside it. But it is accessible to tourists.
Who Has Four Thumbs And Has Tainted Endless Crime Scenes? THIS KOALA!
While eight-sided stop signs first were put up in the early 1920's, they didn't become their familiar red with white lettering until 1954. Before that, most were yellow -- because red dye faded too quickly.
For more than 900 years, European countries routinely put animals on trial and in prison for their "crimes." Many were even executed. These hardened criminals ranged from pigs accused of murder to locusts banished from towns for eating vines.
Koala fingerprints are so similar to human fingerprints that they’ve occasionally fooled crime scene technicians. Though since koalas have four thumbs, a full paw print can’t be mistaken for a human hand.
Making Avocado Toast? Wash Your Hands!
The First World War armistice was signed at 5 a.m. on November 11, 1918, but wouldn’t go into effect for six hours. The last man killed was American private Henry Gunther – who was shot one minute before 11 a.m..
Google's original name was "BackRub," after the search engine's ability to scour back links on the web. Its creators then wanted to change its name to "Googol," named after the number 1, followed by 100 zeros, but spelled it wrong.
Avocados evolved to be eaten by giant sloths, and have their massive pits pooped out hundreds of miles from their parent tree. Giant sloths disappeared in a mass extinction 13,000 years ago -- but humans took to the avocado so much that they survived the sloth’s loss.
The long-feared Chinese restaurant additive MSG is not actually dangerous, except in massive quantities that no human could possibly eat.
Despite being a popular concept in science fiction and philosophy, it is physically impossible for humans to be living in a computer simulation. Recent studies have found that even one tiny part of a life-like simulation would require more computer memory storage than there are atoms in the universe.
A programming error in the software of a Patriot missile battery led to it having an incorrect internal clock, which only got worse because its computer was never turned off. The result: It didn’t fire at an oncoming Iraqi Scud missile, which hit a U.S. barracks and killed 28 soldiers.
The Enemy Of My Enemy Is Not My Friend
Germany’s reparations for the First World War were so harsh that it took until 2010 to pay off the interest on the loans it took out to repay the Allies.
Christopher Columbus did not sail to the New World to prove the Earth was round. He and his Spanish patrons already knew that. In fact, humans have generally known the shape of the Earth (though not its size) since about 600 BCE.
President Andrew Jackson and folk hero frontiersman (and member of Congress) Davy Crockett hated each other. Even so, Crockett helped chase down and beat a would-be assassin who shot at Jackson, only for his gun to jam.
Not Easy Being... Orange
Even though we're all taught to be afraid of "strange danger," child abduction by strangers is incredibly rare. Missing children are reported as being abducted by strangers in only 0.1 percent of cases -- or about 300 times a year for the whole country.
In 1788, the Austro-Hungarian Army defeated itself in the Battle of Karansebes. Austrian troops stationed on the Danube River against invading Turks began arguing over a bottle of schnapps. Someone fired a shot, and other Austrian troops panicked and shot in every direction -- mostly at each other. As many as 10,000 Austrian troops died, and Turkey easily overran the survivors two days later.
In his first season on “Sesame Street,” Oscar the Grouch was colored orange. He explained his color change to green by claiming he took a dip in a swamp on vacation.
He Did Nazi This Coming
Multiple studies have found that Facebook has become one of the leading causes of divorce. As many as one third of legal filings mention the social media giant as a reason a couple has split up, due to either overuse or infidelity.
While portrayed as a gentle friend and host, the Man in the Yellow Hat is clearly shown in the first “Curious George” book as kidnapping the monkey and taking him to America to put him in a zoo.
Austrian actor Emil Jannings won the first Academy Award for Best Actor in 1927, then found himself un-employable in talking pictures because of his thick German accent. He returned to Austria, and made films extoling the virtues of the Third Reich until the end of the war. He used his Oscar statue to prove his identity to Allied troops, but never worked in Hollywood again.
In 238 CE, Rome had six different emperors. First, a father and son usurped the real emperor, but died 21 days later. Then the real emperor was murdered by his guards while trying to retake the city. A duo of Senators took his place, until they were also murdered by their own guards. By July, the 13-year-old grandson of the first usurper was crowned and managed to not be murdered by his own guards. Rome split into two 50 years later.
“X-Y Position Indicator for a Display System” was the original name for the computer mouse.
The most expensive album ever made is likely Michael Jackson’s 2001 “Invincible,” costing a reported $30 million. Jackson recorded as many as 87 different songs, and worked with more than 100 collaborators in a four-year process.
Mr. Rogers, Tech Visionary
Matt Groening created the Simpsons on the fly just before a meeting with James L. Brooks. Meeting the legendary producer to pitch his “Life in Hell” comics as an animated short, Groening realized that he’d lose the rights to whatever he sold. So he pitched something that meant nothing to him.
Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin had such a bad relationship with oldest son Yakov that after Yakov was captured in the Second World War, Stalin refused to exchange him for a captured German general. Yakov died in 1943, possibly via suicide while a prisoner.
A 1981 episode of “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” sees Fred Rogers tour an electric car shop, and drive around in a battery-operated vehicle that could get 50 miles on a charge.
An Unfair Reputation
Tongues don’t have different zones for different tastes. Every part of your tongue can taste everything you put in your mouth.
Despite alternative medicine claims and the promises made by expensive supplements, “boosting” your immune system can be actually harmful. An overactive immune system is the hallmark of autoimmune diseases like lupus and MS.
Lemmings do migrate in mass numbers, but they do not die in droves by following other lemmings off a cliff. This comes from the Disney documentary “White Wilderness,” where the filmmakers literally pushed lemmings off a cliff to simulate mass suicide.
That's What Banks Are For
In 1906, neurosciences researcher Alois Alzheimer presented a landmark paper on the devastating brain disease that would soon bear his name. His colleagues listened in disinterested silence, then went crazy over the presentation that followed it, a paper on compulsive masturbation.
In 1999, Twitter and the mobile phone company Peek put out a device that could be used for only one purpose: to send or receive tweets. The "TwitterPeek" cost $200 and only showed the first 20 characters of a tweet on its screen, not full tweets or Twitter's timeline. After reviews that called it slow, annoying, and pointless, the device was pulled from the market.
There is a minute amount of formaldehyde in most vaccines, which is used to inactivate the weakened strain of whatever is being injected. However, a newborn baby’s body has 50 to 70 times more formaldehyde in it at birth than one dose of vaccines contains.
According to the crypto-currency's designer, there will only ever be 21 million bitcoins mined in total. One estimate from 2017 is that more than four million bitcoins are lost forever, having deleted themselves or left inaccessible by owners who misplaced their passwords or had them on old hard drives that they threw out.
Burning Was the Case
The "funniest home videos" genre hit bottom in September 1992, with "Australia's Naughtiest Home Videos." The show featured people humiliating themselves and eating maggots, all with a host adding offensive jokes to the clips. It so enraged the owner of the network that he demanded it be taken off the air at once. The show ran for 34 minutes before being pulled for a rerun of "Cheers."
When confronted by a predator, ostriches do not stick their heads in the ground. Indeed, they are quite capable of fighting back with powerful kicks, or running away at up to 40 miles per hour.
Koala bears are, in fact, not bears. They’re hardly related to bears at all. They’re just koalas.
Though it’s become the poster child for frivolous lawsuits, the woman who sued after being burned by hot McDonald's coffee spent eight days in the hospital. She had acknowledged the spill was her fault, and only took legal action after the fast food giant refused to pay her medical bills.
They Call It "Luggage" Because You Lugged It
Despite the omnipresent phrase "blind as a bat," bats aren't actually blind. Yes, they track insects in the dark using echo-location, but they also have the ability to see light at certain wavelengths. Many bats even use both audio and visual senses in their quest for food. So why do people think they're blind? A version of the myth goes all the way back to the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, who wrote, "For as the eyes of bats are to the blaze of day, so is the reason in our soul to the things which are by nature most evident of all."
Frogs can’t vomit, instead ejecting their entire stomach, then pulling it back in. This allows them to quickly get toxins out of their system. Rodents also can’t vomit, for the same reason. Finally, horses can’t vomit, but because they have a powerful band of muscle around their esophagus.
When the Department of Justice brings legal action in a case involving a seized object, that object is named as the defendant. This practice, called “jurisdiction in rem,” has led to cases with names like “United States v. Forty Barrels & Twenty Kegs of Coca-Cola,” “United States v. Article Consisting of 50,000 Cardboard Boxes More or Less, Each Containing One Pair of Clacker Balls,” and “United States v. One Lucite Ball Containing Lunar Material (One Moon Rock).”
Wheeled luggage wasn’t invented until 1970, and the modern two-wheeled retractable handled suitcase didn’t appear until the late 1980’s.
Not Exactly Thorough
The last words of the dying Walt Disney have been reported by multiple sources as “Kurt Russell." Yes, he meant the teenage actor, with whom Disney had become close friends near the end of his life.
Because airbags open with such violent force, keeping your hands at 10 and 2 on the wheel is now considered dangerous. Keep them at 9 and 3, instead.
In 1974, baby food giant Gerber briefly sold baby food for adults. Called "Gerber Singles," these were small jars of mushed, adult-style meals aimed at college students and young adults. The product flopped almost immediately.
Colloquially known as the pound sign or hashtag, the actual name of the “#” character is “octothorpe.” It became associated with internet trends in August 2007.
how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?
Russia is easily the biggest country in the world by land mass. But thanks to its many northern islands, the second largest is Canada, just edging out the United States. The population is so spread out that each citizen could have 61 acres for themselves -- though much of it would be uninhabitable.
Yellowstone National Park has a 50-square mile “zone of death” where it is theoretically possible to legally commit murder. The district court that handles crimes in Yellowstone covers only Wyoming, but part of Yellowstone is actually in Idaho. This means that the Sixth Amendment rule that a trial jury must be made up of people in the state where the crime is committed can’t be fulfilled. Nobody has ever actually tested this in court.
Prosecutors in the Casey Anthony murder case missed her search for multiple incriminating terms because they scoured her Internet Explorer history, rather than the history of her preferred browser, Firefox. This would have turned up the phrase “foolproof suffocation” –- making it less likely she would have been found not guilty.