Anne Frank is an iconic symbol of the Nazi brutality of World War II in the 1940s while Martin Luther King, Jr. was the face and voice of the civil rights movement in the 1960s. The two events seem so far apart in history but both figures were born in 1929—January 15 for King, and June 12 for Frank. How’s that for a mind-blowing fact?
Canada and the United States are both large countries which can make understanding the relative geography difficult. But the contiguous United States goes farther north than you think and the majority of Canadians live near the southern border. The result? At 45 degrees latitude, Seattle is farther north than Toronto and Montreal, meaning that 64 percent of Canadians live south of Seattle. Here are 23 more mind-blowing facts you didn’t learn in geography class.
World War I was catastrophic on levels that most of us alive today cannot even comprehend. One example? The numbers of total deaths. During the first world war, France lost about 1,360,000 soldiers. In contrast, the United States has recorded about 1,350,000 military deaths total, over every war since 1775.
Think that immortality is just a fantasy? Well, it is for humans. But scientists have discovered that the Turritopsis dohrnii jellyfish can revert back to its juvenile polyp stage after maturing, continuing in an endless cycle making it the only known officially immortal creature. Love mind-blowing facts? Check out 100 interesting facts about practically everything.
Think The Walking Dead is straight-up fiction? Well, it is—but the government wants to be prepared for a real-life version anyhow. The 31-page Counter-Zombie Dominance Plan, or CONPLAN 8888-11, was designed in 2011. And just in case you think it’s weird bureaucratic humor, the first line reads, “This plan was not actually designed as a joke.”
Nauru is the only country in the world without an official capital city. The government offices of the tiny Pacific island nation are located in the Yaren District.
Proof that Internet culture has overtaken reality: In 2015, Oxford dictionaries chose the “smiling with tears of joy” emoji as its official word of the year. The pictograph “best reflected the ethos, mood, and preoccupations of 2015,” they said.
In the search for more efficient fuels, Prince Charles is taking a strange-but-entertaining approach: The heir to the British throne had his vintage Aston Martin reworked to use wine as it’s primary fuel.
Several countries, including Mexico, Germany, and Austria, see the desire to escape prison as basic human nature rather than an unlawful act. Consequently, a prison break isn’t considered to be a crime itself but before you started masterminding the perfect escape plan, know that they’ll still try to catch you and you may be punished for any criminal act you commit during or after your escape.
Premenstrual syndrome—the collection of symptoms that hit women in the week or so before their menstrual cycle starts—is the butt of many jokes and has even been cited as a reason a woman should not be president of the United States. But men should stop chuckling as medicine recognizes the male equivalent called “irritable male syndrome,” a behavioral state defined as “hypersensitivity, frustration, anxiety, and anger that occurs in males and is associated with biochemical changes, hormonal fluctuations, stress, and loss of male identity.”
The Earth’s speed as it orbits the sun is not a fixed rate. No matter how constant it may seem to us mortals, it’s actually slowing over time. The length of a day will become 25 hours…in about 175 million years. So don’t toss your clocks just yet.
Raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries aren’t true berries. The scientific definition of “berry” is a plant that has three distinct layers: an outer skin (exocarp), a fleshy middle (mesocarp), and—here’s the key—internally contained seeds (endocarp). So because their seeds are on the outside all those berries aren’t actually berries. However, watermelon, bananas, grapes, and eggplants are all technically berries!
Don’t get excited yet Flat Earthers—the planet we all call home isn’t flat but it’s not round either. Technically the Earth is known as an “oblate spheroid” due to the bulge at the equator and the flattened poles.
Many people think cuddling this adorable cross between a duck and an otter would be fun. But beware to the person who tries it! The duck-billed platypus has poison glands in its hind legs and can release the venom using a hollow spur on its heel. While generally not deadly, the sting is said to be incredibly painful and causes a large amount of swelling.
The speed of sound is 343 meters/second. But a bullet fired from a rifle travels at 762 meters/second. This means that if you’re ever targeted by an expert marksman you’ll be dead before you hear the gunshot. Which is comforting? We guess?
London may be one of the largest metropolises in the world but when it comes to actual people, only 9,000 reside in the City of London. The city is a small area surrounded by the Greater London region—which has 8.1 million people.
Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States, was very fond of his pet parrot and apparently spent a lot of time talking to the bird—as became evident when the president died. The parrot was present in the home where Jackson died and as the funeral commenced began cursing in such colorful language that it had to be removed from the house. So in a way, Jackson really did get the last word. Have you heard these 50 astonishing facts about the 50 states?
There are about 3 trillion trees on Earth but only 300 to 400 billion stars in the Milky Way. Space is big but relatively empty, it turns out.
Polar bears may be known as being so white they can hide in snow but the truth is they aren’t white at all. Their skin is black and the hairs in their fur are hollow and clear. So why do they look white? Light hits their fur and is trapped inside the hollow part of the hair, causing a reaction called luminescence. In addition, salt particles stick to the bears’ fur and act as light-scattering particles.
Rhubarb doesn’t get a lot of love (unless it’s in a pie) but the stalky plant does have an amazing talent: It grows so fast you can actually hear it. Listen for yourself.
The crotchety green guru and the pink porcine diva were both voiced, at times, by Frank Oz, a multi-talented actor, puppeteer, director, and producer.
Devrom, the brand name for bismuth subgallate, can be used as an “internal deodorant” that makes your flatulence and bowel movements completely odor-free. It may discolor your tongue and stool, leading to some surprising bathroom (and third date?) moments, so definitely talk to a doctor before trying it.
The Las Vegas Strip is probably the most famous thing about Nevada and the top reason tourists come to Las Vegas. But the strip is misnamed—it’s actually in the unincorporated city of Paradise. Las Vegas’ founders ordered all casinos be built outside city limits to avoid sullying their reputation. In an ironic twist, now that’s all anyone knows the city for.
Country clubs and hotel ballrooms are so passe—if you really want to throw a party everyone will remember, try renting out an entire country for the night. For just $70,000 you can rent Lichtenstein for an evening. If that seems excessive, you can always just rent one of the six Austrian villages, three German towns, or one Swiss ski-resort village.
Thanks to it’s proximity to the north pole and incredibly large land mass (it’s twice as big as Texas!), Alaska is both the state farthest to the west and to the east in the United States.
There’s a good scientific reason for shaking your ketchup before you pour it on your fries: The more you shake it, the thinner the consistency gets. Why? Spherical tomato particles form into thinner ellipses when shaken, making your ketchup 1,000 times runnier.
Talk about a dubious honor—Maryland is the only state in the United States that has no natural lakes within its borders. The bodies of water Maryland now has have all been the result of damming rivers, so they are reservoirs.
Bears kill an average of two people a year, spiders are responsible for six deaths per year, and snake bites account for five deaths each year in the United States. Add those all together for the past 30 years and you still don’t come close to the total deaths caused by the Champawat tiger, who killed 435 people in Nepal and India.
The people of the Middle Ages prized sesame seeds so highly that they cost more than their weight in gold. They’re highly nutritious and tasty but many civilizations thought they also held magical or spiritual properties, bestowing luck and fortune. Now you’ll never pick them off your hamburger bun again, right?
Think the famed Sahara desert is big? At 3.5 million square miles, it’s definitely a monster, but it doesn’t even compare to the Antarctic Polar Desert. It covers the continent of Antarctica and has a size of about 5.5 million square miles. Surprised? The definition of a desert is simply a place that receives less than ten inches of precipitation per year—it doesn’t have to be hot!
Over 31 million people in the United States suffer from chronic kidney disease and it’s the ninth leading cause of death, making kidney transplants relatively common. But did you know that most of the time the surgeon doesn’t remove the diseased kidney? The doctor normally leaves the old kidney in place and puts the donor kidney in the lower belly on the front side of the body. For more mind-blowing facts check out these 20 obscure facts you never knew about your own body.
Samuel J. Seymour was just five years old when he attended a play at Ford’s Theater on that fateful evening of April 14, 1865. He was seated in the balcony directly across from the president and says he heard the shot, saw Lincoln slumped over, and watched John Wilkes Booth jump on to the stage before fleeing. On February 9, 1956, two months before his death, Seymour recounted the story on the CBS TV show I’ve Got a Secret. History is more recent than you think!
Forget War and Peace. If you’re looking for a nice, long read, you’ll want The Subspace Emissary’s Worlds Conquest. This piece of fan fiction, based on the Nintendo video game Super Smash Bros., is 4,102,328 words long—more than seven times the length of Tolstoy’s masterpiece—as of April 2019. We added the date because it’s still a “work in progress” and may get longer!
When it comes to sheer speed, race cars, fighter jets, and space rockets have nothing on a round, flat hunk of metal normally found covering a sewer. It wasn’t made to be a speedster but when an underground nuclear bomb test launched the four-inch thick steel disk at an estimated 125,000 miles per hour or 5 times the Earth’s escape velocity, it became the winner. In contrast, the New Horizons spacecraft maxed out at 36,373 mph.
Ever wondered why banana-flavored drinks and candies taste absolutely nothing like a real banana? According to some people (although it can’t be verified for sure), artificial banana flavoring was based on the Gros Michel variety, which is said to be sweeter and more pungent, almost “fake” tasting. It was thought to be extinct but there are a few places in the world it is still grown so you can taste and decide for yourself!
Hang around a know-it-all long enough and eventually, you will hear someone corrected when they try to talk about more than one octopus. Many people think the right plural form is “octopi” but based on the Greek roots, it technically should be “octopodes.” No one says that, however, so grammarians have settled on “octopuses” as the correct pluralization of octopus. Yep, it’s exactly what you always thought it was! As for “octopi?” It’s not even a word. Like grammar? Check out these 7 mind-blowing facts about punctuation.
Graham’s number is a number so large that a digital representation of it cannot be contained in the observable universe. Scientific humorists joke that if you actually tried to write it out, it would cause a tear in the space-time fabric, causing your head (and everything, really) to explode.
High heels have become such an icon of stereotypical femininity that many women feel an outfit is incomplete without them. But this ultra-girly symbol was first invented for men. Persian men started the high heel trend in the 10th century and the shoes were mostly considered masculine fashion until the 18th century when women claimed them.
In 1945 a Colorado farmer went out to kill a chicken for dinner but when he chopped off the animal’s head, it just wouldn’t die. It’s not unusual for chickens to survive a few minutes headless but as the time went on, he realized he had narrowly missed the jugular vein so while the poor creature had no head, it could still survive. The farmer named him “Magic Mike” and instead of eating him, fed him with an eyedropper until he died 18 months later.
Mosquitoes—more specifically, the diseases carried by mosquitoes—kill nearly 1 million people every year. The main culprit is Malaria, a disease that may be responsible for killing up to half of all the people who have ever lived.
The first loaf of machine-sliced bread was sold in 1928. Americans were still getting used to this amazing modern convenience when suddenly, 1943, the FDA banned sliced bread. The reason was because pre-sliced bread used up too much plastic packaging—plastic that could be used in the war effort. However noble the reason, people were furious and the ban only lasted three months.
These days you can’t walk a block outside without seeing someone snapping a selfie or Instagramming their food or posting their kids on Facebook. Taking pictures has become such a part of our daily lives that every two minutes we snap more photos than were taken through all of the 1800s.
Ever wondered what tortoises mating would sound like? No? Well, it turns out you probably know anyhow—that is, if you’ve seen any of the Jurassic Park movies. The sound designer confessed, “It’s somewhat embarrassing, but when the raptors bark at each other to communicate, it’s a tortoise having sex.”
Cleopatra, the last active ruler of Egypt, was born around 69 B.C. The Great Pyramids were completed around 2560 B.C. Cell phones debuted in 1983. Yep.
It can be hard to imagine how much wealth is generated by the illegal drug trade but the fact that Pablo Escobar had to spend over two grand on rubber bands every month just to keep his money together might help put it in perspective.
Ghengis Khan is known for being one of the most prolific killers ever but it appears he was just as much a lover as he was a fighter. Recent DNA analysis found that about 0.5 percent of all men alive today—about 16 million—are descended from the infamous mercenary. And that’s just the men.
When you think of Saudi Arabia, two of the first images that likely pop into your head are vast deserts of sand and lines of camels. It may sound like a case of selling ice to Eskimos but ever since 2002 the middle eastern country has been importing both sand and camels from Australia as their own supplies have run short. Australia has the largest population of wild camels in the world and its “garnet sand” is highly prized in manufacturing.
J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings classic fantasy books have experienced a huge resurgence in popularity thanks to the popular movie franchise. One of the most iconic images is that of the One Ring with its glowing inscription. But while most people think it’s written in the beautiful Elvish language, it’s actually scribed in the ugly Orcish or Black Speech.
Known as the Olympus Mons, the tallest known mountain in the solar system is found on Mars. The shield volcano is so big that if you were to stand at the peak, you wouldn’t realize you were even on a mountain because the slope would be obscured by the curvature of the planet itself. Its base is the size of Arizona and the highest point is over 16 miles tall (Everest is 5.5 miles above sea level).
Six feet is how long the average giraffe’s neck is while a human being’s neck averages just four inches. Yet both of us have the same number of bones in our necks: Seven. If science is your jam, read these 18 science facts you never learned in school.
Van Gogh is one of the most recognized painters of all time, with his famous paintings decorating everything from coffee mugs to shower curtains, along with walls in the most prestigious museums. But this acclaim was only achieved after his death. During life, he sold exactly one painting—and it’s not Starry Night. He sold The Red Vineyard for 400 Francs. In 1990, one of his paintings sold for $82.5 million.
The QWERTY keyboard that we all use today was invented by Christopher Shoals in 1874 for a new typewriter. Unfortunately, the keys were prone to jamming so, as the story goes, Shoals designed the keyboard to slow typists down by placing the most commonly used letters far apart. This may be a myth—other sources say the letter placement may be based on telegraph protocol—but at least it makes you feel like your hunt-n-peck typing isn’t your fault!
If you dread looking at your inbox, you’ve got a good reason. In 2018, researchers found that spam emails account for 60 to 70 percent of all email traffic and up to half of all indexed data on the Internet.
The original design of this Parisian landmark used the four large pylons at the base to provide all the structural support. However, the people providing the funding felt that it looked too rickety and worried the public would be too afraid to go in it. So they added the iconic arches around the base but while they look beautiful they are only decorative.
In 1969, the soccer teams of Honduras and El Salvador were competing for a spot in the 1970 World Cup. Tensions mounted as the teams were tied 1-1 and went into a third match. When El Salvador won the play-off, riots erupted. The riots boiled over into a full-scale war with over 2,000 casualties on each side. After four days of fighting, the 100 Hour War was ended.
Marilyn Monroe would have loved Jupiter: According to some scientists, it actually rains diamonds. How? The high pressure and heat in the dense atmospheres of planets like Jupiter and Saturn, can squeeze carbon in the clouds, making it rain diamonds. Science nerd? You’ll love these 18 mind-blowing facts about astronomy.
The landlocked country really has no need of a navy, yet they feel the need to at least have one, if only in name. So the Mongolian navy is one tugboat with a seven-man crew. But perhaps the saddest part is that only one of them knows how to swim.
Hippos may be large and in charge but they’re lacking one thing: Sweat glands. Instead, they have mucus glands, which release an oily secretion frequently referred to as “blood sweat.” Technically it’s neither blood nor sweat but a combination of two acids that form a secretion that turns orange-red in the sun, giving hippos the appearance of sweating blood.
With 365 possible birthdays, it seems unlikely that with just 23 people you would find two with the same birthday and yet…it’s true. Even stranger, with 75 people in the room, there’s a 99 percent chance of shared birthdays. Called the Birthday Paradox, it is based on the compounding power of exponents.
Snapping shrimp, also known as pistol shrimp, have a biological mechanism that allows them to “fire” bubble bullets. That alone is enough to make them memorable but the resulting sound is a screaming 210 decibels. In comparison, an actual gunshot is only around 150 decibels.
Sharks have a bad reputation for being merciless killers but when it comes to sheer numbers they could learn something from the humble coconut. Falling coconuts kill 150 people worldwide each year while sharks only kill about ten.
Wyoming is known for being sparsely populated. After all, there are 1.3 million cows to just 580,000 people. But perhaps the funniest illustration of this is the fact that there are only two escalators in the entire state. Both are housed in banks.
In 1994, Los Angeles experienced wide blackouts. But it wasn’t the loss of electricity that had residents scared—it was the “strange, glowing light in the sky.” Hundreds of people called in to report it, only to be told they were actually seeing our galaxy, the Milky Way, for the first time. Light pollution has become so prevalent that people can live their entire lives without ever seeing the natural night sky.
Those fancy two-wheeled scooters may look benign but in 2010, Segway owner Jim Heselden was killed when his Segway rolled off a cliff near his home.
Garlic lovers rejoice! There’s now another way you can enjoy the pungent food. If you rub a clove of garlic on the bottom of your barefoot, you’ll be able to taste garlic in your mouth. It’s all thanks to allicin, the chemical responsible for garlic’s unique smell. It can be absorbed through your skin, pass through your bloodstream, and end up in your mouth and nose, making you “taste” the garlic even though it never went in your mouth.
What’s a pirate without an eye patch? Yet the reason they were so prevalent among the outlaws may surprise you. It wasn’t to cover a missing or injured eye; rather pirates wore the patch to train the covered eye to see better in the dark, giving them a tactical advantage when they ran below-decks to fight.
The Civil War ended in 1865 but there is still one U.S. citizen alive today that is collecting survivor benefits. Irene Triplett’s father, Mose, served in both the Union and Confederate armies and because of his service, his wife and children were granted a pension for as long as they live—in Irene’s case, that’s at least 90 years!
They may be mythical creatures but that didn’t stop Scotland from making unicorns their national animal. Why? “The ideals it represents are what make it a perfect fit as the national animal for Scotland, and because like this proud beast, Scots would fight to remain unconquered.”
Drop a tablet or two of the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra into a vase holding freshly cut flowers and they’ll stay upright and unwilted for a week longer than they normally would, according to a study published in the BMJ. This leads to a secondary mind-blowing fact: Someone did a study on the effects of Viagra on plants.
It may be one of the priciest dishes on fancy menus but lobster used to be so universally disliked that it was only seen fit to feed to prisoners. And even then there were laws restricting how many days in a row they could have it, lest their punishment be too harsh. Did you know some types of lobsters can live forever?
Australia is full of natural wonders that seem to defy explanation and this is top of the list. When seen from above, lake Hillier looks bright, bubblegum pink. Up close it takes on a rich fuchsia shade. But perhaps the best part is that no one can figure out why.
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For years the Bible held the number one spot as the most-highlighted book on Amazon but in 2018 it was overtaken when The 4-Hour Workweek, by Tim Ferriss claimed the top spot.
Perhaps the greatest testament to our modern lifestyle is The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a floating “island” of plastic and trash. According to a 2018 study it measured at 600,000 square miles—twice the size of Texas—but is undoubtedly bigger now.
The beloved cat and mouse cartoon duo have become so entwined with their names that people automatically associate those names with the animals. However, they were originally called Jasper and Jinx and no reason was given for the less-alliterative switcheroo. Read on for more weird facts that most people don’t know.
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