150 Random Facts That Will Make You the Most Interesting Person in the Room

150 Random Facts That Will Make You the Most Interesting Person in the Room
Sometimes, there’s no better conversation starter than a totally out-of-left-field bit of information. Maybe it’s a tiny factoid about a popular brand. Maybe it’s a little-known piece of history that flips your perspective upside-down. Maybe it’s a bit of trivia about nature or the world at large. No matter what types of facts typically strike your fancy, make sure to read these 150 totally random and 100 percent wildly interesting facts that are guaranteed to earn you some new friends.

You’d Wouldn’t Be Able to Tolerate Earth’s Quietest Place for More Than 45 Minutes

southern slang
Silence may be golden, but too much of it will drive you mad. In Minnesota’s Orfield Laboratories, there’s an anechoic chamber that is so quiet, the background noise is measured in negative decibels (-9.4 dBA, to be exact). The room’s founder, Steven Orfield, explained that not only can you “hear your heart beating and sometimes hear your lungs,” but those who have entered the space have trouble standing up due to the fact that humans use sounds to orient themselves. That means anyone who spends a little time in the room needs to be seated. But they won’t be there for long. According to Orfield, the longest anybody has been able to tolerate the extreme silence is 45 minutes.

An ‘x’ Was First Used to Represent a Kiss in 1763

romantic experiences rain kiss
If you sign letters (or texts) to those you love with an ‘xo,’ then you’re keeping up a sweet tradition that goes back hundreds of years. According to research done by the word experts over at Oxford Dictionaries, an ‘x’ was first used to represent a kiss back in 1763 in a letter written by naturalist Gilbert White.

Dogs Typically “Use the Bathroom” in Alignment With the North-South Axis

vizla dog in sunset, top dog breedsShutterstock
We’ve known for a while that dogs, along with several other animals, can detect Earth’s magnetic fields. But it turns out, they also use it to direct their more personal habits. After watching 70 dogs do their business over a two-year period, researchers who published their work in the journal Frontiers in Zoology found that the pups preferred to poop “aligned along the North-South axis under calm magnetic field conditions.” According to the study, this was the first time a measurable, predictable behavioral reaction to the magnetic field’s fluctuation has been demonstrated in mammals. It also might be why it takes your dog so long to decide where to go!

Stone Age Europe’s Population Could Have Fit on a Mid-Sized Cruise Ship

Cruise ship departing from florida cruise ship facts
Research published in the journal PLOS ONE found that for significant spans of time during the Stone Age, there were fewer than 1,500 people living in Central Europe. And as IFL Science reports, that’s about as many people you might find on a mid-sized cruise ship today.

The Longest TV Ad of All Time Is 14 Hours Long

watching television lies over 40Shutterstock
Created by Old Spice for a product that supposedly “lasts forever,” the commercial features actor Terry Crews, among others, and is currently airing “for an eternity” online (you can watch it here). But since that’s not exactly possible on TV, a 14-hour version was put together and aired in São Paulo, Brazil, on December 8, 2018, earning the Guinness World Record for the longest TV ad ever.

There’s Typically a 200 Millisecond Gap Between Conversational Responses

couple talking on a first date with each other
While that’s an average, it’s also nearly universal. In most languages—including sign language—the pause between when we speak and when the person we’re talking to takes their turn keeps to a familiar pattern. Stephen Levinson from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics explains that the gap is “the minimum human response time to anything,” including when runners react to a starting pistol.

“Keep Calm and Carry On” Is Repurposed Propaganda

keep calm and carry on vector
The popular “Keep Calm and Carry On” slogan was originally created by the British government as a form of propaganda to urge citizens to stay civil during World War II, when London frequently endured air raids from Germany. Alas, it never caught on. Years later, in the 2000s, a poster was discovered, and many companies have used it as a slogan or marketing theme for their products. Apparently, vintage sensibilities apply to modern public relations campaigns too.

No One Knows How William Shakespeare’s Name Was Really Spelled (and Neither Did He)

Shakespeare wax figure
For every tidbit of info we know about Shakespeare’s life, there are just as many that we don’t. And one thing historians aren’t too sure about is how Shakespeare’s name was actually spelled. Frankly, he didn’t seem too sure either. The Bard himself used variations of his moniker such as “Willm Shakp,” “Willm Shakspere,” and “William Shakspeare.” His contemporaries spelled it more than 80 different ways too, including “Shappere” to “Shaxberd.” It turns out, the man never used “William Shakespeare” once, despite the fact that it’s become the accepted spelling of his name.

Tailgating Doesn’t Speed Up Your Commute

bad jokes that are actually funny
Research out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 2017 suggests that if we all keep an equal distance (similar to how birds in flocks fly), we’d get to our destinations twice as fast. The study confirmed that maintaining an equal distance between cars on either end of you gets you to your destination significantly faster than if you tailgate the car in front of you. Of course, you can’t control the car behind you, which is why we all need to get on the same page and stop tailgating.

“Girl” Used to Be the Word For Any Young Child

A Baby and Father Shopping for Clothes {Save Money on Kids' Clothes}Shutterstock
If you use the word “girl” these days, you’re likely talking about little Suzy or young Sally. But way back in the 1300s, you might have been referring to little Bobby and young Billy as well. The word “gyrle” (which is where we get “girl”) was used for any child or young person, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary. For proof, Quartz points to Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales” from the late 1300s, in which he wrote: “In daunger hadde he at his owene gyse / The yonge gerles of the diocise, / And knew hir conseil, and was al hir reed.” Quartz explains that “the Summoner knows all the secrets of the young people in the diocese—not just the young girls.”

Bananas Glow Blue Under UV Lights

bananas things you're doing wrong
Bananas may be famously yellow, but according to one study, the usually sunny-toned fruit actually glows an “intense” blue color when put under black light (or UV lights). Scientists at the University of Innsbruck in Austria and Columbia University in the U.S. found that the degradation of chlorophyll that happens in the fruit while it ripens is the cause of the funky blue glow.

An Actor’s Brain Activity Is Different When They’re in Character

Guests at the theater
When actors get into character, they change more than just their costumes and how they talk. During a study by Canada’s McMaster University, researchers scanned performers’ brains while the actors answered questions either as themselves or in character (sometimes even with an accent). The results revealed that the brain activity of participants differed depending on the separate scenarios. Research author Dr. Steven Brown wrote, “It looks like when you are acting, you are suppressing yourself; almost like the character is possessing you.” Try telling that to your actor friends!

China Recently Cloned an Award-Winning Police Dog

police dog laying in the grass, interesting wow facts
Training a puppy isn’t easy, which is why a police force in China is hoping to speed up the process by cloning an award-winning dog. The cloned puppy, named Kunxun, reported for duty in March of 2019. She was cloned using the DNA from current police dog Huahuangma, a seven-year-old Kunming wolfdog from the Pu’er police station in Yunnan who is renowned for her detective skills. The agency hopes the cloned puppy is just as adept at solving crimes as her clone. If things go well with this pup, there could be plenty of other cloned canines joining the force.

The Designer of the Eiffel Tower Built an Apartment Into It

surprising copyright trademarkShutterstock/Tom Eversley
When Gustave Eiffel designed the tower which bears his name, he added a hidden apartment on the third level of the landmark—but he never lived there, no one did. Instead, Eiffel used the special space to entertain distinguished guests such as Thomas Edison. Although it wasn’t big, the apartment was decorated with wallpaper, furnished with wooden cabinets, and even featured a grand piano. These days, you can get a peek at the unique abode through a window if you purchase a ticket for a ride up the tower.

The Largest Pizza on Record Was 13,580.28 Square Feet

pepperoni pizza
Most of us love pizza and have surely eaten our fair share over the years. But could you eat one that was the size of a warehouse? In 2012, Dovilio Nardi, Andrea Mannocchi, Marco Nardi, Matteo Nardi, and Matteo Giannotte from NIPfood at Fiera Roma, in Rome, Italy, created a massive pie that had a surface area of 1,261.65 square meters, according to Guinness World Records. They named their creation “Ottavia,” in honor of the first Roman emperor Octavian Augustus. And, yes, the pizza was gluten-free.

Cats Can Manipulate Us With Meows That Sound Like Crying Babies

Group of Cats Corny Jokes
Research has found that our finicky feline friends know just what to do in order to get us to give them food and attention. One study published in Current Biology found that when cats used a more baby-like meow called “solicitation purring,” us humans judged it as more urgent than their regular cries. So how did the researchers know it’s manipulative? The scientists found that only cats who lived in single-person households developed this special cry—meaning it’s only something the cat acquires when it has a one-on-one relationship with its owner. And for more cat trivia, check out these 20 Amazing Facts You Never Knew About Your Cat.

Archaeologists Discovered an “Elixir of Immortality” in an Ancient Chinese Tomb

potion bottle on top of book, old, interesting wow facts
In March 2019, archaeologists in central China’s Henan Province reportedly found a 2,000-year-old bronze pot from a Western Han Dynasty that contains 3.5 liters of a liquid that was referred to in ancient Taoist literature as an “elixir of immortality.” The elixir was found to be a mixture of potassium nitrate and alunite. However, we have to assume it was less than effective—considering the fact that it was discovered in a tomb filled with members of a noble family who are obviously not enjoying an immortal lifestyle.

There’s a Year-Round Water Delivery Mail Route in Alabama

Pile of Mail on a Desk {Secrets Your Mailman Knows}Shutterstock
There are plenty of quirky facts about the United States that are hard to believe—and that includes this little detail about Magnolia Springs, Alabama. According to USA Today, the town is the only place in the entire country that has a year-round water-delivery mail route. The folks who live there receive their snail mail from the U.S. Postal Service via boats that have been serving the 31-mile stretch since 1915.

“SWIMS” Is Still “SWIMS” When Turned Upside Down

things kids believe
Go on, flip whatever device you’re reading this on upside down. Or even try writing the word out yourself. If you use all uppercase letters (and write them properly instead of scrawling them out in some indecipherable text) you’ll find the same word whether you’re looking at it right-side up or upside down.

Barbie’s Full Name Is Barbara Millicent Roberts

vintage barbie russian doll on a car dashboardShutterstock
You may know the iconic doll by her nickname, Barbie, but when the famous Mattel, Inc. toy was first introduced back in March 1959, she was given the full moniker of Barbara Millicent Roberts. Her first name is in honor of creator Ruth Handler’s daughter, Barbara, who inspired her mother to design an adult-like doll while playing with paper versions and giving them grown-up personalities, according to Barbie Media.

A Change in Our Diets May Have Changed the Way Humans Speak

heart attack after 40Shutterstock
Various factors alter the evolution of language and that includes what we eat. A study published in Science explains that linguists at the University of Zurich believe that the rise of agriculture may have changed how we speak. By introducing softer foods into our diet, human teeth and jaws were affected in a different way than if we had solely been eating tougher foods like meat. Because of this, we possibly started using softer sounds like “f” and “v” that might not have been so prevalent otherwise.

Before Alarm Clocks, There Were Human Alarms

how to fall asleep
The job of Knocker-Upper (yes, that’s really what they were called) originated in Britain during the Industrial Revolution, when people needed to wake up and get to work, but alarm clocks were not accessible to the general population. A knocker-upper’s job was to literally take a wooden stick and knock on the door to make sure you’d wake up—just two to four knocks, and then they were on their way, no sticking around. Some even used pea-shooters to shoot dry peas at tenants on higher floors, in order to wake people up on top floors if stairs were not accessible.

Mice in Central America Can Sing Almost 100 Notes

Mouse on a carpet - funniest jokesShutterstock
If you thought fictional Disney mice were the only critters that can carry a tune, then you’ll be surprised to find out about the Scotinomys teguina, or Alston’s singing mouse, from Central America, which are real-life musically inclined rodents. The tiny creatures communicate in sing-song conversations in which they reply to each other using around 100 audible notes. Plus, their ability to communicate with one another makes them the ideal laboratory mice for studying communicative difficulties in humans.

Omphalophobia Is the Fear of Belly Buttons

Woman Massaging Belly Button {Pressure Points}
When you think about the fact that they’re responsible for providing us nourishment in the womb, belly buttons are pretty incredible. But not everyone is amazed by the tiny dots in the middle of our bodies. In fact, some people are downright freaked out by them. And if that’s you, you now know the official term for it: omphalophobia

The McDonald’s in Sedona, Arizona, Is the Only One in the World With Turquoise Arches Instead of Golden Ones

mcdonalds sedona arizona blue arches, wow interesting factsShutterstock
McDonald’s golden arches are just as famous as their Big Mac and chicken nuggets. And you can spot the iconic sunny-colored symbol pretty much anywhere in the world—except for one location in Sedona, Arizona. The one restaurant switched things up with turquoise arches after government officials deemed the yellow ones to be contrasting too much with the area’s scenic red rock.

You Could Fit Rhode Island into Alaska 425 Times

Rhode Island State Jokes
The 50 states of America come in all shapes and sizes, which means that some are bigger than others. Actually, some are a lot bigger than others. For instance, Alaska is not only one-fifth the size of the lower 48 states and larger than Texas, California, and Montana combined, but you could also fit Rhode Island into Alaska a whopping 425 times, according to the state’s official state website.

Wimbledon Tennis Balls Are All Stored at Perfect Room Temperature

Tennis ball
All Wimbledon tennis balls are kept at 68 degrees Fahrenheit because the temperature of the tennis ball affects how it bounces, and all tennis balls must be kept as consistent as possible for competitive reasons. When the ball is warmer, gas molecules inside the ball expand, which cause it to bounce higher. When it’s cooler, the molecules shrink, and the ball bounces lower. To make sure the best tennis balls are used and the temperature is kept stable, Wimbledon goes through more than 50,000 tennis balls per year!

Humans Once Ate Giant Sloths

Baby sloth - Image
It’s hard to imagine sloths as anything other than the incredibly adorable, super-slow critters that we know and love today. But way back when, they were also massive—and a massive meal for humans, according to a study of recently found remains that suggest one of the ancient animals had been butchered using human tools sometime during the ice age.

Every Day We Breathe About 22,000 Times

instant mood boosters
According to the Lung Foundation Australia, the average person breathes around 22,000 times each day. However, women and children have a higher breathing rate, which means that they breathe more times than men.

The CIA Headquarters Has Its Own Starbucks, But Baristas Don’t Write Names on the Cups

Starbucks coffee order and a man with a tablet.
Starbucks baristas are infamous for messing up customers’ names when passing along orders, but that’s not a problem for patrons of the Starbucks at CIA headquarters. Due to security issues, baristas hold off on adding names to cups. It wasn’t always like this at the location, but an unidentified supervisor speaking to The Washington Post revealed that despite the fact that those wishing to be covert “could use the alias ‘Polly-O string cheese’ for all” they cared, it just wasn’t working out. “Giving any name at all was making people—you know, the undercover agents—feel very uncomfortable. It just didn’t work for this location,” they said.

When the FIFA World Cup Trophy Was Stolen in 1966, It Was Found By a Dog Named Pickles

world cup trophy being held in the air
The Jules Rimet Trophy was the original prize awarded to the winners of the FIFA World Cup each year, a symbol of athletic excellence. But on March 20, 1966, while enjoying a bit of a tour, the trophy was stolen from the Methodist Central Hall in Westminster, despite the fact that five guards were assigned to protect it. The theft was a huge story and plenty of false leads popped up—as did an eventual ransom note.
However, in the end, it was a four-year-old mixed breed collie named Pickles who noticed the stolen item under a hedge while out on a walk with his owner, Dave Corbett, according to the BBC. Corbett recalled, “Pickles was running around over by my neighbor’s car. As I was putting the lead on I noticed this package laying there, wrapped just in newspaper but very tightly bound with string. I tore a bit off the bottom and there was a blank shield, then there were the words Brazil, West Germany, and Uruguay printed. I tore off the other end and it was a lady holding a very shallow dish above her head. I’d seen the pictures of the World Cup in the papers and on TV so my heart started thumping.”

The Word “Sarcasm” Can Be Traced Back to a Word Meaning “To Tear Flesh Like a Dog”

Woman reading and flipping through the dictionary, common word origins
We’ve heard of “biting sarcasm” and when you’re hit with a rather vicious remark, it can certainly feel like it draws blood. That’s why it seems fitting that the origin of the word “sarcasm” is rather ferocious. According to Merriam-Webster, “sarcasm” can be traced back to the Greek verb sarkazein, which initially meant “to tear flesh like a dog.” Ouch!

LEGO Has an Underground Vault With Every Set Ever Made

crazy facts
LEGO offers seemingly endless sets of their toys based on everything from historical events to blockbuster movie franchises. But there’s one place that holds every single set ever made. In 2008, Gizmodo got a peek at Lego’s Memory Lane vault, which reportedly contains 4,720 sets, some dating back to the 1950s.

“Sherlock Holmes” Author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Played as a Soccer Goalkeeper Under a Pseudonym

victorian christmas
Anyone who loves a good mystery movie is likely to recognize the name Sir Arthur Conan Doyle—and that was just as true in the author’s own lifetime from 1859 to 1930. But no one would be as familiar with AC Smith, which is the pseudonym Doyle used while playing as a goalkeeper for the Portsmouth Association Football Club while living in Southsea, England.

The Most Tosses of a Pancake in one Minute Is 140

Pancakes in a pan, funniest jokes
Australia’s Brad Jolly set the Guinness World Record for the most tosses of a pancake in 2012 with 140 flips in just one minute. While demonstrating his super speedy technique, he explained, “It’s all in the wrist.”

The Milky Way Weighs About 1.5 Trillion Solar Masses

Andromeda galaxy, taken with my Sky-Watcher mount and a telescope, smarter facts
We obviously can’t pop our galaxy onto a scale to learn how many pounds it weighs, but by using data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the European Space Agency’s Gaia satellite, scientists have calculated that the Milky Way weighs around 1.5 trillion solar masses (1 solar mass equals the weight of our sun). Part of that bulk comes from the 200 billion stars in the area as well as a 4-million-solar-mass black hole and surrounding dark matter.

“Bloodcurdling” Horror Movies Really Curdle Your Blood

full house theater
Whether you’re into old-school outrageously freaky films or newer spine-tingling spooky stories, you’re surely aware of the fact that scary plots can make you plotz. But according to a study conducted by researchers in the Netherlands, bloodcurdling horror movies can do just that: curdle your blood. The scientists found that when we watch a terrifying tale, our bodies experience an increase in blood coagulant factor VIII, which is a clotting protein. Too much of the protein and our blood will clot or, in essence, curdle.

The Smell of Fresh-Cut Grass is a Signal of Distress

Lawnmower {Secrets Your Mailman Knows}
Scientifically, that amazing fragrance of fresh-cut grass is the release of enzymes as a result of stress—similar to when humans sweat when stressed. When grass is cut, “the plant signals the environment via the emission of volatile organic compounds, which are recognized as a feeding queue for parasitic wasps to come to the plant that is being eaten and lay eggs in the pest insect,” says Michael Kolomiets, Texas A&M AgriLife Research plant pathologist.

J.K. Rowling Invented Quidditch After a Fight With Her Boyfriend

quidditch equipment in box, interesting wow facts
Inspiration can strike at the strangest times. And it’s a pretty safe bet that Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling didn’t expect to have one of her most famous ideas after a disagreement. But that’s exactly what happened, according to the writer herself. “[Quidditch] was invented in a small hotel in Manchester after a row with my then boyfriend. I had been pondering the things that hold a society together, cause it to congregate and signify its particular character and knew I needed a sport,” she wrote in an annotated first edition of the first Harry Potter book, which contained insights into how she wrote it. Thus, Quidditch was born.

Scientists Study Ancient Fecal Matter to Track Population Change

People Walking in Crowded City Life in 100 Years
Scientists can learn a lot from what ancient citizens leave behind and that includes their poop. Cahokia—an ancient city less than 10 miles outside of what we now know as St. Louis, Missouri—had a sizable population by the year 600 which peaked by 1100, making it “the largest pre-Columbian settlement north of Mexico.” The area has provided plenty of clues to how Cahokia residents used to live. But beyond knick-knacks and any possible recorded history left behind, archaeologists at the University of California, Berkeley, are also finding information regarding the ancient population in the layers of poop found in lake sediments.

Bangladesh Has Six Seasons

aerial view of dhaka bangladesh, wow interesting factsShutterstock
Depending on where you live, you experience different kinds of seasons. Those in the northern U.S. know what it’s like to adapt to four distinct seasons each year, while those living in the southern states are more familiar with various levels of warm, hot, and sizzling. And the range of seasons varies even more around the world, including in Bangladesh where there are six official seasons: summer (Grisma, in Bengali), monsoon (Barsa), autumn (Sharat), late autumn (Hemanta), winter (Shit), and spring (Basanta).

“Huh?” Is Considered a Universal Word for Humans

female wearing white T-shirt, feeling guilty, confused, making helpless gesture with hands, having Oops expression on her face. Human emotions and feelings, math jokes
It’s seemingly impossible to be fluent in every language used around the world. However, it turns out that you might be able to get by with at least one word (or sound?) no matter where you are on the planet. Research suggests that “huh?” is the closest thing humans have to a universal word. The questioning expression is understood in almost every language.

Baseball Umpires Used to Sit in Rocking Chairs

fan celebrating a baseball game
Nowadays, we’re used to seeing baseball umpires crouch behind home plate ready to make a call on the whirlwind action. But prior to 1859, the pros responsible for handing out strikes sat in chairs behind home plate. And while that seems weird enough, what makes it even stranger is that they used rocking chairs 20 feet behind where the batters stood.

Platypuses Don’t Have Stomachs

platypus 2 Amazing Facts
Platypuses are so bizarre that people originally thought that they were a hoax. But even though researchers are now more familiar with the critters, the animals are still nearly as unbelievable. On top of having a bird-like bill and webbed feet, the swimming mammals don’t have stomachs. National Geographic explains that if you take a peek inside a platypus, “you’ll find another weird feature: Its gullet connects directly to its intestines. There’s no sac in the middle that secretes powerful acids and digestive enzymes.” (In other words, there’s no stomach.) And for more animal oddities, check out these 50 Amazing Animal Facts.

A Pangram Sentence Is One That Contains Every Letter in the English Alphabet

open dictionary in a library
If you’ve ever found yourself saying something along the lines of the “two driven jocks help fax my big quiz” or “the five boxing wizards jump quickly,” then you’ve used a pangram sentence which contains at least one of every letter in the English alphabet. And if you’re keen on keeping them a regular part of your everyday speech, then you can also say things like “the job requires extra pluck and zeal from every young wage earner” and “jaded zombies acted quaintly but kept driving their oxen forward,” which is undeniably something we can all see ourselves saying from time to time (*heavy sarcasm implied*).

It Would Take 22.7 Years to Eat at Every NYC Restaurant

New York City Tourist Traps That Locals Hate
New York City is a hub for chefs who are at the top of their game as well as food-lovers who like to sample countless delights. But in order to eat at every restaurant in NYC, it would take a total 22.7 years of going to one spot a day, according to data from Open Table.

Air Pollution Now Kills More People Than Smoking

smokestacks clog up air in cityShutterstock
A new study led by the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry which appeared in the European Heart Journal found that air pollution is now responsible for almost nine million premature deaths every year. The study’s co-author Professor Thomas Münzel explained, “To put this into perspective, this means that air pollution causes more extra deaths a year than tobacco smoking, which the World Health Organization estimates was responsible for an extra 7.2 million deaths in 2015.”

Chip Bags Are Pumped Full of Nitrogen

open ruffle potato chip bag
All that excess air in chip bags isn’t there to dupe buyers into thinking there are more chips inside. In fact, it serves a purpose—and no, it doesn’t contain oxygen. Instead, chip bags are filled with nitrogen. Oxygen would quickly turn the chips rancid, while nitrogen preserves the freshness of the chips, prevents combustion, and creates sufficient cushioning during shipping so the chips don’t get crushed.

Häagen-Dazs Doesn’t Mean Anything in Any Language

haagen-dazs company name origins
The ice cream company was started in 1961 by Rose and Reuben Mattus, Polish Jewish-Americans, in the Bronx. Recognizing the marketing power of a great name, they decided to name the company something that would evoke “old-world craftsmanship,” and, in brainstorming, they figured: What better name to go with than one that honors Denmark, which helped the Jewis in WWII?
The reality, however, is that the Danish language doesn’t even use that an a with an umlaut (ä) in any of its spelling, and the “-zs” ending isn’t Danish, it’s Hungarian. Finally, we have a reason as to why that name was so hard to read when we were kids—because it’s not real!

Walmart Greeters Were Originally Introduced to Stop Shoplifters

walmart storefront at night
The friendly greeters you can spot at any Walmart location were originally put in place to deter shoplifters. In 1980, the manager of a Walmart in Louisiana was trying to figure out how to reduce theft, so he hired a woman to stand by the front door and greet customers, which would also intimidate potential shoplifters. When founder Sam Walton visited the store, he instituted it as company policy across every Walmart in the nation. Reducing the theft allows Walmart to keep its prices low for its customers.

When You Travel, Your Brain Is On Alert

woman lying awake at night in bed with sleeping husband
It’s called the “first night effect,” and it’s because one side of your brain remains active in order to react to potential dangers in a novel environment. The left side of your brain stays more awake (“on guard”) for the first night in an unfamiliar place, so you’re kind of sleeping with one eye open—in a way. Next, check out these 30 Crazy Useful Facts You’ve Never Heard Before.

Sharks Don’t Technically Sleep

hammerhead shark
It was originally believed that sharks don’t sleep because they always need to stay moving in order for oxygen-rich water to flow through their gills, which is how they breathe. However, that theory was disproved when scientists observed how sharks are able to float around the bottom of the ocean, so that the water flows freely over their gills.
What we have learned, though, is that sharks don’t “sleep” the way humans “sleep;” there’s never a point where a shark’s brain enters rest. Similar to how we stay partially awake during “first night” sleep, sharks’ brains just take breaks. Maybe that’s why they always want to bite things—they must be cranky from never getting a good night’s sleep! And for more fascinating trivia about the rulers of the sea, don’t miss these 50 Shocking Facts About Sharks.

Fortune Cookies Aren’t From China

Fortune cookies, fortune cookie
In fact, they were actually influenced more by Japan than China. They were born in the 1900s in California, and though their specific inventor is unknown, it has been determined that they were based on Japanese senbei: rice crackers. It’s believed that they were first served in Hagiwara Japanese Tea Garden, in San Francisco, with small thank-you notes inside for patrons, rather than fortunes.
Around the same time, David Jung and his brother-in-law, Lester Soo Hoo immigrated to Los Angeles. There, they founded Hong Kong Noodle Company, and began passing out the same style cookies with inspiring scriptures. It’s still not crystal clear who is responsible, but general consensus posits that they were born in the Japanese Tea Garden. You won’t find restaurants in China handing out fortune cookies (unless you find yourself in an Americanized eatery), while, in Japan, omikuji-senbei (rice crackers with fortunes inside) have been a delicacy since the 19th century.

The Tomato Is Legally a “Vegetable”

Tomato Plant {How Do Plants Protect Themselves}
As the saying goes, “Intelligence is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad.” Well, apparently intelligence is also a way to squeeze a bit more tax money out of taxpayers.
In 1893, the U.S. Supreme Court declared them a vegetable for taxation purposes in the case of Nix v. Hedden. Nix, a produce company, wanted to declare the tomato a fruit—based on its actual biological classification, in addition to the lower tax rate that fruits carried—while Hedden, a New York tax collector, argued it should be declared a vegetable—based on its practical use as a vegetable, in addition to the additional tax he could collect as a result of the higher tax rate for vegetables. The Court ruled that the tomato was commonly known was a vegetable, and should be taxed as such.

Alcohol Only Makes You Feel Warm

Party, tequila shots
Alcohol is a vasodilator, meaning it dilates blood vessels. The rosy flush commonly known as the “liquor blanket” is simply a result of blood vessels near the surface of the skin dilating; you’re not getting warmer, your blood is just being redistributed. This can actually be even more dangerous, since a main function of your skin receptors is to respond to cold by constricting the blood vessels near the skin so that more blood is sent to internal organs. Alcohol totally reverses that function!

One Out of Every Eight U.S. Residents Lives in California

calfornia flag crazy facts
If you live in California or know a few people who do, that’s because a large portion of the U.S. population calls the West Coast state home. In fact, one out of every eight residents in the country lives in California and that number continues to rise, according to the Public Policy Institute of California. By 2050, the state’s population is expected to reach 50 million people. To put that in perspective, in 2019, there are 327.2 million people in America.

Basketball Hoops Used to Basically Be Baskets

basketball chris cuomo
Well, this one’s kind of in the name. The first “hoops” were those orange crate baskets drilled to a wooden panel in 1891 at the YMCA. In the 1900s, the crate was replaced with a metal hoop and netting, but the netting was sewn at the bottom. It wasn’t until 15 years after the sport was invented that someone had the idea to cut the bottom of the netting, so that the ball wouldn’t have to be manually retrieved every time someone made a shot.

Shark Babies Eat Each Other in the Womb

Tiger Shark Attack
As soon as tiger shark embryos develop teeth, they attack and eat each other in utero. Up to 12 babies start out, while usually only two make it out alive, all but one being eaten by the largest baby in the litter. As a result, tiger shark babies are generally much larger than babies of other shark (and marine life) species, so they’re relatively safe from predators.
Paternal DNA may also play a role: at any given time, pregnant sharks can have two to three different DNAs in their embryos (meaning 2-3 different fathers); scientists have hypothesized that the male sharks attack and eat the other ones that are not of the same genetic makeup as they are. And for more terrifying beasts from the depths, meet these 20 Sea Creatures More Dangerous Than Sharks.

 Beauty and the Beast Was Originally A Twisted Tale

beauty and the beast
Beauty and the Beast was based on a French author’s story published in 1740 that aimed to romanticize arranged marriages. In the story, a wealthy family with six children loses all its riches. Through certain events, one of the girls (Beauty, the youngest, is the one chosen) must be promised to the Beast in an arranged marriage—not romantic at all. The story ends happily, the same way it does as it is known now, where Beauty finally agrees to marry the Beast, and Prince Charming is revealed.

Your Thumb Doesn’t Make a Sound When You Snap Your Fingers

Man snapping
The sound you hear is actually created by your middle finger hitting against your palm, not your thumb rubbing against your index finger. Point this out to your friends in any conversation and you’ll receive snaps for being clever.

Pigeon Poop Was Once the Property of the British Crown

man feeding pigeons geniuses tesla
The royal family in England owns jaw-droppingly gorgeous jewels, plenty of prime property, and other coveted items that commoners could only dream about. But one of the few things owned by the British Crown that you won’t be overly envious about is pigeon poop. That’s right, due to the fact that the bird droppings were once used to make gunpowder, King George I claimed all feces for the crown back in the 18th century. According to The Chicago Tribune, the king even sent guards to watch over the poo-producing pigeons.

A Nail Polish Company Once Sold Teeth

woman polishing nails
Odontorium Products, Inc, was a dental company in the 1980s that supplied dental acrylics to make fake teeth. In the ’80s—the golden era of long and colorful nails—nail techs began using dental acrylics illegally to make acrylic nails, so the company developed a nail-friendly acrylic that could be used and distributed legally in the beauty industry. Eventually, they closed the dental side of the business to focus entirely on nail products.

Those “Eye Squiggles” Are Shadows of Things Inside Your Eye  

Woman with Green Eyes
Though they look like they’re floating out in front of your eye, they’re actually inside of it. The squiggles and dots you see are the shadows that floaters cast on the retina, which is the layer on the back of your eye that senses light. The eye floaters are small clumps of gel or cells inside the vitreous, the clear jelly-like fluid that fills the inside of your eye. Sometimes they’re harmless, a normal part of the aging process, but sometimes they’re a sign of a retina tear. If you start seeing them show up randomly or excessively, make an appointment with your optometrist, stat.

In Milan, It’s a Legal Requirement to Smile at All Times

fake smile
If you’re feeling blue, then you better stay away from Milan. In the Italian city, it’s a legal requirement for people to smile at all times. The only exception to this seemingly strict, happiness-enforcing rule is during funerals or hospital visits. Apparently, the rule came from 19th-century city regulations imposed by the Austrians who then ruled over the city, and it was never repealed since. Fortunately, frowning rebels can probably expect to get by without a fine.

Your Skin Is Your Largest Organ

attractive couple by pool
An adult’s skin stretched out would cover 20 square feet and weigh 8 to 10 pounds total. In one square inch of skin. there are four yards of nerve fibers, 3 million cells, and 625 sweat glands. Humans shed about 600,000 particles of skin every hour—about a pound-and-a-half a year. By 70, an average person will have lost 105 pounds of skin. And for more awesome trivia about your body, check out these 20 Amazing Facts You Never Knew About Your Body.

The Average Human Grows 550-600 Miles of Hair in a Lifetime

best skin
And that’s just on the head! Humans will also each grow around six feet of nose hair. Every day the average person loses 60 to 100 strands of hair, which is nothing compared to the average of 100,000 hairs you have on your scalp at any given time.
So, why does so much of it grow? Well, hair is actually the fastest growing tissue in the body, the next being bone marrow. And if you’ve ever wondered why your hair is the texture it is, it’s determined by the follicles it comes out of: curly hair comes out of oval follicles; straight hair comes out of

Sesame Street’s Guy Smiley’s Real Name Is Bernie Liederkrantz

sesame streetShutterstock
Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak was actually born as Patrick Leonard Sajdak and Jeopardy’s main man Alex Trebek was originally George Alexander Trebek, which means that they only slightly altered their names for their on-screen careers. But Sesame Street’s resident game show host Guy Smiley reportedly went for something totally different when he opted for a stage name instead of his own. Turns out, his given name is Bernie Liederkrantz, which may also be spelled Bernie Liederkranz. FYI: Liederkranz is a type of cheese which would be a fitting moniker for someone who smiles (or says “cheese”) for the camera.
circular follicles.

Harrod’s Was the First Place to Ever Sell Toilet Paper

harrods department store in london
In 1857, toilet “wipes” were invented in London. The Bronco brand wipes were tough on one side and shiny on the other—hardly soft and not absorbent at all. It took until 1936 for toilet paper as we know it to hit shelves. It was introduced as facial tissue, and only sold in the men’s department Harrod’s, the extremely upmarket luxury department stores. Within a few years, the tissues were adapted to rolls that were much softer than Bronco’s product.

Sleep Deprivation Will Kill You Faster Than Starvation

prostate cancer symptoms
In the 1980s, a study conducted at the University of Chicago performed an experiment with rats where, after 32 days without sleep, were all pronounced dead.  It’s unclear the entire reason; the lack of sleep obviously impacted major organs, but it was not determined exactly which ones and to what extent. By the way, sleep deprivation is considered a form of torture by Amnesty International.

Enough Mickey Mouse Ears Are Sold Each Year to Cover the Head of Every Person in Orange County, Florida

mickey mouse ears disney in front of eiffel tower paris, interesting wow facts
When laid end to end, they’d stretch 175 miles! And while Disney doesn’t say exactly how many hats that means they sell, you can bet it’s nearly a million, if not more.

The Nike Logo Design Cost $35

Nike Cortez shoes, great for low-maintenance upgrades
Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, previously a teacher at Portland State University, paid graphic design student Caroline Davidson $35 ($221 in today’s cash) in 1971 to create Nike’s unmistakable swoosh logo. At the time, the company was just starting as Knight’s side business—named Blue Ribbon Sports—so he couldn’t afford much for the logo. However, as Nike grew, he paid it back to Davidson: not only did she work with Nike until 1975, she was also gifted 500 shares in the company.

“Jaywalking” Is Slang

Man Jaywalking across a street in portland oregon
“Jay” used to be slang for “foolish person.” So when a pedestrian ignored street signs, he was referred to as a “jaywalker.” The word became prevalent in the early 1900s: it was mentioned in the Chicago Tribune in 1909, the New York Times in 1915, and Harper’s in 1917—all in terms of how dangerous and idiotic crossing the street at a random point instead of at a crosswalk is. And for more language that sprung up out of nowhere, here are 40 Words That Didn’t Exist 40 Years Ago.

Minnie and Mickey Were Partners in Real Life

mickey mouse and minney mouse
Russi Taylor snagged the role of Minnie’s voice in 1986, while Wayne Allwine had been doing the voice of Mickey since 1977. They met each other in the hallway of Disney Studios, and at the time, both of them were actually married (to other people…unhappily). They became wonderful friends, and, in 1991, Wayne Allwine, the voice of Mickey Mouse, married Russi Taylor, the voice of Minnie. The couple stayed happily married until Wayne’s passing.

Batman’s Online Screen Name is JonDoe297

Batman Batarang Legos
Batman has a seemingly endless fortune and every gadget in the Bat Cave at his disposal, but sometimes even superheroes want to take advantage of the convenience of the internet. And a panel shown by IGN proves that in one print cartoon, the computer-savvy Bruce Wayne engages in online conversations using the screen name JonDoe297.

Dr. Seuss’s Most Famous Book Began as a Bet

green eggs and ham
Editor Bennett Cerf, the founder of Random House Publishing, bet Theo Geisel (a man you may know as as Dr. Seuss) that he couldn’t write an entertaining children’s book with fewer than 50 words. The result? Green Eggs and Hamone of the most popular children’s books in history. Dr. Seuss saw how wildly successful, and useful, this 50-word constraint was for children just learning to read, and went on to write many more books, finding that what most would consider to be a limit was actually a source of creativity.

Lyme Disease Is Named After a Place

Tick, ticks, pests
The disease first gained attention in the 1970s in Lyme, Connecticut, where children and adults were experiencing puzzling conditions due to what seemed to be no cause: rashes, fatigue, flu-like symptoms, paralysis, and more. Doctors pretty much gave up trying to figure it out, and two mothers were the ones responsible for conducting research—they were still unable to determine what caused it, but they did give it its name. In 1981, a scientist named Willy Burgdorfer finally identified a connection between ticks and the disease.

“Dudeism” Is a Literal Religion

jeff bridges in the big lebowskiAri Notis | Best Life
Yes, you read that right: the philosophy—”taking it easy,” “no obligations”—espoused by Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski in The Big Lebowski has its very own church. The Lebowski-inspired Church of the Latter-Day Dudes says it has ordained over 450,000 Dudeist priests worldwide, and even has an online University where they offer free honorary degrees. (“Dudeiversity” seems like a huge missed opportunity there.) Say what you want about how questionable this foundation is for a belief system, but hey, at least it’s an ethos.

QR Codes Can Honor the Dead

QR code scanner
QR codes—those square digital barcodes you can scan with a smartphone that are usually used to compare prices of items in supermarkets—have been popping up in cemeteries. But instead of seeing prices when you scan a gravestone code, you’ll read an obituary and see photos of the deceased. And you can pre-plan your funeral online.

You’re Not Supposed to Shake a Polaroid

polaroid pictures delete instagram account
In the 1940s, when Polaroid first came out, the instant-film did not have a coating, and you literally had to coat the photo yourself with a liquid emulsifier, then let it dry. It would stay wet for up to 15 minutes. The easiest way to get it to dry? A quick shake. Eventually, the photos were covered in their own emulsifier with a mylar coating, so there was no need to cover the liquid and dry it yourself. Everything happened under the plastic.
However, the shaking had already become a “thing” people did, akin to how cigarette smokers tap their smokes on the top of a pacl. In fact, Polaroid issued a statement in 2004 (after Outkast’s single “Hey Ya” cried out to “shake it like a Polaroid picture”) that shaking the instant-film can actually damage the photos, because it can cause the semi-wet ink to wave or blur before it’s had the time to dry properly.

There’s a Completely Natural Lake the Color of Pepto Bismol

Australia's Lake Hillier
Lake Hillier, located in Australia, is a place to add to your bucket list: it’s a bright pink lake that is not manmade, and, to this day, still baffles scientists. Their best guess is that it has something to do with the algae in it, specifically Dunaliella, which produces carotenoids—the things that make carrots bright orange. There’s also a high presence of salts, which may have something to do with the color. The lake is totally safe to touch, but you’re not allowed to swim in it. And for more awesome trivia about giant bodies of water, here are 30 Facts About the World’s Oceans That Will Blow Your Mind.

Duffle Bags are Named After a Town

duffel bag home safety tips
The duffle (sometimes spelled duffel) bag gets its name from the town of Duffel, Belgium, where the cloth used in the bags was originally sold. The fabric was a coarse, thick woolen cloth that was originally used for the sturdy coverings of ships. It’s been suggested that the bags were made out of scraps for sailors and explorers on their way out to sea.

Bug Spray Doesn’t Repel Mosquitos

mosquito bite bug spray
Though it’s pretty repelling to humans, it’s not a smell that repels mosquitos. DEET just masks what you smell like to the mosquito. It creates a barrier on your skin that interferes with the mosquito’s antennae that detect the lactic acid and carbon dioxide they’re attracted to that usually make you bite you.
Also, a tip: your bug spray should always go on after sunscreen. If you can’t stand the DEET in regular bug spray, you may consider using lavender oil and lemongrass oil on your pulse points, as they repel mosquitos (and other insects) as well. In fact, if you’re having a bug problem in your garden, you can plant lemongrass and lavender to greatly minimize insect problems without having to use pesticides.

It would only take one hour to drive to space.

Shot of planet earth from space.
If you got into your car, turned on the ignition and drove up to the sky at 60 mph, it would only take one hour to get to outer space, according to astronomer Fred Hoyle. Of course, that’s if you could drive upwards at all. But it sure is fun to think about.

Chuck E. Cheese and Atari Were Both Invented by the Same Man

The historical Atari 2600 Video Computer System running at 1.19 MHz with 128 bytes rom. This home video game console by Atari INC has become the status symbol of retro video gaming. - Image
Nolan Bushnell, the inventor of Atari, the gaming console company, was an admirer of what Walt Disney did with his theme parks: create a place for family fun. He wanted to take the concept of arcade games and make it a fun family experience, complete with dining, so the Chuck E. Cheese Pizza-Time Theaters were born. Not only was it a great place for families to gather, it was also a great distribution center for Atari’s ever-growing game line.

Killer Whales Aren’t Whales—They’re Dolphins

killer whale
So why are these Orcas called whales? Orcas were given the name “killer whale” by ancient sailors who observed of groups of orcas hunting and preying on larger whale species. “Real” whales eat plankton, krill, and much smaller fish, whereas Orca “killer whales”—technically, dolphins—prey on sea lions, large fish, and even seabirds. Orcas’ teeth can get up to 4” long!

You Need Saliva to Taste Food

millennials eating avocado toast
You produce about a liter liters of saliva per day. Over the course of a lifetime, that’s enough to fill two large swimming pools! So what are taste buds for? They do taste the food—once the food has been broken down into a form that the chemoreceptors in the taste buds of your tongue are able to recognize. Liquid is required for the flavors to bind to the receptor molecules, and though water would technically work too, saliva contains enzymes that act on the food you eat in order to not only begin the digestion process, but also to make it so your taste buds can taste it.

A Year on Earth Is More Than 365 Days

Earth Orbiting Around the Sun Things You Believed That Aren't True common misconceptions
A year on earth—a full rotation around the sun—is actually 365.25 days, so we need Leap Years to correct course. That extra .25 days requires a Leap Year once every four years. Adding an extra day keeps the calendar year in sync with the astronomical year. Of course, there are a few exceptions: Leap Year can be skipped if the year in question is divisible by 100 (1700, 1900, and so on).
But wait! There’s an exception to the exception. If the year is divisible by 400 (1600, 2000, and so on), then, yes, Leap Year still happens. The next Leap Year will begin on Wednesday, January 1, 2020.

Stalin Was the First Person to Use Photoshop

Joseph Stalin 80s Jokes
Well, the old arts-and-crafts version of it at least. Joseph Stalin, dictator of the Soviet Union, would have photos doctored to remove people he didn’t like—or to literally change history by way of changing story lines. There were literally dozens of people on his payroll whose job it was to scalpel, glue, paint, and airbrush photos at Stalin’s request.

One 18″ Pizza Is More Pizza Than Two 12″ Pizzas

Pineapple pizza
To determine the area of a circle, use the formula: A = πr2
If a pizza has a diameter of 18 inches, that means it has an area of 254.47 square inches:
A = π x 92
And if a pizza has a diameter of 12 inches, then it has an area of 113.1 square inches:
A = π x 62
If you get two of them, you’re at 226.2 square inches, which is still less than one 18-inch pizza.
And for more awesome equations and formulas, here are 40 Facts About Numbers That Will Make You Feel Like a Mathematical Genius.

Yes, Baby Carrots Are Actually Carrots

honey glazed baby carrots
Baby carrots are not actually baby carrots—they’re just regular carrots that have been chopped up and rounded by a machine. According to the New York Sun, they were actually invented in 1986 by a farmer, Mike Yurosek, who had too many “ugly,” misshapen carrots that he couldn’t sell to stores. So, experimenting with a potato peeler and green-been slicer, he cut the ugly away from his big carrots, bagged them, and sold them to stores.

Cheetahs Meow like House Cats

Cheetah, animal, African animal
Cheetahs, despite their size, stature, and status, actually can’t roar. They meow just like normal house cats. (Though some accounts say that it sounds like a roar on helium). In fact, only four of the “big cats” actually roar: lions, tigers, leopard, and jaguars, because they have a ligament in their voice box that can be stretched to create a wider pitch range.

17th-Century Bavarian Monks Used to Only Drink Beer During Lent

hobbies for your 40s
It’s traditional for Christians to give up something precious during Lent, which is why some 17th-century Bavarian monks made a huge sacrifice: they gave up food and the majority of their drink-related options during the religious span. In fact, Mental Floss says that they consumed nothing but bock beer, “a robust German beer they dubbed ‘liquid bread.’” Perhaps calling it liquid bread made the fact that you had to live on booze alone easier to swallow.

Some Dolphins Are So Smart That They’re Used in the Military

close up of Dolphin Random Obscure Facts
Canines aren’t the only mammals that help the armed forces: the United States has been training bottlenose dolphins to carry out a range of military tasks since 1960, from locating underwater mines to flagging the presence of enemy swimmers. Even so, despite such advancement, we’ve been outclassed. The Russian Navy was able to train dolphins to attack enemies and sense sonar that was otherwise indiscernible by machinery.

Humans Are Just as Hairy as Chimps

Wild chimpanzees
We have the same follicles and number of hairs on our bodies as chimps, our hair has just thinned out through evolution. Put simply, it’s finer. Scientists have not determined exactly why our hair has grown finer through evolution. It could’ve been to allow us to sweat more easily, or to make it more difficult for parasites to make our bodies their home.

Goosebumps and Chills Serve Evolutionary Purpose

goosebumps Liver Warning Signs
Chills occur when tiny muscles around the base of each hair follicle tense in order to erect the body hair. Thousands of years—and stages of evolution—ago, humans had much thicker hair, not unlike fur. Chills this would fluff up this fur coat, providing more insulation. As far as goosebumps go in response to fear, well, that’s a defense strategy, similar to when mammals will bulk up their fur when threatened, so that they look bigger and scarier to their predators.

You Have More Than Five Senses

walking on a balance beam
Neuroscientists will tell you that you’ve actually got somewhere between 22-33 different senses, which they call “meta-senses.” The most common additional meta-senses are: equilibrioception, or your sense of balance; proprioception, or knowing which parts of your body are where without looking (like knowing where your hands are on a keyboard); and thermoception, or being able to sense temperature (like knowing that a recently used stovetop, even if the flame is out, is hot).

Dogs Can Sense Disease

dogs are (not) the best
You’re familiar with dogs who can sniff out bombs and illicit substances, but did you know that dogs can literally detect cancer? By getting a whiff of a patient’s breath, they are able to recognize the smell of certain organic compounds that the human body emits when it isn’t working as it should, according to research out of Schillerhohe Hospital in Germany. Canines have also been proven to be able to sense when an epileptic seizure is coming, and can bark and warn the sufferer accordingly. If you find your dog acting weird and can’t figure out why, consider beelining to the doc!

You Have a Floating Bone in Your Body

reasons you're tired
The Hyoid bone in your throat is the only bone in your body that’s not attached to other bones; it’s kept in place by your thyroid cartilage, right underneath the tonsils. It’s also the only bone in your whole body without a joint. And for more on this little-known area of your body, here are 23 Reasons Your Thyroid Is More Important Than You Ever Imagined.

You Were Born with 50 Percent More Bones Than You Have Now

When you’re born, you have 300 bones. Now, you have 206 (if you’re an adult). Technically, the rest of the bones have not disappeared—they’ve merely fused together. The purpose of so many more bones is because it’s significantly easier for the baby to pass through the birth canal with more malleability in the skeletal structure. The many bones are separated by cartilage, which ossifies as you get older (up to age 20) in order to fuse bones together.

The Stethoscope Was Invented Out of Shyness

pregnant woman getting a doctor checkup
Rene Laennec, a French doctor, invented the stethoscope in 1816 because he felt uncomfortable placing his ear directly to a woman’s breasts to hear her heartbeat. He was inspired by seeing children play with a wooden toy or beam, whereby they were able to send signals to each other from each end. So he figured that, if applied to the human body and placed at his ear, it would probably be more effective (and less awkward) than placing his head to a patient’s chest. The first stethoscope was nothing but a little wooden tube that looked a bit like a flute! And for more crazy stories of how everyday objects came to be, check out these 30 Life-Changing Inventions That Were Totally Accidental.

Koala Fingerprints Are Indistinguishable From Human Fingerprints

Koala on tree
You may think that chimps and monkeys have the closest fingerprints to humans, but it’s actually the cuddly marsupials that have fingerprints nearly indistinguishable from humans, even under a microscope. Koalas aren’t even that closely related to chimps—the marsupial genus broke away from the primate genus 70 million years ago! What’s even weirder is that none of other marsupials (kangaroos, wombats, any of them) have this fingerprint feature.

A Book About the Titanic Sinking Was Published Years Before It Actually Did

titanic sketch
The Wreck of the Titan by Morgan Robertson was published in 1898; the Titanic sank in 1912. Robertson’s book features a cruise ship named Titan that sinks in the North Atlantic after hitting an iceberg in literally the exact same spot: 400 nautical miles from Newfoundland. The Titan had 2,500 passengers, half of whom sank, while the Titanic held 2,200 passengers, half of whom also sank.

The Creators of Puma and Adidas Were Rivaling Brothers

adidas flagship store
Talk about sibling rivalry! Rudolph Dassler and Adolf (nickname Adi) Dassler had just returned from WWI in 1924 and ran the Dassler Shoe Factory. Their shoes were made out of fine leather, and within four years, they surged in popularity, thanks to the 1928 Olympic athletes who wore them.
In 1948, though, things went sour between the brothers, and they split off into their own companies. Rudolph started Puma (after the German word for panther), and Adi started Adidas (a combination of his first and last names: Adi, Das). The rivalry went strong for decades. But, in 2009, the CEOs of both companies—Herbet Heiner of Adidas and Jochen Zeitz of Puma—decided to host a friendly soccer match and end the feud once and for all.

Peanuts Aren’t Nuts—They’re Legumes

boiled peanuts heart healthy diet
Technically, a peanut is a legume, like beans and peas. The leguminosae family consists of edible seeds enclosed in pods. Peanuts grow underground, unlike all the other “real” nuts—like hazelnuts and chestnuts—which grow on trees and are considered drupes. By this measure, walnuts and pecans are actually legumes too! Still, it’s easier to just call the whole lot of ’em “nuts.” If you want to be a huge stickler, though, you can call them all “culinary nuts.”

Add 250ml of Water to 250 ml of Alcohol and You Get Less Than 500ml of Liquid

Gin and Tonic, cocktails
You will get 480 ml, due to the bonding between ethanol and water molecules. Ethanol molecules are smaller than water molecules, so when the two liquids are mixed together, the ethanol fills the spaces between the water—kind of like if you poured water into a container of sand, how water would fill the spaces between the sand molecules. Maybe bartenders really are ripping you off with those well drinks…

The Summit of Mt. Everest Was Underwater at One Point

superhuman feats mount everest
The peak of Mt. Everest is marine limestone that contains fossilized skeletons of marine creatures from what used to be the Tethys Sea. Approximately 470 million years ago, it was sea floor! Mt. Everest and the Himalayas were formed 70 million years ago when the Eurasian plate and Indo-Australian plate collided, pushing the plate boundaries up into the mountain range you can see today.

You Can’t (Usually) Read Dreaming

Woman Sleeping
Reading, writing, and even speaking is very rare in dreams, because the regions of the brain that are responsible for these functions—Broca’s Area and Wernicke’s Area—are not as active during sleep. The exception? Anyone whose vocation or avocations entail a lot of reading, writing, and linguistic creativity. The brains of those people are constantly practicing in this arena and therefore strengthening these parts of the brain, so even in rest, it takes very little work for their neural pathways to access the areas for reading and writing.

Listerine Was Once Sold as a Floor Cleaner

healthy man mouthwash listerine
In 1860, Louis Pasteur introduced the theory that billions of invisible things—what we now call germs—are responsible for the spread of disease and infection. In 1865, Dr. Lister hopped on the antiseptic medicine train, and was the first to perform surgery in a medical chamber sterilized by antiseptic pumped into the air. Quickly, mortality rates due to surgery began to fall. Then, in 1867, Johnson & Johnson debuted a powerful antiseptic that they named after the Antiseptic man himself: Listerine.
Unfortunately, the general population did not care about the antiseptic trend, so business didn’t exactly boom. Johnson & Johnson attempted to market it as a powerful floor cleaner, a cure for dandruff, and even a cure for gonorrhea—all unsuccessfully. Eventually, a marketing genius essentially created hype over halitosis, and Listerine struck its gold.

Actually, Dogs Do See In Color

Barbet dog looking at camera. Brown French Water Dog. - Image
Most people think dogs see in black and white, but they actually see in shades of yellow and green. The color spectrum we see is thanks to the rods and cones in our eyes, which are responsible for interpreting color by wavelength. Humans (and primates) see three wavelengths of color (red, blue, and yellow) but dogs only have cones that see two (yellow and blue). Basically, to a dog, anything that is a shade of red will just be interpreted as a shade of green.

Mars May Have Had Underground Lakes Connected Beneath the Entire Planet

mars opposition {best of 2018}
Research recently published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets included evidence that Mars was once home to a massive global groundwater network. Francesco Salese, Ph.D., a planetary geologist at the Faculty of Geosciences at Utrecht University in the Netherlands explained that the “geological evidence of water-related environments” that were found led them to believe that the underground system was “possibly interconnected,” something that couldn’t occur on Earth due to the fact that our planet is made up of multiple tectonic plates that split our globe into sections while Mars is thought to be a “one-plate planet.”

In Japan, Napping on the Job is Honorable

man napping on a stack of papers at his desk
To take it from one New York Times report, in Japan, napping on the job is seen as a sign of diligence—it’s seen as though you’re working yourself to exhaustion. There’s even a word for it: inemuri, which roughly translates to “present while sleeping.”
Inemuri isn’t new by any means, and has in fact been around for more than 1,000 years. However, it’s usually only cool in white collar jobs; you won’t find a barista napping on the clock. Also, inemuri isn’t only limited to work. It’s common (and totally normal) to sleep in public: in coffee shops, in stores, on trains and buses. Because it’s baked into the culture, you’re extremely unlikely to get robbed if you fall asleep in public.

One Moment Technically Lasts 90 Seconds

commonly misspelled words
Though a “moment” is currently defined (and used) to mean “a brief amount of time,” John of Trevisa actually wrote in 1398 that there are 40 moments in an hour. Therefore, a “moment” is actually a medieval unit for measuring time—and it boils down to a minute-and-a-half. Remember this the next time your friends say “be there in a moment” but take 30 minutes.

Humpty Dumpty Isn’t an Egg—It’s a Weapon

If you analyze the nursery lyrics, you’ll notice there is not a single mention of an egg. Historians have surmised that Humpty Dumpty was actually a cannon used during the English Civil War of 1642–1649, which the Royalists sat atop a wall surrounding the city of Colchester to ward off an attack from the Parliamentarians. In 1648, when the Parliamentarians sieged the city, the wall that Humpty was on was blown apart, and Humpty fell. Because of its size, none of the king’s horses and none of the king’s men were able to recover the cannon.

One Species of Tree Produces 40 Types of Fruit in a Year

peach tree blossom
Professor Sam Van Aken created his first tree, the Tree of 40 Fruit, as an intersection of art, farming, and preservation. Van Aken’s trees produce an incredible harvest of all kinds of stone fruits: plums, peaches, apricots, nectarines, and almonds, including many hybrids that you’ve probably never even seen before, all of which are safe to eat.
Each tree sells for $30,000, and there are 16 of them, placed throughout museums, galleries, universities, and private collections around the United States. Van Aken is also growing a tiny grove in Portland, Maine—the first and only of its kind—with the hopes of making the trees available to the public.

Your Desk Has Up to 400 Times More Germs Than a Toilet

chest pain
The research doesn’t lie: the average desktop harbors 20,961 germs per square inch, in addition to 3,295 on the keyboard, 1,676 on a mouse, and 25,127 on the phone (if you still have one, that is). Hey, look at it this way: it’s just one more reason to work from home. And for more surprisingly germ-infested areas, These Places in Your Home Are Dirtier Than Your Toilet.

The Great Wall of China was Held Together by Sticky Rice

Great Wall of China
As reported by the Telegraph, scientists at the University of China who were researching the material of the Great Wall were surprised to learn that there was a special ingredient added to the standard mixture of lime and water: sticky rice! Not only did this make the Great Wall mortar the world’s first composite mortar, it also was the reason why the Ming Dynasty’s structures were able to withstand everything from earthquakes to the sands of time. (Oh, and by the way, you can’t see the Great Wall from space.)

Ford Didn’t Invent the Car—Benz Did

mercedes benz logo on grill
Henry Ford made cars faster, cheaper, better, and more available to the general public. He created the assembly line for car creation. But he did not invent the car. Karl Benz is the original inventor of the car. In 1885, he designed and created the first automobile powered by an internal combustion engine. Ford didn’t create his first car until 1886.

Plants “Talk” to Each Other

Hoh Rain Forest Surreal Places in the U.S.
Almost all plants that have been researched—from mushrooms in the wild to corn seedlings in lab settings—have been proven to communicate with each other underground. Plants extend their roots outward toward each other to warn of a threat, to “test” the soil (plants will grow towards untouched soil over already touched soil, even when they are in the same distance), and to support growing plants (studies have shown that younger seedlings receive carbon from older “donor” trees that helps them grow). Think of their communication network as the wood-wide-web!

The Pledge of Allegiance Started as a PR Gimmick

American Flag
The Pledge was allegedly written in a span of about 2 hours in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, a Christian minister, and submitted to a children’s youth magazine, which then encourages students to recite it each morning. But, to recite it, the kids would need a flag—which all the schools needed to purchase. In 1888, the magazine’s publisher launched a campaign to get the flags (and Pledge) in every school across the nation.

The “Duck Face” Is Hundreds of Years Old

friends making a duck face while taking a selfie
Turns out, the duck face—beloved and deployed by Instagrammers across the globe—first popped up in London in the 1840s. Back then, they’d “say prunes,” in the way we’d “say cheese,” to keep the face and lips taut. In the early times when photos were rare, only the wealthy could afford portraits. They modeled their portraits in the same style as traditional European art, where only peasants and children were smiling. So of course posh society members didn’t want to be pictured with a smile.

Goldfish Have Insanely Good Memories

goldfish craziest emotional support animal
Do friends tell you that you have “the memory of a goldfish?” Well, it’s not as mean as you may think. Goldfish have conditional memory learning that has proven across multiple studies to last many months. It’s very similar to the way a dog remembers things: dogs don’t know how long you’ve been gone when you return home; they only know how to behave when you’ve returned home.

3 Musketeers Bars Once Came in Three Flavors

3 musketeers bar
If you never understood where the name came from, now it can finally make sense: the bars, when created in 1930, were sold in packs of three, each with a different nougat flavor: vanilla, chocolate, strawberry. During the sugar rations in World War II, three-packs became too expensive to produce (and consume), so the company cut the retail down to one flavor.

New York City Has Its Very Own Species of Ant

cornfield ant
The ManhattAnt (the official scientific name not yet determined) is found only within a 14-block strip of New York City, and nowhere else on the planet. It’s similar to a regular cornfield ant, but can’t be matched to any other known ant species. Scientists believe that it evolved thanks to isolation within the concrete jungle—and potentially from an unhealthy diet, as it lives in such close proximity to Upper West Siders, who, with all the pizza and hot dogs, don’t exactly have the healthiest diets.

Natural Disasters Are Given Human Names Because of Pettiness

Hurricane Claudette
The original meteorologist to begin naming them, Clement Wragge, named hurricanes after politicians he didn’t like, so that he could say things like they’re “causing great distress,” “wreaking havoc,” and “wandering aimlessly.” So, uh, who would you name a hurricane after?

The U.S. Navy Uses Xbox 360 Controllers

40 Old-Fashioned Relationship Tips That Still Apply Today
Xbox 360 controllers are lighter, more intuitive, and overall just easier to use when operating the periscopes on submarines, unlike the complex, helicopter-style control sticks previously used. Also, the game console controllers sell for about $20, while replacing a submarine industry standard controller can run nearly $40,000. All told, swapping to the Xbox controller has reduced training time from hours to mere minutes.

Jeanette Rankin Became the First Female Member of Congress in America In 1916

Members of Congress on the Floor {Best of 2018}
Notice anything interesting about that year? It is a bit ironic because 1916 was four years before women were even given the right to vote. Though, it should be noted that Rankin was a prominent leader of the women’s suffrage movement. Her home state of Montana granted women the right to vote in 1914, six years before it would be legal federally. Rankin was a Republican who ran for public office and won a congressional seat in 1916, helping pave the way for women’s suffrage.

Charlie Chaplin Once Entered a Charlie Chaplin Look-Alike Competition—and Lost

Charlie Chaplin
In 1975, a few years before he passed away, Charlie Chaplin entered a look-alike contest in France. He came in third, not first. A theory as to why he didn’t win is that he has blue eyes that couldn’t be seen in black and white, so the judges didn’t recognize him. Whatever the case, though, he was apparently a good sport about being bested.

Pope Gregory IX Once Banned Cats

Black Cat Friday the 13th
In the 13th century, Pope Gregory IX declared war on black cats. He said that black cats were instruments of Satan, and ordered the extermination of such felines throughout Europe. However, the plan backfired, and resulted in an increase in the population of plague-carrying rats.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa Has Always Leaned

Leaning Tower of Pisa Tourist Traps
It’s not like this famed structure slouched to the right over time. Construction for the tower began in 1173, and, because of the soft ground it was built on, began to lean as soon as builders got to the third story, five years after construction started. Over the next 800 years, leaning wasn’t the only thing off about the tower: It’s also sinking at a rate of two millimeters per year.

Tug-of-War Was Once an Olympic Sport

Tug of War Amazing Facts
When the Olympics first began, the major sports that would make up the games had still not been decided on by the International Olympic Committee. There was a lot of trial and error before they settled on the events that we know today. One of the major sports during the first few years of the Olympic Games was a game you might recognize from childhood: Tug-Of-War!

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams Died Within Hours of Each Other

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams historical facts
On July 4th, 1826, both former presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson passed away. Fellow patriots turned adversaries, they were also the last surviving members of the original American revolutionaries. Plus, dd you notice the date? That would be the 50th anniversary of American independence, which seems rather symbolic.

July 4th Isn’t The Real American Independence Day

a crowd of people gathered to watch july 4th independence day fireworks
July 2nd is when the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia actually voted to approve a resolution of independence. July 4th, though, is when the Congress adopted the official Declaration of Independence (most didn’t even sign until August). That said, still feel free to enjoy the hot dogs, fireworks, and beer on the 4th; we have a feeling that it won’t be changed to the 2nd any time soon.

William Henry Harrison Served the Shortest Presidential Term in U.S. History

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA - DECEMBER 14: Bust of President William Henry Harrison in the Virginia State Capitol on December 14, 2014 in Richmond, Virginia
He was America’s ninth president and served just a single month—from March 4th 1841, to April 4th, 1841—before dying of pneumonia, which makes him the shortest-serving U.S. president in history. President William Harrison was succeeded by his vice president, John Tyler, who earned the nickname “His Accidency.” The former president and his wife are now buried at the William Henry Harrison Tomb State Memorial in North Bend, Ohio.

Paul Revere Never Actually Shouted, “The British Are Coming!”

War hero Paul Revere
While everyone knows the story of Revere’s famous ride, in which he was said to have warned colonial militia of the approaching enemy by yelling “The British are coming!” But that never happened. The operation was meant to be quiet and stealthy, since British troops were hiding out in the Massachusetts countryside. Also, at the time, many Colonial Americans still considered themselves to be British.

The First Fax Machine Was Patented in 1843

50 funniest facts
The same year the Oregon Trail began, the fax machine was patented by Scottish inventor Alexander Bain. Then, three years later, in 1846, he actually created it. At the time, it was not referred to as a fax machine, but a facsimile machine. He used a clock to synchronize the movement of two pendulums, which would then scan each line of the message during that process.

Bob Dylan Introduced the Beatles to Marijuana

Bob Dylan, live music
As the legend goes, Bob Dylan met the Beatles first the very first time on August 28th, 1964. They met about the Beatles played a concert in Queens, at the Delmonico Hotel in Manhattan. Then, according to the story, Bob Dylan and his friend Al Arnowitz introduced the four men from Liverpool to marijuana. Turns out, Dylan assumed that the group was already familiar with cannabis because of a misheard lyric in “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” He was wrong.

The Beatles Were Turned Down Before Making it Big

signs you were born in the wrong decade
You might think that the minute anyone heard The Beatles perform, their talent and allure would be immediately recognized and awards. Well, not exactly: the Liverpool band were actually turned down by Decca Records after an audition on January 1st, 1962. Producer Dick Rowe was apparently unimpressed with the Fab Four. However, five months later, The Beatles were signed by George Martin at Parlophone—and the rest is history. And for more musical trivia you’ll want to tune your ears to, here are 40 Facts About Music That Really Sing.

There Were Hundreds of Plots Against Fidel Castro

there were many weird plans to kill Fidel Castro
And you thought you had enemies. Per reporting by the BBC, Fidel Castro, the former Cuban dictator, had more than 600 plots against him during his regime. Most were plots against his life, but some—like the idea to spike him with LSD right before he went on radio, she’d sound nuts—were meant only to destabilize his rule.

A Best-Seller Was Once Written By a Nine-Year-Old

the young visitors novel cover
Talk about impressive. In 1890, the then nine-year-old Daisy Ashford wrote a novel that she then proceeded to forget about. She stopped writing fiction altogether at 13. Around 28 years later, after her mother passed away, Ashford and her sisters found the manuscript in a drawer. Long story short, the novel (The Young Visitorswas picked up by a publisher and went on to become a bestseller.

The Shortest War in History Lasted 38 Minutes

stone town in zanzibar
The Anglo-Zanzibar War, a conflict between the United Kingdom and the Zanzibar Sultanate in 1896, was by no means balanced. In less than an hour, more than 500 on the Zanzibar side were killed. The British suffered just one casualty. He later recovered in the hospital.

King Tut’s Parents Were Siblings

King Tut
King Tut took the throne of Egypt at age nine and ruled for 10 years as pharaoh until his death at 19 around 1324 B.C. DNA tests from 2010 revealed that the king’s parents were actually related—like, as in brother and sister. Apparently, that runs in the family: King Tut’s wife was also his half-sister. They had two daughters, but both were born stillborn.

Napoleon Once Lost a Battle to a Horde of Bunnies

Napoleon insulting politicians
Once upon a time, the famous conqueror Napoleon Bonaparte was attacked by…bunnies. The emperor had requested that a rabbit hunt be arranged for himself and his men. His chief of staff set it up and had men round up reportedly 3,000 rabbits for the occasion. When the rabbits were released from their cages, the hunt was ready to go. At least that was the plan! But the bunnies charged toward Bonaparte and his men in a viscous and unstoppable onslaught. And we were taught that Waterloo was the conqueror’s greatest defeat…

Cold Cuts Are Safer When They’re Hot

salami ham turkey and soppressata cold cuts in the form of sliced deli meats
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that seniors, pregnant women, and those with weak immune systems avoid lunch meats, hot dogs, and deli meats unless they are heated to at least 165º Fahrenheit. This kills the food-borne bug listeria monocytogenes, which infects 1,600 people and kills 260 in the United States annually. Hot bologna? We’ll run the risk of listeria, thanks.

Albert Einstein Was Offered the Israeli Presidency

Albert Einstein
After the first Israeli president Chaim Weizmann died on November 9th, 1952, the Foreign Ministry was tasked with the challenge of finding candidates for his replacement. Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Aba Eban, approached Albert Einstein to see if he was interested in becoming president of Israel. While Einstein did say he was “deeply moved” to have been given the offer, he could not accept because he felt he lacked the experience necessary.

Ronald Reagan Was an Excellent Lifeguard

Ronald Reagan Craziest U.S. Presidents
Say what you will about his policies and legacy, but Ronald Reagan was quite a stellar lifeguard. At Lowell Park beach, the Great Communicator reportedly pulled 77 people from the water during his time as a lifeguard there.

Peter the Great Imposed a Beard Tax

hipster man stroking his beard
Peter the Great, Russia’s revolutionary Czar, once declared imposed an annual beard tax on members of society whom had facial hair. If someone wanted to keep their facial hair, they simply had to pay for it. After they made their deposit, they received a coin that said “tax paid.” We’re guessing Movember wasn’t en vogue at the time.

In Victorian England, Suicide Was Illegal

the supreme court in westminster
During the late 19th century in England, a suicide attempt was treated as a murder would be. The offender was punished by hanging. Treating suicide as a crime was also common in France, in which the person who attempted was dragged through the streets facedown and then hung or thrown into a garbage heap.

27 Is a Dangerous Age for Famous Musicians

amy winehouse celebrity deaths
Ever heard of the 27 Club? Its members all have one thing in common: they were musicians who passed away at the age of 27. Some embers include Amy Winehouse, Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Brian Jones. Causes of death range from addiction-related complications to suicide to freak accidents.

Around 64 Million People Died During WWII

World War II combat
Let’s put it this way: that’s more than the entire population of the United Kingdom. And for info that will put the war in perspective, don’t miss these 30 Astonishing Facts About World War II That Will Change the Way You View It Forever.

Mary Really Did Have A Little Lamb

mary lamb history animal
Everyone knows the nursery rhyme, “Mary Had A Little Lamb.” Few know that the tale within is based on actual events. Her name was Mary Sawyer, she was an 11-year-old girl who lived in Boston, and one day was followed to school by her pet lamb. In the late 1860s, she helped raise money for an old church by selling wool from the lamb. Over time, it became the nursery rhyme we all know and love today. Next, don’t miss these 50 Facts So Crazy You Won’t Believe They’re Actually True.

No comments

Comment your views or give any suggestions.