60 Did You Know Facts That Will Make You The Smartest Person In The Room
From the walkmans in Guardians of the Galaxy to Jim Henson's coffee-fueled pre-Muppets career, here are 60 fun facts and random trivia tidbits that will inevitably make you the smartest person in the room.
1. Scientists taught spinach to send emails
In a scientific development best described as unbe-leaf-able, researchers at MIT taught spinach how to send emails, turning the plant into sensors that can use their roots to detect explosives in groundwater, according to a 2016 study. After learning of a potential impending, spinach-y threat, the plants then emit a signal to an infrared camera, which alerts scientists of this concerning development via news-lettuce-er, sorry, I mean email.
"Plants are very good analytical chemists," Professor Michael Strano, the project’s lead researcher told EuroNews earlier this year. "They have an extensive root network in the soil, are constantly sampling groundwater, and have a way to self-power the transport of that water up into the leaves,” he continued adding that spinach’s newfound ability to slide into the DMS “is a novel demonstration of how we have overcome the plant/human communication barrier."
2. No one really knows how freshwater eels reproduce
Even with our wealth of knowledge surrounding migration patterns and life cycles of freshwater eels, it seems no one knows for certain how they reproduce -- researchers "still haven't observed mating in the wild, or found a single eel egg,” according to famed zoologist and author, Lucy Cooke.
Due to the fact that there is no concrete evidence, some scientists speculate that freshwater eels use a process called external fertilization -- a process where aquatic animals release eggs and sperm into the water and hope for the best -- to keep their species going.
3. Abraham Lincoln is recognized in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame
Purportedly losing only one in roughly 300 matches, President Abraham Lincoln wasn’t only The Great Emancipator, he was also nearly unbeatable in the ring, recognized for both his impressive track record and his propensity for talking smack, according to History.com.
“I’m the big buck of this lick,” Lincoln allegedly said during a match, per biographer Carl Sandburg. “If any of you want to try it, come on and whet your horns.”
Lincoln earned the National Wrestling Hall of Fame’s “Outstanding American” award back in 1992. While we’d *love* to see Honest Abe smack someone over the head with a folding chair, it is important to note that the type of wrestling Lincoln participated in was very different than today’s wrestling.
4. A group of Zebras can be referred to as a “Dazzle”
Despite their dazzling personalities, it seems the nickname may come from their ability to stun predators with their stripes. “Some zoologists think zebras use their stripes as camouflage when they're together in a big group to confuse predators - by making it harder to pick out individual zebras,” according to BBC Newsround.
5. Ostriches’ eyes are bigger than their brains
Clocking in at nearly two inches, ostriches have the biggest eyes of any land animal currently on Earth, per the Natural Museum of History in London. Their eyes are even larger than their brains!
6. McDonald’s mythical McPizza still exists.
Although the fast-food giant largely removed the offering from its menu by the late 90’s, the storied McPizza is still served at the chain’s Orlando, Florida location. The largest McDonald’s in the United States, this special Floridian locale offers an unusually vast menu, featuring items including pasta and Belgian waffles, Reader’s Digest reported.
7. Texas Senator Ted Cruz once bought 100 cans of soup
"When I married Ted, we got back from our honeymoon, and he went off to the store and came home by himself. And I was completely shocked to see that he arrived back at our apartment with literally 100 cans of Campbell's Chunky soup,” Cruz’s wife, Heidi, said during a 2016 CNN town hall, adding that she had “never bought 100 of anything."
Upon learning her house had been essentially overrun with canned soup, Cruz sat down for a “tough conversation” with her new husband, bestowing upon him some of the greatest soup-related advice of all time. "'You don't buy 100 of anything, much less canned soup,” she recalled saying. “We can't do this.”
She says she returned “every single can” the next morning.
8. Otters occasionally hold hands while they sleep
Aside from being absolutely adorable, the reason why otters will sometimes snooze paw-in-paw is to avoid floating away from each other, As the Seattle Aquarium noted, however, this phenomenon isn’t too common and is likely a learned behavior for individual otters who possibly find it comforting.
9. Some cumulus clouds weigh roughly 1.1 million pounds
Despite looking akin to cotton candy, clouds are actually extremely heavy. According to the United States Geological Survey, cloud stuff -- a.k.a water -- can add up, meaning some cumulus clouds weigh roughly 1.1 million pounds.
10. Alfred Hitchcock was scared of eggs
Although he may have created some of the most terrifying thrillers to ever grace the big screen, it seems legendary director Alfred Hitchcock also had his fair share of fears -- namely, eggs.
“I'm frightened of eggs, worse than frightened; they revolt me. That white round thing without any holes, and when you break it, inside there's that yellow thing, round, without any holes,” The film legend explained back in 1963. “Blood is jolly, red. But egg yolk is yellow, revolting. I've never tasted it."
11. Natalie Portman attended Harvard University
A year before she earned her first Oscar nomination for Closer, Natalie Portman accomplished another major feat -- earning a B.A. in psychology from Harvard University. “I don't care if ruins my career,” the star said of her studies per Vanity Fair. “I’d rather be smart than a movie star.”
12. Pandas are international ambassadors
Since the 1950’s China has used Panda Bears as a means of making allies abroad. A practice dubbed “Panda Diplomacy,” China has gifted several bears to countries including the United States, North Korea, and the United Kingdom. However starting in 1984, China significantly altered the program, instilling several new rules, according to History.com, including that the pandas would be loaned for a ten-year period rather than gifted, the requirement of hefty annual fees, and that any cubs born from the aforementioned pandas were citizens of China.
13. Lobster blood is colorless
Although the crustacean's blood may be clear, it turns blue when exposed to oxygen, according to the United States National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration. Considering lobsters have been around for roughly 140 million years, this cool, evolutionary quirk totally makes sense.
14. Elon Musk sold candy door-to-door as a child
Long before serial entrepreneur and SNL host, Elon Musk co-founded Tesla, the Dogecoin enthusiast had another side hustle -- selling candy door-to-door with his brother, Kimbal, and their cousins while growing up in South Africa.
“I’d make them for 50 cents and charge $10 for an Easter egg and I’d always get this question like, ‘Why are you charging $10 for this little Easter egg?’” Kimbal told CNBC Make It of their early business endeavor back in 2017. “And I was like, ‘Well, you’re supporting a young capitalist. And the reality is if you don’t buy it from me, you’re not going to get one — and I know you can afford $10.’”
15. The longest, non-technical word in the English Language has 45 letters.
Beating Disney’s “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” by 11 letters, pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, is a 45-letter word for “a pneumoconiosis caused by inhalation of very fine silicate or quartz dust,” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary.
16. The world’s largest pyramid is located in Mexico
Sorry, Egypt! The Great Pyramid of Cholula located in the San Andrés Cholula, Mexico is the largest in the world, at roughly 216 feet tall and 1,476 feet wide. Originally obscured with foliage, invading Spaniards didn’t notice it, mistaking it for a mountain, BBC News reported.
17. Grimes says she ate nothing but spaghetti for more than a year
“In the past, I’ve been quite not good to myself,” the pop star said in a 2020 interview with Harper’s Bazzar. “On the last tour, my last record, because I was ‘vegan’ and I had this thing where I was like, ‘The only reliable food is spaghetti.’ So I was only eating spaghetti for a year or two years. I only ate spaghetti.”
Although evidently convenient for maintaining her ‘vegan’ diet while on the road, Grimes says she eventually got “so sick” and that her hair stopped growing.
“I went to the doctor and the doctor was like, ‘You actually are malnourished from not eating vegetables or meat and just eating spaghetti for two years,’” she continued.
18. The Ghostbusters theme song was written in two days
Ray Parker Jr. was only given a few days to pen the iconic anthem, according to CBC News. Although it was supposed to be a short, 20-25 second clip, Parker Jr. says he was inspired by a T.V. commercial in writing the roughly four-minute banger we’ve come to know and love.
19. Tomatoes were believed to have medicinal properties in the 1830s
Back in the 1830s, Dr. John Cook Bennet, an Ohio physician published several recipes for ketchup, claiming that tomatoes could help resolve several stomach issues, including diarrhea and indigestion.
20. Left-handed people have an advantage in sports
Because lefties usually train against right-handed people in one-on-one sports like tennis and boxing, they can switch strategies easily when facing another leftie. Righties, however, aren’t as adaptive.
“They’re forced to engage in an asymmetrical battle for which they’re poorly prepared, against an opponent who’s a dab hand at dealing with this type of asymmetry,” wrote Rik Smits in his book The Puzzle of Left-Handedness.
21. “The Upside Down” in Stranger Things isn’t actually called “The Upside Down”
During an episode of the series' wrap-up show, Beyond Stranger Things, Eleven actress, Millie Bobby Brown revealed that ‘The Upside Down’ originally had a different Moniker. “We called it the Nether,” she explained. The production’s nickname for the locale stuck, ultimately making its way to the big screen.
“Literally no one even knows this,” added director Shawn Levy. “The Upside Down – the actual name for it is the Nether.”
22. Stephen King once compared Harry Potter’s Dolores Umbridge to Hannibal Lecter
Despite his penchant for literary horror, storied author Stephen King says he, too, was afraid of the notoriously cruel former Hogwarts Headmistress.
"The gently smiling Dolores Umbridge, with her girlish voice, toadlike face, and clutching, stubby fingers, is the greatest make-believe villain to come along since Hannibal Lecter," he said of the character in his review of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix back in 2009.
23. Bing Crosby led to the invention of the denim-on-denim Canadian Tuxedo
Singer Bing Crosby was denied entry into a hotel in Vancouver, Canada in 1951 for wearing blue jeans before ultimately being recognized by an employee. As a result, Levi’s crafted a denim blazer specifically for the artist, thereby inventing the Canadian Tuxedo as we know it, according to CBC News.
24. Doubts over whether William Shakespeare wrote his plays are a relatively new concern
“There was no doubt at all about Shakespeare’s authorship until the 19th century when an American woman named Delia Bacon decided to float another theory,” Lena Orlin, Georgetown University professor and the Shakespeare Association of America’s executive director told National Geographic in 2015. “She was in favor of the idea that Sir Francis Bacon had written the plays, presumably because she shared a surname with him.”
In the years since, she says, Bacon’s concept exploded, leading to several other wacky theories. “There are now more than 80 candidates who have been argued to have written Shakespeare, including Queen Elizabeth. I mean, anybody that you’ve heard of in the period has been put up as a possible candidate.”
25. An astronaut hasn’t walked on the moon since 1972
Twelve astronauts have stepped foot on the Moon since 1969’s Apollo 11 mission, per CNN. The last person to walk on the moon was Gene Cernan, who visited the celestial body as a part of 1972’s Apollo 17 mission.
26. McDonald’s once engineered broccoli that tastes like bubblegum
In 2014, the fast-food chain’s then CEO, Don Thompson, revealed that they had taken some more, erm, unconventional methods beyond reducing the portions of fries and offering milk as a beverage to get kids to eat healthier at their establishments -- namely, creating bubblegum flavored broccoli. Not only were children confused by the fact that the cruciferous vegetable now tasted like candy, but apparently it wasn’t that good either.
"It wasn't all that," Thompson recalled, per Insider.
27. Miley Cyrus’s name wasn’t always Miley Cyrus.
Born Destiny Hope Cyrus, the Disney Channel star got her unique moniker from her childhood nickname of “Smiley,” as she was constantly smiling.
“You know, her name was originally Destiny Hope, I had given her the name before she was born because I had a vision. I felt it was her destiny to bring hope to the world,” her father, country star Billy Ray Cyrus told Piers Morgan back in 2014.
The pop star ultimately changed her name to Miley Ray Cyrus in 2008, according to Vogue.
28. YouTube was supposed to be a dating site
Long before emerging as the internet’s premier source for adorable cat videos, YouTube was supposed to be an entirely different website -- one used for dating, according to The Guardian.
“We always thought there was something with video there, but what would be the actual practical application?” Co-Founder Steve Chen explained while speaking at South by Southwest in 2016. “We thought dating would be the obvious choice.”
Despite having a slogan -- “‘Tune in, Hook up’” -- and even reportedly offering female users $20 to upload their videos, the project was ultimately a bust, according to the site’s other co-founder, Jawed Karim.
“The whole thing didn’t make any sense,” he told Motherboard in 2015. “We were so desperate for some actual dating videos, whatever that even means, that we turned to the website any desperate person would turn to, Craigslist.”
Eventually, they threw in the towel, opening the site to “any video” and thereby, creating YouTube as we know it.
29. Only two states in America produce coffee
Considering coffee grows best in equatorial climates, the plant isn’t necessarily well-suited to grow in most parts of the US. Although Hawaii stands as a notable outlier, with a climate that is “optimal” for growing the crop, according to Good Housekeeping, several farms in California have started harvesting the plant as well.
30. Celebrity underwear is a weirdly lucrative market
As Cracked.com reported last year, undergarments belonging to celebrities are worth insane amounts of money. Although one lucky collector took home a bra and panty set belonging to Australian pop star, Kylie Minogue for more than $6,000 in 2011, bloomers belonging to Queen Victoria have sold respectively for north of $15,000 and $16,500.
31. You can trademark colors
Ever wonder why you only see that specific shade of blue on Tiffany’s jewelry boxes? Or why Barbie is the only doll associated with that hot pink hue? Although generally confined to their respective industries, companies can, and often do, trademark colors in an attempt to maintain their brand identities, according to Business Insider.
32. Artificial vanilla flavoring can come from beaver butts
Castoreum is the substance beavers secrete from their butts in order to mark their territories. It has also been long used in perfumes and various foods and is even categorized as a “natural flavoring” in the eyes of the FDA, per National Geographic.
33. Beyoncé once lost a singing competition in the early ‘90s
It may be impossible to imagine Queen Bey losing at *anything* nowadays, however, back in 1993, the star and her group, Girls Tyme, unsuccessfully competed on Star Search.
Despite her current star power, the singer once called the defeat a "defining moment" in her life, including audio clips of her loss, alongside snippets from the "we should all be feminists" speech by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's in her mid-20-teens banger, “Flawless.”
34. One sport has been played on the moon
During Apollo 14, astronaut Alan Shepard crafted a makeshift golf club and hit two balls from the surface of the moon on February 6, 1971. However, due to his astronaut gear, Shepard was only able to swing with one hand, a technique that is generally different from those of Earth-bound golfers.
"You can only get a one-handed shot, which really doesn't give you the strength and speed of a normal golf shot on Earth," Victoria Nenno,a historian for the United Golf Association explained to Space.com. "You normally have a lot of turn , and strength coming from legs. Unfortunately, Shepard was only able to manage a one-handed shot."
35. The longest tennis match lasted nearly 12 hours
Although HBO’s 2015 mockumentary, 7 Days in Hell, was *definitely* a satire, real-life tennis matches have spanned for days on end -- the longest being John Isner and Nicolas Mahut’s showdown at Wimbledon in 2010, according to The Guardian. Consisting of a whopping 183 games, the match raged on for 11 hours and 5 minutes over the course of three days.
36. Dolly Parton says she may have written “I Will Always Love You” and “Jolene” in the same night.
Although the star says she's “not certain” that two of her most iconic songs were created on the same evening, there’s a strong chance they may have, as evidenced from an old tape.
“We found an old cassette when we were going through all of my songs going down in my basement,” the singer recalled in a 2020 interview with GQ “And all of those old cassettes where I had written songs, ‘Jolene’ and ‘I Will Always Love You’ was on the same cassette,” she continued. “So if I didn’t write it on the same day, it was during that same week or that period of time when I had that particular set in my little player. It was very possible that it happened,” the singer added, noting that both tracks appear on her 1974 album, Jolene.
37. Hulk Hogan once owned a pasta restaurant
Back in 1995, legendary wrestler, Hulk Hogan launched a very, erm, unique culinary venture, opening a pasta restaurant called “Pastamania” in Minnesota’s famed Mall of America, a move that evidently confused the hell out of his fans.
“Hogan tried to boost the restaurant with zealous promotional efforts, but critics said his efforts came across as silly and strange and the eatery struck some as just an ego move,” NBC News reporter Nicole Spector wrote of the eatery’s demise back in 2016. “What’s more, the connection between pro wrestling and pasta isn’t very strong."
Despite its seemingly coveted locale, the joint was ultimately a flop, shuttering its doors less than a year after its opening day.
38. Eminem also owns a pasta restaurant
Hulk Hogan isn’t the only celebrity to inexplicably delve into the world of pasta-based cuisine -- in 2021, rapper Eminem teamed up with Union Joints Restaurant Group to open Mom’s Spaghetti, a pasta restaurant in Detroit, Michigan.
Named after the meme-able line in his hit song “Lose Yourself,” Mom’s Spaghetti only offers a handful of carb-y dishes: Mom's Spaghetti, Mom's Spaghetti and Meatballs, and the definitely-not-weird-at-all ‘Sghetti Sandwich, which is Mom’s Spaghetti sandwiched between two slices of bread.
39. George Washington once attempted to join the British Navy
Before making history as the OG POTUS, George Washinton almost took an entirely different path, nearly joining Britain’s Navy as a teen, as suggested by his half brother and his half brother’s father-in-law, according to Cracked.com. His mother, Mary Ball Washington, however, wasn’t too keen on the idea, wanting him to stay on their family’s farm for a tad bit longer.
40. More than half the world’s population tuned in for the 2018 World Cup
More than 3.5 billion people watched parts of the 2018 World Cup, according to FIFA. 1.2 billion of those viewers tuned in for at least one minute of France’s match against Croatia during the series' finals.
41. Americans spend roughly half of their lives in bed
Throughout the course of their lifetimes, the average American will spend more than three decades in bed -- 36 years to be exact, according to a 2019 study.
42. Canada was once as cold as Mars
On February 3, 1947, the temperatures in the village of Snag, Canada, plummeted to -81.4 F, marking the coldest day in Canadian history, according to Reader’s Digest. For reference, the surface of Mars is a twinge balmier, averaging at about -81 F.
43. Red Bull does *not* contain bull sperm
Despite a particularly, erm, spunky rumor claiming that the Taurine in the energy drink comes from livestock, Red Bull does not, in fact, contain bull sperm, Reuters reported in 2020.
“The taurine in Red Bull is not derived from animals. It is produced synthetically by pharmaceutical companies,” the company explained on their product Q and A page.
44. Green Day’s Mike Dirnt got his name from playing air guitar
Born Mike Pritchard, the Green Day bassist got his stage name of Mike Dirnt from his hobby of playing the “air bass,” according to NME. As he played the invisible instrument, he’d sing “dirnt, dirnt, dirnt,” and boom! His moniker was born.
45. Aquarius and Scorpios are the most common astrological signs for Presidents of the United States.
Although every star sign is represented by at least two POTUS-es, the most common signs for U.S. Presidents are Aquarius and Scorpio, respectively boasting five leaders each.
46. The names of the Hogwarts houses in the Harry Potter franchise were first written on a barf bag
“The best thing I ever wrote on was an aeroplane sick bag,” the series, erm, highly-controversial author, J.K. Rowling explained on Twitter back in 2017. “Came up with the Hogwarts houses on it.”
47. One of the world’s oldest trees is nearly 5,000 years old
Estimated to be between 4,700 and 5,000 years old, the famous Prometheus tree, located in Nevada’s Great Basin Park, was once considered to be the world’s oldest ancient tree, according to the National Parks Service.
48. Wooly Mammoths haven’t been extinct for nearly as long as you think
Although the majority of Wooly Mammoths went extinct roughly 10,000 years ago, a small band of particularly resilient giant mammals managed to survive in the arctic until approximately 1650 BC, BBC News reported. For reference, the pyramids were likely built between 2550 and 2490 B.C.
49. Ballet dancers have higher pain tolerances
If you ever looked at a ballerina dancing on pointe and thought “ouch,” you’re not wrong. Ballet dancers have been scientifically proven to have higher pain tolerances, according to a 1995 study.
50. Maine is the closest U.S. State to the continent of Africa
Although it seems the southeast state of Florida would be closest to the neighboring continent of Africa, Maine, instead, holds the title. Although Florida’s farthest east point is 4,085 miles from the Western Sahara village of Guerguerat, Maine is only 3,154 miles away from El Beddouza, according to LiveScience.
51. The average mammal takes 21 seconds to empty its bladder.
The reason why this time is so consistent? Mammal’s urethras are apparently "appropriately scaled" to effectively work as a "flow-enhancing device," per LiveScience. The more you know!
52. Before reaching superstardom, RuPaul’s first big appeared in a B52’s music video
Before commanding the now worldwide RuPaul’s Drag Race franchise, drag superstar RuPaul appeared as an extra in the B52’s 1989 music video for “Love Shack."
“He was already really working on his look, his star look,” the band’s lead singer, Fred Schneider, told Yahoo Music of working with RuPaul back in 2017. “He got the line-dance going, that’s for sure!”
53. You’re more likely to be killed by a coconut than a shark
In case you didn’t think there should be an all-coconut reboot of Jaws, get this -- you’re 15 times more likely to be murdered by a falling coconut than a shark.
"Shark attacks are more a result of human patterns rather than shark patterns," George Burgess, who served as the director of the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History, told ABC News back in 2002. "Human populations influence shark attacks more than sharks do."
54. Chewing gum is banned in Singapore
Bad news, gum chewers looking to visit The Garden City -- gum has been banned in Singapore since 1992, according to BBC News.
55. The walkmans in the Guardians of the Galaxy sequels were fake
After the first movie hit theaters, the old-school music-listening devices became a hot commodity, going for thousands of dollars on resale sites, according to Cracked.com. As a result, the props team settled for replicas.
56. The average American chews 1.8 pounds of gum per year
Gum may be small, but it sure does add up, according to a report from the LA Times. Scientists are even exploring gum as a way of administering medicine.
“Gum is a very, very good delivery system that has not been fully explored,” Christine Wu, a periodontics professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago’s Dentistry school told the outlet.
57. A dog named Lou holds the Guinness World Record for longest ears
"Lou is a black and tan coonhound, and all of them should have ears that extend at least to the tip of their nose." Lou’s owner explained in a press release from the record-keeping book.
58. Jim Henson created coffee commercials featuring slapstick puppets
Before creating the Muppets, Jim Henson had a fruitful advertising career, making commercials for Wilkins Coffee. Featuring two puppets going at it over the superior brand of coffee, these ads aren't ones to miss.
59. Roses are related to a whole lot of fruits
Despite being a flower, Roses have several relatives in the world of fruits and nuts including almonds, cherries, peaches, plums, nectarines, and pears, according to Gardening World.
60. One million Earths can fit inside the Sun
Our Sun is roughly 1.4 million kilometers in diameter, which according to ThePlanets.org, is nearly 110 times that of Earth.
Now go forth and spread these interesting facts!
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