There are many tough pills to swallow for people and even more things which, when they sink in, can leave one feeling different about the world. The world is so big that we can hardly even imagine all of the realities around us and the histories that have shaped who and what we are. But, even beyond that, the universe is so unfathomably large, that we are only on the cusp of learning the truth about life. From the topics of the size of space and modern science to ancient human practices and the time span between human and dinosaurs, this list of facts shared by Reddit users will blow anyone’s mind. Just make sure to take the time to sit with them and really think about what is being said. A lot can be learned from letting things sink into the mind and allowing them to take a form beyond the abstract.
50. X Is Now as Old as Y Was to X
The original Xbox is as old now as the NES was when the Xbox was launched.
The original PlayStation is as old now as Pong was when the PlayStation was launched.
The Atari 2600 is as old now as the Hindenburg crash was when the Atari 2600 was launched.
The Fifth Element is as old now as Star Wars was when The Fifth Element was released.
Shadows of the Empire is older than Star Wars was when Shadows of the Empire was released.
The US HDTV standard (ATSC) is older now than VHS, stereo TV, closed captioning, and satellite TV were when ATSC was officially adopted (the same year that DVD was first released).
The first iMac was released closer to the original Macintosh than to the present day, and it’s almost as old as the Apple II was when the iMac was released.
Apple and Microsoft have both been around for the majority of the history of computing. I don’t just mean home computing, I mean that both companies were founded closer to the 1940s Colossus computer (the first fully-programmable all-electronic computer) than to the present day, even to Alan Turing’s description of a Turing Machine. I can’t even make a proper correlation here because there weren’t any notable computers in the mid-1930s.
Also that PlayStation one? I lied. The original PlayStation is one year older today than Pong was when the PlayStation came out.
49. Sleeping Life Away
Probably too late for this to be seen. But if you take into account the fact that on average people sleep (or should sleep) eight hours a day, if/when you get 99 years of age, you will have only been awake for 66 years; having spent 33 YEARS of your life sleeping.
That’s why I always stay up late…
48. That Seems Like a Waste of Gas
The energy from more than 80% of the gasoline put into any traditional internal combustion engine is actually lost after it’s burned, going out the engine exhaust and the engine block heating up (as in, not captured in the cylinder to move the piston, to rotate the crankshaft, and so on).
That means, for every five gallons of gasoline you put in your gasoline-powered car, at least four of those gallons don’t contribute to the car moving… at all. That’s a lot of gas that just gets converted into heat, CO, CO2, and water.
47. That Crazy Guy
During WWII, Lieutenant-Colonel John “Mad Jack” Churchill went into several battles with only a bagpipe, a long sword, and a pistol. He was knocked out with a grenade and was captured by the German forces, who then transferred him to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in Oranienburg, Germany. When he questioned the Germans to why they didn’t shoot him, they told him “ We thought you were crazy.”
46. The Moon is Playing Tricks on Us
The Moon orbits us from the west to the east, but we see it move across the sky east to west because of the rate of the Earth’s rotation—our observation is like being in a faster car watching a slower car (heading in the same absolute direction) fall further and further behind us.
45. Smart Friends
All six of the stars of Friends negotiated 2% syndication rights for the show. Friends still makes about a billion dollars yearly through reruns, Hulu etc. All six friends collect a $20 million cheque annually.
Yes, that means David Schwimmer still gets $20 million a year for doing nothing.
So when you are alone in your one bedroom apartment, watching Friends and snickering how any of them are losers who haven’t been famous since, there’s a reason why. They don’t have to work, ever again.
44. Evolution is Random
Evolution does not work as many say ”towards a goal,” it’s completely random and only works due to the fact that less adjusted/weaker animals have a higher chance of death. Then think about the fact that first life must happen as single cell-organism who then needs to become multicellular, begin to reproduce sexually (gene splitting/sharing), grow more advanced and leave the shallows to walk on earth and so on in a amazing and completely random progress towards higher complexity or to be more adapted.
Also, reindeer’s hooves snap while they walk due to a tendon in their feet.
43. Grandma’s Diet
Your maternal grandmother’s behavior and diet when she was pregnant with your mom has influenced your own health because part of you was being created (as your mother’s eggs) when your mom was developing as a fetus in her mother’s (your grandmother’s) tummy.
42. Shrimp Bullets
A pistol shrimp can create a “bubble bullet“ by snapping its claws that travels faster than any car. Upon its creation, the “bullet” reaches a temperature that equals the temperature on the surface of the sun.
41. Toilet Brush Christmas
Artificial Christmas trees were originally created by a toilet bowl brush manufacturer. Yes, that’s a giant green toilet bowl brush in your house that you just decorated.
40. Quickly to the Nuclear Age
It took humanity approximately four times longer to switch from copper swords to steel swords than it took to switch from steel swords to nuclear bombs.
39. This Is B-A-N-A-N-A-S
Gwen Stefani is older than Ted Cruz.
38. Jefferson Dropped the Ball on That One
When NASA pitched the idea of the Voyager missions to Richard Nixon with the idea of touring the outer planets, he was told that the last time it was possible, Thomas Jefferson was in the White House.
The particular planetary alignment that Voyager 2 used on its journey occurs only once every 176 years.
37. Slipping and Sliding Under Your Muscles
Your bones are wet.
36. We Can’t Really Imagine Just How Big Space Is
If the sun were scaled down to the size of a white blood cell, the Milky Way galaxy would be the size of the continental United States. The vastness of space is mind-boggling.
35. Hands Off, Mickey
Next to the US army, Disney world is the largest buyer and importer of explosives in the USA.
34. But, Where are the Flying Cars
We are closer to the year 2040 than the year 1994.
33. Mother of the Sinking Boats
The Titanic had two sister ships, the HMHS Britannic and the RMS Olympic. There was a woman called Violet Jessop, a nurse and cruise liner stewardess that worked on all three.
The Olympic crashed into a warship whilst leaving harbor but was able to make it back.
She was on the Titanic as it sank and is referenced in the Titanic film, a stewardess that was told to set an example to the non-English speaking passengers as the ship sank. She looked after a baby on lifeboat 16 until being rescued by the Carpathia the next day.
It’s not known what exactly caused the sinking of the Britannic but the lifeboats hit the water too early. As the ship sank, the rear listed up and a number of the lifeboats were sucked into the propellers. Violet had to jump out of the lifeboat she was in and sustained a serious head injury, but survived.
She was on board for all three incidents in the space of five years.
She went back to continue to work at sea for another 30 years before retiring in 1950. She died of heart failure in 1971.
If you live in the USA, you have better odds of dating Taylor Swift than dying of bird flu and Ebola combined.
31. Petrified Wood
There was a time in history when trees existed but the fungi which causes wood to rot had not yet evolved to digest wood.
Dead trees and plants would pile up and the 35% oxygen atmosphere caused massive fires. This is also the time that petrified wood came from. Trees would sit in mud for thousands of years and not rot while minerals slowly replaced the wood structures.
30. Passion for Frisbee
The man who invented the Frisbee was cremated and turned into a Frisbee.
29. What Does This Mean About the Folgers in My Cup?
Scientists who work with cockroaches often develop allergies towards cockroaches. At the same time, they also develop allergies to pre-ground coffee.
28. Don’t Underestimate Grandpa
You have probably seen more naked people than the entire history of your family.
One hour on the internet and I can see more naked woman than my grandfather even dreamed of
27. Close to the T-Rex
Stegosaurus lived 150 million years ago.
T. Rex lived 65 million years ago.
Stegosaurus was more ancient to the T. Rex than the T. Rex is to us.
26. The Egyptians are OLD
The Egyptians were a force in 2000 BCE, the Romans were in power at around 0 CE. The Egyptians were as old the to Romans as the Romans are to us
Egyptians are very fun to consider. When the Romans were in power, the pyramids of the Egyptians were already 2,500 years old. More ancient to them than the ancient Egyptians are to us today, and they didn’t have pictures nor internet. Even more than staggering, the Sphinx actually shows signs of possible water erosion. This would put its creation at sixth millennium BC.
A more mind-blowing point; the time between the first known pharaoh (3200 BC) and the last one (30 BC) is greater than the period from the last pharaoh and the moon landing with over a thousand years to spare.
25. Killer Vending Machines
Vending machines have killed more people than sharks.
24. The Moon is Kinda Far
You can place all the planets of our Solar system between Earth and Moon and even have a bit of spare space after.
23. He Meant Mutated
When humans started farming, blue eyes in humans hadn’t evolved yet.
22. That Seems Backwards
The cigarette lighter was actually invented before the match.
21. Damn, Betty
Betty White is older than sliced bread.
20. Supernova Time Travel
There is, on average, a supernova explosion every 50 years in the Milky Way.
On average, there are 30 every second in the observable universe.
19. The Safety of Porn
Your computer is much more likely of contracting a virus by surfing legitimate church sites than by surfing porn sites.
Porn sites generally have experts combating viral stuff, while church sites are maintained by lower-tech volunteers, as a rule.
18. Ancient University
Oxford University is actually older than the Aztecs.
“The University of Oxford (informally Oxford University or simply Oxford) is a collegiate research university located in Oxford, England. It has no known date of foundation, but there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096, making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world’s second-oldest university in continuous operation.
It grew rapidly from 1167 when Henry II banned English students from attending the University of Paris. After disputes between students and Oxford townsfolk in 1209, some academics fled north-east to Cambridge where they established what became the University of Cambridge. The two “ancient universities” are frequently jointly referred to as “Oxbridge”.”
“The Aztec Empire, or the Triple Alliance, began as an alliance of three Nahua “altepetl” city-states: Mexico-Tenochtitlan, Texcoco, and Tlacopan. These three city-states ruled the area in and around the Valley of Mexico from 1428 until the combined forces of the Spanish conquistadores and their native allies under Hernán Cortés defeated them in 1521.”
17. Surviving the Bombs
Over the space of three days, an estimated 165 people survived both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bomb attacks.
Tsutomu Yamaguchi is one of the more famous ones, who was only two miles from ground zero when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. It hit when he was walking to work on the last day of a work trip. After he heard the drone of a plane, he looked up at it and the sky lit up. He was then plucked from the ground, spun around and tossed into a nearby potato field.
Miraculously he survived, despite being covered in burns, soaked in radiation, and with two blown eardrums. He spent a night in an air shelter then took an overnight sleeper train home to Nagasaki to see his family. When he made it to a hospital in Nagasaki he was so burnt a childhood friend didn’t recognize him. Neither did his family.
Despite his wounds he made it to work the next day. He started giving his boss a rundown on what happened, and his boss thought he was crazy. There was no way one bomb could destroy a city. Suddenly, a bright light lit up the room. He panicked and dropped to the floor of the office seconds before the shock wave smashed out the office windows. He had just been hit twice by a nuclear blast in the space of three days.
At the age of 93 he was given the title “nijyuu hibakusha”, or twice bombed person. He died the next year.
So next time you think you’re having a horrible week at work… yeah.
16. The Bing Law
Bing Crosby advocated for salmon conservation in the North Atlantic against Denmark’s overfishing in the early 1970s. The Danish government banned everything Bing Crosby in Denmark, but because he was so popular there, the Danish people protested the government, making them overturn the Bing Crosby law and even to enact salmon conservation legislation.
Bing Crosby single-handedly managed to create a piece of Danish law.
Here is my evidence for the unconvinced:
“In 1971 CASE [the Committee on the Atlantic Salmon Emergency] enlisted the help of celebrities to publicize their efforts to convince the Danes to restrain their salmon fleet. One was Bing Crosby, who was part Danish. An enraged Danish government banned the sale of Crosby’s records, only to discover that he was incredibly popular in Denmark. The move backfired and produced an outpouring of public support for both the crooner and the salmon.” David R. Montgomery, King of Fish: The Thousand-Year Run of Salmon, (Cambridge, Westview, 2003), 114.
15. Black Hole Time
As you get closer to black hole, time goes slower. This means that everything farther away would experience time faster and faster as you get closer and closer to the black hole. A second for you could be a billion years for those outside of it. Thus, if you fell into a black hole and looked outside, you would see the universe die with you.
If there have existed one billion alien races out there since the universe began, all with the capability of light speed intergalactic travel, the chance of just one of those races existing at the same time period of humanity (roughly 200,000 years) is <10%. The chance of that 10% likely alien race being within 200,000 light years of earth is 0.000015%.
So basically, if there were one billion hyper-advanced alien races in the universe, there is only a <0.0000015% chance that one would ever reach us. If you try to consider all the possible races that exist but don’t have intergalactic travel capability…
Yeah, you could say I strongly believe aliens exist.
13. Fun With the Ancestors
Every generation you work backwards in your ancestry doubles in size. You have two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, and so on. By the time you reach the 15th century, you’re potentially descended from over 500,000 people. By the time you reach the year 500, your potential direct ancestors exceed the entire population of humans that have ever existed.
That means that many people repeat in your ancestry. You’re descended from the same people multiple times. This is because relatives married relatives. Cousins married cousins, for example.
That’s right, folks. You are a product of incest, to some degree or another.
12. Living Inside the Sun
We live inside the Sun. The Sun’s atmosphere stretches out well past our planet and we aren’t even sure where it ends, so we live within the Sun’s atmosphere, therefore within the Sun.
Also, the planet’s don’t orbit the Sun, they orbit the barycenter of the solar system (the center of mass of the solar system). Now usually this is within the Sun but depending on all the planet’s orientations it can be outside the Sun, and yes the Sun also orbits the barycenter so it’s not like it’s stationary in the center of the solar system.
11. Neutron Marshmallows
Neutron stars have such strong gravity that if you dropped a marshmallow into one, it would be like dropping a 3-megaton nuclear warhead on Earth.
A neutron star is what you get when a star collapses with such gravitational pressure that the negatively charged electrons are smashed directly onto the positively charged nucleus of their respective atoms, canceling out the charges and leaving behind a big ball of neutrally charged neutrons. Gravity is overwhelmingly, by several orders of magnitude, the weakest of the four known fundamental forces of physics so you need an unfathomable amount of it to overwhelm the nuclear forces like that. It’s like asking how many individual sheets of paper you’d need to place on the deck of an aircraft carrier to sink it.
10. Presidential Years
Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump were all born within a 66-day stretch.
Take the last eight US Presidents. Look at the years they were born. Given that the president must be 35 years old, and the oldest president was 70 years old when he took office, there is a maximum possible span of 83 years of birth years between them. So, choosing 8 out of 83, you might expect the occasional repeat decade. But between the eight of them, there are only five birth years: 1911 (Reagan), 1913 (Nixon, Ford), 1924 (Carter, H.W. Bush), 1946 (W. Bush, Clinton, Trump) and 1961 (Obama), In the 36 preceding presidents there are only two pairs with the same birth year, 1822 (Grant, Hayes) and 1767 (Jackson, Adams).
9. Star Cemetery
You know the term “Light Years”? It literally means how far light travels in the span of an earth year—365 days. Now we all know, the thing about outer space is its reaaaaaallllly big, to the point that it often takes light from the universe a realllllllly long time to get here. You know what this means? That the stars we see on a beautiful cloudless night may have died long ago, before we even had an earth to stand on.
We are potentially looking at a celestial graveyard when we look at the night sky.
8. Does Father Really Know Best?
J.J. Thomson won the Nobel in Physics in 1906 when he showed electrons were particles. His son G.P. Thomson won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1937 for showing that electrons are waves.
7. Rare Redheads
Less than 2% of the world’s population has natural red hair. The percentage of green eyes is also only around 2%, however the rarest combination is not green eyes and red hair, the majority of natural redheads have brown, hazel or green eyes making the rarest combination blue eyes with red hair.
6. Expanding Fabric
Due to the way the speed of light works, combined with our current understanding of the expansion of the universe, there are areas of the universe that are both impossible for us to visit or even observe. The fabric of the universe expands faster over that distance than light can travel so it never reaches us.
When you combine that with the bit where scientists currently think there are roughly a trillion visible galaxies (four times more stars than exist in the milky way)… well then.
5. Mastering Chess
Google’s Deepmind self-learning AI “AlphaZero” spent four hours learning chess, and proceeded to beat the top chess engine in the world.
The particularly interesting part is that it wins by playing in a very “human” way. Chess engines tend to run algorithms to assess a board after a move is chosen (looking at millions of moves every second) and decide who’s better based on a set of parameters, making their play very direct. AlphaZero seemed to develop a far more human playstyle, somehow seeing something less quantifiable that led to an advantage in a position. Over the past 200 years, numerous chess masters studied a style of play similar to AlphaZero.
That means that in four hours, AlphaZero developed a better understanding of the game than we could over the 1,000+ years it has been studied.
4. Colder Than Space
Astronomer here! I always like that the coldest place we know of in the universe is… on Earth! Even a dense dust cloud, AKA the coldest spots we know of, are a few degrees above absolute zero, the coldest temperature there is. In laboratories on Earth, however, it’s quite common to get a few fractions of a degree above absolute zero for experiments, ergo…
3. The Sims: Earth
We can’t prove we aren’t in a simulation.
To explain this a little further for those curious:
If we reach a stage where we are capable of creating simulations with this degree of sophistication, then we could run a vast number of them. If each computer could run multiple versions, and even a small number of computers were set up to do so, eventually, at least some of the simulations would develop until the simulated people could run simulations of their own.
Then the simulated people could run simulations, and so forth and so on to infinity.
So, if there is one reality and potentially infinite simulations, then it is statistically improbable that we live in reality. Which explains a lot about the last year or so.
2. Roach Coffee
I worked for a large coffee roaster. When you cut open the bags of green coffee from all of those third world countries, it is amazing the things you find. Coffee is essentially dried in the middle of streets and any number of things can end up in there.
We found shoes, farming tools, huge needles for weaving the bags. 100% chance of bugs in coffee in some places. The good news is, those little guys are roasted to 400 degrees and disintegrated by the time the roast is over.
1. Is There Life on…Saaaa-turn?
The Huygens probe sent to Saturn‘s moon Titan actually found signs of metabolic activity near the surface, in the form of acetylene and hydrogen getting fused back together into methane at -180 degrees Celsius. There are only three possible explanations for this: either it‘s an instrumental reading error (no sign of this has been found so far), on Titan‘s surface exists a completely unknown natural catalyst that works at these extremely low temperatures (this in itself would be an astounding find) or on Titan there exists extraterrestrial life that uses liquid methane instead of water and uses acetylene and hydrogen for its metabolism.