“Randomness I love. And I still love just a holler right in the middle of an ongoing narrative. Pain or joy, ecstasy.”—Barry Hannah
We’ve all been there: the conversation is going nicely, everyone around the table is having a great time when all of a sudden nobody has anything left to say. Horrifying. And once that awful, uncomfortable quietness sets in, how can one mere mortal get things moving again?
Good thing facts are like polar bears: they’re damn good at breaking the ice. Here are some assorted bits of trivia… keep ’em ready for your next awkward silence.
46. Five Feet and Four Inches of Long Lasting Color
The average woman goes through her height in lipstick every 5 years. That’s a lot of red!
45. Running A Business is Not a Gas
Despite rising gas prices, the gas-pump game isn’t as glamorous as you might think. After deducing fees for credit card transactions and other costs, the net profit for a gas purveyor amounts to just 3 cents per gallon.
44. Where’s the Three-Thousand Dollar Beef?
The world’s most expensive beef is called “Wagyu” and it costs about $275 a pound. When served as a 2000 vintage cote de boeuf—that’s the fancy term for rib steak—your bill rings up to about $3200. “Authentic” Wagyu hails from a very rare breed of Japanese cattle, with high fat marbling content. The result is a decadent meat that melts in your mouth. Who’s hungry?
43. So, It’s Not the Funny Bone?
The femur is the longest bone in the human body.
42. Sick Your Way to Science School
As per his father’s wishes, Nikola Tesla almost became a priest. Thank goodness he came down with cholera. During his illness, Tesla’s father promised to send the boy to engineering school if he survived. Of course, he did, which proves that throwing a fit will get you anything.
41. Silk and Its Ilk
During World War II, the Mussolini regime made access to leather very difficult, even for luxury handbag markers like the house of Gucci. To make due, the high-fashion company produced their handbags with silk throughout the 1940s. Luxury is luxury!
40. Born Hornless
Vikings did not wear horned helmets. The image of the horned, Viking marauder did not emerge until some 800 years after the Age of Vikings, that is, in the 19th century. Those wacky Victorians!
39. Say That 23 Times Fast!
Any 23-sided shape can be known as an Icosakaitrigon.
38. No Solicitors
The drawbridge at Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle is real and fully-functioning. But it has only been used twice in its entire existence. The first time was, of course, during the castle’s debut. The second time was for the grand opening of Disneyland’s remodeled Fantasyland. Sleeping Beauty does not like to be disturbed.
37. The Shoe Show
Nike has designed shoes specifically for movies. For example, Tinker Hatfield, a well-known Nike designer, was behind the iconic “Bat boots” in Tim Burton’s first Batman movie. Likewise, Nike also designed Marty McFly’s hoverboard shoes in Back to the Future: Part II.
36. Long Term Parking
Richard III is the final English king to die in the line of battle—and we hope it stays that way. Despite his royal sacrifice, Richard’s body was only rediscovered in 2012, interred without much royal fanfare, under a parking lot.
35. On the Seventh Day, God Created Elections
By either law, tradition, or stubbornness, many countries in Europe still only hold their national elections on Sunday. Such traditional countries include France, Sweden, Germany, and Belgium. What happened to the day of rest?
34. “St. Maewyn’s Day” Just Isn’t Fun to Drink To
The “Saint Patrick” who inspired “St. Patrick’s Day” might not even have been a “Patrick.” His real name is a historical mystery, but tradition says he first went by “Maewyn Succat.” Like many superstars, he changed his name for professional reasons when he entered the bishopric. In Latin, “Patrick” means “nobleman,” which perhaps sold better to those Anglo-Saxons.
33. Green with Vanity
Mirrors have a color! And it’s green! In 2004, scientists in Spain conducted an experiment with a museum’s tunnel of mirrors. There, mirrors would face each other, with eyeholes for spectators to get a trippy reflective vision. When mirror reflections were bounced back into each other 50 times, the predominant wavelength was an eerie green.
32. Image the Postage Fee
As of 2017, the largest postal stamp in the world hails from the United Arab Emirates. In 2013, the country unveiled a stamp to commemorate Sheika Fatima bint Mubarak Al Ketbi, the widowed royal of Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who was the founding ruler of the country. The stamp was released on Mother’s Day to honor the founding mom, who was known for supporting the advancement of women’s rights within the U.A.E. It is 1.36 by 1.77 meters, it holds the Guinness World Record for the largest stamp.
31. Think Ink
The body of Ötzi the Iceman contains the earliest tattoos known to human history. Having lived between 3370 and 3100 BC, he probably didn’t have access to those trendy designer parlors, but he did have 61 tattoos, featuring dots and lines of carbon ink.
30. Tag and Bag
Los Angeles, the City of Angels, cleans a heavenly 30 million square feet of graffiti annually.
29. No More Next Generation
To date, Ariel is the only Disney Princess to have canonically birthed a child. This was revealed in the direct-to-video sequel, The Little Mermaid 2: Return to Sea, which begins with Ariel presenting her newborn daughter, Melody. The movie was not super well-received among fans, which may be why Disney put a pin on princess motherhood, at least for now.
28. Shoe Fans Stand by the Honor System
When the first Vans were sold in 1966, only 12 customers showed up to opening day. However, all 12 customers were asked to pick up their shoes the next day as a problem as arisen in the debut production. The creators also didn’t have any change one them, so they also asked the whole dozen to also pay the next day. Surprisingly, every single one of the 12 customers returned the next day with cash for their shoes.
27. Old Phones Have the Power
For many of those who are old enough to remember, the Nokia 3310 was their first ever cell phone. By today’s smartphone standards, the sliding device feels like a relic. But is a step forward in technology always for the best? Ask yourself how many times a day you need to plug your phone in for a full charge. Now remember how the Nokia 3310 had a battery life of 55 hours of talk time and 245 hours of standby charge!
26. We’re all Living In the Shade of Scrat from Ice Age
The word “squirrel” is Greek for “shadow tail.”
25. Ready for Insta-Microgram
The smallest subject to ever be photographed is none other than the atom’s shadow. To capture this most microscopic of microscopic subjects, the researchers at Griffiths University deployed a super-resolution microscope to let the shadow strike its pose.
24. Little Bug Going On 30
Barring natural—and human shoe-related—disaster, an ant can live to be 29 years old.
23. Unclean & Unjust
Annually, diarrhea kills more children than measles, malaria, and AIDS combined. Specifically, that’s 2,195 deaths per day, or 760,000 per year, from diarrhea—a largely preventable illness that derives from poor sanitation and hygiene.
22. The Cosmos with Meatballs?
The process by which stars and comets are stretched in black holes is called “spaghettification.”
21. Call, Call, Bang, Bang
When they’re not making phones, Samsung is a leading weapons manufacturer.
20. No Animal Cruelty, Just Empty Calories
Oreos are technically vegan. Making the cookies easy to preserve, the Oreo contains absolutely zero dairy products.
19. Measuring Contest
The surface area of Russia is larger than that of Pluto. As the largest country on Earth, Russia has a land mass that measures at 17,098,322 square km (6,601,699 square miles). In contrast, Pluto only has a surface area of 16,647,940 square km (6,430,000 square miles). And it’s not even a real planet anymore, if we may add insult to injury.
18. Pound It Out
Although it had been colonized by Europeans for hundreds of years beforehand, Australia didn’t get its own currency until 1901, when they consolidated into a Commonwealth. The Australian pound was officially distinct from the classic pound sterling, but it was replaced with the “Australian dollar” in 1966. Americanization, am I right?
17. Gotta Go Fast (to the Name Change Office)
Mr. Hedgehog is his father. Sonic the Hedgehog’s full name is actually Ogilvie Maurice Hedgehog. But understandably, he’d prefer if you just called him “Sonic.”
16. Big Gigs, Big Fun
How much does 8GB actually give you? If you ask Apple, an 8GB iPod hold up to 2,000 songs and 7,000 photos, and 8 hours of video—of course, that also depends on file formats. So, download all the beats and take all the selfies you want. Unless that’s somehow not enough.
15. I Now Pronounce You Poor Circulation & Wife
Wedding rings are a tradition believed to have derived from the Ancient Romans. That’s why we tend to wear them on the third finger of our left hand—Romans believed there was a vein in that special finger known as the “Vena Amoris” or “Vein of Love.” This sweet slide of blood was through to be connected directly to the heart. We don’t know why you would want to cut off blood to that part as a symbol of matrimony. Maybe you should ask an Ancient Roman.
14. Thick as a Nickel
In 1964, the US stopped making dimes and quarters out of silver. Before the 10 and 25 cent American piece was produced to have a 90% silver content rating. In contrast, their sibling the nickel has remain true to form since World War Two—it’s still a 5-gram coin of 75% copper and (ironically for its name) just 25% nickel. It’s also still fatter than a dime while being worth so much less, so who really won here?
13. Some Sports Things Are Straightforward
Fore! Why do golfers say this for naughty shots? It’s simply the sport’s shorthand for “watch out ahead” or ‘watch out before.” In other words, the “Fore!” allows bystanders to be forewarned of a fly ball.
12. Winner by a Hair Is No Small Feat
The human hair is stronger than you think. A typical strand of hair can handle 100g (3oz) in weight. Altogether, however, your hair is even stronger: a full head of hair can hold 12 tonnes, otherwise known as the combined weight of two elephants. Don’t compare it steel though. Human hair is more comparable to the strength of aluminum, reinforced glass fibre, or Kevlar, the stuff they use in bulletproof vests. Still, not bad ranks to find yourself in.
11. A Penny for Your Thoughts Is $500
The average person goes through 50,000 thoughts a day. Seems low, TBH. Some others put it slightly higher at 70,000. That’s about 35 to 48 thoughts per minute, per human being. Don’t think too hard about it.
10. Soy Isn’t a Toy
Relationships have come to beginnings and ends at the utterance of this epic question: do you need to refrigerate soy sauce? According to the Kikkoman website, your soy sauce should be fine at room temperature, as long as the bottle isn’t mixed with other ingredients. Why? High salt levels can make this mixing unpleasant. Nevertheless, unrefrigerated soy sauce is more likely to lose quality and flavor over time. Obviously soy sauce is a very important condiment but I would expect that the real debate would be about whether or not ketchup belongs in the fridge.
9. Out of Your League and Your Orbit
Scientists just can’t get enough of shooting things into space. But exactly how many satellites are up there? According to the Goddard Space Flight Center 2,271 satellites currently occupy our cosmic orbit. Among these, Russia has the most satellites, with a whopping 1,324 satellites in space. For comparison, the country with the second-most, the United States of America, has only 658. Watch your head!
8. It Doesn’t Stand for “Smooth Sailing…”
Ever wonder what the “SS” before every large ship stands for? Prepare to be overwhelmed: it literally just means “Sailing Ship.” Wow. Kind of disappointing. While we’re here, the “HMS” on some vessels simply stand for “Her Majesty’s Ship.”
7. I’ll Bring the Butter
The Southern Asian binturong, also known as a bearcat, smells like popcorn. We’re telling you just in case you didn’t want to check for yourself.
6. Vroom to These Tunes
The first radio-outfitted cars came in 1930, courtesy of the Gavin corporation. It was the Motorola 5T71, and it costs only between $110 and $130—although that’s $1,700 in 2009 money. Greaser, sock-hoppers, and all those other teenager archetypes who like to jam out while driving would be forever thankful for that first Gavin radio.
5. The Cinnamon Challenge Just Got More Costly
At one point in Ancient Egypt, cinnamon was more expensive than gold. The sweet but tangy substance had many uses, not just in food, but in the ever-so-important embalming process.
4. Crack This Word Mystery
Tell your friends that the fancy medical term for your butt crack is called the “intergluteal cleft.”
3. We Only Go Forward (on Dry Land and Without Farts)
Kangaroos are incapable of walking backward, swimming, or farting methane. Instead, their bodies will convert the methane back into energy. Isn’t that the dream?
2. Now That What I Call Second Cup
Are you willing to eat cat droppings? For $75 per 9-ounce pack, they better be good! Civet coffee—also known as Kopi Luwak—is a luxury breed of coffee cherries that passes either through the South Asian palm civet, or the Civet cat’s stomach and intestines. When the cherries pass through the cat, the digestive system injects them with special enzymes before they are extracted. From there, the beans are washed (thankfully), dried, and roasted into a rich flavor that’s must less bitter than your common coffee that hasn’t gone through the dignified process of pre-digestion.
1. Mani/Pedi Takes on a New Meaning
A Memphis resident was given steroids for an allergic attack in 2009. Over the next three years, her body suffered one of the strangest allergic reactions in medical history. On the surfaces of her body which would normally grow hair, she started to grow nails, due to a change in the number of skin cells that were produced. She is the only person of record to suffer from this rare disorder.