A little random knowledge never hurt anyone!
Each year since 1947, Norway has given a Norwegian Spruce tree to serve as the Christmas tree in London’s Trafalgar Square. The tree is a token of appreciation for Britain’s support of Norway during World War II.
Can a man outrun an antelope? While you may never match the speed of one of the four-legged animals, you might outrun one over time. Humans have evolved to be great endurance runners, which scientists think is an adaptation that ancient humans used for hunting wild game. In fact, humans are some of the best long-distance endurance runners in the animal kingdom.
Bao Xishun, a Mongolian herdsman and the current record holder for World’s Tallest Man, used his incredibly long arms to remove plastic from the stomachs of two dolphins, saving their lives. Bao stands 7 feet 8.95 inches tall and each arm extends over 3 feet long. All other attempts at saving the dolphins had failed.
Watermelons may be delicious today, but they weren’t always. The melons originated in Africa and were first cultivated solely for their water content, not for taste—their flavor was very bitter.
Almost 30% of the world’s gold reserves are held in a vault underneath the island of Manhattan. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York takes up a full block between Maiden Lane and William, Liberty and Nassau streets, and it holds the world's largest gold depository. Only 5% of the USA’s gold reserves are kept there though—the rest belongs to international banks like the IMF.
Ukrainian pole Vaulter Sergei Bubka had it all worked out—he repeatedly and deliberately broke the world pole vault record by the smallest possible height so he could cash in on a Nike bonus with each new world record. In a two-year span between 1991-1993, he broke his own world record 14 times.
Volkswagen might be a fairly humble brand of automobile, but don’t be deceived. The company owns some of the most prestigious car brands in the world, namely Audi, Porsche, Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini.
A dolphin named Pelorus Jack regularly guided ships in Cook Straight, New Zealand through treacherous waters between 1888 and 1912. He was so valued that he was officially protected by law and a popular country dance was even named after him.
There is an Australian folk-rock band called The Beards, and every single one of their 38 songs is about beards. Some of their hits include, “All The Bearded Ladies,” “You Should Consider Having Sex with a Bearded Man” and “I’m in the Mood… For Beards.”
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In 2004, Bangkok's Don Mueang International Airport was the 14th busiest airport in the world, but they’ve always taken leisure seriously. The Royal Thai Air Force shares the airport, and it maintains a fully-functional golf course in between the airport’s two runways. A red light signals golfers to hold back whenever planes land.
In Sweden, the body heat of commuters passing through Stockholm’s Central Station is harvested to provide heat for an office building across the road. Jernhunsen, a real estate company, found a way to channel the heat from the 250,000 passengers that come through the station each day, converting the energy into hot water and channeling it to the other building.
Tigers, jaguars and leopards love the smell of Calvin Klein’s "Obsession For Men." The fragrance is used to lure the large cats to cameras in the wild. In response to the cologne, the cats “would start drooling, their eyes would half-close, almost like they were going into a trance.” Not quite the same effect as it has on humans.
Until this year, Neil Patrick Harris, star of Doogie Howser, MD and How I Met Your Mother, served as president of the Magic Castle, a private club for magicians in Los Angeles. You can only attend the venue if you're a member of the Academy of Magical Arts, a guest of a member, or a guest at the Magic Castle Hotel. Formal party attire is strictly enforced at the club and the only way to enter is by saying a secret password into a sculpture of an owl.
Between 1970 and 1973, four Israeli fighter pilots held as POWs in an Egyptian prison passed their time by translating J.R.R Tolkien's The Hobbit from English to Hebrew. The book was sent to them by their family members via the Red Cross. Their translated book was published commercially in 1977 and many still consider it to be one of the best Hebrew translations available.
The English idiom “Sounds like Greek to me,” indicating something incomprehensible, has several cognates from around the world. In the Venetian dialect, the phrase translates to “This is Turkish to me.” In Turkish, the phrase is “I’m French to the topic.” In French, speakers say “It’s Hebrew.” In Hebrew, they say, “that is Chinese to me.” And finally, Chinese speakers say “That sounds like Martian language!” No word on if the Martians say "It's English for all I know!"
When you're in Sweden, The Right of Public Access, or Allemansrätt gives one the year-round right to walk, cycle, ride, ski and camp on any public (and most private) land, with few exceptions. It officially promises “the right to roam the countryside in Sweden in perfect peace and quiet.”
Speed is now so important in financial trading that in 2011, a new $300 million transatlantic cable was laid down in order to shave five milliseconds off communications between New York and London—the first transatlantic cable laid in 10 years. Five milliseconds may not seem like much, but since so much trading is now done by computers, it can actually make a massive difference.
In 1986, Romanian sewer workers accidentally discovered a cave which had been sealed for 5.5 million years. Movile Cave is filled with exotic and evolutionarily distinct creatures, including albino crabs and worms that feed off of sulfur-producing bacteria. To this day, less than 100 people have ever set foot in Movile Cave, similar to the number of people that have walked on the Moon.
In 2006, Honda became the sole supplier of engines in the IndyCar series. That year was believed to be the first time in Indianapolis 500 history that the race was run without a single engine problem.
Did you know that New York City has an underground network of tubes? No, we’re not talking about the subway—until 1953, NYC had a pneumatic tube mail network that spanned 27 miles and connected 23 post offices. At its peak, the system moved 95,000 letters a day at speeds of 30-35 miles per hour.
Singapore has the world’s highest percentage of millionaires, with one out of every six households having at least $1,000,000 US in disposable wealth. It also has one of the highest rates of income inequality in the developed world.
May 29th is Put Your Pillow On A Fridge Day. This bizarre and little-known holiday dates back to the early 1900s, when a piece of linen or cloth from a bedroom was placed in one’s larder for good luck, merging the hopes for plentiful food and fertility.
According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, it is considered poor etiquette to put ketchup on a hotdog if you are over 18 years of age. Relish, mustard, onions, cheese, and chili are recommended as acceptable alternatives.
Businessman Armand Hammer was often claimed as the namesake of Arm & Hammer, even though the company was founded 35 years before his birth. The company and the man were actually both named after the symbolic arm and hammer of the Socialist Labor Party of America, but Hammer did eventually buy enough stock in the company to get on their board of directors, where he remained until his death in 1990. If the name sounds familiar, it may be because his great-grandson, actor Armand "Armie" Hammer, shares it with him.
Disney's Pinocchio was based on The Adventures of Pinocchio, an Italian children’s story from the 1880s written by Carlo Collodi. The book has been translated into more than 260 languages, making it the most-translated non-religious book in the world.
In 1996, a bill was passed to protect food vendors from liability for giving unused food to the needy instead of throwing it away for fears they could be sued. However, many vendors aren't necessarily aware of the protections, and the US still throws away one-third of all the food it produces. That’s 133 billion pounds of food wasted every year.
The Polish government awards a “Medal for Long Marital Life” (Medal Za Długoletnie Pożycie Małżeńskie in Polish) to couples who have been married longer than 50 years.
A BBC survey found that in 4 out of 10 of the UK’s largest airports, it's actually cheaper to park a light aircraft for 24 hours than to park your car for the same amount of time.
Larry Lemieux, a Canadian sailor at the 1988 Olympics, was about to win a silver medal when he abandoned the race to save two other competitors who had capsized. Lemieux lost out on his chances at an Olympic medal but was awarded the Pierre de Coubertin Medal for sportsmanship.
The three main characters of the Harry Potter films were perfectly cast, even better than the casting directors knew: Before the filming of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, director Alfonso Cuarón had Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson write essays about their characters. Watson turned in a 16-page essay, Radcliffe gave a single page, and Grint forgot to turn his in.
The Guinness World Record for "Most Passengers on an Aircraft" is held by an El Al Boeing 747 used during Operation Solomon, which saw the evacuation of Ethiopian Jews from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 1,088 passengers were carried on a flight on May 24th, 1991, including two babies born on the flight.
First Lady Barbara Bush famously called The Simpsons “the dumbest thing [she] had ever seen,” and two years later, her husband stated, "We're going to keep trying to strengthen the American family. To make them more like the Waltons and less like the Simpsons.” Shortly after, Mrs. Bush received a touching and heartfelt letter “from” Marge Simpson (actually written by The Simpsons' writing staff), saying that she was doing her best and trying to raise her children as best she could. The letter moved Bush so much that she wrote back to apologize.
The 9,000 member Wapichan tribe of Guyana is fighting illegal logging on their land with technology. The indigenous tribe has been filming the activity with a drone they built by watching DIY videos on YouTube, then taking the footage to the Guyanese government.
Engineers in Canada receive an iron ring to symbolize their profession. The rings were first made in response to the collapse of a bridge in Manitoba that claimed 75 lives due to the poor work done by the engineers who designed it. The ring is worn on the pinky finger of the dominant hand so that it drags on the paper as the engineer is writing, serving as a constant reminder of the obligations and ethical weight of working as an engineer. It's a popular myth that the rings were originally made from the reclaimed metal of the collapsed bridge, but that was never actually the case.
Dexter Holland, frontman for the pop-punk band The Offspring, is more than just a musician. Holland graduated high school as valedictorian, earned a PhD in Molecular Biology from USC, has his pilot license, and once flew solo around the world in 10 days. He also has his own hot sauce company and has run two marathons in support of The Innocence Project, a non-profit devoted to exonerating wrongly convicted criminals.
Billionaire Michael O’Leary, CEO of airline Ryanair, has his own taxicab company with just one cab so he can legally use bus lanes and avoid traffic jams. The company owns a single Mercedes outfitted with a taximeter and a sign on top—the whole shebang. O'Leary charges himself €86 per ride.
During a worldwide hop shortage in 2008, the Sam Adams brewing company sold other craft brewers their hops at cost to keep them in business. They’ve also given over 3 million in loans to small breweries to spur competition. Says Jim Koch, chairman of Sam Adams, “The reason I support competitors becomes obvious if you think about the way yeast ferments beer. If enough yeast are working together, they can change the ecosystem for the mutual benefit of all.”
Since Donald Duck debuted in 1934, there have only been only three voice actors to voice the character: Clarence Nash (1934–1985), Tony Anselmo (1985–present), and Daniel Ross, (Mickey and the Roadster Racers, 2017-present)
In 1963, San Francisco Giants Manager Alvin Dark joked, “they’ll put a man on the moon before [Giants pitcher] Gaylord Perry hits a home run.” On July 20, 1969, less than an hour after Neil Armstrong’s historic moonwalk, Perry hit the first home run of his career.
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.
Neil Armstrong may have been the first man on the moon, but Buzz Aldrin was the first man to urinate on the moon. What a legacy!
Just like everyone has a unique set of fingerprints, each person's tongue print is completely unique, but we're sure that cops are happy they don't have to make the people they arrest lick their paperwork.
Christmas was considered an ancient pagan ritual and was banned in the US until 1836. It only took a few decades for it to become a national holiday. Fruitcakes given at that time are probably still being passed around too.
In 1911, the New Zealand town of Brightwater had 5 electric street lights powered by a hydroelectric generator, which itself was auto-controlled by a flock of chickens. At night, the chickens would go inside their coop and their weight would close an electric circuit, turning on the street lights. At dawn, they’d leave the coop and break the circuit, turning the lights off.
Each year, more than 1.5 million Euros are thrown into Rome’s famed Trevi fountain by tourists. The money is used to subsidize a supermarket for the needy, so at least some wishes are coming true.
In the popular Looney Tunes cartoons, hunter Elmer Fudd is known as the enemy of Bugs Bunny. But initially, he just wanted to shoot Happy Rabbit (the predecessor of Bugs Bunny) with a camera. Fudd came to the country to photograph wildlife, but the rabbit drove him crazy, causing him to jump into a lake and nearly drown. After that Elmer replaced the camera with a rifle, and can you blame him?
My mom never told me how her best friend died. Years later, I was using her phone when I made an utterly chilling discovery.
Madame de Pompadour was the alluring chief mistress of King Louis XV, but few people know her dark history—or the chilling secret shared by her and Louis.
I tried to get my ex-wife served with divorce papers. I knew that she was going to take it badly, but I had no idea about the insane lengths she would go to just to get revenge and mess with my life.
Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but few people know her even darker history.
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