The world can be a twisted, bizarre, downright weird place sometimes! How, you ask? Here are 42 totally twisted facts to delight, dazzle or disgust you!
42. Literally Twisted
They may seem impossible, but according to mathematics research, any given Rubik’s Cube is only 20 moves away from being solved! Google donated 35 CPU-years of computer time to researchers, who calculated that 20 moves (that is, 20 twists of any face of a Rubik’s Cube) is all it takes to match up the colors on the faces of the cube. Of course, those still need to be the right moves.
41. God Only Knows
The number referring to the least number of moves to solve a Rubik’s Cube is called “God’s number” or “God’s algorithm,” referring to the idea that an all-knowing being would innately know the best way to solve the puzzle.
40. Sure, “An Accident”…
In 2007, a man in Florida awoke with a severe headache that he suspected was an aneurysm. He made his wife drive him to the hospital, where they found a bullet in his head! It turned out that his wife had shot him in the head while he was sleeping. She claimed the shooting was accidental and was jailed on a weapons violation. Her husband survived without severe injury.
39. Victory After Death
In 1923, jockey Frank Hayes suffered a fatal heart attack in the midst of a race at Belmont Park in New York. His horse, named Sweet Kiss, finished first and won the race with his lifeless body still atop. Hayes became the first, and thus far, the only jockey to win a race after death. Hayes was only 35 at the time. The horse never raced again, having acquired the nickname “Sweet Kiss of Death” for the remainder of her life.
38. Pinocchio Paradox
What would happen if Pinocchio were to say, “My nose grows now?” There’s no way to know—it’s a paradox! The statement is a variation of the “liar’s paradox” in which a statement “I am telling a lie” can be logically neither true nor false. The so-called “Pinocchio paradox” was devised by 11-year-old Veronique Eldridge-Smith in 2001. The paradox was published in the journal Analysis, written up by her father.
37. An Empty Threat
Christopher Columbus became stranded in Jamaica on his way to the New World in the early 16th century. Knowing that he was wearing out his welcome with the local tribes and that a lunar eclipse was near, Columbus warned the natives that the moon would vanish if they did not continue to feed him and his sailors. Sure enough, he correctly predicted the lunar eclipse on March 1, 1504, and cowed the locals into supporting his troops further.
36. Old Faithful
Long before bros with popped collars, Abercrombie & Fitch was originally a sporting goods store best known for their expensive shotguns. When Ernest Hemingway killed himself, he allegedly did it with his favorite shotgun, which he purchased from none other than Abercrombie & Fitch.
35. Making It Harder
When Britain changed the packaging for Tylenol to blister packs instead of bottles, suicide deaths from Tylenol overdoses declined by 43 percent. Anyone who wanted 50 pills would have to push out the pills one by one but pills in bottles can be easily dumped out and swallowed. Blister packs also reduce the risk of accidental poisoning in young children.
34. Non-Kissin’ Cousins
The population of Iceland is rather small, and many of the 300,000 people of the insular nation are related to one another. So how do you avoid dating a distant cousin? There’s an app for that! A new smartphone app allows users to tap their phones against each other to find out if they’re related or not. The app even has a catchy slogan: “Bump the app before you bump in bed.”
33. A Questionable Deal
In 1965, Andre-Francois Raffray, a French lawyer thought he’d come up with a great plan: pay a 90-year-old woman $500 a month until she dies, and inherit her apartment. He didn’t count on the woman, Jeanne Calment, living to 120, making her the oldest person in the world at that time! By 1995, Mr. Raffray had shelled out the equivalent of $184,000 for the apartment, which he never even got to live in: Raffray died at the age of 77; he was outlived by Calment.
The population of China is booming, but it isn’t booming evenly. A severe gender imbalance among newborns means that by 2020, more than 24 million men won’t be able to find a spouse of the opposite gender! In China, it is still considered preferable to have male children, so adoption and sex-specific abortions are considered the cause of the gender imbalance.
In 1913, Adolf Hitler, Sigmund Freud, Joseph Tito, Joseph Stalin, and Leon Trotsky all lived within 2 square miles of each other in Vienna, Austria. I wonder if they ever had sleepovers?
30. Still Funny
What’s the world’s oldest joke, period? “Something which has never occurred since time immemorial; a young woman did not fart in her husband’s lap.” This joke, an ancient Sumerian proverb from ancient Babylonia, dates back 3,000 years! Get it?
29. Bad Luck
In 1954, a plane carrying Ernest Hemingway crash-landed in Africa. Hemingway and his companions were rescued and put in another plane, which then burst into flames on the runway. Finding the door jammed, Hemingway proceeded to use his head as a battering ram and butted the door twice before bursting through and escaping.
28. Could Be Worse!
Some Americans were annoyed when a statue of a defiant little girl was placed in front of the famous bull statue at the New York Stock Exchange. Maybe they wouldn’t have been so upset if someone had given them some perspective, because it really could be worse—the stock exchange in Milan has a 13-foot-tall sculpture of a middle finger!
27. I Guess They Chose “Consequences”
There is a town in New Mexico called Truth or Consequences. The town was originally called “Hot Springs,” but changed its name in 1950, after an NBC radio program. The radio show offered to broadcast its 10th-anniversary show from the first town to change its name, and the town formerly known as Hot Springs did just that. Truth or Consequences today boasts an area of 12.6 square miles and a population of only 6,500.
26. Thirsty Either Way
An experiment conducted in 1997 found that when French music was played in a store, more customers bought French wine, and when the music switched to German, there were more German wine sales. This phenomenon of influencing choice by creating a certain condition (or triggering a certain memory) is called “priming.”
Vulcan Point in the Philippines is the world’s largest island within a lake that is itself on an island in a lake on an island…. Got that? An island (Vulcan Point)… in a lake (Main Crater Lake)… on an island (Taal Island)…. in a lake (Lake Taal)… on an island (Luzon)… in the Philippine Sea. Luzon is the largest island in the Philippines, which is an archipelago of over 7,000 islands!
24. Mutiny In Space!
The first-ever mutiny in space was on Skylab 4 on December 28th, 1973. The three-man crew on the space station turned off radio communications with NASA for a full day, spending the day relaxing and refusing contact with mission control. The men had spent a record length of time in space, over 12 weeks, which in addition to the heavy workload, isolated environment and physical effects of microgravity, is thought to have caused the psychological stress that led to the mutiny. It turns out even astronauts need a day off.
23. Just Like People
If an ant gets drunk, its fellow comrades will carry it back to the nest to sleep off the alcohol. According to a paper published by Sir John Lubbock in 1884 called Ants, Bees and Wasps. A Record of Observations on the Habits of the Social Hymenoptera, while “no ant would voluntarily degrade herself by getting drunk,” that when he plied ants with alcohol, “the sober ants seemed much puzzled at finding their friends in this helpless and discreditable condition. They took them up and carried them about for a while in a sort of aimless way, as if they did not know what to do with their drunkards, any more than we do.”
22. Drinking Buddies
Why would you want to get an ant drunk, you ask? Robert Hooke is likely the first man to intentionally get an ant drunk, though it was for a noble cause. Hooke was attempting to sketch the insects for his book Micrographia, which was to be the second book published by the Royal Society way back in 1665. He found the only way to make the insects stay still without killing them was to dunk them in brandy.
21. Nice Job If You Can Get It
In Nordic mythology, Ratatoskr was a squirrel whose sole job was to carry insulting messages between a great eagle and a dragon at opposite ends of Yggdrasil, the great World Tree.
20. Three C’s and an O
Actor Nicolas Cage’s extravagant spending has made headlines—this is, after all, the man who quipped: “For a while there, it was the three Cs: castles, comic books, and cars.” Cage also spent $150,000 on an octopus to help with his acting. We still don’t know how exactly the octopus was supposed to help him become a better actor. Maybe he just wanted to write it off on his taxes? Can you do that?
19. Heads Will Roll
France adopted the guillotine as its method of execution during the French Revolution (1789-99) and kept using it for over 200 years. The last person to be executed by guillotine was Hamida Djandoubi in 1977! That’s right—France was still using the guillotine when Star Wars was in theatres!
18. Large Family
A very fertile man can produce up to five milliliters of semen per ejaculation, containing up to 1.5 billion sperm. That means he could theoretically impregnate every woman on earth in just one go!
17. Write What You Know
In the 1980s, DC Comics created a character called Snowflame, who got his powers from cocaine. His only weakness? Cocaine Addiction. One can only imagine how they got the idea for such a character…
Pepper spray and tear gas are increasingly common crowd-control tactics used by police in times of protest all over the world. But while these weapons continue to be used domestically, but they are technically classified as chemical weapons and are forbidden in warfare.
15. Where There’s Smoke
According to the India Times, studies have found that breathing the air in Mumbai on the day of Diwali is equivalent to smoking 113 cigarettes! The air pollution on Diwali comes from the widespread use of firecrackers to celebrate the holiday.
14. That Does Not Smell As Sweet!
Avant-garde writer Gertrude Stein famously wrote the line, “Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose” in her poem “Sacred Emily,” and used the line six times in other works as well. After a falling out, Hemingway sent her a copy of his novel, Death In The Afternoon. He signed the book to her, and after “To Gertrude / From her pal / Ernest Hemingway” he wrote a riff on her line: “a b**** is a b**** is a b**** is a b****.”
13. What A Catchphrase!
In 1681, London was plagued by an attacker nicknamed “Whipping Tom” who would spank his female victims with a rod or his bare hand and shout “Spanko!” before running away.
12. Mysterious Message
The Georgia Guidestones are large stone tablets that were erected in Elbert County, Georgia, bearing inscriptions of rules on how humanity can lead a good life. The guidelines are written in eight languages: English, Spanish, Swahili, Hindi, Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese and Russian. The rules are somewhat abstract: “Balance personal rights with social duties” and “Prize truth — beauty — love — seeking harmony with the infinite” appear as rules eight and nine. The stones appeared mysteriously and no one has taken credit for them—they’ve been attributed by conspiracy theorists to groups from Satanists to the New World Order.
11. Unhappy Birthday
A 2012 study in the journal Annals of Epidemiology found a that it was much more likely (about 14 percent) that people over 60 will die on their birthdays. The study, which analyzed more than 2 million deaths, found that strokes and heart attacks rose 18.6 percent and 21.5 percent, respectively, on birthdays. What a bummer!
10. Not What You Think…
Zombie tits (better known as Great tits) are a species of bird that have learned to track down tiny bats, split open their skulls, and feed on their brains.
9. Makes Sense
In the city of Yiwu in eastern China, locals were confused as to how a couple managed to run a busy restaurant 21 hours a day—from 6 am to 3 am—without getting tired. They were nicknamed the “robot couple.” The townspeople eventually learned their secret, and it wasn’t the simplest explanation after all. The couple was actually two couples—identical twins married to another set of identical twins! The twin brothers married the twin sisters, and the four of them decided to go into business together. Said one of the brothers, “Many diners thought we worked too hard and are like robots, but they don’t know that we are actually four people.”
8. What’s In A Name
In 1066, after the Norman conquest of England, all the land in the country was seized by William the Conqueror and parceled out to those who had fought with him. As a result, 70% of the land in England is still owned by 1% of the population, who are largely descended from members of William the Conqueror’s army.
7. Wife Swap
In 1973, one of the weirdest scandals in sports occurred when New York Yankees players Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich decided to trade families. They traded wives, children, even dogs! After the couples became close friends, Peterson fell in love with Kekich’s wife and vice-versa. “It’s a love story. It wasn’t anything dirty,” Peterson told a reporter in 2013. Peterson is still married to the former Mrs. Kekich, though Kekich and his new love, the former Mrs. Peterson, have since split.
6. Sock It To Me
Soldiers in the Russian army only started wearing socks in 2013! They previously wore squares of cloth called portyanki wrapped rightly around their feet. The upside of portyanki was that they freed up Russian clothing factories from manufacturing socks, and they could be made easily on the fly should soldiers need replacements on the battlefield. The drawbacks? They could cause pain and blisters if worn incorrectly, and they took time to wrap—army regulations stipulate soldiers be fully dressed within 45 seconds, wraps included.
5. Government Wing-Man
The birth rate in Singapore is so low, the government has started to organize classes and programs designed to get young people to procreate. As of 2008, the birth rate was 1.24 births per woman of childbearing age—less than the 2.5 needed to maintain the population. Propaganda was designed to suggest young people needn’t wait until their careers were established before having children. This tactic may not be terribly successful — in 1991 Singapore tried the same thing, offering cash bonuses to families with more than two children. Newspapers even printed tips for finding the “darkest, most secluded and most romantic spots” for parking in order to have sex in the backseats of cars!
4. Ghostly Whispers
The Disney film Pinocchio was based on an Italian children’s story from the 1880s. The story does feature a cricket (though the name “Jiminy Cricket” is a Disney invention), but his story takes a rather dark turn. In the original, Pinocchio kills the cricket after it tries to give him some advice, and the cricket comes back as a ghost to continue advising him.
3. Creature Comforts
Alcatraz, one of America’s most notorious and impenetrable prisons, was for a time the only prison in the United States to provide inmates with hot showers. Alcatraz is on an island in San Francisco Bay, and the hot showers were thought to hinder escape, by making sure inmates didn’t get acclimatized to the freezing cold Bay water and swimming to shore.
According to his (authorized) biography by Walter Isaacson, Apple CEO Steve Jobs had a rather unusual way of relieving stress: In the early days of Apple, he would soak his feet in the water of the office toilets.
1. Oldie But A Goody
The oldest recorded British joke dates back to the 10th Century AD. Here it is: “What hangs at a man’s thigh and wants to poke the hole that it’s often poked before? Answer: A key.”
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