Interesting Fact

Now! Tell me things!


Edit – 21 hours later:

I have to say, this little experiment turned out better than I’d hoped.

Unfortunately, 300+ comments in, we’re getting more and more repetition because people aren’t reading before posting.

So I’m turning the comments off for now, lest we spiral into madness and lose our high signal to noise ratio.

If you missed your chance this time, don’t worry about it. Take some time to enjoy other people’s statements (some of which are *not* actual facts.)

And rest assured, we’ll do this again in the future.


Additional edit – 29 hours later:

So apparently I can’t just *freeze* the comments. Either they’re on and viewable, or they’re off and invisible.

If those are my only two options, I’m going to turn them back on.

But I will encourage people to read before you post. If for no other reason that it highly increases your odds of looking like a douche if you don’t….



This entry was posted in Interesting Fact. By Pat495 Responses


  1. wonds3
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 9:42 PM | Permalink

    Did u know that if you pop a bubble underwater with sound, it creates a flash of light? It’s known as sonoluminescence and no one can explain it . . .

    • bookwyrmpoet
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 12:00 PM | Permalink

      Even cooler is that they discovered this affect being used by pistol shrimp to attack their prey.

      • my_own_clan
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 6:10 PM | Permalink

        Additionally… the collapsing bubble momentarily reaches the temperature of the sun.

  2. Posted February 12, 2013 at 9:47 PM | Permalink

    The IRS has specific guidelines for collecting taxes in the event of nuclear war.

    • glittalogik
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 5:50 AM | Permalink

      They also have guidelines for claiming your children as dependants on your tax return after they’ve been kidnapped.

  3. LazyWizard
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 9:49 PM | Permalink

    Former presidents can send mail without a postage stamp.

    • LazyWizard
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 9:50 PM | Permalink

      Forgot to specify: US presidents, that is.

      • MikeThicke
        Posted February 12, 2013 at 10:07 PM | Permalink

        So if I put my return address as GW Bush can I send letters for free?

    • Nightsky
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 11:54 AM | Permalink

      So can members of Congress. It’s called the franking privilege, and is supposed to be for official correspondence only (for Congresscritters, anyway).

  4. jakeswensen
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 9:53 PM | Permalink

    I like pie.

  5. JackDarcy
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 9:55 PM | Permalink

    Octopuses can fit their entire bodies through any opening larger than their eyes. They also use tools.

    (And there is a ferocious grammar battle between the octopi, octopuses, and octopuses camps about the proper plural form of that noun.)

    • avpix
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 9:57 PM | Permalink

      I hope that one of those “octopuses” was meant to be “octopods” for the sake of Greek-derived nouns everywhere.

    • JackDarcy
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 10:05 PM | Permalink

      Wow, feeling like an idiot. The last one should say octopodes. That would get me kicked out of Elodin’s class, I reckon.

      • Elizabeth
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 12:36 AM | Permalink

        This is not actually quite right – they can fit through any opening that is larger than their beak, the only hard part of their body. Their eye is actually irrelevant to this. (I’m a marine biologist and octopus freak..)

        To go along with cephalopod theme: octopus, cuttlefish and many squids have an amazing ability to camouflage and communicate with each other using complex, rapidly changing color patterns on their skin at the cellular level. They are also colorblind. But if you’ve ever seen an octopus hiding on a reef, you would never guess that they can’t actually see the colors. (They see in grayscale, at least according to the tests that researchers have done on the subject)

        • Silvergaze
          Posted February 13, 2013 at 4:06 AM | Permalink

          Interesting fact concerning squid- the colossal squid has a brain shaped like a donut. Its esophagus passes through the gap in the middle, lending literal meaning to the phrase “don’t bite off more than you can chew,” as in this case it can cause permanent brain damage.

          • feory274
            Posted February 13, 2013 at 6:56 AM | Permalink

            Speaking of squids, did you know they once managed to get a camera on a live one? They got a look at two other squids, but as soon as one spot the camera attached to its buddy it immediately knocked it off. Apparently they are really intelligent.

        • dcinti
          Posted February 14, 2013 at 1:56 PM | Permalink

          I did not know this!

    • Posted February 13, 2013 at 1:39 AM | Permalink

      Their tentacles have so many nerve endings, they can react to external stimuli autonomously, with no input from the brain.

      Oh, and the males release a lethal toxin into themselves after sex. The females stop eating and die approximately ten days after they finish tending their eggs. I don’t believe the quality of the sex has been measured, but it’s either mind-blowing or really, really bad.

    • Brady Dill
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 4:38 PM | Permalink

      Speaking as someone who knows Greek, I assure you that the actual proper plural is Octopoli.

    • kethdurazh
      Posted March 4, 2013 at 12:22 AM | Permalink

      Regarding the correct plural form of octopus:

  6. avpix
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 9:55 PM | Permalink

    There are more ways to order a deck of cards than the number of seconds since the universe was created. A cat’s ear reportedly has 32 muscles. If female ferrets go into heat, they will die if they don’t mate (something about bone marrow not producing red blood cells). It is mathematically possible to rearrange the alternating harmonic series (1/1 – 1/2 + 1/3…) to equal any number. In certain psychological experiments where individuals were presented with a pushable button, the neural pathways responsible for the action of pushing the button were activated and the signal was sent to the hand before the pathways responsible for the decision to push the button were activated, implying that the brain didn’t decide anything meaningfully. I will apparently use anything as an excuse to procrastinate doing my homework.

    • arachnid
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 3:46 AM | Permalink

      I take issue with conclusions drawn from that experiment. What it showed is that we start acting on decisions before we’re consciously aware of them, and some people have taken that to mean that we’re not actually in control of our decisions. But our brain _is_ us. There’s nothing engaging in action here except ourselves.

      • Thomas
        Posted February 15, 2013 at 10:21 AM | Permalink

        I can’t tell how bloody happy I am, that there are people out there, who think about this case the same as myself. I lost fate in Scientists a bit, that day I read about those conclusions.
        We are our nervous system! Our name is Legion! For we are many! Er, or something like that.

        • Thomas
          Posted February 15, 2013 at 10:23 AM | Permalink

          Oh, hell. Apparently I lost total sense in using commas/ta(?)…whatever.

  7. Travel1n_Man
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 10:01 PM | Permalink

    In 1705, Peter the Great instituted a tax on beards in order to modernize Russian society after the European model. Men who paid the tax were given a token in the shape of a coin. The two sides of the coin were inscribed with “the beard tax has been taken” and “the beard is a superfluous burden.”

    • Thomas
      Posted February 15, 2013 at 10:25 AM | Permalink

      Wow! It’s true! I thought this couldn’t be for real!

  8. justinistired
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 10:01 PM | Permalink

    Netflix is making a second season of Firefly.

    • Sherp
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 11:40 PM | Permalink

      *frantic Internet search*

      Google is finding rumors only. Can you document that this comment is truthful, sir?

      • Gorewolf
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 1:30 AM | Permalink

        I desperately hope so. I also sincerely doubt it.

    • SilverTpt
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 1:42 AM | Permalink

      If this were to be true, Netflix would get all the subscriptions.

      Hell, if this were true I’d straight up start giving them money.

    • Robo
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 10:23 AM | Permalink

      Nathan Fillion is under contract with ABC for Castle. While they can’t control him making movies, there’s no way they’ll let him do another TV series on a different network.

    • Posted February 13, 2013 at 11:09 AM | Permalink

      I am officially putting Justin under censure for toying with our emotions and bullshitting it up during class.

      • MeganR
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 3:37 PM | Permalink

        Good. I don’t think anyone can take more hope-crushing firefly moments.

        • Constance
          Posted February 14, 2013 at 10:54 AM | Permalink

          Firefly is NOT one of those things you mess around with, man. Not cool.

      • justinistired
        Posted February 14, 2013 at 11:16 AM | Permalink

        Oh dear — I didn’t mean to do this!! I thought I posted a self-censure as a reply immediately after the initial comment. Mea culpa and a half, but I understand if this requires a little more penance.

  9. mike344
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 10:02 PM | Permalink

    The Wisconsin mens basketball team was 1st in the nation for turnovers per game. 9.4 tpg

  10. LukeOD
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 10:07 PM | Permalink

    All the text in the Library of Congress can fit on a memory card as big as your fingernail.

  11. DancingOnFire
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 10:08 PM | Permalink

    Wow. I’m crap at interesting fact.

  12. Phyxius
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 10:08 PM | Permalink

    There is no integer > 2 n such that Z^n = X^n + Y^n for all positive integers X, Y, and Z.

    • Posted February 13, 2013 at 1:47 AM | Permalink

      My first college math professor asked us to solve X, Y, and Z in the case of n = 3 as homework after the first day in class. Thus was I introduced to Fermat’s Last Theorem…

    • Posted February 13, 2013 at 11:10 AM | Permalink

      Remarkable Proof.

      • Aikidoka117
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 6:06 PM | Permalink

        pfft! The proof is marginally at an advanced level. I’d show you but it should be obvious…..

      • silencekit
        Posted March 10, 2013 at 6:29 AM | Permalink

        Have you seen the documentary about Andrew Wiles? I believe it is called “The Proof.” Really, really awesome.

  13. GRae
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 10:09 PM | Permalink

    When our species (Homo sapiens) first arrived in Europe, we met and had sex with the Neanderthals who already lived there. By doing so, we inherited immunity-related genes that helped us survive the new environment.

    On a side note, you can have a DNA test done to tell you what percent Neanderthal DNA you have.

  14. Yoni
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 10:12 PM | Permalink

    Ice cream taste testers use gold spoons to prevent any residual favors from previous tastings.

    • blackdragon16
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 10:32 PM | Permalink

      So do coffee tasters.

    • Jonbas
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 10:03 AM | Permalink

      It’s not about residual taste. They use gold because gold itself has no taste.

  15. riskypuddle
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 10:12 PM | Permalink

    Ducks have corkscrew male/female parts that are a result of evolution so females can avoid pregnancy even when forced to mate with “unworthy” duck suitors. Which apparently happens a lot. Creepy, yet scientifically awesome.

    • nrcole
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 12:42 AM | Permalink

      Todd Akin would love that shit!

    • Feldoth
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 1:24 AM | Permalink

      Duck’s are all about rape. It’s practically how they say hello to each other. In 2003 a scientist wrote a paper about an incident wherein a mallard crashed into the window of his office and was instantly killed. Another duck immediately swooped down and raped the corpse of the (also male) duck. This paper, titled “The First Case of Homosexual Necrophilia in the Mallard Anas platyrhynchos” won him the ig-noble prize for Biology 2003 – he’s one of the few people that have shown up to the ceremony to collect their prize and give an acceptance speech.

    • toadsqualor
      Posted March 1, 2013 at 10:38 AM | Permalink

      Pigs and kangaroos also have corkscrew-shaped genitalia. Strange, huh?

  16. Posted February 12, 2013 at 10:18 PM | Permalink

    Bugbears are a real thing.

    They’re tiny, and officially called tardigrades, but they’re the cutest little monsters ever. They can be dehydrated and exposed to a vacuum, and when re-hydrated they can still reproduce. Suckers are BADASS.

    • Posted February 13, 2013 at 5:19 PM | Permalink

      They are awesome ! They found some in egyptian tombs that were all dried up and added some water – and they are alive…
      Sounds like the right pet for me…

  17. keng
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 10:22 PM | Permalink

    we’ve only known what the far side of the moon looks like for about 50 years.

  18. frezzyisfuzzy
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 10:23 PM | Permalink

    If you go there, prepare to lose the next few hours of your life.

    • slick447
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 2:10 AM | Permalink

      You sir/madam, are directly responsible for my lack of sleep tonight.
      You have my gratitude.

  19. LadyIsta
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 10:30 PM | Permalink

    German has the best describing words I’ve ever learned.

    Vorfreude is the joyful, intense anticipation that comes from imagining future pleasures. It’s one of my favorite feelings in the world.

    Fernweh literally means “farsickness” – an ache for distant places, a yearning for travel. Like wanderlust (also German) but more intense.

    • Gorewolf
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 1:35 AM | Permalink

      Schadenfreude is by far my favourite German discriptive, though i’ll have to remember Vorfreude.

    • toadsqualor
      Posted March 1, 2013 at 10:41 AM | Permalink

      There’s a lot of fun words because of the “compound noun” nature of the language. “Torschlusspanik” describes the fear of diminishing opportunities as one ages.

  20. Potemkin78
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 10:34 PM | Permalink

    The Pistol Shrimp is only about one or two inches long but is perhaps the loudest creature in the ocean–rivaling blue whales and other much larger animals. Their loudness comes in the form of a special claw that can snap to create a bubble; this bubble cavitates so rapidly that it creates light and pressure–pressure strong enough to kill nearby fish. Even more impressive, the temperature in this cavitating bubble is very close to that of the surface of the sun, near 5,000 degrees Celsius!

  21. landlouper
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 10:35 PM | Permalink

    If you divide 1 by the square of 7 you get a decimal which ‘repeats’ powers of two:
    .0204081632 and so on.

    • Posted February 13, 2013 at 10:17 AM | Permalink

      That only seems to be true for the first ten digits. After that, instead of 64 we get 65. Still, it is amazingly cool that it lasts for so long. :)

      • Jormungandr
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 10:52 AM | Permalink

        you get 65 because the next one is 128 and it spills over. It’s the sum of :

  22. dogrose
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 10:38 PM | Permalink

    In ancient Greek and Roman comedies, actors wore gigantic false phalluses to emphasize the base desires of their characters.

    • toadsqualor
      Posted March 1, 2013 at 10:46 AM | Permalink

      The Romans and Greeks were obsessed with penises. Penises were everywhere.

      Two words: Penis windchimes.

  23. Jacob I
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 10:40 PM | Permalink

    In Ojibwe, there are no gender-specific pronouns.

  24. Nightsky
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 10:45 PM | Permalink

    There is a whistled language that is, um, spoken on Spain’s Canary Islands (which, as a bonus fact, are named after dogs (family Canis), not birds):

    Smokey the Bear has his own ZIP code: 20252.

    • Valarya
      Posted February 14, 2013 at 11:02 AM | Permalink

      This is so incredibly neat!! And to think it can be done with any language as it’s mostly phonetic.

  25. Ximmm
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 10:48 PM | Permalink

    Fire is spherical or dome-shaped in microgravity.

  26. blackdragon16
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 10:50 PM | Permalink

    The most people ever on a single flight was 1,122 on an El-Al 747 during Operation Solomon in 1991.

    My father’s favorite palindrome is: “Go hang a salami, I’m a lasagna hog.” To this day, I am confused as to the meaning.

    The piece of the sword which is known colloquially as the “blood groove,” is properly known as the fuller, and was used not to break suction created by a stab wound, as has been professed by some, but to reduce the weight and increase the structural stability, adding some flexibility to the flat, and rigidity to the edges.

    • blackdragon16
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 11:07 PM | Permalink

      The area code for Florida’s space coast is (321).

  27. cookieleib
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 11:01 PM | Permalink

    Mamihlapinatapei- Yagan (indigenous language of Tierra del Fuego) – The wordless, yet meaningful look shared by two people who both desire to initiate something but are both reluctant to start

  28. nrcole
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 11:03 PM | Permalink

    Names in Korean have three parts. The part immediately after the surname is the name given to every member of a generation within a family.

    • jaydelott
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 1:17 AM | Permalink

      If only I had been Korean, I wouldn’t have to worry about calling my sons by each other’s names all the time.

  29. cookieleib
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 11:04 PM | Permalink

    There are more people alive today than have ever died.

      Posted February 12, 2013 at 11:09 PM | Permalink


      • heisindc
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 12:42 PM | Permalink

        Better answer: Around 98 billion have died. 7 billion living.

        (Thanks to John Green – Fault in Our Stars)

        • dodecahedonist
          Posted March 8, 2013 at 8:14 AM | Permalink

          Which means that life, as we know it now, only has a 93% mortality rate. Not bad odds.

  30. Posted February 12, 2013 at 11:05 PM | Permalink

    The first shipment of ice to Britain (lake ice from Massachusetts) baffled customs officers, who had no idea how to classify it; it was stuck at the border for so long all 300 tons of it melted.

  31. cookieleib
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 11:08 PM | Permalink

    Each king in a deck of playing cards represents a great king from history: Spades – King David; Clubs – Alexander the Great;Hearts-Charlemagne and Diamonds – Julius Caesar.

    • BiblioLexophile
      Posted February 19, 2013 at 3:15 AM | Permalink

      The practice of assigning identities to the kings in a playing card deck was only used by the French, only long after playing cards came into prominence, and the identity of the kings was far from uniform between makers of cards.
      (See this link:

  32. PhantasticJoe
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 11:09 PM | Permalink

    John Adams didn’t believe that the world would remember him as an important part of the American revolution, saying “The History of our Revolution will be one continued lye [sic] from one end to the other. The essence of the whole will be that Dr. Franklin’s electric rod smote the earth and out sprang General Washington. Then Franklin electrified him… and thence forward those two conducted all the Policy, Negotiations, Legislations, and War”

    Also, there’s a species of frog that when threatened, will break its own leg, and take the pointy end of the broken bone to stab its attacker.

  33. cookieleib
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 11:11 PM | Permalink

    A ‘jiffy’ is an actual unit of time for 1/100th of a second

    • Tayacan
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:08 AM | Permalink

      Wikipedia and my dictionary both say it’s just a very short amount of time.

  34. cookieleib
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 11:14 PM | Permalink

    Earth is the only planet not named after a god

    • pedant
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 12:43 AM | Permalink

      Because it’s named after a godess.

      • jaydelott
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 12:59 AM | Permalink


        • Brady Dill
          Posted February 13, 2013 at 4:48 PM | Permalink

          After the Roman Goddess Venus, who was the equivalent of the Greek Aphrodite.

          Unless you are suggesting that it is named after a Goddess, not a God, in which case I support your point.

      • Gorewolf
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 1:58 AM | Permalink

        No, it wasnt.

        The name Earth comes from the Old Saxon word ‘ertha’, the dutch word ‘aerde’ and the German word ‘erda’. They all mean “dirt”/”soil”/”land”. Earth is the name that the International Astronomical Union recognises for the planet.

        Gaia, who i think you might mean, is a greek word that means the same as Earth and also happens to be the name of one of their ancient goddesses. It is still what the greek people call Earth, however this is not officially recognised.

        Officially, Earth is the only planet not named after a god.

        Sidenote, Uranus is the only planet not named after a Roman god. (because Pluto isnt a planet anymore)

        • Spangberg
          Posted February 13, 2013 at 2:17 AM | Permalink

          Fascinating! In Sweden we learn that the official name for the Earth is in fact Tellus. I expected it to be the same everywhere, since it’s Latin.

          Tellus is also a godess in Roman myth.

          • Thomas
            Posted February 15, 2013 at 10:53 AM | Permalink

            Wow! I never heard of this Goddess! Why has Tellus a male ending, as it is the name of a female goddess?
            And how can “Tellus” mean Earth in latin, if it is also the name of a godess, who is also called “terra mater”. Terra itself means also earth.
            This is so bloody disturbing.

          • Thomas
            Posted February 15, 2013 at 11:00 AM | Permalink

            I read lots of old 70s/80s Science Fiction. And I rember that many of them called our Planet “Terra”.
            I read now in Wikipedia, that the words Tellus and Terra mean both earth in some ways. I always thought Terra was the official name for Earth.

        • sesenta y cuatro
          Posted February 13, 2013 at 2:23 AM | Permalink

          Pluto is the roman name of the god that was called Hades by ancient greeks

          • Brady Dill
            Posted February 13, 2013 at 4:48 PM | Permalink

            Pluto is not a planet.

          • Azoth
            Posted February 14, 2013 at 11:41 AM | Permalink

            the reason for pluto not being a planet is that it is officially a dwarf planet, not refering to its size but rather that it shares an orbit with another dwarf planet and will collide with it at some point in the future altering its orbit around the sun. after that collision one or both of thew dwarf planets will be destroyed and the possible remaining planet will officially be called a planet, if its new orbit is around our sun and not the other planets then it will officially be our final planet in the solar system.

      • dcinti
        Posted February 14, 2013 at 2:01 PM | Permalink


  35. FatRussianKid
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 11:15 PM | Permalink

    In computer science a single binary digit is called a bit, a sequence of 8 bits is called a byte, and 4 bits of data is called a nibble. And people say engineers don’t have a sense of humor.

    By the way does it feel king-like to be able to blog 4 words and get this kind of enthusiastic response.

  36. harpergirl
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 11:19 PM | Permalink

    Sad fact: college events will offer pizza in the cheese, pepperoni, and sausage varieties. Rare is the event that offers any other pizza option.

    Interesting facts: Crochet chaining is also used in sailing, to store ropes in a quickly accessible manner. Many cut plants, including cacti, (apple) trees, and vines, can actually grow new root systems quite successfully. A five pound gummy bear does not hold its shape well (gravity appears to change its height quite pronouncedly).

  37. Timmy
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 11:20 PM | Permalink

    After the US’s first satellite launch attempt failed in ’57, US leaders needed another avenue to “win” the space race quickly and boost their citizens morale. This urgency brought many projects to the table, such as a plan to nuke the moon as a “PR exercise” and to one-up the USSR.

  38. juancmb
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 11:32 PM | Permalink

    Buenos Aires has 23 times more plays than barcelona and madrid together.
    In Argentina universities are free and of a top level.

  39. gingerpixie
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 11:36 PM | Permalink

    The Latin poem often referred to as Catullus 16 includes a phrase so vile that until the 20th century, a full English translation was not printed. It may be found here:

  40. Pennyland
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 11:37 PM | Permalink

    In computer science big-endian and little-endian refer to two schools of thought on which order data should be written to a computer’s memory. They are named after the warring kingdoms in Gulliver’s Travels who fought for a century over which end of a boiled egg should be cracked first.

  41. tab195
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 11:42 PM | Permalink

    A single piece of paper cannot be folded in half more than 7 times. Try it!

    • MikeThicke
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 11:53 PM | Permalink

      False – this was on Mythbusters.

      • SMantzoros
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 12:02 AM | Permalink

        I’m sure it would depend on the thickness and size of the paper.

      • Oatmeal
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 3:18 PM | Permalink

        Yes, and on Mythbusters, in order to acheive this goal, the paper had to be the size of a warehouse floor, and they had to use a steamroller to get it to go more than 7 times. And even then I think they only made it to 8 …

        • zusias
          Posted February 14, 2013 at 9:25 PM | Permalink

          They got to 11 with the warehouse piece, they also succeeded in folding a regular piece more than 7 times by folding in one direction multiple times before folding it in half in the other direction.

          • Oatmeal
            Posted February 15, 2013 at 10:34 AM | Permalink

            Well that’s just cheating. ;o)

          • BiblioLexophile
            Posted February 18, 2013 at 11:29 PM | Permalink

            I believe, from what I have read of Elodin, that he would relish an elegant solution that could foil a person who was so sure of their silly bet, and he would most probably scoff outright at your accusation of “cheating”.

            (Aside to Pat–Elodin has become one of my favorite characters of all time, and much kudos is due his author. The Interesting Fact chapter, coincidentally, has become one of my favorite quote passages. Thank you.)

  42. SMantzoros
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 12:01 AM | Permalink

    In Japanese culture, when receiving a compliment it is polite to deny the compliment or to find flaw in the same thing being complimented before begrudgingly accepting praise. For example, if someone compliments your sweater you politely disagree or say something about how the colors clash or it is old. The person giving you the compliment would then repeat it. This can be repeated any number of times but invariably ends with hesitated acceptance.

    • pearlyeti
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 1:04 AM | Permalink

      I was taught the same thing in French class about French culture. When living there I’m sure people found it odd that at first I thanked them for their compliment and, remembering my manners, quickly back-tracked and disparaged whatever they complimented.

    • Hajt
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 1:13 AM | Permalink

      This also extends to compliments to your family members, such as your siblings or children.

  43. Kerensky287
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 12:01 AM | Permalink

    When nervous, kangaroos lick their forearms.

    • chuckles73
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 1:27 AM | Permalink

      They also do it so it takes some of the heat away when it evaporates, iow, to cool off.

      • Spangberg
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 2:22 AM | Permalink

        Sweat works the same way (to cool you off when evaporating).

  44. Anholti
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 12:06 AM | Permalink

    Frederick the Great of Prussia forbade his soldiers from drinking coffee, as he believed they would fight better on beer.

    You can make diamonds out of tequila.

    • BiblioLexophile
      Posted February 18, 2013 at 11:31 PM | Permalink

      You can make diamond film out of tequila. Not quite the same thing, but still with many applications, and most interesting.

  45. Anholti
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 12:10 AM | Permalink

    Oh! And people who were 3-12 when black-and-white TV was around dream in black and white. Everyone since then – or before then – dreams in colour.

    • Posted February 13, 2013 at 10:04 AM | Permalink

      This is only partially true. A greater Percentage of people who were raised with B&W TV dream in B&W. But people who were born after Color TV was the norm can (and do) still dream in B&W, and those who grew up with B&W can/do dream in color.

      Odd that I just read this study about a week ago and see it here though.

      • Tattered Lucidity
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 11:26 AM | Permalink

        and those of us who played text-based online RPGs for years sometimes dream in text! (okay, I do at least) ;)

        • Constance
          Posted February 14, 2013 at 10:56 AM | Permalink

          Tatttered – Nope, fairly frequent of those of us who currently play Mu*/Muds etc

  46. Posted February 13, 2013 at 12:11 AM | Permalink

    In Turkey they serve an ice cream called Maras that acts like pull taffy.

  47. ShaneJ
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 12:15 AM | Permalink

    Diseases from dirty water and lack of basic sanitation kill more people every year than all forms of violence

  48. RowdyTheDog
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 12:17 AM | Permalink

    Mushrooms have no sexual differentiation and no mechanism for signalling to a likely mate, therefore they try to mate with any and all other mushrooms they can, leading to several thousand mating types.

  49. Posted February 13, 2013 at 12:30 AM | Permalink

    There is a growing number of people that believe instead of black holes existing at the center of galaxies, an electrical structure called a plasmoid, which happens to be in the shape of a donut.

    • jaydelott
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 1:00 AM | Permalink

      Count me in!

    • sesenta y cuatro
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 2:34 AM | Permalink

      There is an increasing number of people, university educated, that believe that the Earth is not moving whereas it is the Sun which orbits around it.

  50. afussycussyhussy
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 12:41 AM | Permalink

    A dust cloud in the heart of the Milky Way galaxy smells like rum and tastes like raspberries. Also present in that dust cloud…lots and lots of booze (albeit not the kind that will get you snockered.)

    I recommend that this bit of knowledge be incorporated into ones life by dressing up as an astronaut and re-labeling a bottle of Bacardi Razz as “Space Juice”. Then when confronted by an authority figure for public intoxication you can tell them it’s for research into “space and sh*t”.

  51. Israel Barbuzano
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 12:45 AM | Permalink

    Scientists recently discovered a galaxy cluster 4.4 billion light-years long, or approximately one twentieth the diameter of the observable universe.

  52. mitre67
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 12:47 AM | Permalink

    The average black American IQ is one standard deviation (~15 points) below the average white American IQ.

    Black children from very rich families score approximately the same on standardized tests as white children from very poor families.

    • Weijian
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 1:09 AM | Permalink

      Man, glad you brought that up. I have a related fact I’ve been wanting to bust out: In black people’s skulls, the area associated with submissiveness is larger than any human or any other sub-human species on planet Earth. If you examine an African skull, you’ll notice three distinct dimples. Unburdened by genius, these three dimples exist in the area of the skull most associated with servility.

      See, the science of phrenology is crucial to understandin’ the separation of our two species, ya hear?

      • mitre67
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 3:19 AM | Permalink

        Nice strawman. You must have done very well in the humanities in high school.

        IQ tests are not pseudoscience, and they are not racist. The facts I have stated above are directly from official figures or peer-reviewed scientific research and are not denied by anyone. All criticism of them stems from mistrust of IQ testing itself, or a belief that “cultural” differences are responsible for the gap in test scores. Of note: American Asians out-perform both blacks and whites on standardised tests at every income level, and their average IQ is ~10 points above that of whites.

        Of course, that only applies to East Asians. South-East Asians score nearly as poorly as blacks.

        • NateSMZ
          Posted February 13, 2013 at 9:32 AM | Permalink

          My questions would be: Do you think that is significant? Why? What conclusions do you draw from that fact?

        • Posted February 13, 2013 at 5:53 PM | Permalink

          That said, most anyone who studies assessment seriously has a mistrust of IQ testing….

        • BiblioLexophile
          Posted February 18, 2013 at 11:52 PM | Permalink

          In response to your original post, consider this:
          Even a game as fascinating as Interesting Fact can be poisoned by such seemingly provocative, pruned, and narrow-scope facts. The point is to engage in the Interesting–not to vent your bias, which may only serve to start an unsavory argument. In my opinion, this is not the place.

        • silencekit
          Posted March 10, 2013 at 6:21 AM | Permalink

          Let’s assume this is true and that the IQ is an infallible measure of intelligence. How do we proceed? Do we reduce black people’s power in society? Maybe try to teach them how to overcome their nature? One thing is for sure, I don’t want them mating with any whites or Asians. In fact, a lot of us should just stop reproducing altogether… My God, do you know how many white couples have chosen to adopt black children from Africa rather than have their own child? Terrifying.

      • gilgamesh
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 12:15 PM | Permalink

        I see you have seen Django unchained.

      • dylan159
        Posted February 14, 2013 at 5:15 PM | Permalink

        I feel like reading a blog by calvin candy of django unchained.

  53. hail2daredskinz
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 12:56 AM | Permalink

    you should use some of these in book 3 (provided we ever see the inside of elodin’s classroom ever again…) and give something cool to the people whose facts you use.

    Anyway fun fact about my home state of NJ: We’re the only state in the country in which every single one of our counties is considered a metropolitan area.

  54. Weijian
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 12:59 AM | Permalink

    I got this from an ad for a typewriter: Old typewriters do not contain a separate key for the numeral 1 or the exclamation point. Typists who learned on these machines learned the habit of using the lowercase letter l for the digit 1. The exclamation point was a three-stroke combination of an apostrophe, a backspace, and a period. These characters were omitted to simplify design and reduce manufacturing and maintenance costs; they were chosen specifically because they were “redundant” and could be recreated using other keys. On modern keyboards, the exclamation point is the shifted character on the 1 key, a direct result of the heritage that these were the last characters to become “standard” on keyboards.

  55. pearlyeti
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 1:00 AM | Permalink

    Healthcare reform laws only allow health insurance companies to charge a premium for the first three children in a family. But it also defines a child as anyone under 21. This means that parents under 21 are considered children. A family with two parents under 21 and three children will only be charged premium for the parents and one of their children, getting “free” health insurance for the other two. Being your own kid is good sometimes.

  56. jaydelott
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 1:07 AM | Permalink

    The fastest-accelerating living thing known is the saprobe, a fungus that lives in horse manure, whose spores can pull 20G as they launch away from the parent in the poo in search of greener pastures.

  57. meteoroskopos
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 1:11 AM | Permalink

    There was a Roman emperor named Pupienus (pronounced “poopy anus”).

  58. chuckles73
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 1:23 AM | Permalink

    Cats have extra skin where their legs attach to their bodies. This allows them to spread themselves open like a parachute and glide like a flying squirrel, but only if they have enough time. This leads to a weird fact that dropping a cat from one story is usually okay (not enough distance to hurt it), between two and seven stories will kill it, but any higher and the cat is much more likely to survive.

    You can look it up. It’s sometimes called High-Rise Syndrome.

  59. mredria
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 1:44 AM | Permalink

    Humans are capable of regrowing their fingertips. Specifically, the bone, skin and nail of the distal phalanx (the last segment of your finger, or the part with the nail). It’s more common for children to regrow finger tips, but it’s still possible in adults. The nail and fingertip is squarer than the original, and will usually lack a fingerprint. Other than those differences, it’ll be recognizably a fingertip.

    • Celt42
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 12:54 PM | Permalink

      Fingerprints are determined by the placenta inutero. Where our fingers press against it and also determined by where genetically the skin is still softest. The two combined is what creates the finger print.

  60. teancom
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 1:49 AM | Permalink

    Pigs can orgasm for a half an hour.

    • Celt42
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 12:58 PM | Permalink

      The male boar ejaculates almost a half of a liter per ejaculation, but it only takes on average of 15 minutes. However, if stimulated at the end of the first ejaculation the boar can be set off for a second round immediately, lasting another 15 minutes and another 1/2 liter.

  61. Posted February 13, 2013 at 1:57 AM | Permalink

    Benjamin Franklin opposed the idea of using a bald eagle as the national bird of the USA. In his words, it was a bird of “bad moral character.”

    The bald eagle is known to harass the “Fishing Hawk” (also known as the osprey, the only bird of prey with zygodactyl feet) into dropping its fish and subsequently stealing the fish for itself, he may have had a point.

    Naturally, he suggested the wild turkey, as it is a respectable bird of courage.

  62. Posted February 13, 2013 at 2:00 AM | Permalink

    Oh, and Fibonacci numbers are awesome, in case you haven’t seen this one…

    • mmendel
      Posted February 24, 2013 at 7:39 AM | Permalink

      Ok, so I have known about the fibonacci sequence and the examples she uses for a long time, but oh my god, these videos are awesoem!

  63. Gorewolf
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 2:01 AM | Permalink

    In South Australia it is illegal for a taxi not to carry a bail of hay.

  64. sesenta y cuatro
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 2:03 AM | Permalink

    There is one country, Italy, obssessed with a sport which they call “calcio”. This country goes to elections this February and certain candidate, who incidentally owns 3 or 4 national TVs, several newspapers and a very famous “calcio” team just “bought” a famous italian player who was at the time playing abroad.

    Frenzy has struck Italy when the man came back home.

    And the interesting fact is that: polls show that move has increased his vote forecasts by almost 1%

  65. The Archer
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 2:13 AM | Permalink

    Apples, strawberries and blackberries are all part of the rose family (Rosaceae).

    In the original stories, Sherlock Holmes never said “Elementary, my dear Watson.”

    Some months before Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, his son’s life was saved by one Mr. Edwin Booth, John Wilkes’ older brother! Details here:

    And, my favorite: The first known usage of the word “nerd” came from Dr. Seuss’ book If I Ran the Zoo.

    • Mitchell Hundred
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:22 AM | Permalink

      In fairness, Holmes does say “Elementary” and “My dear Watson” in the stories. He just never says the full phrase.

      • ryan7273
        Posted February 14, 2013 at 8:14 AM | Permalink

        The opening scenes of “The Resident Patient” and “The Adventure of the Cardboard Box” are almost identical with Holmes explaining the same train of logic to Watson. After the opening paragraph, much of it is verbatim until they get to the main plot.

    • BiblioLexophile
      Posted February 19, 2013 at 12:03 AM | Permalink

      Kudos–I love these! Particularly the connection between Dr. Suess and a title many now claim with pride. (I myself profess to be a nerd-geek hybrid, 75% nerd to 25% geek, or thereabouts.)

  66. lodi16b
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 2:18 AM | Permalink

    Gaiman is releasing at least two new books in 2013!!!!

  67. Gaddoc
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 2:33 AM | Permalink

    in the year 2012 there were all over the earth about 4,3 million people who got married – the interesting fact is…the number is unequal.


    there’s a fish who followes the urine and sets himself stuck in the mans penis (sorry for my bad english and for the “bad word” :D)

  68. sesenta y cuatro
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 2:34 AM | Permalink

    There exists a map about the average penis size per country.

  69. TheManiacWoodpecker
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 3:17 AM | Permalink

    Perry Rhodan is the name of a science fiction series published since 1961!!! in Germany. It is a space opera, dealing with several themes of science fiction. Having sold over one billion copies (in pulp booklet format) worldwide, it is the most successful science fiction book series ever written.

    • BiblioLexophile
      Posted February 19, 2013 at 12:12 AM | Permalink

      Quothe Wikipedia:
      “In the introduction to the first English-language edition of Perry Rhodan in 1969, Forrest J Ackerman said that ‘In Germany, all serious SF buffs claim to hate Perry Rhodan, but somebody (in unprecedented numbers) is certainly reading him.’ “

  70. Looknan
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 3:18 AM | Permalink

    Three of the Universe’s elementary forces (em, weak and strong) are unified in Quantum Field Theory. The only one still just not wanting to fit in is Gravity.
    Historically the electromagnetic force was the first discovered and described in a theory, in which one could observe a symmetry called gauge invariance. The cool thing is that nowadays one goes backwards: just imposing your theory to have local gauge invariance forces you to introduce all the interactions and particles observed with em, weak and strong forces. One simple symmetry implies most of the Universe’s forces…

    1/81 = 0.012345679012345….
    1/9801 = 0. 00 01 02 03 … 96 97 99 00 01 02 …
    1/998001 = 0. 000 001 002 …. 996 997 999 000 001 ….

    • mitre67
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 3:31 AM | Permalink

      The really exciting thing is that we know that QFT and GR are mutually incompatible. Something has to give soon, and when it does, probably within 20 years, we’ll be doing some of the most interesting physics in a century. China is actually pioneering the push for a better understanding of Quantum with a set of satellites designed to carry out research on the subject, which will be coordinated by a team in China and a team in Vienna.

      • Aikidoka117
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 6:23 PM | Permalink

        General Relativity is actually internally inconsistent – it breaks down at the singularity. Hence, we do not know what happens inside a black hole.

  71. The_Doc
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 3:27 AM | Permalink

    Girls have boobs.
    I like boobs.

  72. diciembreix
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 3:29 AM | Permalink

    The Japanese tea ceremony was inspired by the ritual of Catholic mass.
    Latin uses the same word for “soup” and “law” (ius).
    The four moving figures on the outside of the Prague astronomical clock represent four hated things: (from left to right) vanity, Turks, death, and greed. Near the western end of the Charles Bridge there is a group of figures commemorating the city’s survival of a plague that also includes at the edge of the group a very dejected-looking Turk.

    • Nihon No Otaku
      Posted February 14, 2013 at 8:32 AM | Permalink

      I am pretty sure that the Japanese Tea Ceremony, (Sado, Chado) was most definitely not based off Catholic Mass. First of all, the first recored Chado was in the early Ninth century by the monk Eichuu. Second of all, unless I am severely mistaken, Catholicism, and indeed, monotheism in general, was introduced to the Japanese by the Portuguese in the 1500s and 1600s. I dont want to sound like a self important prude, so if you can find proof of this fact, please tell me.

      Incidentally, the dogs that adorn Japanese Shinto shrines (Jinja) are Korean in origin, and all appear to be mouthing the syllables of A–U–M, a sacred phrase in Hinduism and Jainism. In other words, OMMMMMMMMMM. You know, like the stereotypical monks chant.

  73. Vondrakenhof
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 3:37 AM | Permalink

    The molecules responsible for the smell of oranges and lemons are mirror images of eachother but they are not superimposable. Like your hands. It’s known as chirality. They share the same chemical name but one is denoted to be the left and the other the right. They interact differently with smell receptors in the nose which is why they smell different.

    Chirality is a big issue for pharmaceutical companies as chrial compounds are produced in a 1:1 ratio. But while, for example, the left compound is beneficial, the right compound could be toxic.

    • arachnid
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 3:57 AM | Permalink

      I’m not aware of any instances where one chirality is toxic. Usually, only one chirality is effective, and the other is inactive. Nobody is quite sure how biological processes manage to produce more of one chirality than the other, when standard chemical processes always produce them in equal amounts.

      • Vondrakenhof
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 4:09 AM | Permalink

        It was in the 50’s or 60’s I can’t really remember. It was a specific example my lecturer gave when we were studying chirality in Organic Chemistry. But that was three years ago and I’ve forgotten so much I might as well have skipped the module.

      • Cocoa
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 4:45 AM | Permalink

        Thalidomide is a classic example (though apparently it can convert in vivo so dosing with just one enantiomer doesn’t work out). Wikipedia also lists ethambutol (one enantiomer is used to treat tuberculosis, the other causes blindness), and naproxen (one enantiomer is used to treat arthritis pain, but the other causes liver poisoning with no analgesic effect).

        Chirality is a strange, fascinating thing.

      • leliz
        Posted February 14, 2013 at 9:47 AM | Permalink

        Just to add to the fun:
        Also one enantiomer of ibuprofen is teratogenic, one is not.
        One enantiomer of citalopram is thought to inhibit CYP450 enzymes (causing a lot of drug interactions, including reducing the efficacy of the active enantiomer), whereas the other does not.

  74. Silvergaze
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 4:12 AM | Permalink

    Scientists have successfully teleported atomic particles using Quantum Entanglement. While using the technology for transportation reminiscent of Star Trek is unlikely, it does promise interesting advances in the field of computing and data storage/transmission.

  75. Spangberg
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 4:22 AM | Permalink

    The Swedish word “gift” (pronounced as the English word “gift” but with a soft g) means both poison and married.

    => “Jag är gift” translates “I’m married” or “I’m poison”.

    • Looknan
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 4:54 AM | Permalink

      The German word ‘Gift’ also means poison, which confused the hell out of me when I started to learn English, as people seem to like giving ‘gifts’ to other people in England…

    • Tayacan
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:24 AM | Permalink

      Same thing goes for ‘gift’ in Danish.

  76. Michael
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 4:46 AM | Permalink

    There is a way to remove all the length from a set of numbers, yet leave uncountably many points behind.

    • Michael
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 4:47 AM | Permalink

      And the man who first did this drove himself insane.

    • Nightsky
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 11:41 AM | Permalink

      Cantor’s Dust?

    • headscratching
      Posted February 19, 2013 at 2:45 AM | Permalink

      I’m curious if this is a legitimate interpretation/application of what you mean:

      If we think of numbers in two (or three) dimensions and remove the dimension of ‘length,’ there still remains one (or two) dimensions in play, in which there can be an infinite set of points, with a length of zero. For example, here’s an incredibly literal rendering of this: if the string of printed numbers “1234567890” has it’s height (aka ‘length’ in direction y) reduced to null at the baseline, you would end up with a single-dimensional set of points that looks something like “_ _ . . . . . . . .” (since the numerals 1 and 2 are written/drawn with flat bases and the rest of the numbers have rounded or single-point bases where they touch the baseline), which is an undefinable (infinite?) number of points.

      Does this make sense and was this what you were talking about (or is it at least an applicable depiction of it)?


  77. Cocoa
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 4:52 AM | Permalink

    Kale, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, collard greens, kohlrabi, and cabbage are all the same plant species (Brassica oleracea).

    As a biologist this always blows my mind, particularly because I love some of these vegetables and hate others.

  78. Auri Rodrigues
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 5:05 AM | Permalink

    “Plants are non-motile organisms that are persistently challenged by a wide spectrum of environmental stresses. Therefore, sensing these stimuli and modulating appropriate responses to the surrounding conditions are critical for plants to accurately change their morphology as they grow. The adaptive success of these living organisms is closely linked to a variety of adaptations for enhancing the uptake of resources available in the environment, and using them efficiently.”
    At first, it looks like an obvious and naive information, but we should admit that plants do an outstanding job when they silently illustrate that living can be seem both as a painful struggle for senseless survival or a precious chance for surprising ourselves.

  79. Quainte
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 5:21 AM | Permalink

    In 1997, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) detected an ultra-low, rapidly rising sound frequency in a remote part of the Pacific south-west from the tip South America. The sound was several times louder than the loudest submerged sound ever recorded (Blue Whale), and could be detected 5000km away. The source of the sound is still unexplained. It is believed to either be an icerberg “earthquake”, however the sound is more similar to an animal.

    Other unexplained underwater sounds detected by the NOAA are: Julia, Train, Slow Down, Whistle, and Upsweep.

    • Quainte
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 5:24 AM | Permalink

      Note: This sound was named “The Bloop”, and is argued to be the sonic boom of a giant squid.

      • Quainte
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 5:27 AM | Permalink

        Note Note: You can listen to the sounds on YouTube :)

  80. Zeppe
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 6:17 AM | Permalink

    All languages make up colour words in the same order.

    If a language only have two colour words, they’re always black and white (can be interpreted as light and dark or warm and cold).
    All languages with three colour words have black, white and red.
    Four and five are always green and yellow.
    Six and seven are blue and brown.
    The last four colour to be named are pink, purple, orange and grey.

    This is believed to be a result of our nervous system. No cultural explanations have been found.

    • lowelj
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:41 AM | Permalink

      False, in Turkish we say “ak ile kara” (more generally “akla kara”) which is white and black or good and bad.

      • Zeppe
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 3:28 PM | Permalink

        What does that have to do with anything? Turkish ought to have more colour terms than those anyway.

        • dvancuyk
          Posted February 15, 2013 at 8:34 AM | Permalink

          I believe he thought you meant in the order you specified. So when there were only two colors, it was always black and white (not white and black).

    • jaydelott
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 12:02 PM | Permalink

      Most Asian languages use a single color word for both green and blue, which linguists translate as “bleen” or “grue”. Modifiers such as “leaf” or “sky” are used to distinguish between hues.

      Russians do not use a single word that translates as our English word for “blue”. They have two words, one that refers exclusively to the cooler aquamarine blue or cyan hue (“goluboy”), and “siniy”, which refers to the deeper ultramarine blue or indigo hue.

      • toadsqualor
        Posted March 1, 2013 at 12:51 PM | Permalink

        The original commenter forgot to mention that many languages are known to “skip” colors within groupings. The “blue/green” differentiation and the “blue/purple” differentiation are good examples, as it happens pretty frequently. Icelandic uses the word “purpuralitur” (literally “purple color”) and “fjólublár” (“violet blue” i.e. “the color of violets”), which either mimic another language’s word for the color or define it by something that is that color.

        To clarify: Cultures that differentiate between colors tend to differentiate between light/dark, then warm/cool will show up, and then more distinctions between that.

    • Migitmagee
      Posted February 14, 2013 at 11:16 AM | Permalink

      The order in which words for colors enter a language seems to have some connection to when that culture was able to artificially replicate those colors. For example, without woad or something similar, it is VERY difficult to replicate the color blue. Some primitive desert languages still do not have a word for the color blue; further, if you show them cards with different shades of green and one shade of blue, they will be hard-pressed to pick the odd one out. If you point at the sky and ask what color it is, they will be very confused—the sky, after all, is not an object, just a huge vastness. If they have to pick a color for it they would probably say it’s white.

  81. lin1235
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 6:37 AM | Permalink

    The reason why mosquitoes dislike citronella is that it irritates their feet.

  82. Mitchell Hundred
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:30 AM | Permalink

    In Wales during the Dark Ages, there was a law on the books that required anyone who killed or stole the cat guarding a royal granary to pay a fine. That part’s not unusual, because if rats got into your grain and ate it you had no way to make bread, leaving you SOL.

    The weird part is how they determined the amount of the fine. You take the cat that was killed or stolen, lie it down on a flat surface, and hold its tail at a right angle to its body. Then you pour wheat onto the cat until it is completely covered in wheat up to the tip of its tail. The value of that amount of wheat is the amount of the fine.

    And remember, you have to pay this fine even if you only steal the cat without killing it, which begs the question of how the law would get a live cat to lie still for the procedure.

    • RachelJ
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:58 AM | Permalink

      It also makes me wonder how you fine the person if you can’t find the cat’s body.

      • jaydelott
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 12:05 PM | Permalink

        No body, no proof. I don’t know where your stupid cat went.

        • headscratching
          Posted February 19, 2013 at 2:56 AM | Permalink

          What if you got a writ of habeas corpus felis?

    • BiblioLexophile
      Posted February 19, 2013 at 12:25 AM | Permalink

      Being the long-time owner of no less than three presumptuous felines, each possessed of the total assurance that they own me and not the other way around, I would love to see this!

  83. xcrunner61
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:31 AM | Permalink

    There are 169,518,829,100,544,000,000,000,000,000 ways to play the first ten moves in chess

  84. Tayacan
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:33 AM | Permalink

    Platypuses have poisonous spurs on their ankles.

  85. tikijoe
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:38 AM | Permalink

    In the Cascades of Oregon, there is a road known as the Old Pass that is only open a few weeks out of the year. The Pass cuts through fields of volcanic rock, one of which contains a watchtower built of the very same rock. The tower was built as a public works project during the Great Depression, but looks so haunting and ancient that it was used as a prison tower in the ABC fantasy movie The Four Diamonds.

    Mantis shrimp have been known to punch (or stab, depending on their appendage) with enough force to break the glass of the aquariums containing them.

    • Legacy05
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 2:01 PM | Permalink

      Do you have any links to info, or pictures of the Old Pass? It sounds amazing, but I can’t seem to find anything on it.

      • randomnumbers
        Posted February 15, 2013 at 12:20 PM | Permalink

        Legacy, Try Mackenzie’s Pass.

        • tikijoe
          Posted February 18, 2013 at 10:29 PM | Permalink

          That’s the one, the McKenzie Pass. The tower is called the Dee Wright Observatory, but it’s more fun to remember it as “that awesome, creepy lava tower.”

  86. bobulusdole
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:42 AM | Permalink

    Ammonia will whiten human teeth. The Romans were aware of this. The importance of healthy teeth and a brilliant white smile was as highly valued amongst public figures then as it is today. Unfortunately the most readily available source of ammonia was urine. It was not an uncommon part of a politician’s morning routine to rinse their mouth with their morning…discharge. A common insult of the day was to refer to a politician as “piss mouth”.

  87. mintfresh
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:04 AM | Permalink

    As a creature that both lactates and lays eggs, the platypus is the only animal on earth capable of making its own custard.

    The founder of dating website; Gary Kremen, lost his girlfriend to a man she met on

    The sun’s core is so hot that a piece of it the size of a pinhead would give off enough heat to kill a person 160 kilometres away

    The Sami people of northern Finland use a measure called Poronkusema: the distance a reindeer can walk before needing to urinate.

    Saddam’s bunker was designed by the grandson of the woman who built Hitler’s bunker.

    • headscratching
      Posted February 19, 2013 at 3:03 AM | Permalink

      Actually echidna custard is both more exotic and more tasty. ;)

      (There are five known species of monotremes.)

  88. JudgeFudge
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:12 AM | Permalink

    The time separating the Stegosaurus and the Tyrannosaurus is greater than the time separating the Tyrannosaurus and us.

  89. Jsherry
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:22 AM | Permalink

    The vibrator was not originally a sexual device – it was invented to treat women diagnosed with hysteria.

    • jaydelott
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 12:14 PM | Permalink

      In 1918, one could buy a vibrator from the Sears catalog.

    • Celt42
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 1:07 PM | Permalink

      But hysteria was believed to be treated with orgasms, so it was still somewhat of a sexual device, just used by your friendly therapist or medical doctor.

  90. goujea
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:27 AM | Permalink

    Lake Hillier, in Western Australia, has a bright pink coloration.

  91. gqbriggs
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:31 AM | Permalink

    castoreum, a secretion from beaver anal glands, is considered safe by the FDA and is used to enhance the flavor of vanilla, strawberry, and raspberry. It is usually listed as ‘natural flavors’

    • headscratching
      Posted February 19, 2013 at 3:08 AM | Permalink

      And it used to be what was used to flavor most red licorice. (Now the biggest companies use an artificially flavored castoreum derivative.)

  92. Kalai3
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:31 AM | Permalink

    Here’s a cool word: Skeuomorphs.
    It means something that’s basically a fossil from an earlier time, that no longer serves any purpose but for some reason has stuck around. For instance: rivets on blue jeans, or the fact that the save icon is always a floppy disk even though nobody uses those anymore.

  93. Patrick Johnson
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:50 AM | Permalink
  94. RachelJ
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:52 AM | Permalink

    Apparently readers define interesting as generally science-related trivia. I find that rather interesting in itself. Is Elodin to blame or educated society.

    • jaydelott
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 12:20 PM | Permalink

      The word “science” comes from the Latin word for knowledge, and refers to study for the purpose of acquiring knowledge. Any “interesting fact” should, by definition, fall under the broad category of knowledge, and be established as fact by study.

    • Posted February 13, 2013 at 6:07 PM | Permalink

      I think the issue is the element of “Fact.” Fact is the purview of science.

    • BiblioLexophile
      Posted February 19, 2013 at 12:38 AM | Permalink

      I believe readers may be trying to emulate Pat’s witty chapter after the fashion of the facts brought to class by the characters–and, as some of them are inclined to take the easier path to an interesting fact and simply Google it, the most-often-posted interesting facts will probably be those sensational and slightly perverse tidbits regarding various obscure animals and their reproductive systems.

      It may also have something statistically to do with the likely college majors/current careers/avid interests of people who are dedicated enough to read this blog down to its last entry before posting…

      As for myself, I find the most Interesting Facts to be those not found easily.

  95. tin
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:54 AM | Permalink

    The Maori devided their speech in word groops. One of them consists of “women, fire and dangerous things”

    • BiblioLexophile
      Posted February 19, 2013 at 12:41 AM | Permalink

      What a great one! I think the Maori may have been trying to express the phrase, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” in their own linguistic way.

  96. Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:56 AM | Permalink

    The Borwein integrals are a sequence of similar-looking integrals of which the first six are all equal to π/2, and the next one is equal to


    and it continues in that vein thereafter.

  97. Posted February 13, 2013 at 9:21 AM | Permalink

    Torque is cumulative.

    This is handy when dealing with a “stuck” fastener, but if you simply apply steady pressure, that pressure (torque) will build up over time and loosen the fastener without damaging it in any way.

    Might only be interesting to people who work on mechanical things.

  98. mrs.weird
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 9:22 AM | Permalink

    American people were actually considering buiding the Death Star. Full title of the petition created for this occasion was “Secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016” More than 34 thousand people signed this and the white house had to give them an official respond. Of course they didn’t consider it as a great idea as it would cost about $850,000,000,000,000,000 and also the Chief of the Science and Space Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget Paul Shawcross stated that “The Administration does not support blowing up planets”. Also in response to the petition he asked if people really do think United States should spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship.

  99. chaelek
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 9:30 AM | Permalink

    The vibrator was invented by doctors who were tired of physically masturbating women, which they considered a chore.

  100. Posted February 13, 2013 at 9:40 AM | Permalink

    Remains of moose have been found inside an Orca (Killer Whale)’s stomach.

    • Posted February 13, 2013 at 9:42 AM | Permalink

      Also, there was a documented case of a small hunting pod of killer whales attacking (using tactics) a blue whale and proceeding to eat chunks off of it while it was still alive before the pod either grew full or bored and left five hours later. The fate of the blue whale is unknown but heavily suspected to have died.

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