Yeah, the internet is a proverbial container for these answers and loads of other fun facts. Some of them you’ve seen in our previous article about random trivia found online. Others, you are about to see in this article. And if you’re in the mood for more, well, you know where to go.
At Least the Ice Cream Is Real
If that's what they were trying to do, they certainly succeeded. Though the company only started with three flavors (vanilla, chocolate, and coffee), the smooth taste and indulgent nature of this treat took off. Despite hailing from the Bronx, founders Reuben and Rose Mattus chose the name simply because it sounded Scandinavian – specifically, Danish.
The pair felt that people would respond to the name well, and felt that Denmark was well-known for its Dairy products. Apparently, Reuben sat at the kitchen table for hours saying nonsensical words until he came up with a combination that he liked. It was certainly unique.
We'll Never Give Him Up
It's happened to all of us. We're browsing the internet, see a link that someone says is about the latest Marvel movie or something like that, and we immediately click it. Instead of Benedict Cumberbatch's handsome mug, we're treated to the opening chords of the eighties classic "Never Gonna Give You Up" by Rick Astley.
Yet, somehow, Astley hasn't made bank off the phenomenon – how can this be? One possible reason is Astley didn't compose or write the song, just perform it. But don't feel bad. Astley's career was revitalized by this practical joke, leading to bigger and better things. Plus, the song is a righteous banger.
Time to Power Down
There are many home appliances that feature this handy addition, such as ovens, dishwashers, and refrigerators. This mode usually overrides the everyday operation of the appliance to comply with the rules of Halakha, Jewish law. Refrigerators will keep interior lights off and disable compressors until the next day, while ovens can run to keep cooked food warm, among a number of other functions.
There are also lamps that will remain lit (so you aren't doing work by turning them on) with a movable part to expose or block out the light. There are even Sabbath elevators. While the modes don't ensure full compliance with religious requirements, some are still audited by an authority.
Royalty That Knows How to Roll
As the oldest child of Princess Beatrix and the diplomat Claus Van Amsberg, Willem-Alexander has lived a somewhat charmed life. But just like any other child of the Netherlands, he wanted to show off his physical prowess in the famous ice skating tour. As the future king of the country, he had to do it in some secrecy to make sure nobody tried any funny business during the two-hundred-kilometer skating tour.
Willem-Alexander used the same pseudonym to run the New York City Marathon in 1992, similarly completing the event. We have to admit, good physical health seems like a good thing for a king to have.
Saving Space During Delivery
Letters and postcards take up a lot of space if you're trying to send it to millions of people on the other side of the world, which is why the army had to come up with something and fast – or be buried in the mail. Short for victory mail, V-mail was the solution. Despite only being used from June 1942 to November 1945, V-mail processed over one billion items.
Each piece is photographed using microfilm, and then the film, much smaller compared to the items themselves, is transported, reproduced, and finally delivered to the waiting G.I.s. It worked out perfectly, allowing soldiers to read and respond to mail to keep their spirits up, without bogging down shipping space with all that mail.
Time for a Party
These three bear species aren't typically seen in the same place, but there's one location, in particular, that is the perfect location for all three. Wapusk National Park, on the west coast of Hudson Bay in northern Manitoba, has produced sights of each variety – all at the same time. So far north there are plenty of polar bears, but the park also lies along the boreal forest, which is flush with black bears.
Grizzlies are the newest addition, as their range increases across the arctic. These changes in locations are most likely due to looking for food sources and shifts in climate. We don't expect the species to get along, but it's still incredible to see them all in one place.
That Bear Better Know How to Drive
Jeremy Clarkson might be famous for his love of vehicles and stunts, but he has another claim to fame as well. With an old hat, a battered suitcase, and his love of marmalade sandwiches, Paddington has been a classic figure for decades after Michael Bond started writing books about the character.
The prototype stuffed animal was made by Gabrielle Designs, run by the Clarkson family, and young Jeremy received the very first bear off the line as a Christmas present. His sister Joanna also received one, and the bears proved to be so popular that Jeremy was able to get into a private school, leading him to become the car-crazy goofball we all know and love.
There's Even a Song About It
From the Steelers to the Pirates, and even lumping in the Penguins, all of Pittsburgh squads have the same colors. That's a pretty fun fact all on its own, but why is it? The Pirates originally wore red and blue. It all started with the original name of the hockey team...the Pirates.
They went with black and gold to match the city's flag and seal. Now a source of civic pride, the football team adopted the colors in 1933, and the baseball team (also the pirates) joined the group in 1947. Even after the hockey team rebranded into the penguins, they kept the city's colors.
It's hard to overstate how famous this group was during their heyday. Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, Joey Bishop, and Peter Lawford (before falling out) were the closest of friends, and they all had the pipes to make it big in the performing biz. They often appeared on stage together, and also had a couple of films, including the original “Ocean's 11.”
They all met inside the home of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, and Bogart was seen as the original leader of the group before he passed away. The big trio, Martin, Sinatra, and Davis, got back together in 1984 to appear in “Cannonball Run II.”
Gravity Does Some Weird Things, People
Okay, so, let's start with this: gravitational time dilation is a difference of elapsed times between two events as measured by observers at varying distances from a gravitational mass. There are long, complicated equations to figure this out, and you're free to seek them out if you so choose. A good way to illustrate it, are clocks that are far from massive bodies like planets run quicker than those closer.
A clock at the top of Mount Everest, about nine thousand meters above sea level, would gain an hour every one hundred million years. It's not a lot, certainly, but it's still one of those interesting things you learn after enough time.
Shooting up Like a Weed
A growth spurt during the teenage years is common for humans. Gals start a little earlier but stop sooner, while guys take their time growing to their full height. It turns out this increase in size is found in other places of the animal kingdom, including the big and powerful tyrannosaurus rex.
Human teenagers might pack on the pounds after coming home from high school, but they have nothing on these big lizards, which would add the equivalent of eight gallons of paint to their weight per week. We determine all weights in gallons of paint. While it makes sense to think that all dinos would act this way, it differs based on the species.
They Made It Work
If you're a fan of bitters, you're probably aware of this bottle of flavor, which has one of the most distinctive labels on the market. Mostly because it's so big. Somehow the two brothers in charge of redesigning the elements didn't think to talk to each other about whether or not things were working.
It ended up being in their favor, however, since the label caught the eye and got people talking. It didn't hurt that the bitters were well-made, eventually winning a medal at the Weltausstellung 1873 Wien, which is almost certainly a good thing. The bitters are now a part of numerous cocktails.
Let's Call It a Meet Cute and Move On
Sometimes you just really want to eat a rum cake. If it's made well, that's some good stuff. Actor Alan Alda (you might know him from “MASH” or “Scientific American Frontiers”) was fine eating that dirty floor cake, but so was Arlene Weiss, a professional clarinet player. The two met over the rum cake, then began a relationship which quickly led to marriage.
The two got wed in 1957 and are still together. Alda continued acting, while Arlene went on to photography and writing children's books. She is the author of more than a dozen books, and her own photography frequently gets used as illustrations.
Jeepers Creepers, Where'd You Get Those Peepers
Reindeer are most frequently found up north, where it's snowy and cold, but there's another element of living in the arctic circle – there are long months of nothing but sunlight, followed by the same of constant darkness. Instead of a neurological trick, which is what researchers surmised, reindeer actually change the color of their eyes to block light during bright summer months and collect more during dark winters.
The reason why this happens is complicated, but it's likely due to long collagen fibers called tapetum lucidum, which relax or contract. The blue eyes are thought to be a thousand times more sensitive to light than the golden summer ones.
Delicious and Numerous
Thanks to being able to easily detach limbs, all of the legs and claws of the Florida stone crab can easily be harvested. While the catch amount varies from year to year, there are anywhere between two million and four million crab claws collected during the six months they are free game. The highest number of claws go to Joe's Stone Crab in Miami, one of the most famous restaurants in the world.
Other crab shacks watch how many claws this restaurant buys, and often follow suit. Claws are sold in four general sizes: medium, large, jumbo, and colossal. The next year, the crabs might very well be harvested again and lose their claws again.
The Original Panty Raid
Thomas (or maybe Edward, history isn't sure) Jones was the son of a tailor in Westminster, and he became famous – notorious – for breaking into Buckingham Palace numerous times. The first time was at fourteen, disguised as a chimney sweep, and after he was discovered he fled into the streets with Queen Victoria's knickers in his possession.
A number of other excursions helped Jones gain some notoriety in and around London. After a life of ups and downs, Jones was taken to Australia, where he became the town crier of Perth. His work in breaking into Buckingham led to increased security.
We Can't Imagine Why
This classic Capra film is one of the most beloved pieces of movie magic. Many families enjoy sitting down to watch this film on a yearly basis, but when it first came out, it wasn't as well-loved as it is now. Some think it was a possible communist message, some think it was a spate of movies that had similar themes, but somehow it was regarded as just okay by most critics and ignored by most viewers.
Once it started getting shown on stations during the holidays without those stations having to pay out big, people started watching it more and more.
Close-up Photos of Winter
You'd think that one would be good enough, but no. Bentley took more than five thousand pictures of individual snowflakes, and he did it so well that people didn't even bother taking new photos for almost a hundred years. While the quality of the photos reflects the technical limitations of the time, the techniques he used are essentially the same as those used today.
His hometown of Jericho, Vermont has the largest collection of his photographs, though there are plenty more that are circulating. Bentley had always been fascinated by snowflakes and was always happy during winter.
A telephone might have been a game-changer for people in 1876 when Alexander Graham Bell first patented the idea, but even back then things kept getting better and better. Only fifty years later the invention was commonplace all over the world, but they went silent for the original inventor. If not for Bell, we wouldn't have iPhones, we wouldn't have internet, and our communication would still be stuck with telegrams or telegraphs.
Before passing away, following a medical condition, Bell worked on early cordless phones, metal detectors, hydrofoils, and did much work in aeronautics. Plenty of the advancements that allowed the Wright brothers to achieve their landmark flight came, in part, from Bell.
So He's to Blame
There's a reason why Kenny G's music is available to buy in so many of these coffee shops around the world. Yes, the music is tame and perfect for dinner parties, but there's also the fact that G was the reason why we have Starbucks at all. In the early eighties, Kenny was introduced to Howard Schultz, who had just acquired the (at the time) small local coffee chain.
Kenny's uncle was one of Schultz's original backers, and when his music career started to pay dividends, Kenny took the money and reinvested, proving he's a shrewd investor as well as a charming musician. We don't know how much he invested, but a thousand dollars in the company's IPO then is worth three hundred times that now.
Yeah, but There Was That Other Thing
Well, good for them, but they had bigger problems on their hands. We'll get to that. Despite not being vegetarians, the people who lived in Pompeii seem to have had some pretty good chompers all around. The volcanic activity likely increased the amount of fluorine in their water, which killed bacteria and prevented cavities.
Of course, Mount Vesuvius didn't care about all that and it's thanks to that same volcano that we know all this – the ash preserved so many sets of teeth that researchers were able to analyze them using modern tech.
Y'all Need Help
Billed as “A Colonel Sanders Novella,” this book was released in 2017 to the delight of mothers everywhere. No, wait, we lied. The story is bland (ha), the writing is worse than normal writing, which is already pretty boring, and even the target demo wasn't impressed.
It's obviously a big ad, and it manages to be funny at times, but it's just a big ad. There isn't even a coupon for chicken at the end! Those that rated the book on its literary merits found it lacking more than others. They most often call it dull. While the cover is tongue-in-cheek, the writing manages to be stick-your-tongue-out boring.
Necessity Is the Mother of Invention
British-American inventor Hiram Maxim lived from 1840 to 1916, and during that time he was prolific. He held patents on devices such as hair-curling irons, mousetraps, and steam pumps. He was also one of many who argued he had come up with the lightbulb. He also developed the machine gun.
The “Maxim Gun,” as he called it, used the gun's recoil to automatically ready it for the next bullet, able to fire six hundred rounds a minute. Impressive, yes, but it was also sixty pounds, more than forty-two inches long, and required four people to handle it properly. He also went “profoundly deaf” before his son could help.
Tastes Like Good Literature
Born in 1928, Sendak is one of the most recognizable names in children's literature, and not just because of “Where the Wild Things Are.” There are lots of other books that bear his name and his recognizable, intricate, and whimsical drawings. Though the monsters that appeared in his most famous book raised some controversy – parents thought they were too gruesome.
Still, these pictures eventually went on to become some of the most iconic images from the era and were so beloved that one young fan couldn't help but consume a Sendak original. Well, we all did it when we were kids.
Why Are They so Obsessed With Ten?
The metric system is an incredibly useful system when it comes to measuring things scientifically, but there are some systems that just don't work around tens. Time is one of them. Yes, sixty seconds per minute, twenty-four hours per day, and a random number of days per month is confusing, but it's all based on the Earth's passage around the sun.
While it's unknown why the French didn't stick with metric time, it might come down to simple experimentation – they probably realized that putting 360 days in each year would create a pretty noticeable yearly drift. Back to the normal version that everyone else uses, France.
Early Neonatal Medicine
Until recently, being born early was more or less a death knell. Still, when it comes to the only son of a king, doctors will try anything they can to make sure he survives. King Louis II of Hungary was one such preemie, born in 1506 – long before medical science was anywhere close to where it is now.
While Louis almost didn't make it past birth, his father was more than willing to help the boy out – King Vladislaus II had his only son crowned just a few years after the latter's birth. Louis might have beaten the odds to take the throne, but he only lived to the ripe age of twenty, passing in a battle with the Ottomans.
1836 Cyber Crimes Division
The French optical telegraph system was used for the quick transmission of information between buildings before the advent of power. Similar to a combo of telegraph and semaphore, it used arms and openings to create words and phrases. A bunch of guys figured out how to “hack” it and got rich doing it.
Like almost all criminals, they were eventually caught – until the government realized that there was no law on the records to punish such a step. The Blanc brothers traded government bonds and were able to scrape plenty off the top before the information came to them via horseback since the French optical telegraph was far faster.
They Can Smell You Right Now
You're probably familiar with the term stereo when it comes to music – the two speakers or headphones are different channels, able to play different sounds at different volumes. The word comes from “stereoscopy,” which means of or relating to three dimensions.
Our noses aren't strong enough to make use of our different nostril locations, but sharks have enough detection to determine where a scent is coming from, much like how we can tell where a sound is coming from thanks to the shape of our ears. This helps them find prey to chow down on while they're in the water.
All in Good Fun
Colin Darch, a retired sailor, had written a book about his experience of being kidnapped by pirates in 2008 and was on the talk circuit. When he visited the UK Women's Institute, he found to his shock that numerous members had dressed up in their best Jack Sparrow looks. Apparently, the members thought he would be talking about the history of piracy, not his own recent experiences.
When the truth came out, the members were rightly embarrassed, but Darch took the opportunity to judge the costumes and hand out some accolades. He wasn't offended and happily posed for pictures with the dressed-up group.
Traditional British Food
When you think about food in London, there's a pretty high chance you think of fried fare like fish and chips (French fries to us Americans). Curry is also a much-loved dish despite not being the origin, but it turns out curry precedes fish and chips. Chicken Tikka Masala has been called a true British national dish.
Britain's love affair with this spicy dish started with Queen Victoria, and everyone in the upper classes was quick to copy her. The tastes trickled down until it had saturated the entire country. A cookbook from 1852 – still years before fish and chips – stated that few dinners are complete unless curry is on the table.
Where Do We Sign Up?
Everything that goes up on a rocket has to be perfect, and it has to be light, and it has to be well-tested. Spacecraft, with no way to get fresh air, end up smelling about as bad as you can imagine. That's why these brave sniffers clock in to sniff toilets.
They're trying to find the best way to reduce odors and keep those spacecraft comfortable. So far, the best odor-absorber has been activated charcoal, a form of powdered charcoal that whisks away odors without requiring any other chemicals or electricity. Ah, the future of spaceflight.
Hard to Argue
Just like lots of other pieces of technology, Auto-Tune (or in its more general term, pitch correction) is a tool for musicians and singers. If you don't have a lot of time to burn in the studio and you flubbed a note, give it a little shift. Some might notice, but you might have to do it. The number of people who have come to rely on pitch correction to make their careers has led to some stunningly bad music.
T-Pain might get us to laugh, but putting on a new track and hearing a voice that sounds almost robotic is never fun, especially for those who have come to appreciate the beauty of a natural voice.
Why Is This Stuff so Complicated?
Despite how important it is to our health, cholesterol is one of the more complicated things about the diet and the human body. First, there's HDL and LDL. Common knowledge states that LDL is the bad one, and HDL is the good one. So far, so good. But, it turns out that there are versions of LDL that are good, and versions of HDL that are bad. Well, that's not that helpful.
Know this: Cholesterol does something good for you, so you want some of it. Eggs, long blamed as a prime cholesterol carrier, apparently DON'T have those naughty, naughty cholesterol particles that are bad for you. Time to make a scramble.
The Better Kind of Crash
Thankfully, when they talk about crashes here, they mean a computer crash – you know the kind. You have to hold the power button down for five seconds and hope you don't lose too much work. Computers are still getting better and better, but they still have plenty of faults. Just try to update AMD graphics drivers, you'll see what I mean. If these big jetliners aren't rebooted, the computer system begins to show misleading data to the pilots, and if there's one person we never want to be shown misleading data, it's pilots.
These huge planes often stay on for days, weeks, or months at a time, even during refueling, maintenance checks, and overnight. We're not sure how long it takes to reboot these machines, but it's probably more than a few minutes.
Where Did It Come From?
Herbal medicine's favorite tree, the Gingko, is known as a living fossil. Newly-found specimens are remarkably similar to plants that have been found to be more than a hundred million years old. There are some samples that are several thousand years old, and trees that are hundreds of years old. Fossils reveal that the trees have remained largely unchanged for the past fifty-one million years.
While there are subtle differences – the shape of the leaves, the way seeds are formed – for the amount of time they might as well be exactly the same. If you want to know what dinosaurs snacked on, just look up these trees.
Skim or Whole Today, Sir?
Whether it's taxi drivers, moms, teenagers, or businessmen, Rwandans love their milk. There are hundreds of milk bars in the capital city of Kigali, and plenty more scattered around the small nation. Men and women of all ages sit on benches and plastic chairs and drink fermented, yogurt-like milk known as “ikivuguto.”
Some like it hot, others cold. Some chug it quickly to respect an old tradition, others sip as they snack on cakes, chapatis (an Indian flatbread), and bananas. There's also fresh milk. Milk, and cows, have long been important parts of Rwandan culture, and that fact is just as true today.
Time for the Second Half
When halftime hits and the players leave the pitch, lots of people jump up to refuel on snacks, use the bathroom, and brew up a cup. The halftime of football (read: soccer) matches can only last as long as fifteen minutes, which means there isn't a lot of time to get everything done and not miss a moment of the action.
During big matches like the World Cup, England power sources have to know exactly when to turn on the extra...energy, or however it works, otherwise, there could be power outages. Not only would people not get their tea, but they also wouldn't be able to watch their games. Which would probably mean riots.
It's How He Would Have Wanted It
When Ron Harper of Hull passed away before he could go on a fishing trip with his friends Paul Fairbrass and Cliff Dale, his friends did the next best thing. Harper had agreed to let his ashes be used as a special bait during a trip to Thailand. This bait, called the “Purple Ronnie” bait, ended up snagging a massive carp.
It took the two fishermen three hours to wrestle the carp into their boat. The record for a Siamese carp is 134 pounds, but the International Game Fishing Association stopped keeping tabs on the fish years ago. As Fairbrass told reporters, it seemed like destiny that they would land this big catch.
Time to Tan
When people head to Mexico, there are lots of attractions to take in, but one of the main ones is their long, beautiful, warm beaches. After a number of famous cases that had private property owners block people from their stretches of sand, a law went into effect that made all beaches public property, compensating owners for the use, and imposing fines if the law wasn't followed.
Any foreign or national visitor that wants to enjoy them can. There's even a law in place that can allow the government to demolish buildings that block access to public beaches – a hotel building in Cancun knows this to be true.
It's Like a Real Version of That Spider-Man Pointing at Himself Meme
When it comes to spy work, one of the most exciting things in fiction is a double-agent who works for two different sides. In real life, however, these people betray two countries, usually for their own gain. One of the most famous of these is Robert Hanssen. His work for the Soviet Union – and then Russia – was described by the Department of Justice as “possibly the worst intelligence disaster in U.S. history.”
After he was finally caught in 2001, Hanssen was eventually sentenced to fifteen life terms in prison without the possibility of parole after collecting over a million dollars in cash and diamonds from the Soviet Union/Russia.
Free From the Fire
First off, why were there so many bees on the roof of Notre Dame? The only thing that should be up there is hunchbacks. These urban honey bees, called the Brother Adam Buckfast variety, were developed in the 1920s by a monk for their mild temperament in order to promote plant life and biodiversity in Paris.
While it's impossible to count all of them, it seems as if the majority of the little bumblers survived the famous, heart-breaking blaze. Bees can't die from smoke inhalation (no lungs), and it turns out the hives on the roof weren't damaged by the fires. Carbon monoxide is dangerous, but it turns out the fears were for naught.
The Great Migration
When you think of the Mississippi River Delta, you might think of jazz, swamps, and gumbo, but probably not whales. It turns out that there are plenty of sperm whales in the Gulf of Mexico, and the opening to the river proper used to be large enough for the whales to forge all the way to the Great Lakes.
Nowadays this is either shockingly rare or simply untrue since the Mississippi Delta is too narrow and small for whales to fit. Still, there are plenty of people in Michigan that go out to do some “whale watching.” We're pretty sure that they're in on the joke.
Oranges Are Great for Everything
Sometime in the mid-nineties, a thousand truckloads of orange peels (and orange pulp) were very purposefully unloaded onto a barren pasture in a Costa Rican national park. Sixteen years after the delivery, a team of Princeton University researchers surveyed the land, finding a 176-percent increase in aboveground biomass – or plants – within the seven acres studied. We all know that oranges are healthy and tasty, but even the stuff that we don't eat can be a big boon to our lives.
After analysis, it was found that the area that had been fertilized by orange peels had richer soil, more tree biomass, a greater number of tree species, and a greater forest canopy enclosure. Which we assume are all good things for a forest.
Living With the Natives
In late autumn, this cow ran away from its farm into the wild and untamed Bialowieza Forest, only to be spotted months later, during the midst of winter, with a herd of wild bison. It was spotted mainly due to the fact that it had a light-brown shade, while the lightest the bison got was chestnut – easy to pick out against the rest of the animals.
While scientists expected the cow to wander back to the farm once things got cold, she has instead flourished with the bison, which likely kept her safe from wolves. However, the bison population is low, and interbreeding with a smaller animal might lead to lost offspring. Thus, the hope is the cow returns to the farm.
The Fashion of the Day
There are a lot of stories about people in the past doing this sort of thing to ape the styles of the rich and famous and make themselves seem more fashionable. Men would wear calf padding to make it look like they went to a lot of dances, or both sexes would try to make themselves look wan and pale as if they had tuberculosis.
And it's not like we still don't do the same thing. Do you remember JNCOs? We still have styles popularized by “Jersey Shore,” and the famous names of the day are constantly coming out with something stupid that becomes popular.
Gotta Stay Fresh
Apparently, there are lots of birds that like to take this tactic in order to protect themselves from dangerous blood-sucking lice. It isn't always ants – birds sometimes use garlic snails, amphipods, millipedes, grasshoppers, wasps, or other creatures. Not only does this defend against lice, but it's thought to protect against ectoparasites, helps with feather grooming, makes the ants safer to eat, and even helps certain birds molt.
Of course, it's difficult to tell which of these are the real case, since they're all just theories. Still, the formic acid is, at the very least, a defense against lice, and that's as good a reason as any.
It Doesn't Matter the Password
Whether your password was “P4ssw0rd” or the entire text of “A Tale of Two Cities,” just typing e and h into the password field of Hotmail gave anybody – anybody – access to the emails contained within. This was discovered by a group calling themselves “Hackers Unite,” doing so in order to draw attention to the poor security that Microsoft had set up for people's emails.
Some thought that it was a backdoor left in the program for Microsoft's benefit. Microsoft, obviously, denies this idea. Thankfully, the fix was a quick one, and thanks to the Hacker's Unite group, people's emails were a little more secure.
He Did His Job Well
As the eleventh president, James K. Polk was president from 1845 to 1849. He's often referred to as the first “dark horse” president, elected over Whig candidate Henry Clay. Despite limiting himself to a single term, he had four objectives that he attacked: cut tariffs, reestablish an independent U.S. Treasury, secure the Oregon territory, and acquire the territories of California and New Mexico from Mexico.
His presidency resulted in a great expansion to the United States, as well as falling out with Mexico. Though he entered the White House full of energy, the stresses of the position took their toll on Polk. Shortly after leaving the presidency, Polk passed away.
Just Hold a Boombox Outside Her House, Dude
Muammar Qaddafi had a big crush on one Condoleezza Rice. We can't exactly blame him for that, but we can say he didn't exactly go about it the right way. When Libyans raided his palace in Bab al Azizia, they found a scrapbook full of photos of the former U.S. Secretary of State. Like, a homemade scrapbook. He would ask other members of the State Department why his “African Princess” wouldn't visit him.
He eventually showed her the song he had commissioned, which was on a videotape – it included photos of Rice with President Bush, Vladimir Putin, Hu Jintao, and other world leaders. The name of the song was “Black Flower in the White House.” While the song was weird, Rice reported it at least wasn't raunchy.
I Think We Can All Agree: Best Dog
Guide dogs have tough jobs, which is why they require all that training, the correct temperament, and affection toward their handlers. It's not easy, and it's quite a bit more difficult if you happen to be a guide dog in one of the worst disasters of the twenty-first century.
Roselle performed to the highest standards of guide dog stardom, leading more than just her owner to safety. She also provided some dog love to a woman that was unable to handle the event. She became the most famous guide dog in America, despite being asleep under her owner's desk when the plane impacted above them. After a lifetime of heroism and being a very good girl, Roselle passed away in 2011.
For the True Fans
Okay, real quick: “Return to Sender” was an Elvis song made for the film “Girls! Girls! Girls!” The song came out in 1962, and the lyrics lament the narrator's relationship with a spiteful partner. Big fans of the Pelvis would already know this, so when a perfect opportunity to make their Elvis shrines perfect dropped into the laps in the form of a special stamp, plenty of people jumped on it.
The song endures as one of the classic rock and roll songs from during the genre's early years. The song made it big on the charts, peaking at number two on the Billboard Hot 100, and reaching number one on lots of other lists.
The Man Who Destroys Smallpox
Born in 1941, Donald Hopkins is a Bahamian American physician who acted as the deputy director and acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He's one of the people who worked on the Smallpox Eradication and Measles Control Program in Sierra Leone, which is estimated to have saved millions of lives around the world.
Traces of the disease have been found in millennia-old mummies, but the last case was in 1975 thanks to Hopkins. Guinea Worm Disease, also known as Dracunculiasis, is another infectious disease that Hopkins has set his sight on. And he's winning.
He's the Boss
Though he was best known as the humorously corrupt politician Jefferson Davis “Boss” Hogg, Sorrell Booke was anything but the character he portrayed. He could speak French, Japanese, Spanish, Russian, Italian, and he dabbled in some half-dozen other languages as well. When he wasn't acting, Booke enjoyed moving into old houses and restoring them, doing his own gardening and carpentry.
Like most who acted as counterintelligence agents, it's difficult to determine his actions during the war, though likely it was debriefing American POWs, observing terrain to determine favorability, and observing enemy troop movement. The Korean war was complicated and messy, and counterintelligence was no exception.
From Africa With Love
If there's one thing that the Sahara Desert has in abundance, it's dust. There's so much of it, the desert can offload tons and tons of dust (which is pretty light, remember) every year over an ocean to an entirely different continent. This turns out to be incredibly important for the Amazon Basin. The dust carries micronutrients that help fertilize and improve the rainforest.
Analysis indicates that the shifting of air currents tells us that this wasn't always the case – the dust that reached the Amazon originally had diverse origins from all over Africa and the Andean region. A place as lush and vibrant as the Amazon requires lots of things.
We have no idea if this kind of information would bear out in the courts, but we have to at least give props to the police that had the idea. Even just finding a dead mosquito can be tough, but harvesting it and getting it analyzed? That must be one in a billion.
The police inspector in charge of the case said it was the first time an insect had been used to solve a crime, at least in Finland. Which is, we think, probably for the best. The man that had been tagged by the mosquito says that he was just hitch-hiking in the car, and didn't know the man driving it.
Bringing the Light Back
Eyes, for almost all of history, have been a one-and-done situation. If you lose your sight due to disease, damage, or anything else, that's pretty much it. As technology and methods have evolved and increased, this has stopped being the case. Still, the transference of information from the eye to the brain is intensely complicated.
Despite these difficulties, some miracles have still occurred, such as the story of this patient. The work was done in 2021 on January eleventh at the Beilinson Hospital in Israel. It was the world's first successful artificial cornea transplant. It was reported that the procedure was relatively simple, and took under an hour.
Good Friends Are Worth a Million
There are so many things that friends can give you, but millions and millions of dollars usually aren't on that list. That was what happened to these two pals after Tom Cook won big time in the Wisconsin lottery in the year 2020. The two Wisconsin residents, and their wives, were in shock when they got the good news.
Both men had been buying a weekly lottery ticket, but neither one really expected to make much money off it, to say nothing of the big jackpot. After state and federal taxes, the men brought home about $5.7 million each. Cook retired after getting the good news.
Did He Have to Save for the Future?
In case you want to know, someone who reaches the age of 110 is called a supercentenarian, and there are very few. Out of the billions of people, there are potentially three hundred to four hundred and fifty out there today. They have to be incredibly lucky, incredibly healthy and be almost completely free of disease.
Yet despite smoking cigars until he was over a hundred, Walter Breuning still lived ten more years. He was there to witness every single thing in the twentieth century and was surely a font of wisdom. He probably had some great cigar recs, too. The current oldest person, Kane Tanaka, already has a Breuning beat, sitting at 119 years currently.
Using What He Is Given
It's possible you've heard of this kid before, but it's still one of the coolest stories out there. Steve Ortiz got a broken iPhone from a friend and was told he could do with it what he wished. He hit Craigslist, bartering up for a working iPod Touch. After that (there might have been steps in-between all of these) he worked up to a computer, then a dirt bike, then an SUV – a Ford Bronco.
Going from a broken phone to a working car for nothing is a huge win, but Ortiz wasn't done. He then traded for a Porsche convertible, a luxury car that made him the envy of his fellow students.
This Is Called Living the Dream
We all get plenty of junk mail. Sometimes it's insurance agents begging for our business, sometimes it's credit card companies...begging for our business, and sometimes it's...well, other companies begging for our business. Every once in a while you'll get something that appears to be way more fun than it actually is, like how this guy got what was probably supposed to be a fake check. Except it was real!
They say that one man's trash is another man's treasure, but they aren't usually referring to junk mail. We'd love to be a fly on the wall of the meeting at the junk mail factory where this was discussed.
Nature in Sympathy
This sort of thing happens a lot in nature, but a pair of intelligent creatures don't often form this sort of bond. Ravens are surprisingly smart and are obviously aware of how dangerous wolves are. So they use it to their advantage to get at those tasty, tasty scraps.
This is known as mutualism in nature, it crops up in the relationship between birds that eat ticks off herd animals, aphids that trade sugar-rich honeydew to ants for protection, and clownfish that live inside sea anemones to keep clean and ward off butterflyfish. These kinds of relationships can't be taught, but they crop up to keep both species growing stronger.
Talk About a Wild Ride
Every phrase of this story is more and more incredible. She went to work while in labor (or maybe right before), she took work with her to the hospital, she SOLVED the issue, and then she gave birth to something that, very likely, is more famous than she'll ever be. Cohen, married to fellow engineer Thomas William Black, also worked on the Hubble Space Telescope and wrote in all that spare time she clearly had.
Thanks to this one lady, we have pictures of deep space, the astronauts from Apollo 13 got back safely, and we have “School of Rock.” She's done so much for us and got so little recognition for it. No longer!
The Sounds of Silence
While most sound comes to use through vibrations in the air that interact with the eardrums, bone conduction instead transmits sound straight through the bone. It's one of the reasons why a person's voice sounds different to them when they hear it from another source. Beethoven, though he went deaf, was able to continue writing music thanks to this trick.
In a similar way, there are lots of hearing aids that use this handy feature to keep people hearing friends, family, and music. Thankfully, there are no metal rods that you need to bite down on anymore. They can even keep your ear canals open.
Like Something That the Joker Would Do
The Bank of England is one of the oldest financial institutes in the world. It's tasked with maintaining monetary stability in the United Kingdom – no easy feat. The bank vault has eight subterranean vaults filled with gold, built with eight-foot thick walls. It holds something like a hundred billion pounds in gold. The sewer worker sent numerous letters warning the bank directors, eventually offering to meet them inside the vault at the hour of their choosing.
They checked him quickly, and discovered he had taken nothing – he simply wanted to warn them. For this act of honesty, they awarded him eight hundred pounds – worth around eighty thousand pounds in today's money.
Rolling Straight Twenties
There are multiple generations of people that owe Gygax lots of thanks. Whether you've been coming up with plotlines for your 'murderhobos' since the game first debuted, you enjoy a monthly session with some friends, or you're just getting into Critical Role, it's all thanks to Gygax. Before all this, his wife was trying to figure out why he was sneaking away.
It turns out he was doing something quite the opposite of what she had in mind. He and his friends were drawing maps, coming up with stat blocks, devising creatures, and figuring out a way to use the twelve-sided die. Seriously, even if you play Dungeons and Dragons, have you ever used it?
Sing Us a Song
If you've ever tried to get tickets to see William Martin Joel perform, you know that they can go for a pretty penny. Even the cheap seats might hurt someone's budget for the year, and if they want to go with a spouse or friend, then that's even more. Add in box office costs, travel, parking, and food, and you might be looking at a couple hundred gone.
Joel knows this, and as a lower-class kid, he's willing to do something to help the little folks. Instead of having the best seats go to rich people that are there maybe just to be seen, Joel gives them away to people who might not be able to afford them, to give them a chance to see him up close.
He Won't Last Long
If you're even slightly familiar with physics, you probably recognize the name Planck. Born halfway through the nineteenth century, Planck ended up becoming a German theoretical physicist who was eventually the winner of a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918. Though his professor told him not to, Planck pushed forward, eventually revolutionizing the human understanding of atomic and subatomic processes.
He has organizations named after him, but you mostly know him from his prize-winning work on quantum theory. There's also the Planck length, a useful unit in theoretical physics. The full explanation is far more complicated and long than we have space for here, but suffice to say it's handy to scientists.
The Burdens of Fame
Being famous comes with some great stuff, but not everybody loves all the trappings. As a working-class kid, Eminem grew up in Detroit and honed his craft at school before becoming one of the most famous recording artists of the last twenty years. Someone with such a poor background might have wanted to hog as much attention as possible, but not Marshall Mathers.
He made sure his little one was at the center of attention by watching on the TV from a random classroom. Even people who aren't into hip hop know who he is – that has to be annoying for Hailie.
He Was One of the Best
Rack your brain and try to come up with something who was kinder, sweeter, and gentler than Mr. Fred Rogers. We dare you. Maybe in the annals of history, there is someone who could match up to him, but in the last hundred years, he's in a league of his own.
Whether it's getting to become good friends with a random limo driver, answering each piece of fan mail himself, or getting his car back after thieves stole it – though this one is in dispute – stories cement him as a man with a nearly bottomless heart. Kids and adults of all ages loved his show for the lessons and fun it provided, and of course, the man was irreplaceable.
He's Truly Breathtaking
It's hard not to like Keanu Reeves. Whether you got to know him from his early movies, loved him in “The Matrix,” or can't keep rewatching the "John Wick" series, there's a lot to like. One of those things is, apparently, his giving nature. He wants the movies he's in to be the best they can be, and if that means giving up part of his paycheck to bring in the experts, that's fine with him.
He's apparently also been the kind of guy who will happily negotiate himself down during contract talks to give more money to people like special effects and makeup crews. It's been thought he's donated hundreds of million dollars to various charities. What a guy.
I'll Be Back, Y'all
The voice of the powerful machine from "The Terminator" movies has been a cultural icon ever since the first movie appeared on silver screens. Arnold's heavy, imposing voice has been mimicked, mocked, and repeated time after time, but despite having all the language skills to dub himself, The Schwarz wasn't allowed to add his voice to the German version of the movie.
Dialects are tricky things, with people taking certain information from different voices. Imagine an angel coming down from heaven and talking with a heavy niche accent. It would be a bit strange, right? Well, that's sort of what Arnold ran into with this situation.
Lady of the Sky
Working in housekeeping is important, but there are plenty of people doing it who have plenty of skills elsewhere. Though not many of them have hidden talents when it comes to astronomy, as Williamina Fleming apparently did. Chances are she was in charge of managing the team while the team did the heavy lifting.
Fleming started doing part-time administrative work, though she learned from Edward Charles Pickering who taught her how to analyze stellar spectra. She became the founding member of an all-women cadre of human computers hired by Pickering to compute mathematical classifications and edit publications.
Huh. How About That
This is one of the hilarious times when they underpromised and overproduced. Ballard was being financed by the U.S. Navy to find the wrecks of two Navy submarines, the USS Scorpion and the USS Thresher, which both sank in the sixties. They hadn't intended to find the Titanic at all.
He discovered that the submarines had imploded due to the depth, and left a debris trail. After finding the subs, Ballard surmised that the Titanic would have done the same, and so hunted for another debris trail for the Titanic, eventually coming up with one of the biggest finds of the century.
We Guess There's a Good Reason He Had That Name
Elephants are some of the most wonderful creatures in the world. They're stately, they're wise-looking, and they can stomp a lion flat. That's super cool. They also seem to have some sort of sixth sense when it comes to their loved ones. They say an elephant never forgets, so maybe they all managed to remember exactly where Lawrence Anthony lived.
Were they there to honor someone that treated them with respect, or were they there because he liked handing out treats? We don't know, we aren't elephant whisperers. Hopefully, there's someone to take Anthony's place, so we can finally find out.
Modern Problems Require Modern Solutions
There are certain areas of the world that have to keep an eye on water levels no matter what the weather is like. Chickens are a great thing – tasty, healthy, funny-looking – but there's one thing they aren't, and that's physically impressive. They can't fly and apparently, they don't float that well, either.
Ducks, on the other hand, can float. It's one of the things they're well known for. However, ducks can usually fly – unless they get their wings docked or something like that. Farmers have decided to make the change anyway since one flood can decimate their herd. Of ducks.
Ha. Ha. Ha.
You wouldn't expect a storied scientific mind like Hawking to be such a cut-up, but here we are. He took the chance to make a practical joke at the interviewer's expense, and we're all better for it. Though he suffered from a severe medical condition, Hawking could still see the joy and laughter in life, even if it meant making fun of himself.
Hawking is lauded for his scientific works, including stuff as high-level as work with general relativity. The radiation that black holes emit is called Hawking radiation, and he's on the BBC's list of 100 Greatest Britons. He's not remembered for his funny, but maybe he should be.
That Will Teach Her
Fame does things to people. There are plenty of good-looking guys and gals out there that will never get a second look, but if they're in a movie, suddenly they have men or women camping outside their houses. Pattinson's a looker – don't try to deny it – and so he's had plenty of this.
The thing is, any guy knows how to drive a girl away. Pattinson has plenty of charm to bring out, but he also has complaints. And complaints aren't very attractive. He unloaded all of his issues on the poor girl, despite taking her out on a date, and that was that. After that, he was free and clear.
Animals don't always get along very well. For instance, dogs and cats are at odds because the cat motion for “hello” is also the dog gesture for “come on, let's play.” Thus, the dogs chase the cats, and the cats flee in terror. This also occurs when it comes to dogs and skunks, which is why the dogs are so often relegated to the bathtub during an intense rubdown with tomato juice.
In fact, there are probably lots of ways that dogs don't interact well with other animals, since they tend to be rambunctious and just want to have fun, while many of the other animals are terrified for their lives by the huge beasts that are racing around them and barking at them.
Sad Doggy Graves
Loving the family dog is not a new development for people. Ever since dogs were first domesticated, and they started helping with hunting and guarding and all that other great dog stuff, humans have loved them. Even the Romans, who aren't remembered as the nicest civilization in the world, gave them special tombs and epitaphs, such as the tearful one included here.
The ancient Greeks also included this practice. There were no pet cemeteries, so these two groups often buried their pets along roads to share how great their doggies are to travelers. Some of them told of the dog's exploits, others called them foster children, and others boasted of the dog's best qualities.
We All Love Small Businesses
In 2018, Jaequan Faulkner decided he was ready to start earning money. He opened a hot dog stand outside his home, and the Facebook page “Bike Cops for Kids” made a post about it, which garnered Faulkner plenty of business to his humble stand. However, the small business soon received a complaint about the safety of the food being served. All businesses that serve food have to pass inspection to stay in business.
Instead of shutting the place down, the different departments of the city worked together to keep Faulkner in business, paying the permit cost, and teaching him about finance, marketing, and pricing. They got him a tent and a hand-washing station, among other things.