Including some Common Misconceptions
[Test Yourself to Improve your understanding]
“Be curious. Look out for interesting or surprising facts. They help you see the world just a little more differently. And that is good for your brain.”
Scroll through interesting facts here:
At the 1900 Paris Olympics events included Live Pigeon Shooting and Long Jump for Horses. The three croquet gold medals were won by France, which is not surprising since all the competitors in the event were French.
The large known diamond in the universe is the star BPM 37093. Astronomers believe that the interior of this white dwarf has crystallised into a diamond with a diameter of 4000 km.
When the Soviets launched their Salyut 3 space station in 1974, they were so convinced that America would try to attack the spacecraft that they fitted it with a machine gun – a modified Nudelman 23mm air-to-air cannon.
We are moving at about 1,340,000 km/h relative to the Universe as a whole.
Until 1913 is was legal in America to send children by parcel post.
98% of the atoms in the human body are replaced every year.
The 1st World War officially ended on 3rd Oct 2010.
The world’s largest living thing is a mushroom in America which covers 2,200 acres and is between 2,000 and 8,000 years old.
The largest thing a whale can swallow is something about the size of a grapefruit.
Female mosquitoes have killed half the human beings that have ever died.
Smoking reduces global pollution because the effect of eliminating the polluters is greater than the pollution arising from smoking itself.
Originally carrots, which were from Afghanistan, were purple on the outside and yellow on the inside. As Arab traders spread their use their colours varied to purple, white, yellow, red, green, and even black. The first orange carrots originated in Holland to match the colour of the Royal House of Orange. Since the Dutch were the main European producers of carrots this set the way forward.
‘Carrots help you see in the dark’ was misinformation put out by the British during the second world war to mislead about the early use of Radar.
There are a group of spruce trees in in western Sweden which are about 8,000 years old. The oldest plant is thought to be 40,000 years old. It’s a shrub found in Tasmania, Australia.
Mount Kea, the highest point on the island of Hawaii, is the world’s tallest mountain, noting that most of it is underwater. It is 10,200m (33,465 ft) high. Mount Everest is the highest mountain, not the tallest.
Underground fires are a frequent phenomenon, with fires travelling along seams of coal. They travel slowly because of the limited supply of oxygen, but can burn for a very long period of time. An underground fire at Burning Mountain Nature reserve in Australia is believed to have been burning for about 5,500 years.
The UK has a higher rate of tornadoes per square-kilometre than anywhere else in the entire world.
The empirical chemical formula for human beings is approximately: H15750N310O6500C2250Ca63P48K15S15Na10C16Mg3Fe1.
Modern humans have as many hairs per square centimetre as chimpanzees. They are just finer and lighter and thus less visible.
The Greeks and Romans all read aloud. It wouldn’t have occurred to them to read silently.
Statistically you are far more likely to be attacked and killed by a cow than by a shark. In the early 2000s, whilst sharks killed about 5 people a year, cows killed hundreds of people. Of course it’s not all one way. Humans killed about 100 million sharks a year and about 300 million cows.
You are more likely to be killed by a champagne cork than by a venomous spider.
Chocolate chip cookies have 15 times as much energy as the same weight of TNT. It’s just that TNT is able to release its energy a lot quicker.
Shakespeare died when 46 in the same year that the King James bible was published. The 46th word from the start of Psalm 46 is ‘shake’ and the 46th word from the end of the Psalm is ‘spear’.
Aldous Huxley, C S Lewis, and J F Kennedy all died on the same day in 1963.
A dispute started in 1283 between the Prior and Convent of Durham Cathedral with the Archbishop of York over the administering of the spiritualities of the diocese. The latest attempts to settle the dispute in November 1975 came to nothing.
The 1940s Hollywood actress Hedy Lamarr patented a frequency-switching system for guided torpedoes.
Before WWII only 800 planes had been built in the US.
The tongue of a blue whale can weigh more than an elephant.
The fastest bird is the peregrine falcon which can fly faster than 200 miles/hr (320 km/hr).
Mosquitos are attracted to dark colours, particularly dark blue, and repelled by light colours.
A woodpecker can peck up to 20 times per second.
Australian earthworms can grow up to 10ft (3m) in length.
All of the common type of pet hamster are descended from a single pregnant female found in the wild in Syria in 1930.
Antarctica is the driest place on the planet.
Watermelons are grown square in Japan so they take up less space, are easier to stack, and fit neatly into typically sized Japanese refrigerators.
The smallest tree in the world is the dwarf willow which grows to about 2 ins (5cms) in the tundra in Greenland.
Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting in his life.
The parachute was invented 120 years before the airplane. It was intended to save people who had to jump from burning buildings.
99% of all life forms that have existed on the earth are now extinct.
Onions, apples, and potatoes all have the same taste. The differences in flavor are all caused by their smell.
When the pyramids were built woolly mammoths were not yet extinct.
In 2007, the Scotland government spent £125,000 devising a new national slogan. The winning entry was ‘Welcome to Scotland.’
Cleopatra’s needle was 1,000 years old when Cleopatra was born.
The bootlace worm, typically found along the coasts of Britain on sandy shores, muddy shores, and in tide pools, whilst typically only 5 to 10 mm long, can grow to extraordinary lengths. A specimen 55 meters long was washed up on the shores of Scotland in 1864.
The Wright Flyer, the plane in which the Wright brothers reputedly made the first powered, sustained and controlled manned flights, never flew again after the day, 17 December 1903, on which they made their flight, the plane having been damaged after being flipped over by a strong gust of wind. When Neil Armstrong became the first man to step onto the moon in 1969 he carried with him inside his suit a piece of fabric and a piece of wood from the Wright Flyer.
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It was not widely believed in the middle ages that the world was flat. Ancient Greek geographers knew that the world was spherical. European scholars had good access to such information, and most, who thought about such matters, fully accepted it. There were only a few eccentric thinkers who denied it. So why do most people believe that flat-earthers once prevailed? Simply put, during the battle over evolution in the late 1800s a few of Darwin’s supporters got a bit carried away in denouncing the intellectual obstinacy of the Christian tradition.
There is no evidence to suggest that the forbidden fruit from the Book of Genesis is an apple. The Bible does not identify what type of fruit it was only from the 12th century that artists began to depict the fruit as an apple. Equally possibilities include a grape, an apricot, or a fig, amongst others.
It is not true that vomiting was a regular part of Roman dining customs.
The Vikings did not wear horned helmets.
The Pilgrim Fathers did not wear all black, and their clothes would have been in a range of colours including reds and yellows and greens. The image of their being all in Black did not emerge until the 19th century.
Napoleon was not particularly short, and was in fact slightly taller than the average Frenchman of the time.
There was no outbreak of panic across the United States as a result of Orson Welles’ radio broadcast of H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds in 1938. The idea that there was was itself played up and the myth was one that the radio station and Wells played up in later years.
Albert Einstein did not fail at mathematics when at school. He did fail his first entrance exam into the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School in 1895, but then he was two years younger than his fellow students. He scored well in the mathematics and science sections and then passed on his second attempt.
Moths don’t actually eat clothes. It’s their larva that do. Moths like the dark and lay their eggs on certain types natural fibres such as wool which contain keratin. By time you chase the moth out of your clothes cupboard its likely it eggs will already have been laid.
There was no curse on Tutankhamun's tomb, which was a media and movie fabrication. And of the 58 people who were present when the tomb and sarcophagus were opened, only eight died within a dozen years.
Whilst there are reports of pirates forcing people to ‘walk the plank’, it was exceedingly rare and certainly not a part of common pirate practice.
Humans do not have just 5 senses. Whilst we have the 5 most obvious senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste, we in fact have many more including a sense of balance, a sense of time, a sense of temperature, a sense of body awareness, and many more.
Whilst the concept of the Assembly line to enable mass production of finished items is largely attributed to Henry Ford and the production of the Ford Model T in fact the concept of the assembly line was not new. The Venetians, for example, had adopted such techniques which at its peak in the 16th century enabled them to produce ships at a rate of almost one a day based upon use of standardized parts.
The Bible makes no mention of the forbidden fruit eaten by Eve and Adam in the garden of Eden as having been an Apple, and indeed an Apple does not fit with the other clues as to what it might have been.
There is strong evidence that the original ‘number of the beast’ in the early versions of the Bible was 616, not 666.
Whilst the Asteroid Belt, circling the sun roughly between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, is often depicted as being fairly crowded, in fact the asteroids are typically over a million miles apart.
Bulls do not see red, they cannot distinguish one color from another. It is brightness and motion that bulls react to.
The threat of capital punishment does not act as a deterrent to murder. This lack of deterrent effect is very clear based upon the vast amounts of statistical evidence of where capital punishment is and is not practiced, and based upon the evidence of when capital punishment has been introduced or abandoned.
There is no such thing as an elephant’s graveyard, ie. a place aging elephants go to die.
Flying fish do not fly. They are fish able to launch themselves out of the water and are then able to glide for distances up to about 400 meters.
Frankenstein, from the book by Mary Shelly, was not the name of the monster but the name of the creator of the monster. In the book the monster is not given a name.
Joan of Arc was not French and did not think of herself as French. She was from the then independent Duchy of Lorraine.
Thomas Edison did not invent the electric light bulb though he did significantly improve upon it and his company, the Edison Electric Light Company, began their commercial manufacture and marketing.
The naming of Red Square in Moscow is nothing to do with communism, and it was so named prior to the communists coming to power.
Rice paper is not made from rice, but from a number of different plants grown in south east asia.
The United States Constitution’s much vaunted ‘right to bear arms’, is in the context of a ‘well-regulated militia’, and not simply a right of any individual who wishes to arm themselves.
The Magna Carta was not signed by King John, but it would have been ‘sealed’.
Strictly speaking brides are not led up the aisle during a church wedding, but up the nave.
The Gospels make no mention of how many wise men journeyed to visit Jesus after his birth or of their names.
Our common view of world maps gives us a misconception about certain North South lines. Thus North America is not directly north of South America. The western most point of South America is, for example, south of Florida, The Galapagos Islands are immediately south of Dallas, and Hawaii is South of Alaska.
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Approximately how old are the oldest trees?
a. 350 yrs old
b. 1000 yrs old
c. 5000 yrs old
d. 8000 yrs old
e. 12000 yrs old
8000 yrs old
On what continent is the driest place on the earth?
What type of thing is the world’s largest living thing?
A mushroom, in America which is over 2000 years old and covers 2,200 acres, ie. about 8.9 square kilometres or 3.4 square miles.
Which of the following were events included in the 1900 Paris Olympic Games:
• Camel Racing
• Live Pigeon Shooting
• Arm Wrestling
• Long Jump for Horses
• High Jump for Horses
• Live Pigeon Shooting
• Long Jump for Horses
Does smoking increase or decrease global pollution?
Decreases, through killing off the polluters.
True or False? Modern humans have as many hairs per square centimetre as chimpanzees.
They are just finer and lighter and thus less visible.
What is the world’s tallest mountain?
Mount Kea, in Hawaii measuring 33,465 ft, which is taller than Mount Everest by 4,436 ft. Mount Everest, at 29,029 ft is the highest mountain in the world. Mountain height is measured from sea-level but how tall a mountain is is measured from its base. Most of Mount Kea is below sea level.
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