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Fifty More Interesting and Obscure Facts

Updated on November 24, 2014

Let's do it again! A few years ago I wrote this Hub about fifty interesting and obscure facts and it was really fun, so I thought I'd gather up some more strange, weird, and interesting stuff for you share.

50. The name for Beef jerky originates from charki, an Inca word for dried llama meat.

49. Equating a healthy diet with his idea of morality, Doctor John Harvey Kellogg originally marketed Corn Flakes as a remedy for chronic masturbation.

48. Both the lie detector machine and the superheroine with the Lasso of Truth, Wonder Woman, were created by Harvard psychologist Dr. William Moulton Marston.

47. At 60° South latitude, you could sail all the way around the world without touching land.

46. What's the difference between sunscreen and sunblock? Sunscreen chemically filters UV rays, and is often transparent when rubbed in. Sunblock physically blocks rays and is the opaque, usually white or yellow kind you often see on a lifeguard's nose.

45. One of the most requested photos from the US National Archives and Records Administration is a photo of Richard Nixon and Elvis Presley meeting in 1970.

44. Mark Twain was born in 1835, a year in which Haley's Comet came nearest to earth on its orbit. Twain vowed that he wouldn't die until he saw it himself (hard to do when you're a newborn!). He died the day after it passed over the earth again in 1910.

43. Kites are named after the kite bird, a kind of hawk.

42. The white part at the base of your fingernails is called the lunula due to its resemblance to a crescent moon.

41. The basenji dog breed doesn't bark; it yodels.

40. Comedian Martin Lawrence, rappers Salt-N-Pepa and hip hop singers Kid 'N Play worked together at a Sears in Queens in the early '80s.

39. An optical illusion in which it appears that there is a castle floating in the sky in the distance is known as a fata morgana, which happens when alternating layers of warm and cool air are rising from the surface.

38. White eggs come from white-feathered hens, while brown eggs come from reddish-brown hens.

37. Rocky Road ice cream was a flavor created and named by Edy's Grand Ice Cream shortly stock market crashed in October of 1929.

36. The eponymous Simpson family from the animated series lives on Evergreen Terrace, which is the name of the street creator Matt Groening grew up on in Portland, Oregon.

35. Vinyl records start at the outer edge and rotate in, while compact discs start at the inner edge and rotate out.

34. The first human to relieve himself on the moon was Buzz Aldrin, who did so shortly after stepping onto its surface.

33. Methemoglobinemia is a blood disorder in which an abnormal amount of methemoglobin -- a form of hemoglobin -- is produced. People with this disorder have blue-colored skin.

32. Literary character Sherlock Holmes got his name from cricket player Mordecai Sherlock and American poet Oliver Wendell Holmes.

31. Urine was used in ancient Rome as a tooth whitener.

30. A Zip Bomb is a zip file that is very small when zipped, but extremely large when unzipped, to the point that the computer's resources are exhausted. One example, known as, is 42 kilobytes when zipped but 4.5 petabytes (4 503 599 626 321 920 bytes) when unzipped.

29. Video game company Atari and kids' pizza place Chuck E. Cheese's were both created by entrepreneur Nolan Bushnell.

28. Ambergris is a solid, waxy, flammable substance of a dull grey or blackish colour produced in the digestive system of sperm whales and highly sought-after as an ingredient in perfumes to make the scent last longer.

27. Camels chew in a figure-eight pattern.

26. After his presidency, George Washington had a successful whiskey business.

25. In certain conditions, hot water will freeze more quickly than cold water.

24. The second Longest geographical name in the world is “Taumatawhakatangihangak oauauotamateaturipukaka pikimaungahoronukupokaiwhe nua kitanatahu” (85 letters) which is a hill in New Zealand whose name in the Maori language means “place where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, who slid, climbed and swallowed mountains, known as land-eater, played his flute to his loved one.”

23. Apples, like pears and plums, belong to the rose family.

22. Purple used to be the most common color of carrots, with yellow and white being less common variations. Then 17th-century Dutch growers cultivated the yellow and white ones into the now-common orange ones.

21. It takes Venus 243 Earth days to rotate once on its axis, but 225 earth days for it to orbit the sun. So on Venus, a day is longer than a year.

20. Mexican General Antonio de Padua María Severino López de Santa Anna y Pérez de Lebrón lost a leg from a cannonball injury and ordered that his leg be buried with full military honors.

19. Scientists have identified a gene and the protein synthesized by that gene that is central in the development of digits (i.e., fingers on limbs) and named it Sonic hedgehog. There is also an inhibitor chemical of the Hedgehog signaling pathway called Robotnikinin, which is named after the video game character Sonic the Hedgehog's enemy, Dr. Ivo Robotnik.

18. Another fictional character-inspired name for a protein is Pikachurin, a protein found to play a critical part in both eye-to-brain transmission of visual signals, named after the fast-moving Pokémon character Pikachu.

19. Remember the Fibonacci sequence, where the next number in the sequence is the sum of the previous two numbers (e.g., the first few numbers are 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, ...)? The number 1/89 has this sequence built into it! 1/89 = 0.01 + 0.001 + 0.0002 + 0.00003 + 0.000005 + 0.0000008 + 0.000000013 + ...

18. Clancy Brown, the actor who played the sadistic prison guard Captain Hadley in The Shawshank Redemption, also plays the voice of Mr. Krabs in the children's animated series Sponge Bob Square Pants.

17. A thixotropic substance is one that has a high viscosity (i.e., is thicker or sludgier) when at rest, and has a lower viscosity (i.e., becomes thinner or more fluid) after being shaken or agitated.

16. One way art detectives can tell if a work created before 1945 is an original or a fake is by testing for the detection of certain isotopes. before the first nuclear bomb detonation in July of 1945, isotopes such as strontium-90 and cesium-137 did not exist in nature.

15. Kurt Vonnegut managed America's first Saab dealership. It failed within a year.

14. In 1936, Russian scientist Vladimir Lukyanov built a computer that ran on water, using water-filled glass tubes. The levels in certain tubes gave the answers, while adjusting taps and plugs changed variables.

13. The plastic sleeve sausage is sold in is called a chub.

12. In Waterbury, Connecticut, it is illegal for any beautician to hum, whistle, or sing while working on a customer.

11. The indent under your nose known as your philtrum (a Greek term meaning love potion) is a residual artifact of a process while you were in the womb: in utero, the two sides of your face developed independent of one another, then joined at the middle.

10. In the Netherlands, french fries are frequently served with mayonnaise.

9. Pittsburgh is the only city where all the major sports teams (MLB, the Pirates; NHL, the Penguins; NFL, the Steelers) have the same colors: Black and gold.

8. Winston Churchill’s mother invented the Manhattan cocktail.

7. If the entire human population as of the writing of this were in one city, and that city's population density were that of New York City, that one mega-city would be approximately the size of Texas.

6. Indian moon moths can smell the pheromones of a potential mate over 6 miles away.

5. Some esoteric programming languages include Whitespace, in which source code is all spaces, tabs, and newlines; Velato, in which source code is a MIDI file, and Piet, in which source code is a bitmap graphic that looks like abstract art.

4. Darth Vader is only on screen for 12 minutes in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

3. Sean Connery is only 12 years older than Harrison Ford.

2. In Alabama, it's officially illegal for people to drive while blindfolded.

1. The Praying Mantis is the only known insect that can rotate its head, and it can rotate it 180 degrees at that!


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