Random Fun Facts That Will Amaze You - Part 7
Let's find out about some amazing facts that will surely blow your mind!Knowledge
Do you have a sudden craving for random trivia? Are you in need of some killer pub quiz questions? Fear not, here are some of the best random facts the internet has to offer!
A Manhole is the Fastest Thing on Earth
If you were asked what the fastest thing ever recorded on Earth was, what would you say? A cheetah? A speeding bullet? The answer is, in fact, a manhole. But the manhole in question didn’t just grow legs and start sprinting like Usain Bolt; it was exploded into space.
On July 26, 1957, astrophysicist Robert Brownlee designed the Pascal A bomb test to contain nuclear fallout. The bomb was placed at the bottom of a hollow column which was 3-foot-wide, 486-feet-deep, and sealed with a 4-inch-thick iron cap. In the ensuing explosion, the cap was blasted off the torrent of fire at an unthinkable speed.
Brownlee was so impressed that he decided to repeat the test, re-named Pascal B, so he could record the speed of the cap using a camera that shot at 1 frame per millisecond. Although the recording remains classified, Brownlee estimated that the cover was launched at a speed of 125,000 mph, which is about 5x the escape velocity an object needs to leave Earth’s atmosphere.
Though Brownlee expected the cap to fall back to Earth, it never did, which means that when you’re gazing up at the stars you might be looking at a floating manhole cover. On October 4th, 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the world’s first artificial satellite, so the US technically won the space race with their unusual entry: a manhole.
Forks Were Once Considered Evil
Back in the 11th century, Byzantine-born princess Theodora Anna Doukaina was wed to Domenico Selvo, the Doge of Venice. This dude was basically the Duke, so such an arrangement hardly seemed out of the ordinary, until it came to dinnertime. Among the few possessions the princess had bought with her to Italy were some gold forks.
Although the ancient Greeks used forks to stop live food from wriggling about, the tool hadn’t yet caught on in Europe. So, she was a trendsetter, and what’s wrong with that? Well, the Italians were pretty appalled by the whole thing because food was considered a gift from God, and eating with cutlery implied that God's gift was unfit to be touched by human hands.
To make matters even worse, the princess unexpectedly died from the plague soon afterward. Venice clergymen declared that her use of the two-pronged utensil was the work of the devil, and said she’d been punished accordingly.
Word quickly spread through Europe, and it took another 500 years before the Italians accepted that the fork was not evil. In France, it wasn’t until the 1700s that the fork was adopted after people realized it was actually kind of useful for eating peas.
A Peppa Pig Episode was Banned in Australia
Anyone with young kids will be well acquainted with the haunting snorts of the animated swine Peppa Pig & her family. They may be irritating, but they’re normally harmless. However, in 2012, the Australian government not only banned an episode of the British TV show but also had it removed from all streaming services in the country.
What could possibly warrant such extreme measures? The episode, titled "Mister Skinny Legs", happened to focus on something Australia has an unfortunate abundance: spiders.
The moral of the episode, as Daddy Pig tells Peppa, is that “there’s no need to be afraid. Spiders are very, very small and they can’t hurt you”. That’s all fine and dandy in England, but in a country where many of the eight-legged creepy crawlies could easily kill a child, not so much.
The “Goat's Tongue” was a Popular Form of Medieval Torture
There are plenty of gruesome forms of medieval torture, but few are as strange as the “goat's tongue”. Anyone unfortunate enough to suffer this unique style of torture would have their legs tied to a tree, and their feet moistened with salt water.
Eyes widening with fear, the victim would then be greeted by the sight of one very thirsty, tethered goat. The goat would then be released upon the poor unfortunate soul, who would have their feet licked without mercy.
It may not sound particularly unpleasant, but as the initial tickling sensation subsided, it would be replaced by the sheer discomfort of the goat's rough tongue. Eventually, the licking would become unbearable as the soles of the feet were worn away completely. Who knew goats could be so deadly?
Pirates Never Made Treasure Maps
Hollywood has taught us that pirates loved nothing more than drawing up a good treasure map to lead them back to their stash, but that’s all lies. Not a single genuine pirate treasure map has ever been found, and there’s no evidence to prove that they even made them in the first place.
This isn’t to say they never buried their treasure, which definitely did happen, but maps played no part in it. Why? Firstly, map-making isn’t an easy thing to do, especially when it comes to accurately recording the exact location of buried treasure.
Although pirates were expert navigators, the art wasn’t really perfected until famous cartographer Captain Cook studied charts in the late 1700s. What’s more, pirates were hardly the most trustworthy people, so unwittingly leading a thieving, pillaging shipmate to your own personal loot was hardly a risk worth taking.
The myth probably originated from Captain Kidd; a 17th-century pirate whose stash of treasure (which was buried at Gardiners Island) was used against him at trial. Thanks to his minor celebrity status, people assumed that Kidd must’ve made maps to record his bounty, and speculation became a myth.
Chainsaws Were Invented for Childbirth
Plenty of modern-day products were invented for not-so-modern uses; just ask John Aitken and James Jeffray, the two Scottish doctors who dreamed up the chainsaw to help deliver babies. The tool (or weapon) now so closely associated with the timber industry and B-grade horror flicks once played a major role in the miracle of childbirth.
When babies couldn’t fit through the birth canal or got stuck in the pelvis, parts of the bone and cartilage were removed to create more space. For lack of better tools before the 1780s, this procedure, known as a symphysiotomy, was usually done by hand using a small knife. As you can probably imagine, this was neither quick, painless nor mess-free.
Thankfully, in 1785, Aitken and Jeffray invented the first chainsaw, which looked like a regular knife with rotating jaws, to speed up the process. It may have been faster, but it was certainly no less painful because anesthesia wasn’t used until 1846. Women who endured this probably make 21st-century childbirth look like a walk in the park.
Charles VI Thought He Was Made of Glass
It might sound insane, but France was once ruled by a man who truly believed he was made of glass; which, admittedly, makes him more transparent than most of today’s world leaders. Just to be clear, Charles VI was no ordinary king. He famously suffered all kinds of delusions, which often caused him to forget his own name, run wildly through the palace, or refuse to bathe for months on end.
The extent of his shenanigans caused him to be nicknamed "Charles the Mad" by the time he reached his mid-20s, so it’s safe to say that he probably shouldn’t have been ruling a country. As you might imagine, believing that you are truly made of glass is a rather stressful burden to cope with.
Charles reportedly wrapped himself in blankets, avoided anything that could cause him to shatter, and even had his clothing fitted with iron rods to protect his fragile body. Unsurprisingly, Charles did not smash into a million pieces, but he did die from malaria in 1422, aged 53.
The Brontosaurus Never Existed
Growing up, the brontosaurus was probably one of the first dinosaurs you learned about alongside the T-Rex, Velociraptor, and Stegosaurus, but it never even existed. How did a totally made-up creature get entered into the history books as having actually walked this Earth?
Here’s how it all went down: Back in 1879, paleontologist O.C. Marsh dug up the fossilized remains of a dinosaur that was missing its head. Instead of just recording the sample as it was, Marsh thought “No head? No problem” and went off in search of the creature's skull, which he found several miles away.
Except, the head and the body weren’t a match at all. The skeleton belonged to a dinosaur called the Apatosaurus which had already been discovered and named two years earlier by none other than Marsh himself. It was a similar story with the skull, except that one came from the Camarasaurus which had been discovered in 1877 by Oramel W. Lucas.
Still, that didn’t stop Marsh from just sticking the two parts together and naming it the brontosaurus or Thunder Lizard instead.
Until 2001, Disney Employees Shared Underwear
You might prefer to ignore this fact, but there are actual people inside the costumes of Mickey Mouse, Pluto, Goofy, or a whole host of other beloved characters at Disney parks. And they all used to share underwear! The reason for this strange custom, according to Disney, is that underwear from home would bunch up and ruin the illusion, so employees were provided with specially made company-issued garments instead.
By underwear, what it's technically meant is undergarments, which could be worn under the costumes and optionally over regular underwear. These articles were to be handed in and laundered at the end of each day, but things didn’t always run so smoothly.
Multiple workers started complaining about receiving smelly or stained underwear, and there were at least three official cases of employees getting pubic lice or scabies. After much campaigning, Disney eventually agreed to provide each employee with underwear they could take home in 2001.
Why Does Mickey Mouse Have Four Fingers?
On the topic of Disney, is there a more pressing question than the reason why Mickey Mouse, the very face of the company, only has four fingers? Perhaps you’ve never considered this to be unusual, or maybe you just think it would be strange for a mouse to have 5 digits.
If that’s the case, you’d be half-right; Walt Disney himself even shared the same sentiment, claiming that 5 fingers would look like a bunch of bananas. Mickey isn’t the only one though; just take a look at SpongeBob, The Simpsons, The Flintstones, The Looney Tunes, or pretty much any other well-loved cartoon character. They all have 4 fingers!
As with most things, it all comes down to two precious commodities: time and money. Early animation required thousands of hand-drawn frames, and believe it or not, adding one extra digit per frame would require more of the animators' time and therefore more money from the companies.
What’s more, having four fingers is a happy medium between three, which looks a little alien, and five, which seems all too human. Either way, I’ll bet you’ll never stop noticing it now!
Ants Have Graveyards
Humans and animals share many traits, but you’d be surprised to know that we are almost alone in the practice of burying the dead in graveyards; except for ants, that is. The difference is that ants don’t do this out of respect as we do. In fact, it seems like dying is nothing but an inconvenience for these puny insects.
When an ant dies, its body is left where it fell for at least two days until it starts to emit an odor known as oleic acid that alerts the colony of its passing. The corpse is then carted off and buried in a designated area or graveyard.
In a scientific experiment, researchers dropped oleic acid onto a live ant and watched as its fellow ants swiftly came along and carried it off, despite its best efforts to demonstrate that it was still alive and kicking. This led to a key discovery: as far as an ant is concerned, if you smell dead, you are dead.
It’s a little more complex than that though. The smell of decay comes from harmful bacteria, and as ants live in such close-knit colonies, one dead ant could cause a total catastrophe if it isn’t quickly removed from the equation – it’s a cruel world out there.
I hope you were amazed at these weird and wonderful trivia facts. If you want to find out more interesting facts, you might want to take a look at our whole fun facts series. Thanks for reading.