Grab your thinking caps, dear Pandas, it’s time to expand our minds! It’s time for another loving rendition of ‘Today I Learned,’ a list of all the cool and interesting (and really surprising!) things that the people of the internet learned about the world recently.
From science to history to everything and anything in between and more, the TIL community over on Reddit has got it all. And with so many curious people in the world, the subreddit keeps on expanding, now closing on a whopping 26 million members. Need some more yummy facts about everything and anything? Check out Bored Panda’s latest lovingly-crafted TIL articles here and here, as well as here. Got some cool trivia tidbits to share with the rest of the class? You can tell us all about them in the comment section.
Learning new things isn’t as easy as we’d like as we grow up. But it’s far from impossible! All it takes a spark of curiosity and the willingness to be open-minded and humble.
TIL about BACA, a biker gang that will defend kids who were abused or bullied, give them their own vest, take them the school, and will even guard a house 24/7 to make sure the kid can sleep
TIL a bus driver in Paris kicked all the passengers out when they refused to make space for a wheelchair bound man
TIL Queen Elizabeth once hid in a bush with her corgis to avoid talking to Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu and his wife.
Here’s the thing about knowledge—if our metaphorical cup is full, if we always want to prove others wrong, and if we get overly defensive whenever a factoid threatens our worldview, then we’ll only ever live in our own private echo chamber.
Sure, it’s comfy and cozy in this homogenous bubble of views, but it doesn’t help us grow and evolve as human beings much. We have to be willing to question everything. And even if we turn out to be right about something… well, there’s a lot to be said for being graceful and diplomatic with our words if we want to teach others, not just create an argument out of thin air.
TIL Gorillas hum happy songs when they eat. “And if it’s their favourite food, they sing louder.”
TIL Stephen King sells the rights to some of his short stories for just $1, allowing aspiring filmmakers and students to adapt them into movies. This arrangement is known as the Dollar Baby.
TIL a woman named Frances Perkins was outside the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory during the fire and saw dozens of people jump to their deaths due to unsafe work conditions. She went on to become the first female Secretary of Labor and founded the Factory Investigating Commission to improve work safety
Lenore Skenazy, the president of Let Grow and the founder of the Free-Range Kids movement told me during an earlier interview that we should try and learn something from authority figures who are clearly wrong about something, instead of being overly combative.
“The key is to discover things together. If something sounds strange or unlikely, respond with curiosity—ask the person to tell you more, and how they found this information out, and where you should go if you want to delve into it further,” the expert said.
TIL Gillian Lynne did so badly in school teachers thought she had a learning disorder & her mom took her to a doctor. Lynne began dancing to his radio; the doctor said: She’s not disordered, she’s a dancer; put her in dance school. Lynne became a world-renowned dancer & music theater choreographer.
TIL before any details of Pixar’s ‘Soul’ were public, a Black chauffeur told Kemp Powers (the film’s co-writer & co-director) that he knew Pixar was making a Black movie because he had never driven so many Black people to Pixar before.
TIL that Utah’s Great Salt Lake used to be the home of a single flamingo named Pink Floyd, who escaped from the zoo and would be seen wintering in Utah socializing with seagulls
“Then if the sources they give you seem dubious—well, probably so is whatever they gleaned from them. But if the sources seem legit, read them with an open mind. They may be right after all!” Lenore told Bored Panda earlier.
Even if somebody gets their facts wrong, we shouldn’t get angry at them… well, unless they’ve been deliberately misleading us. “Ever since the Age of Enlightenment, humans have realized that the best way to get closer to the truth is by saying something out loud and seeing if it stands up to scrutiny. If not—hooray. We are one step closer to the truth because we've just jettisoned a misconception.”
TIL Pope Benedict XVI resigned in 2013, but announced it in Latin. One reporter got the scoop and broke the story because she understood Latin. Most other reporters waited for official translations.
TIL that the Quran references Jesus's mother Mary 70 times and holds her in very high regard, identifying her as the greatest of all women
TIL that three german students got sued by their alma mater for 10,000€ because they graduated "too fast". They completed their bachelors and masters degree within 4 instead of 11 semesters by attending different lectures and sharing notes. Then they founded a ghostwriting agency!
Instead of being confrontational when we learn that an authority figure in our lives has been wrong about something, we should look at the situation as a great learning opportunity.
“If it turns out that you do find some information that contradicts what the other person—your teacher or boss or anyone—has stated as true, again, the best approach is not confrontation. It's assuming that the other person didn't mean to steer you wrong,” Lenore said.
TIL That rats can be trained to detect a chemical compound within explosives, meaning they ignore scrap metal and can search for mines more quickly. Also, an African giant pouched rat named Magawa has been awarded a prestigious gold medal for his work detecting land mines.
TIL that when you eat pineapple and your tongue begins to hurt it is due to the fact that the pineapple is eating you back thanks to bromelain.
TIL on several late 60's recordings, prominent jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman used his 10-year-old son to play drums, though he could have employed high-profile adult jazz drummers. He prized the child's joyful child musical curiosity over a more technically skilled adult
“So if you bring in information that contradicts the person, don't say, ‘SEE??? YOU WERE WRONG!' Say something more like, ‘I was so interested in what you were talking about that I did some research and now I'm a little confused. Can we look at this together?'"
People tend to get defensive if we throw accusations their way and that’s not good for anybody. “So don't be rude, be engaged. This works in the classroom, in the office, and pretty much everywhere.”
TIL in 2018 a French historical theme park named Puy du Fou trained six Rooks, a member of the crow family, to pick up cigarette butts and trash. When one of them takes a piece of trash to a special box the device dispenses bird food
TIL That in the late 1780's, an Irishman met an impressive performing bear while travelling France. When the bears owner prodded him with a stick, the bear shouted something in Irish, which led to the discovery that the performing bear was actually another Irishman who had been sown into the suit.
TIL that rats left unaided in water will drown in a few minutes because they feel hopeless, but if they know there is hope of being rescued they will last for days.
TIL an Intern at NASA once stole a safe full of moon rocks, sprinkled them on a hotel bed, and had sex with his girlfriend on top of them. He was sentenced to 8 years
TIL that veterinarians kill themselves at rates 2.5 to 3.5 times the general population, due in part to online trolling and threats from pet owners who blame them for the death of a pet, and easy access to lethal medicines
TIL that barns are red because farmers made their own sealant using linseed oil and rust. The rust protects the wood from algae and fungal growth but also colors the mixture red.
TIL For millennia, Europeans did not know where birds went in Winter time. The mystery was partly solved in 1822, when a German hunter shot down a stork. The stork had a 80cm long Central African spear impaled in its neck. This provided the first evidence that they migrated to Africa.
TIL that Thomas Edison proposed to his future wife in morse code, she accepted in the same way
Today I learned IKEA is an acronym which stands for Ingvar Kamprad Elmtaryd Agunnaryd, which is the founder’s name, farm where he grew up, and hometown.
TIL about the mysterious worldwide epidemic of Encephalitis lethargica. The disease attacks the brain, leaving some victims in a statue-like condition, speechless and motionless. Between 1915 and 1926, 500,000 dead or incapacitated from it. It disappeared as mysteriously as it came in to the world.
TIL just before lethal hypothermia, a person will undress themselves because they perceive themselves to be burning up when indeed they're freezing (paradoxical undressing). Consequently people frozen to death are often found naked and misidentified as a victim of a violent crime.
TIL the term "crimes against humanity" was first used to describe the atrocities committed by Leopold the 2nd of Belgium in the Congo Free State, a regime so brutal that the mercenaries hired by Leopold had to show a human hand for every bullet they used to prove the bullet wasnt used for hunting.
TIL that the Venus flytrap naturally grows in very few areas in the Carolinas, so park rangers have to keep most of their grow sites a secret to keep them safe from poachers.
TIL In 1980 a dingo ate an Australian couple's baby while camping, causing the mother to sentenced to life in prison for murder. Three years later, the babies clothes were found near a dingo lair.
TIL in 1998, a married couple was left behind during a diving trip to the Great Barrier Reef. Two days passed before anyone realized what had happened. Despite a 5-day search, the couple was never found. A dive slate was later recovered which read "... rescue us before we die..."
TIL the Adamites were a 2nd century Christian sect that sought to re-create the innocence of the Garden of Eden. To this end they called their church “Paradise”, practiced nudism, rejected marriage and claimed they could do whatever they wanted because they had no knowledge of good/evil.
TIL despite modern connotations of death as evil, the Greek god Hades was actually more altruistically inclined. Very few individual aspects of his personality were recorded, as Greeks refrained from giving him much thought to avoid attracting his attention.
TIL that "Jazz" is statistically the hardest word to guess in hangman. It has to do with it being a short word, having only one vowel, and using "j" and "z"---letters that people rarely guess in hangman.
TIL that "ringworm" is a fungal infection and no actual worms are involved
TIL that the Bermuda triangle isn't statistically more dangerous than almost any other place on the world's oceans per capita, the traffic there is just much higher.
TIL after their characters unsuccessfully flirted in Jurassic Park, Jeff Goldblum and Laura Dern actually dated and got engaged
TIL In 2019, Pope Francis approved changing the lord's prayer. The phrase “lead us not into temptation” changed to “do not let us fall into temptation”. He said the original was a bad translation because it suggested God caused the temptation.
TIL that Michael Jackson suffered from severe insomnia and did not get any real sleep for 60 days prior to his death. Instead, his personal doctor had been putting him under general anestheisa every night.
TIL R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe nearly died of scarlet fever in 1962, of hypothermia in 1974, and of a lightning strike in 1986.
TIL that Sid Meier (of Sid Meier's Civilization and Sid Meier's Pirates!) began placing his name in the title of his games because of a suggestion made by Robin Williams in the 1980's
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