“Today I Learned”: 30 Interesting Facts You Might Not Know About The World (New Posts)
With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, our minds are always buzzing. Every time we hop online, we’re bombarded with endless amounts of news, data, and entertainment, and it’s bound to make heads spin! While the digital world makes sure our brains never really stop, thankfully, there’s a beloved corner of the internet that helps us feel less overwhelmed by featuring the tastiest bitesize nuggets of information we all appreciate.
We’re talking about the 'Today I Learned' online community, the perfect outlet to pique our curiosity and boost our intelligence. With over 28.8 million members, the group celebrates knowledge by sharing some of the most intriguing and lesser-known things, facts, and truths that can be quickly consumed and understood.
Below, we wrapped up the freshest batch of surprising and valuable tidbits from this powerhouse to add some much-needed value to our feeds. So grab your notebooks and your thinking caps and get ready for an informative ride as you scroll down this list. Be sure to upvote your favorite facts, and then spread some words of wisdom in the comments! Psst! For more goodness from the TIL world, check out Bored Panda's earlier pieces here, here, and right here.
TIL Hummingbirds have an exceptional memory due to an enlarged hippocampus. This allows them to remember the exact location of specific hummingbird feeders along their migration path from North America to Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America.
TIL that at the ancient Olympics, cheating athletes would be fined and the fines used to build bronze statues at the entrance of the Olympic stadium, each inscribed with the name of the cheater and how they cheated
TIL of the 'Fry and Turnbull effect' on prostate cancer in the UK. In 2008 news presenter Bill Turnbull and broadcaster Stephen Fry both had a prostate cancer diagnosis and urged other men to come forward for help. It caused a 36% increase in patients receiving treatment the following year.
TIL that Jimmy Carter, at 97, is the oldest living President, the longest-lived President, and also has the longest retirement ( 41 years ) of any President
TIL Freddie Mercury’s introductory scatting vocal on "Under Pressure" was improvised during an experiment suggested by David Bowie, as Brian May recalls it: "David said, 'Okay, let’s each of us go in the vocal booth and sing how we think the melody should go and we’ll compile a vocal out of that.'"
TIL the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was founded by FDR's New Deal in 1933. In its 9 year existence the CCC employed nearly 3 million men, planted over 3.5 billion trees, and established more than 700 state parks. It was the most rapid peacetime mobilization in US history.
TIL The Carmen Sandiego Show (1991-1995; 295 episodes) was created partially in response to the results of a National Geographic survey that indicated Americans had alarmingly little knowledge of geography, with one in four being unable to locate the Soviet Union or the Pacific Ocean.
TIL award-winning writer William Goldman would make up bedtime stories for his daughters (4yo & 7yo). One of them wanted tales of princesses, the other wanted brides, so he combined them. These stories became his next book: "The Princess Bride"
TIL in 400 BCE Persian engineers created an ice machine in the desert.
TIL For weeks, Ganeshpur, a village in eastern Bihar, India, had to put up with frequent power outages that only seemed to occur a few hours after sunset. It was later revealed that an electrician was cutting the village's power whenever he wanted to see his girlfriend in secrecy in the dark.
TIL that a drop of water spends an average of nine days in the atmosphere before falling back to Earth. If it should fall in the ocean it may take it over 3000 years before evaporating again.
TIL that in 1956, the Comics Code Authority tried to prevent a story from being printed because it involved a black astronaut, even though this was never actually forbidden by the Code. Fortunately, the publisher managed to get the CCA to back down by threatening to take the matter to court.
TIL that when a poisonous gas leak was found at 11:45pm immediately before the Bhopal disaster in 1984 that killed thousands, a decision was made to do something about it after the 12:15am tea break.
TIL The final episode of M*A*S*H was two and a half hours long and was viewed by an audience of 121 million.
TIL Medieval myths surrounding salamanders being resistant to fire were due to salamanders habit of hibernating in logs… putting another log in the fire = salamander scurrying from the fire … leading people to believe they were “born of fire”.
TIL Tonic water was created as an early prophylactic treatment against Malaria (due to the added Quinine) by the British army. They added Gin to improve taste and now we have the G&T.
TIL somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean are the Disappointment Islands. Named by John Byron in 1765, because he found the natives to be hostile towads him.
TIL The Golden Raspberry Awards has made retractions on two occasions. Bruce Willis had his Raspberry category retracted once it was discovered he was suffering from aphasia. Shelley Duvall's nomination was retracted because of Kubrick's mistreatment on The Shining.
TIL: John Michell in 1783, published a paper speculating the existence of black holes, and was forgotten until the 1970s
TIL that if two pieces of similar metals touch in a vacuum like outer space, and if both pieces are perfectly flat and polished, they will indeed fuse to effectively make one new piece. Atoms in the metals share electrons and bond permanently. This is called cold welding.
TIL about rescue buoys used in the English channel in WWII. Designed to provide shelter for the pilots or crew of aircraft shot down or forced to make an emergency landing over water, they contained food, cigarettes, liquor, flares and even board games to pass the time.
TIL the Carthaginian general Hannibal Barca was so terrifying to Rome that they would use the phrase "Hannibal is at the gates" whenever disaster struck. When the romans finally defeated Hannibal, they built statues of him in the streets of Rome to advertise their defeat of such a worthy adversary.
TIL Lal Bihari Mritak is an Indian farmer and activist who was officially declared dead between 1975 and 1994. He fought with Indian bureaucracy for 19 years to prove that he is alive.
TIL: In 1990 a courier was robbed on a street in London, England. The robber made off with bearer bonds to the value of £292 million. Today, this is equivalent to £758 million - or $1.086 billion USD. This is still the highest amount ever stolen in a street robbery.
TIL Hans Christian Anderson was huge fanboy of Charles Dickens & annoyed the hell out of him by overstaying his welcome as a guest
TIL that in 2006, FBI agents attempted to arrest prison guards at the Federal Correctional Institution, Tallahassee, after having learnt the guards were trading drugs for sex with female inmates. One of the guards opened fire with a personal handgun, killing one agent and wounding another.
TIL that in his famous paper, Computing Machinery And Intelligence, Alan Turing recommended that the Turing Test be performed in a 'telepathy-proof room' so the human couldn't use psychic powers to identify the computer
TIL When a horse and donkey mate they make a mule (or hinnie). Mules are stronger than horses and donkeys of the same size and are more resilient to disease.
TIL that the Allstate "Mayhem" actor Dean Winters, died for about 3 minutes, and was then revived. The infection that caused this also led to two toes and a thumb needing to be amputated.
TIL that 95% of all thoroughbred racehorses today can trace their lineage back to a single horse, Darley Arabian, born over 300 years ago.
TIL that raw sweet potatoes are actually not very sweet on their own but contain an enzyme called Beta-Amylase which breaks down the starch in the potato and turns it into sugar. When a sweet potato is cooked, the higher temperature speeds up the enzyme resulting in the sweet potato's sweetness.
TIL Byzantine princess Theophano, wife of Holy Roman emperor Otto was resented by the emperor's courtiers for her peculiar habits, including "luxurius tastes", like demanding to take a bath daily and using "a golden double prong to bring food to her mouth", instead of eating with her hands
TIL Brazilian footballer Rivaldo grew up in poverty and suffered such malnourishment it caused caused bowleggedness and the loss of several adult teeth, and coaches saying he was too physically weak to succeed . Despite this he went onto win the World Cup, the Champions League and the Ballon d'Or.
TIL when Trading Places, starring Eddie Murphy, came out in 1983 it was legal to use misappropriated government information to trade in the commodity markets. In 2010 it was finally made it illegal and it is known as the "Eddie Murphy Rule". (reposted with valid source)
TIL that in 1962 there was a bill proposed to change the name of Philippines to Malaysia but the then newly independent neighbouring country took the name before the bill was passed.
TIL everyone has Olfactory Adaption and cannot smell their surroundings after a few minutes. This is why you cannot smell your house but your guests can.
TIL: Qian Xuesen, a Chinese rocket scientist who graduated from MIT and Caltech, a major contributor to the field of engineering and aerodynamics, worked on the Manhattan Project, deported by the US during the Red Scare to China, and became the "Father of Chinese Rocketry"
TIL that the human fingertip can feel the difference between a smooth surface and one with a pattern embedded just 13 nm deep
TIL in the wake of the Mississippi Burning murders, the FBI, having no leads or informants, enlisted the help of mafia enforcer Gregory Scarpa. His kidnap and 'interrogation' of a local suspect provided the information the DOJ needed to prosecute within days.
TIL that during the Pony Express' 18 months of operation, it covered a distance equivalent to circling the Earth 30 times to deliver a total of 34,753 letters, and only lost one bag of mail.
TIL that there's a room in the basement of Oregon State Hospital now known as, "The Room of Forgotten Souls." In 2004, several copper cans were discovered containing the remains of 3,600 psychiatric patients cremated on-site between 1917-1973.
TIL that the oldest ship in the world still afloat is the USS Constitution. Built in the 1790s to serve as one of the first ships of the brand-new US Navy, she served for approximately 80 years before being removed from service and converted into a floating museum.
TIL in silkworm farms of 16th century Italy, delicate silkworm eggs were incubated by women who carried them in small bags next to their skin, sometimes between their breasts
TIL Chicken Parmesan is not an Italian dish, it was invented in America by Italian immigrants and the first published recipe was in a NY newspaper in 1953. The dish became wildly popular in Australia where its served with salad and fries, although they hotly debate if the fries go under the chicken
TIL an Orange County man named Jeff Reitz went to Disneyland every day for over 8 years, 2,995 consecutive days, and only stopped because of Covid on March 14, 2020.
TIL during the salem witch trials, none of the people who actually confessed of being a witch were executed. All 19 who WERE executed of being a witch refused to confess.
TIL The success of Rollerball (1975) led to promoters wanting to buy the rights to the in-film sport. The director, Norman Jewison, was outraged as the movie was to show the "sickness and insanity of contact sports and their allure."
TIL The US banned sliced bread during WWII as a rationing measure to save the wax paper and plastic used to wrap it. The ban was reversed 3 months later because there was widespread consumer backlash and savings were less than anticipated.
TIL Empress Anna of Russia was known for her cruelty and once forced a prince to act as her jester and had him married to her maid. Anna had an ice palace constructed for their wedding where they were locked in for the night and informed they had to consummate if they wished to survive the cold.
TIL due to a blight that wiped out most N. American Chestnut trees, most domestic Chestnut hardwood is salvaged from old support beams or fallen trees and is very rare/expensive.
TIL that the Second Congo War (1998 - 2003), also known as the African World War, was the deadliest conflict since WW2 with 5.4 million deaths.
TIL: A rattlesnake's rattle doesn’t work like a maraca, with little bits shaking inside. The rattle is actually a bunch of loosely interlocking segments made out of keratin.
TIL that in 1909 the entire town of Ulysses, Kansas was relocated 3 miles west to escape their debts
TIL Apple created a custom mouse colloquially nicknamed 'the hockey puck', that lasted for only two years, 1998-2000, before it was discontinued in favor of a more traditional shape. It is considered one of Apple's more notorious flops.
TIL Before the "Hot-Water-Bottle" people would use other people or animals to keep warm. Families and visitors would all sleep in the same bed. Barn animals were popular. Lap dogs were popular with the wealthy.
TIL that in response to fans demanding the show Metalpocalipse be continued, Adult Swim set up a live stream of the a fax machine printing the petition to bring back the show… only for the faxes to be dropped straight into a trash bin.
TIL the USA and Canada don't use A4 sized paper, but instead uses Letter sized as their standard which is 8.5 inches by 11 inches.
TIL that in Singapore, one would require a permit to own a car known as the Certificate of Entitlement (COE), often costing as much as the vehicle itself, if not more. Introduced in 1990, its implementation is largely due to regulate the growth of cars in the country.
TIL Mark Twain was one of the first American writers to document native islanders surfing in Polynesia. In his 1872 travelogue, “Roughing It”, Twain describes watching it, and even attempts it himself. But only once.
TIL cyber criminals with the help of A.I voice cloning software, used a deepfaked voice of a company executive to fool a Emirati bank manager to transfer 35 million dollars into their personal accounts. The bank manager had recognized the executive's voice from having worked with him before.
The surface layers of the vaginal wall are made of mucosal tissue—similar to the tissue that lines your mouth, nose, and digestive tract.
TIL that Terry Nichols on June 1, 2004 was sentenced to 161 life sentences plus 9,300 years parole for being an accomplice in the Oklahoma City bombing.
TIL: Of the 8 known polar bear - grizzly bear hybrids, all of them are descended from the same mother polar bear
TIL that the Mechanical Turk, a chess-playing illusion, fooled observers in Europe and the Americas for 84 years, from its creation in 1770 until its destruction by fire in 1854. It was operated by a human chess master hiding within the machine, who gave the Turk the appearance of playing chess.
TIL Servilia's pearl was a black pearl given by Julius Caesar to his favourite mistress. According to Suetonius it was worth 6 million sesterces (approximately $1.5 billion now.)
TIL that OMEGA, Olympic Games official timekeepers and scorers since 1932, had asked organizers before the 1976 Games whether the scoreboards needed to accommodate four digits. They were told it was not necessary. As a result, when Nadia Comaneci performed a perfect routine, the timer showed 1.00.
TIL that Phil Sokolof, a wealthy businessman who ate fast food daily and suffered a heart attack, launched a $15 million dollar campaign against McDonald's for their "unhealthy menu", forcing the burger chain to switch from cooking in beef tallow to the "healthier" vegetable oil.
TIL of Suero de Quiñones, a knight who spent a month camped next to a bridge with 10 of his friends to challenge every knight who crossed to a joust for no reason except to meet a goal of breaking "300 lances".
TIL Devils Hole is a window into a vast aquifer and an unusual indicator of seismic activity around the world. The pool reacts to large quakes far away. Quakes in Mexico, Japan, Indonesia and Chile have caused water to ‘slosh’ around like water in a bathtub (up to two meter waves)
TIL The head of the Gestapo during WW2, Heinrich Muller, was never found. Multiple conflicting stories about his death or survival exist, and he's one of the highest ranking 'missing' Nazis.
TIL that Francium is the second rarest naturally occurring element--as little as 20–30 g (1oz) exists at any given time throughout the Earth's crust.
TIL In June 2022 Belgium returned the gold-capped tooth of Patrice Lumumba. Lumumba had been executed in 1961 and the tooth was all that remained after the first Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo was dissolved in acid and his bones ground to dust.
TIL In the 1940's, the Japanese army designed specialized bombs full of live mice, specifically to infect Chinese and Korean civilians with the Plague (which has a 70% mortality rate without immediate treatment).
TIL the nineteen days between September 16th and October 4th are the nineteen most common birthdays in the England and Wales
TIL that the Chinese warlord Zhang Zongchang, who ruled Shandong during a turbulent period of civil war and was known for his exceptional brutality and sexual exploits, kept his elderly mother near him at all times. Even on campaign, he gave her a personal railcar to accompany his army in.
TIL. Babies have around 300 bones in their body at birth. As they grow, the bones fuse together and become 206 bones by adulthood.
TIL the most effective surrender leaflet in WW2 was known as the "Passierschein". It was designed to appeal to German sensibilities for official, fancy documents printed on nice paper with official seals and signatures. It promised safe passage and generous treatment to any who presented it.
TIL that the 4th largest polished diamond in the world is in the King’s Crown and a previous crown was destroyed by Oliver Cromwell
TIL of the Loughton incinerator thefts. Between 1988 and 1992 at the Bank of England's incinerator plant, four employees stole more than £600,000 of used bank notes due for incineration. They were eventually found out when the husband of one tried to deposit £100k in used £20s and £50s.
TIL that the British royal family owns a stamp collection worth £100 million.
TIL that Billings, MT has the highest rate of depression in the United States (31% of the population).
TIL about Enforcers, an unofficial role in ice hockey who's job is to deter dirty or violent plays by the opposition by responding with more violence.
TIL until last year (2021), gas pumps in Hawaii were not allowed to have a hands free mode.
TIL Snoop Dogg had a sketch comedy show called "Doggy Fizzle Televizzle" in 2002 on MTV. It lasted for eight episodes. The show was canceled after the rapper asked for $1 million to return for a second season.
TIL the NASA X-43 achieved Mach 9.6 with a jet engine. The unmanned 3.6 meter aircraft were used to prove the design and were purposely crashed into the ocean on test completion. An aircraft that could sustain this speed would be able to travel 1000 kilometers every 5 minutes.
TIL a donut shop in Portland, Oregon was told by the FDA to stop adding medicine to food because it included Nyquil and Pepto Bismol to its donuts.
TIL that when Madonna's first single was released, the record label promoted her as a Black artist, down to making the cover a collage of downtown New York featuring Black people rather than a picture of her. This ended when she convinced the label to let her shoot a music video.
TIL that mosquitos don't feed on blood as their daily source of food; they actually consume nectar. Female mosquitos only require blood as a source of protein to develop their eggs.
TIL the phone number of the very first house to have a residential phone line installed was "1."
TIL Prince Jefri of Brunei left hundreds of cars, including over 300 Mercedes-Benz sedans and convertibles, Rolls-Royce, Ferrari, McLaren, Lamborghini, and others, to rot in the jungles of Brunei. An audit by the Sultan discovered $40 billion in "special transfers"; of which the Prince spent $14.8b.
TIL that you don’t need a state driver’s license to compete in NASCAR.
TIL Sushi grade and Sashimi grade fish is actually super frozen fish, not fresh fish. It is frozen below -60f. in the usa, there is no regulation, and any supplier can claim sushi grade fish.
TIL Chicken Katsu was invented in the late 1800s by a Tokyo restaurant that wanted to offer a European-style meat cutlet to British businessmen
TIL Marino Faliero, the only Doge of Venice in history to have been executed for a coup attempt, was erased from all official documentation and had his portrait in the Doge’s Palace painted over with a black cloth.
TIL that the Castle Bravo nuclear test was 3x as powerful as the designers expected. This was due to unexpected fission of lithium-7, which greatly increased the yield of the other nuclear reactions.
TIL: The most expensive photograph was made by Man Ray and cost $12.4 million
TIL that there were many "Southern Unionists" during the US Civil War. 40% of US Military Officers from Virginia fought for the Union and approximately 100,000 Southern Unionists served in the Union Army, with units of White Troops raised from every Southern state except South Carolina.
TIL that Militant Buddhist warrior monks were a major force during the warring states era of Japan with the ruler of kaga province being overthrown by them. They were only defeated when oda nobunaga waged a decade long war against them.
TIL That John Adams, 2nd President of the United States, acted as the legal defense for the soldiers involved in the Boston massacre. None were charged with murder, and six were acquitted of all crimes.
TIL the US rationed Coffee for a period of time during WWII, limiting households to 1 pound every 5 weeks, averaging out to one cup per day per household. The rationing began in November 1942 and ended in July 1943.
TIL Captive male orcas have a 80-90% rate of dorsal fin collapse, the rate for wild orcas has been estimated at