Whenever I learn something cool, I get this itching desire to tell someone about it. But as it turns out, I don't have to rush downstairs to interrupt whatever my flatmates are doing and bombard them with interesting yet random facts. I can do it on the Internet, too.
Today I Learned is the 11th most popular subreddit, with nearly 24 million members. All of them are ready to not only share interesting and specific things about something that they just found out but go through other people's discoveries as well. From the reason why cops like donuts to Stephen Hawking pranking an interview crew, the subreddit has amassed loads of incredible trivia since its creation on Dec 28, 2008. Here are some of the most popular ones within the community.
TIL of Syndrome K: a fake disease that Italian doctors made up to save Jews who had fled to their hospital seeking protection from the Nazis. Syndrome K "patients" were quarantined and the Nazis were told that it was a deadly, disfiguring, and highly contagious illness. They saved at least 20 lives
Astrophysicist Mario Livio thinks that our willingness to learn is, in fact, what makes us human. "Other animals are curious, but only humans are worried and curious about reasons and causes for things. Only humans really ask the question, 'Why?'"
Livio says we're even born with it. "There are many studies that have shown that there is a strong genetic component to curiosity," he explained. "It is also the case that some people are more curious than others, in the same way, that some people have a talent for music and others don't or some people are smarter than others ... But all people are curious, with the possible exception of people who are very deeply depressed or have certain kinds of brain damage."
TIL a guide dog named Roselle led a group of people including her blind owner down 78 flights of stairs before the North Tower collapsed on 9/11. She only stopped to give kisses to a woman who was having a panic attack.
But testing out a new idea can lead to disaster, too."Curiosity probably led to the vast majority of human populations going extinct," Agustín Fuentes, a professor of anthropology at Princeton University, told Live Science.
For example, the Inuit of the Arctic regions of Greenland, Canada, and Alaska, and the Sámi people of Europe's northern reaches have "created incredible modes to deal with the challenges" of living in northern climates, but "what we forget about are the probably tens of thousands of populations that tried and failed to make it" in those challenging landscapes," he said.
But even though not all curious humans lived to pass their penchant for exploration on to their descendants, many did. We can't help but think, "Huh, I wonder what would happen if ..." and the popularity of the subreddit Today I Learned proves it.
TIL of Dr. Donald Hopkins. He helped eradicate Smallpox, and is on the verge of killing another disease. He's taken Guinea Worm Disease down from 3.5 million cases a year to just 28 cases last year.
TIL During the American Revolution, an enslaved man was charged with treason and sentenced to hang. He argued that as a slave, he was not a citizen and could not commit treason against a government to which he owed no allegiance. He was subsequently pardoned.
TIL In 1959, police were called to a segregated library in S. Carolina when a 9yr-old Black boy refused to leave. He later got a PhD in Physics from MIT, and died in 1986, one of the astronauts aboard the space shuttle Challenger. The library that refused to lend him books is now named after him.
TIL A Japanese company has awarded its non-smoking employees 6 extra vacation days to compensate for the smoker’s smoke breaks
TIL hundreds of love letters between two gay World War II soldiers were found and are being made into a book. In one, one of them wrote, "Wouldn't it be wonderful if all our letters could be published in the future in a more enlightened time. Then all the world could see how in love we are."
TIL that the firm Cantor Fitzgerald lost 658 employees on 9/11. The CEO, who was taking his child to school that day, later distributed $180 million to the families and offered jobs to all children of the victims. 57 of those children were employed by Cantor Fitzgerald as of 2016.
TIL that in 1916 there was a proposed Amendment to the US Constitution that would put all acts of war to a national vote, and anyone voting yes would have to register as a volunteer for service in the United States Army
TIL that a 13-year-old opened a hot dog stand in front of his home in Minnesota, causing a complaint to the health department. Instead of shutting him down, the inspectors helped him bring his stand up to code and paid the $87 fee for his permit out of their own pockets
TIL of Bob Fletcher, a man who took care of the farms of three Japanese American families while they were interned during World War 2. By keeping their farms running and paying their taxes and mortgages, he ensured the families didn't lose everything. He was even shot at for supporting them.
TIL Romans were known to create tombs for their dogs and gave them epitaphs to remember them by. One such inscription read, “I am in tears, while carrying you to your last resting place as much as I rejoiced when bringing you home with my own hands 15 years ago.”
TIL that everyone in Singapore above the age of 21 is automatically registered as an organ donor. Opting out from this Act will result in you being put at the very bottom of the organ priority list, should you need an organ transplantation.
TIL Dogs get sprayed by Skunks so often because Skunks lift their tails as a warning, Dogs see this as "Come smell my butt" which is the EXACT OPPOSITE MESSAGE from what the Skunk is trying to send.
TIL that there was a rumor that Stephen Hawking would deliberately run over the toes of people he didn’t like. He denied this rumor by stating it was “A Malicious rumor” and “I’ll run over anyone who repeats it”.
TIL a suicide bomber with explosives in his laptop boarded the Somali owned Daallo Airlines in 2016 intending to blow the whole aircraft. Twenty minutes after the takeoff, the bomb exploded, creating a hole in the plane, and the suicide bomber was sucked out of the plane. He was the only fatality.
TIL Carrie Fisher delivered a cow tongue inside a Tiffany box to a predatory producer who had assaulted her friend. She said, "The next delivery will be something of yours in a much smaller box!"
TIL Kate Winslet keeps her Oscar in the bathroom so her guests can hold it and make acceptance speeches in the mirror without feeling self conscious
TIL: Laurence Tureaud named himself professionally as Mr. T because he hated how his father, uncle, and brother who returned from Vietnam, were disrespectfully called "boy" by whites. He wanted the first word from everybody's mouth to be "Mister" when speaking to him
TIL actor Robert Pattinson dealt with an obsessed fan who had been camping outside his apartment by taking her out on a dinner date. "I just complained about everything in my life and she never came back."
TIL when Lawrence Anthony, known as "The Elephant Whisperer", passed away. A herd of elephants arrived at his house in South Africa to mourn him. Although the elephants were not alerted to the event, they travelled to his house and stood around for two days, and then dispersed.
TIL After Col. Shaw died in battle, Confederates buried him in a mass grave as an insult for leading black soldiers. Union troops tried to recover his body, but his father sent a letter saying "We would not have his body removed from where it lies surrounded by his brave and devoted soldiers."
TIL in the 1880s, the Harvard Observatory director was frustrated with his staff, and would say "My Scottish maid could do better!" So, he hired his Scottish maid. Williamina Fleming ran a team for decades, classified tens of thousands of stars, & discovered white dwarfs and the Horsehead Nebula
TIL: Some farmers in Bangladesh have switched to raising ducks instead of chickens, because during catastrophic floods, ducks float.
TIL During an interview with Stephen Hawking, the camera operator yanked a cable causing an alarm and Hawking to slump forward. Worried they had killed him, everyone rushed over to find Hawking giggling at his own joke. The alarm was from an office computer losing power.
TIL many doctors have stopped calling cancer treatment a "fight" or "battle". They argue these terms misrepresent how treatment works and if treatments fail, the patient is left with guilt and a false belief they didn't "fight" hard enough
TIL Keanu Reeves often foregoes some of his paycheck so that producers can bring on other notable actors. On The Devil's Advocate, he reduced his salary by a few million dollars so that they could afford Al Pacino, and he did the same thing on The Replacements to be able to work with Gene Hackman.
TIL when Robert Ballard (professor of oceanography) announced a mission to find the Titanic, it was a cover story for a classified mission to search for lost nuclear submarines. They finished before they were due back, so the team spent the extra time looking for the Titanic and actually found it.
TIL an actor in Nazi Germany lost his job for being Jewish. He went to the Alps, grew a beard, and dyed all his hair by bathing in diluted hydrogen. He returned to the stage claiming to be a self-taught peasant actor and was praised by the Nazis as "proof of the superiority of Aryan blood."
TIL that Willie, a parrot, alerted its owner, Megan Howard, when the toddler she was babysitting began to choke. Megan was in the bathroom, the parrot began screaming "mama, baby" while flapping its wings as the child turned blue. Megan rushed over and performed the Heimlich, saving the girls life
TIL : IN 2006, a man in Portland, Oregon hired a hitman to kill his 51-year-old wife. His wife ended up killing the hitman with her bare hands. When Susan Kuhnhausen had her hands on his neck she asked him, "TELL ME WHO SENT YOU HERE AND I WILL CALL YOU A FUCKING AMBULANCE!"
TIL Max Planck was told by his professor to not go into Physics because "almost everything is already discovered". Planck said he didn't want to discover anything, just learn the fundamentals. He went on to originate quantum theory and win a Nobel Prize.
TIL - In 1836, a sewer worker accidentally discovered an old drain which ran directly into the Bank of England's gold vault. He wrote letters to the directors of the bank and requested a meeting inside the vault at an hour of their choosing - and popped out of the floor to greet them
TIL Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn't allowed to dub his own role in Terminator in German, as his accent is considered very rural by German/Austrian standards and it would be too ridiculous to have a death machine from the future come back in time and sound like a hillbilly.
TIL Dr. Phil lost his license to practise psychology in 2006. Therefore, all guests on his TV show must sign a contract stating they are only there to receive "advice" from an individual, not a psychologist.
TIL that Eminem watched his daughter, Hailie, get crowned homecoming queen from an empty classroom in the school because he didn't want to take the attention away from her.
TIL that after Beethoven went deaf, he found he could affix a metal rod to his piano and bite down on it while he played, enabling him to hear perfectly through vibrations in his jawbone. The process is called bone conduction.
TIL when Mr Rogers heard his limo driver was going to be waiting outside while Rogers was in a meeting, he asked the driver to come in. On the way back they passed the driver's home and Rogers asked if they could stop and meet his family. Rogers kept in touch with the driver for the rest of his life
TIL The ashes of Stephen Hawking were buried between the graves of Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin, in a section of Westminster Abbey known as the "Scientists Corner." As a final tribute, during the burial, the European Space Agency beamed recordings of Hawking's voice to the nearest black hole
TIL Gary Gygax's wife was convinced he was having an affair so she followed him to a dimly lit basement and burst into the room only to find him and his friends hunched over hand drawn maps. Gary would go on to invent the role playing game "Dungeons and Dragons"
TIL that Billy Joel never sells front row seats in order to see the real fans right in front of him. He gives them away to random people in the cheap seats so that front row isn't always just wealthy people
TIL that millennial dads are spending 3 times as much times with their kids than their fathers spent with them. Back in 1982, 43% of fathers admitted they'd never changed a diaper. Today, that number is down to about 3%
TIL a man falsely imprisoned for 10 years spent most of his time at the library to study law and prove his innocence, and then became a lawyer to help free other people who have been falsely convicted.
TIL Canadian researchers watched 40 episodes of 'The Dr. Oz Show' and found that nearly 40% of the medical advice is not evidence-based, and 15% goes directly against evidence.
TIL Six Georgia inmates out on work detail saved a Deputy Sheriff who collapsed unconscious. They could have taken his gun & fled with the work van but used the Deputy's phone to call 911. The Sheriff's Office gave the men a pizza party with homemade dessert & recommended reduced sentences.
TIL in 1995, France found a man guilty of killing a teen girl, but he was able to avoid sentencing by hiding out in Germany. In 2009, the victim's father hired a team to kidnap the killer out of Germany and dump him in front of a French courthouse. It worked, and he is now serving 15 years.
TIL: Nirvana played a concert in Beunos Aires where the crowd threw mud and trash at the all-girl opening act. Kurt Cobain was so upset that he sabotaged the show by playing mostly lesser known songs and teasing 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' without ever playing it.
TIL that in the 1950's, donut shops were some of the first food businesses commonly open late at night. They became hot spots for police working the night shift since it gave them a place to grab a snack, fill out paper work, or even just take a break. This is why donuts became associated with cops.
TIL BBC journalists requested an interview with Facebook because they weren't removing child abuse photos. Facebook asked to be sent the photos as proof. When journalists sent the photos, Facebook reported the them to the police because distributing child abuse imagery is illegal
TIL a waitress was tipped a lottery ticket and won $10,000,000. She was then sued by her colleagues for their share. Then she was sued by the man who tipped her the ticket. Then she was kidnapped by her ex husband, and shot him in the chest. Then she went to court against the IRS
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