Henry Ford once said that the only people who can be considered old are those who stop learning – “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” So if you’re a keen learner you’ve come to the right place!
Below we gathered a few fascinating facts about history, nature, and a variety of other topics. So dive right in, and expand your knowledge with these intriguing facts.
1. In the 1936 Olympics two Japanese pole vaulters, Shuhei Nashida and Sueo Oe, tied for second place. Refusing to compete against each other, Nashida was awarded silver and Oe bronze. On return to Japan, they had the medals cut in two and joined together to make two ‘friendship medals’ out of silver & bronze.
2. Nordic countries have a “Freedom to Roam”, allowing people to enjoy all nature regardless of ownership (within reason).
3. On October 18, 1963, French scientists launched a rocket into space, containing a cat named Felicette. She orbited close to 100 miles above the earth, then descended safely to the ground using a special parachute. Felicette has the high honor of being the only cat launched into space thus far.
4. Spiders tune their webs like guitar strings. They tighten and loosen strands so they can read the different frequencies caused by different intruders. These frequencies help them determine where and how big the intruders are, whether they are predators or prey, or if they’re a potential mate.
5. Neuroscientists have found evidence to suggest feeling powerful dampens the part of our brain that controls empathy. Even a small amount of power can have this effect on the brain.
6. Every year a National Pillow Fighting Championship takes place in Ito, Japan. The pillow fighters start by pretending to sleep on futons. When the whistle sounds, they spring to their feet and race to get a pillow. A mix between dodgeball and chess, teams throw pillows at each other while protecting the ‘King’.
7. Owls’ ears are placed asymmetrically – at different heights on the sides of their faces – so sound reaches each ear at different times. This is essential to identify the exact direction of their prey.
8. Poland sent the US a birthday card with 5.5 million signatures to mark the country’s 150th anniversary in 1926.
9. In 1648 an angry mob of Parisians once broke into the royal palace, demanding to see the king. They were led into the bedchamber of then 10-year-old Louis XIV, who was pretending to be asleep. After that, the mob quietly departed.
10. There is such a thing as Earl Grey tea intoxication. Drinking over 2 liters (67 oz) of Earl Grey per day can cause extensive muscle cramps and blurred vision.
11. Hummingbirds are one of the fastest animals on Earth relative to their body size. They can cover more body lengths per second than any other vertebrate and can outpace fighter jets and even space shuttles.
12. When the allied forces were at the edge of the city, Hitler ordered the destruction of Paris. The Nazi commander of Paris, Dietrich von Choltitz, couldn’t bring himself to execute the order and surrendered the city a few days later, on August 25, 1944.
13. In 1979, two families escaped East Germany in a homemade hot air balloon. They flew for 28 minutes at −8 °C (17°F) with no shelter as the gondola was just a clothesline railing. They landed just 10km (6 miles) from the Western border. The escape was planned out over 1.5 years and took 3 attempts.
14. There is more water in the vapor and clouds above the Amazon rainforest than there is in the Amazon river.
15. Of all the gold medals won by US swimmers in the history of the Olympics, nearly 10% were won by Michael Phelps (that means 23 medals out of 246).
16. In 1889 a lion escaped from a traveling show in Birmingham, United Kingdom, and ran into the sewers. When an angry mob formed the owner of the show, Frank Bostock, secretly snuck another lion out the back. He then returned with the lion clearly visible and was hailed a hero. The escaped lion was still in the sewers!
17. Michael Jackson wrote his own music, but not in the way other musicians did. Jackson was unable to read music and did not play any instrument particularly well. Instead, he built each element of a song with his voice. He recorded every note of every chord, harmony, melody, bass, and even the rhythm through beat-boxing!