Okay, fine – you can live without knowing certain facts, but would you want to? If you’re here on our page, my guess is that you love facts as much as we do, which means you’re dying to see what’s on this list.
Whether you’ve heard some of these before or not, we feel sure that at least some of these 21 facts will be the sort that sticks with you – take a look and see whether or not we’re right!
21. Men didn’t start wearing wedding rings until WWII.
There’s some evidence dating back to ancient Egypt that women have traditionally worn bands to show they were married, men never did until fairly recently.
Around the time of WWII, it also became common for Western men to wear a ring.
20. How Edinburgh Medical School once obtained their cadavers.
Medical schools need cadavers, and yes, some of them are willing to pay.
This was music to the sinister and opportunistic ears of landlord William Hare and his friend William Burke. Hare would rent to a poor sap, Burke would get them drunk and then smother them while they were passed out.
The way he killed – later dubbed “burking” – left little to no evidence, and the two made a pretty penny selling the bodies to the medical school for study. As a pair, the two killed at least 16 people, but it was likely many more.
Hare testified against Burke after they were caught, and the latter was convicted and hanged. In a piece of further justice, his body was donated to science and dissected by anatomy students, some of whom kept parts of him for posterity.
His skeleton is still on display at the Anatomical Museum at the University of Edinburgh.
19. Edgar Allen Poe’s death remains shrouded in mystery.
While most historians concede that Poe, who was known to have problems with alcohol, simply drank himself to death, others are willing to consider the possibility that he was murdered.
The last week of his life, Poe was supposed to leave Baltimore for Philadelphia for work before returning to New York, where he was living at the time. From there, he and his aunt were to travel to Richmond, Virginia, for Poe’s own wedding.
He was found in a gutter in Baltimore, nearly dead (and he would be, soon). His autopsy found his death was caused by swelling in his brain, leaving us with more questions than answers.
18. Someone did see the iceberg from the Titanic in time.
Frederick Fleet was the Titanic’s lookout that fateful night, and according to him, he spotted the “black object, high above the water, right ahead” and reported it up the chain with plenty of time for the ship to avoid it.
The messages, for whatever reason, were not received until just one minute before the ship struck the iceberg. Fleet survived in one of the lifeboats, watching the whole thing with the knowledge that he would likely be blamed.
An official inquiry led to a dispute over the timeline of events, and Fleet spent the remaining 53 years of his life consumed by guilt.
17. There was a mass extinction event that targeted sharks.
Marine biologists believe the oceans used to be home to between 10 and 50 times more sharks, with more species to boot.
Around 19 million years ago, they say there was a mass extinction event that wiped out most of them – an event rivaled on scale only by the one that wiped out the dinosaurs.
They don’t have any idea what might have caused it.
16. A fossil in amber more interesting than the one in Jurassic Park.
One thing that the movie got right is the fascinating look into prehistoric life that can be viewed through the hardened tree sap known as amber. Insects of all sorts have been found trapped, frozen in time at whatever moment caught them off guard.
Scientists love to see it – and have been fascinated by this 99 million-year-old daddy longlegs (complete with erect penis) for some time.
Talk about caught in the act.
15. Scientists in China have basically recreated the sun.
They’ve set a new world record using a fusion reactor – the “artificial sun” – that has heated plasma to a temperature of 216 million degrees for 101 seconds. Then they heated it to 288 million degrees for another 20 seconds, but they’re still working on their final goal: to replicate the energy-generating conditions that occur inside stars (10 times hotter than the core of our Sun).
14. The natural M&M honey of France.
In 2012, a French beekeeper was trying to puzzle out why his bees – and others in the area – were producing honey in unnatural colors. Their investigation led them to a nearby M&M factory, where bees were enjoying the discarded shells, bringing the bright and unnatural color back to the hive.
The beekeepers decided the honey’s quality was sub-par, and so they threw it all out.
I feel like that might have been a mistake, money-wise. Americans, at least, would have snapped up “M&M honey.”
13. The “Bleeding Tooth Fungus.”
Want more proof that Mother Nature is a mad scientist? How about the Hydnellum peckii – or the “Bleeding Tooth Fungus.”
Also known as the “Devil’s Tooth,” this mushroom appears to be seeping blood, but it’s not toxic.
It is gross, though, so don’t eat it. Unless you’re one of those people who likes to find things out for themselves, in which case, be my guest.
12. The fate of “Tank Man.”
If you’re an adult person with an education, you’ve likely seen the infamous photo of “Tank Man” – the man holding nothing but grocery bags and facing down Chinese tanks in Tiananmen Square.
It’s been 32 years since it was taken and the man has never officially been identified, though unconfirmed reports say he was a 19-year-old student named Wang Weilin.
We also don’t know what happened to him, though many believe he was arrested and executed. There’s some hope, of course, that he made it out alive and just wants to live an anonymous life.
More than 10,000 people were killed during the pro-democracy protests, but inside China, the details are heavily censored.
11. Naked mole rats are just the weirdest.
Yes, they’re ugly, but that’s not what makes them super weird – it’s their communication method, mostly. Each underground colony has a specific dialect that helps them identify their own and root out intruders who don’t belong.
The dialect is set by their queen, and researchers say the rest of the colony essentially lives in “an oppressive regime.”
It gets weirder, though – according to this recent study, mole rats mortality rate doesn’t increase with age (like literally every other known mammal), and researchers have to wonder whether or not they age at all.
10. Al Capone may be the reason milk has an expiration date.
It’s only a rumor, but it’s been around for awhile – it claims that after a few members of his family got sick from drinking expired milk, Al Capone threw his influence and money to get expiration dates added to milk bottles.
So you know who to thank the next time you’re saved from some serious gastrointestinal distress!
9. A peek into Albert Einstein’s working office.
This rare photo gives us a peek into the mind of a genius – Einstein’s office at Princeton was photographed the day he died.
Which means everything you see here was exactly as he left it.
8. There is a single documented case of a meteorite striking a person.
In 1954, a woman named Ann Hodges was taking an afternoon nap when a 9-pound meteorite fell through her ceiling.
Luckily (?), it hit her radio before bouncing onto her hip. If it had been a direct hit, she could have died instead of just sustaining a pretty impressive bruise.
7. The ocean’s “blue holes.”
Think black holes are scary? Wait until you hear about “blue holes” – underwater sink holes that are super dangerous to explore.
They’re often shaped like an inverted hourglass, wider in the middle than their openings appear, and run deeper than we probably realize. Marine biologists confirm that they also contain tons of sea life not readily found in other spots under the sea.
6. There is a commemorative plaque on the moon.
It commemorates astronauts and cosmonauts who have died in the line of duty. The “Fallen Astronaut” was placed there, along with a small figurine, in 1971 by astronauts on the Apollo 15 millions.
These are their names:
Charles A. Bassett II
Pavel I. Belyayev
Roger B. Chaffee
Theodore C. Freeman
Yuri A. Gagarin
Edward G. Givens Jr.
Virgil I. Grissom
Elliot M. See Jr.
Edward H. White II
Clifton C. Williams Jr.
5. Coconut crabs are the bandits of the beach.
Also known as “robber crabs,” coconut crabs will seal anything shiny or smelly or otherwise interesting, as long as they can reach it.
They’re harmless but rather large, so I’m betting 5o of them was a big intimidating.
4. The incredible mind behind the Super Soaker.
Self-described “tinkerer” Lonnie Johnson invented the Super Soaker. His prototype was made from PVC tubes and an empty 2-liter soda bottle.
He was also an Air Force engineer and a NASA rocket scientist who helped send the Galileo and Cassini satellites to Jupiter and design the B-2 Stealth Bomber.
Oh! He also designed the technology that became the basis for CDs and DVDs.
3. The Persian emperor who was murdered by the walking dead.
Agha Mohammad Khan Qajar ruled in the 18th century, and was known best for his cruelty, violence, and determination to remain in power.
He made a major lapse in judgement one night, though, when he allowed two servants – sentenced to death for arguing loudly – to keep working while they awaited their execution.
Instead of serving dinner, the two understandably hatched a plan to not die, and instead worked together to murder the Shah in his sleep.
You can hardly blame him, but I bet the Shah had a read “doh” final moment on this earth.
2. Australia’s largest bird of prey has been known to attack aircraft.
The wedge-tailed eagle can weigh close to 12 pounds and have a wingspan of up to 7.5 feet. They typically prey on small mammals like rabbits, but in groups they’ve been known to take down adult kangaroos.
Which are, you know. The size of small humans.
They’re also extremely territorial, and have been known to attack small planes and helicopters that fly too close to their nesting sites.
1. The gross reality of “star jelly.”
People once believed this sparkling white goo had fallen from shooting stars – hence it’s name – but they were sadly wrong.
The truth is pretty disgusting, so prepare yourself.
It’s basically mucus that’s found in the ovaries of frogs and toads, barfed up by the birds who eat them but can’t digest it all.
Not so heavenly after all.
Some of these are going to send me down some rabbit holes, y’all.
Did you see your favorite fact on this list? If not, share it with us in the comments!