Know your A, B, C's: One thing you thought was the foundation of your life, the crux of anything you have ever know, is wrong. The last letter added to the English alphabet wasn't Z — it was the letter J. We've been saying the alphabet wrong the whole time! What can be believed now?
A piece of cake: What's your favorite type of cake? Vanilla, chocolate, or maybe you're eccentric with some nice ice cream cake. German chocolate cake is named after a guy named Sam German, not the country. But that doesn't mean you can't still enjoy it!
1884 fireworks: The 4th of July will be a huge celebration for American citizens, with parties and flags as well as some special treats! Fireworks have been a major part of 4th of July since the earliest celebrations. In 1884, miners blew up the post office in Swan, Colorado, because it wasn't supplied with fireworks. The real question is, why would a post office supply fireworks? Isn't that a workplace hazard?
Lincoln's tavern: Sometimes U.S. presidents have other accomplishments aside from just leading the country of the free and home of the brave. he only U.S. president to own a patent and a saloon: Abraham Lincoln. His patent was for a device to lift boats over sandbars. Unfortunately, his saloon was a miserable failure.
Hot cup of joe: The must-have for any early morning in America is most likely a hot cup of coffee. Or two. From frappuccinos at Starbucks to the breakroom coffee-maker, this caffeinated drink is a staple in American society. It only takes 45 minutes for 99% of the caffeine to be absorbed through the human body. In humans, the half-life of caffeine is anywhere from 2.5 to 4.5 hours, which explains why the average energy drink or coffee's effects last about 2 to 3 hours. So now your friends and family have no reason to question why you drink more than 5 cups of coffee a day.
Going batty: Bats are pretty cool animals. They are the only mammals that are able to fly, and famously use echolocation in order to find their way around at night and in their cave homes. Fruit bats don't use vocal echolocation to navigate, instead they use the sound made from their wings, as well as their superior sight and hearing. If only we had the sight and hearing of a fruit bat.
Heavy clouds: While clouds usually mean an impending rainstorm and are vapor clouds of water, it's amazing how easily planes can fly through them. The weight of the average cumulus cloud is more than 1 million pounds. That's the equivalent of over 100 elephants floating above you. Luckily those elephants can fly.
Swimming armadillos: While Armadillos are famous for their defensive response of curling up into a ball, they have a few more tricks up their sleeves that you might not know about! Armadillos love to swim, and are actually quite good at it, able to go a long distance underwater, walking along the bottom of streams and ponds. They can hold their breath for four to six minutes at a time. So cute!
Punching shrimp: In the saltwater aquarium trade, there is a shrimp that is both prized for its attractiveness and considered by others to be a dangerous pest. The peacock mantis shrimp can punch its claws at 50 mph, accelerating quicker than a .22 bullet. However, these shrimp only measure in size from 1.2 to 7.1 inches, so not that big of a threat.
Pisa's tower: The leaning tower of Pisa is the campanile, or freestanding bell tower of the cathedral of the Italian city of Pisa, and a popular destination spot in Italy with its unusual tilt. Soon after building started in 1173, the foundation of the Pisa tower settled unevenly. Construction was stopped, and was continued only 100 years later. Therefore, the leaning tower was never straight. It's still fun to lean against it in pictures though!
Edison's patents: Thomas Edison was an American inventor and businessman, who has been described as America's greatest inventor. Thomas Edison accumulated 2,332 patents worldwide for his inventions throughout his life 1,093 of Edison's patents were in the United States, but other patents were approved in countries around the globe. We even use many of his inventions and their evolutions today, like those that contributed to mass communication, and telecommunications.
Dog vision: Dogs are a man's best friend, and they are capable of doing some pretty amazing things. From being the family pet, to working with law enforcement and even in the military, dogs are pretty cool. Recent studies have shown that dogs do actually have some color vision, but it isn't as bright as a human's vision. They only have 20% of the cone photoreceptor cells that humans have, and see in shades of yellow and blue. No wonder they can tell the difference between red and yellow fire hydrants.
San Francisco: San Francisco is a city with a rich history, and if you have a chance to visit, you may not have realized that something was missing. There are only three cemetaries within San Francisco city limits. In 1937, residents passed a law that said no more cemetaries could be built in the city because the land was considered too valuable. Many San Francisco residents still live directly above what was once a huge cemetery complex.
Donut holes: The shape of a doughnut is famously circular with a hole in it, but have you ever wondered how that shape came to be associated with a doughnut? The donut hole was invented by a 16 year old sailor named Hanson Gregory, who in an interview stated he was tired of eating greasy and undercooked donuts with raw dough on the insides. His grave still has a plaque that tells of his famous invention.
More fun facts:
One out of every 20 people have an extra rib.
The Parliament of Iceland is the oldest still acting parliament in the world. It was established in 930.
Albert Einstein was offered the role of Israel’s second President in 1952, but declined.
Contrary to popular belief and legend, Daniel Boone not only did not wear a coonskin cap, he detested them. Instead, Boone wore a felt cap.
The US Treasury once considered producing doughnut-shaped coins!
France was still executing people by guillotine when the first Star Wars movie came out.
Nicholas Cage bought a pet octopus once because he sincerely thought it might help with his acting.
The longest mountain range in the world is found under water. Stretching over 56,000km, the Mid-Oceanic Ridge is a mountain chain that runs along the center of the ocean basins.
John F. Kennedy, Anthony Burgess, Aldous Huxley, and C.S. Lewis all died on the same day.
Toilet related injuries are surprisingly common, with some estimates ranging up to 40,000 injuries in the US every year
Google rents goats from a California company to help cut down on weeds at Google Headquarters
Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were bitter rivals, but Gates' home was designed using a Mac
Robert Cornelius took the first "selfie" in 1839. He was an amateur chemist and photographer.
The man known as the Father of Information Theory, Claude Shannon, invented the digital circuit – the foundation of what provides us all access to the Internet today-- when he was just 21 years old.
Google handles an estimated 1 billion search queries each and every day, releasing almost 200 tons of CO2 per day.
Co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin originally named Google 'Backrub'
The first cell phone sold in the United States – the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X – was designed by Rudy Krolopp in April of 1984. It weighed two pounds.
A red panda is native to the Himalayas and southwestern China. Translated, the English word for red panda is "Firefox," which is where the browser gets its name.
Created in 1956, the first ever VCR was the size of a piano.
Email existed before the World Wide Web.
The first ever Google Doodle was a Burning Man stick figure that came out on August 30, 1998
There are 350 million Snapchat messages sent every day.
If you bought one share of Microsoft stock for $21 at its March 13, 1986, IPO, it would be worth $14,990 today. That's a whopping 71,283% increase over 30 years.
In 1988, Gates bought his 66,000-square-foot "Xanadu 2.0" estate in Medina, Washington, for $2 million. It's said to be worth $123 million today.
Famed producer and musician Brian Eno wrote the famous Windows startup sound, which debuted in Windows 95.
Not only does Word include the shortcut Control-U to create underlined text, but Control-Shift-D will double underline for extra emphasis.
If the text “=rand.old()” is typed into Word followed by the Enter key, it transforms into 18 stanzas of “The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over The Lazy Dog.”
Microsoft believes artwork helps reduce stress in the workplace and increases employees’ productivity. More than 5,000 pieces of contemporary art can be found on the company’s 150 campuses.
Windows 95 developers carried stuffed animals as mascots to mark the operating-system transition, thus the system function names such as BEAR35 and PIGLET12.
Skype is banned from the public in China.
At one point, someone brought some bunnies to Microsoft’s corporate campus. One thing led to another, and soon a large group of reproducing rabbits was running amok before employees captured them to be neutered and spayed.
In 1997, Microsoft saved Apple from almost certain bankruptcy by making a $150 million investment. Steve Jobs announced it on stage at his first appearance as Apple CEO, to boos from the audience.
In 1999, PayPal, with its original business model, was voted top ten worst business ideas. As of 2015, they are a $9.24 billion dollar business.
The first Windows virus, WinVer 1.4, hit machines in 1992
Nintendo was started in 1889 as a playing card company.
In 1995, Microsoft released Bob, a custom version of Windows that was aimed at making it easier for new users to get around their computer by making it look like a "house" with "rooms." It was just weird and got killed swiftly.
Around the year 1500, Leonardo da Vinci sketched plans for a robot.
The computers used in the Apollo 11 trip to the moon had less processing power than a modern day cell phone.
Hedy Lamarr, an Austrian-born American film actress, known for her roles in Algiers (1938) and Boom Town (1940), was also an inventor who patented technology that led to the creation of Wi-fi and Bluetooth technology.
The first woman to earn a Ph.D. in Computer Science was Mary Kenneth Keller, a nun.
For nearly two decades during the height of the Cold War, the nuclear launch code at all minutemen silos in the United States was 0000000. In case anyone forgot, it was written down on a checklist handed out to all soldiers.
In 1988, Pål Spilling, a Norwegian Internet pioneer, unplugged the internet in Norway to save it from a replicating worm called Morris. At the time, that could be done by unplugging a single cable.
Videophones have been commercially available in the United States since the Nixon administration when AT&T rolled out commercial availability of its Picturephone product.
Nigeria, Bangladesh, and Ghana essentially skipped the landline era: fewer than 1% of their households have landline connections, but in all of these nations over 85% of citizens have cell phone access.
In 2006, Robert Hohman quit his Hotwire job to do nothing but play World of Warcraft for a year. After hitting the maximum level in World of Warcraft, he quit and started Glassdoor.
The Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who made the first lunar landing in 1969 posted his official travel voucher and customs forms for the moon rock he brought back from space, totalling $33.31.
Memorial day is legally required to observe a National Moment of Remebrance. In December 2000, Congress passed a law requiring Americans to pause at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day to remember and honor the fallen, but this doesn't appear to be common knowledge.
Waterloo, New York is considered the birthplace of Memorial Day. In 1966, Congress unanimously passed a resolution to officially recognize Waterloo as the birthplace of the holiday, but it still remains a contentious debate with other towns like Boalsburg, PA.
Did you know that water can boil and freeze at the same time? It's called the "triple point" and occurs when the temperature and pressure is just right for the three phases (gas, liquid, and solid) of a substance to coexist at the same time.
Cats actually do always land on their feet! The cat righting reflex is a cat's innate ability to orient itself as it falls in order to land on its feet. They can do this because cats have an unusally flexible backbone and no functional collarbone, but they need a minimum height to safely perform this crazy stunt!
You might ground reality in the fact that North is always somewhere over the Arctic Ocean, and South is down near the middle of Antarctica. While it's true for the geographic poles, Earth's magnetic poles are another story. Every several hundred thousand years, the Earth's poles flip! This means that if you had a compass in hand around 800,000 years ago, it would tell you that north was in Antarctica.
The biggest mammal migration may not occur where you think. In fact, 10 million cat-size giant fruit bats constitute the largest known mammal migration on Earth when they fly between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia's Kasanka National Park each year.
If you drop a ball while spinning it from a high enough point, it will actually fly through the air due to something called the Magnus Effect, which actually has substantial applications in science.
In Yellowstone National Park, there's a boiling river that you can actually swim in! While it isn't actually boiling, the river is warmed by hot springs in the area to a comfortable temperature.
Arabic numerals were actually discovered by Indian mathmaticians.
The U.S. Air Force (then part of the Army corps) had 18 pilots and 5-12 serviceable aircraft at the beginning of WWI.
In his college dorm room at Cambridge University, Lord Byron kept a pet bear.
In July 1807, after signing the Treaty of Tilsit, Napoleon was attacked by rabbits.
In 1911, pigtails were forbidden in China as a reference to its feudal past.
In the 1800s, it was considered a cruel and unusual punishment to feed convicts and prisoners with lobster.
April 23, 1982. The famous Key West area of Florida declared that it was seceding from the U.S. They declared war followed by a surrender and a request for a billion dollars of foreign aid.
Julius Caesar was kidnapped by pirates who demanded a ransom of 25 pieces of gold for his release. He became mad on the price and said that he was worth no less than 50.
About 70% of the oxygen we breathe is produced by the oceans.
We have only explored about 5% of the world’s oceans.
There is a hotel in Sweden built entirely out of ice. It is rebuilt every year.
A raisin dropped in a glass of fresh champagne will bounce up and down continuously from the bottom of the glass to the top.