As one version of the proverb says, “Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back.” Seeking out answers and explanations is human nature. And now, being curious is easier than ever, thanks to the Internet. Whether by chance or intentionally (there are about 99,000 Google searches every second), we run into new information every day. But not all of it is exciting or worth sharing.
If you’re on the lookout for already filtered interesting facts, the “Today I Learned” (TIL) subreddit is here for you. For years, this has been one of the biggest subreddits, and over 26.5M curious people have joined the community by now. The members of this group are doing us a community service by sharing the coolest tidbits of information that they run into. Ancient history, immortal animals, or current affairs that are flying under the radar, this group is as surprising as it is educational, and we love it.
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Our curious pandas gathered another list of fascinating facts that I’m sure will broaden your horizons. And if you have anything that you think more people should learn about, please don’t hesitate to share it in the comments. Be sure to upvote your favorite facts, and if after reading this you’re eager for even more, you can find our previous articles here, here, and here!
TIL Tomatoes are native to the Americas, so there was no such thing as tomato sauce in Italy until at least the 16th century.
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TIL that the longest running lab experiment is the Pitch Drop experiment. It demonstrates how tar is the most viscous liquid being 100 billion times more viscous than water. Only 9 drops have fallen in the 95 years since it began in 1927.
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TIL in 1822 a stork arrived in Germany with an arrow through its neck. The wood was from central Africa, over 3000 miles away. This convinced zoologists that birds migrated in the winter, and disproved other theories such as underwater hibernation, or transformation into other animals (like mice).
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TIL composer Andre Tchaikovsky requested his skull be donated to the Royal Shakespeare Company for use in theatrical performances. In 2008, David Tennant used the skull in Hamlet.
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TIL there is a mall in the capital of the country Moldova called Malldova.
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TIL Velcro is actually a brand name, and they launched campaigns to get people to stop saying “Velcro”. The correct term is actually “hook and loop”.
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TIL Hong Kong digs up the dead after 6 years for cremation due to lack of space.
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TIL the average gas pump handle is almost 12,000 times dirtier than the average public toilet seat.
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TIL Andre Agassi won 10 of 11 matches after seeing a “tick” in Boris Becker’s serve. Agassi could predict where Becker was serving based on whether Becker stuck his tongue out in the middle of his lip or to the left corner of his lip. Agassi told Becker over a pint of beer – after they retired.
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TIL that one of the rarest Yu-Gi-Oh cards in existence is Tyler the Great Warrior. It was created by Tyler Gressle, a boy that had a rare form of liver cancer. He got to create his own card through Make-A-Wish Foundation and they printed one card just for him. He made a full recovery.
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TIL Actor Kevin Bacon pays off DJ’s when he attends weddings so that they won’t play “Footloose.”
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TIL Lobsters don’t die of old age due to an enzyme called ‘telomerase’ that increases the number of divisions their cells can make, allowing them to repair their bodies and live extraordinarily long lives.
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TIL that the first person ever diagnosed with autism is still alive
TIL A $250,000 diamond placed on the nose of an F1 car was lost in a crash in the 2004 Monaco GP. It’s still missing today.
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TIL that alcohol consumption in the U.S. was almost 300% higher in the 1800s, and that whiskey at the time was cheaper than beer, coffee or milk.
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TIL sleep helps clean our brain. Or in the words of the journal Science, “Observations showed that when mice sleep, channels between neurons in their brains expand, allowing cerebrospinal fluid to flush out detritus, such as proteins that in human beings are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.”
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TIL The inventor of the television was a 15 year old farm boy who got the idea for scanning an image in rows from the back and forth motion of plowing a field.
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TIL: Traditionally Japanese do not eat salmon sushi and it was invented in the 80’s by the Norwegians to to try to sell more of their over abundance of Salmon.
TIL that the common LED light was awarded a Nobel Prize. The 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano, and Shuji Nakamura for the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources
TIL the true story of Moby Dick. A whale sunk a crew’s main ship – leaving 3 sailboats. They’d live if they sailed to a nearby island. Out of fear from (false) stories of cannibalism, they tried going back to the mainland. In tragic irony, they got lost at sea and had to resort to cannibalism.
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TIL that photographer Carol Highsmith donated tens of thousands of her photos to the Library of Congress, making them free for public use. Getty Images later claimed copyright on many of these photos, then accused her of copyright infringement by using one of her own photos on her own site.
Image credits: Lagavulin16_neat
TIL after a seizure left him paralyzed except for his left eyelid, Jean-Dominique Bauby (1952-1997) wrote the bestselling book “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” by blinking to select each letter as an assistant recited the alphabet to him.
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TIL in response to infamously high suicide rates at Mapo Bridge in Seoul, South Korea, the bridge was adorned with suicide prevention messages and uplifting photos. These measures weren’t enacted by the government, however, instead the entire project was financed by Samsung’s life insurance division.
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TIL In 1965, an excavation team discovered the Sword of Goujian in a tomb in Hubei, China. Encased in a nearly air-tight wooden box next to a skeleton. The sword is over 2500 years old but was in perfect condition, test affirmed that the blade could easily cut a stack of twenty pieces of paper.
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TIL that Over 50 percent of the world’s population relies on rice for 80 percent of it’s food requirements.
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TIL the Wright Brothers were perpetual bachelors, and that Orville Wright disowned their sister Katherine after she married and had a family of her own, feeling he had been “betrayed”.
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TIL most coffee creamers are made mostly of just water, oil, and sugar. There is no milk or cream. Some brands have casein , which is a milk derived ingredient.
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TIL Very little of Franz Kafka’s works were published during his lifetime and he burned 90% of his work. Works like The Trial and The Castle were saved when the executioner of Kafka’s will ignored Kafka’s request to have his remaining works destroyed.
Image credits: jamescookenotthatone
TIL: In Australia there are ‘Firehawks’, which are birds that intentionally set forest fires as a hunting technique
TIL when snowflakes hit water they create a screeching sound too high for humans (but not some sea animals) to hear. When a flake hits the water, an air bubble is released that oscillates in the 50-200 khz range well above a human’s range. Snow hitting water can increase underwater sound by 30 db.
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TIL an Iowa Supermarket employee went missing in 2009 while at work, only to have his decomposed body discovered in a gap between a freezer and a wall 10 years later in 2019.
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TIL of Viktor Belenko, the Soviet pilot who defected with the MiG-25 (most advanced Soviet interceptor of its time), who initially assumed that his CIA handlers were keeping him in an elaborate tourist trap made to impress foreigners because he couldn’t comprehend the sheer abundance he was seeing.
TIL like “R.I.P.” many ancient Romans had “NFFNSNC”, non fui, fui, non sum, non curo, inscribed on their graves meaning “I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care”. A epicurist philosophy.
TIL that turkeys can sometimes reproduce asexually, forming near-clones of themselves.
TIL Playing too much tetris can result in the “Tetris effect” where after playing a lot of Tetris you see tetris pieces falling when you close your eyes.
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TIL In the UK, the distinction between an actor and an extra is defined by agreements between the actors trade unions and the various commercial production bodies. These state that once a performer says 13 or more words in any scene, they must become a contracted actor in that production.
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