On days when everything seems to be going wrong or when the hours just seem to drag on, it can be easy to feel discouraged or unfulfilled. But the beauty of life is that there is always an opportunity to learn and grow, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem. And what better way to do that than through our beloved subreddit ‘Today I Learned‘ (TIL)?
From all walks of life, its 30 million members come together to share all the fascinating things they have recently discovered. Some of these tidbits may be purely for entertainment, raising an eyebrow in surprise or having a chuckle at their absurdity, and others may have the potential to change the way we think or approach life’s problems, offering valuable insight and perspective.
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So why not take a moment to scroll through the posts, upvote your favorites, and expand your mind? And if you’re looking for even more learning opportunities, be sure to check out our previous TIL posts here, here, and here as well. You never know what you might discover that could make your day a little brighter and more complete.
TIL David Bowie used to travel around in New York carrying a Greek newspaper in the belief that people would assume he was just a Greek man who looked like David Bowie and leave him alone.
Image credits: davetowers646
TIL Steven Spielberg asked all the extras doing a Nazi salute in ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’ to also cross their fingers behind their backs.
Image credits: davetowers646
TIL that during the middle ages it was believed that ringing church bells during thunderstorms would keep lightning away. The practice was abandoned after more than 100 bell ringers were killed by lightning.
Image credits: jcgam
TIL that despite having a 95% Muslim population, Christmas is an extremely popular holiday in the west African nation of Senegal, which has a tradition of Muslims and Christians adopting each other’s holidays.
TIL that Earth is the only known place in our solar system where fire occurs and no known exoplanets have oxygen enough to allow fire.
Image credits: wcrp73
TIL Ozzy Osbourne gave up taking acid during the recording of Black Sabbath’s Volume 4. He said “I took 10 tabs of acid then went for a walk in a field. I ended up standing there talking to this horse for about an hour. In the end the horse turned round and told me to fuck off. That was it for me.”
TIL Rod Serling originally wrote an episode about Emmett Till but it was rejected and so he turned to science fiction, instead, to talk about social issues, creating The Twilight Zone.
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TIL that in 1931, a scientist tried to teach a baby chimpanzee human behavior by raising it alongside his human son. The chimpanzee never acquired language skills, and the experiment was called off when the human baby began imitating the chimpanzee’s vocalizations.
Image credits: lenny_the_pope
TIL John Steinbeck IV wrote an article in January 1968 about marijuana usage among the troops. This set off a media firestorm, & the Army began clamping down on marijuana usage, arresting ~1000 G.I.s a week for possession. Many G.I.s switched to heroin, which was odorless and thus harder to detect.
Image credits: The_Critical_Cynic
TIL there is a shrine in Wales where Dobby the house elf was buried. consisting of 1000’s of painted rocks and socks.
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TIL that when the set of James Cameron’s Titanic was submerged during filming, the Grand Staircase dislodged and floated; supporting the uncomfirmed theory that the missing original staircase dislodged and floated away during the real sinking.
Image credits: [deleted]
TIL When Jane married Stephen Hawking, she believed it would be a two year commitment, as doctors said he only had two years to live. Jane became his full time caretaker and they were together 25 years.
Image credits: Ok_Copy5217
TIL that the Bald Eagle population has recovered! They are now fairly common birds to be seen in residential areas.
Image credits: BoopBoop20
TIL that for a period of 20 years, Argentina ranked as one of the wealthiest nations on Earth, having the highest GDP per capita in 1895 and being among the 10 richest until 1920. Today, the country is in crippling debt, and is considered one of the biggest economic downturns in modern history.
Image credits: lenny_the_pope
TIL The first man to report a rogue wave was Jules Dumont d’Urville in 1826, d’Urville was then publicly ridiculed because such a wave was believed impossible. A rogue wave was not measured until 1995 and the lack of earlier reporting is likely due to few wooden ships surving the encounter.
Image credits: jamescookenotthatone
TIL that astronauts eat steak and eggs before a flight because it’s filling and low on dietary fiber so they won’t have to poop during the mission.
Image credits: ManOfLaBook
TIL In 1656 the City of London soldiers were ordered to patrol the streets and seize any food they discovered being prepared for Christmas celebrations. They saw Christmas as a wasteful festival that threatened Christian beliefs.
TIL that there is a rise in Hyundai and Kia car thefts because online videos have revealed that they can be hot-wired using just a USB cable.
Image credits: casualphilosopher1
TIL Beethoven in his 1822 composition Piano Sonata No. 32 wrote a powerful, heavily syncopated passage that has been described as boogie-woogie, jazz, and ragtime, a style which would not exist for another 70 years.
TIL that in addition to names like “Hope”, “Felicity”, and “Prudence”, Puritans also named their children things like “Jesus-Christ-came-into-the-world- to-save”, “Damned”, and “Fly-fornication”.
Image credits: mckinneym
TIL that African elephants can distinguish between human languages and can avoid those considered a threat.
TIL An entire Roman legion went missing in the 2nd Century AD, and we’re still baffled as to what happened.
Image credits: ThatcheriteIowan
TIL sloths can hold their breath for 40 minutes, which is longer than many marine mammals including dolphins.
TIL the 4.5 trillion cigarette butts that are littered every year make them the most littered man-made waste item in the world.
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TIL two gifted college students considered themselves so superior they planned “the perfect crime” to prove their intellectual abilities. After [taking out] a child, despite their purported genius, they left plenty of evidence and were swiftly caught and brought to judgment.
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TIL Cleopatra was born of incest. “More than a dozen of Cleopatra’s ancestors tied the knot with cousins or siblings, and it’s likely that her own parents were brother and sister. In keeping with this custom, Cleopatra eventually married both of her adolescent brothers.
Image credits: 54_actual
TIL Although it is lauded as an excellent psychological tool by Government Agencies, Businesses, and even some schools, the Myers-Briggs Personality Test has been deemed useless by modern psychological experts.
TIL that 20-50% of all fatal hypothermia cases strip their clothes off before they finally freeze to death.
Image credits: Katiari
TIL there is an Amish computer. It doesn’t have internet access, video, or music. It’s marketed towards Amish farmers who need help managing increasingly complex operations.
Image credits: AbaloneHo
TIL second-hand incense smoke can be as dangerous, or worst, as cigarette smoke.
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TIL Public nativity scenes are often the victim of baby Jesus theft. Some churches have had to chain their baby Jesus down to deter theft while others have added GPS tracking to their baby Jesus.
Image credits: jamescookenotthatone
TIL – That during Apartheid in South Africa you were forbidden to have relations with someone of another race. The Boers developed the “Pencil Test”; if a pencil would stay in your hair when pushed in you were declared as “black” and could only have relations with other “blacks”.
TIL In 2019, Konami added a new official rule to Yu Gi Oh tournaments, the Hygiene clause where you would be disqualified if you smell bad or wear dirty clothing as it produces an “unpleasant” playing environment. The response was generally positive.
Image credits: Flares117
TIL when Frank Zappa was a kid, he always played with mercury that his father brought home from work, often covering his entire bedroom floor with the element. Childhood exposure to mercury is known to increase the risk of prostate cancer as an adult. Frank Zappa died from prostate cancer at age 52.
TIL Betty White was nominated in the 1st Emmy category for female performers in 1950, 1 of the first women to have full creative control of her own TV show, while she was still living at home with her parents, the1st woman to host her own talk show and 1st woman to win an Emmy for game show hosting.
TIL that the creator of Vaseline, Robert Chesebrough, claimed to have eaten a spoonful of it every day.
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TIL there are people in France who have actually done time in jail for stealing garden gnomes in the name of The Garden Gnome Liberation Front.
Image credits: Koivosto
TIL when canada switched to metric in the 70s, containers had to switch from gallons to liters. Milk producers chose to switch to bags to avoid making cartons/jugs.
TIL in the middle of Boston, Massachusetts, there is a 120-year-old abandoned concert hall known as Steinert Hall that is 40 feet underground, buried beneath a piano store.
TIL Salvia Divinorum, a plant in the Mint family, produces the most potent naturally occurring hallucinogen by mass. The most intense peak is reached in roughly a minute & lasts for 1–5 minutes. Users usually return to a sense of the everyday & familiar, then to baseline, after about 15-20 minutes.
TIL about a brutal sleep experiment aired on Channel 4 in the UK in the early 2000’s where contestants had to stay awake for a whole week in order to win £100k.
Image credits: b_e_a_n_i_e
TIL that according to the American Forest and Paper Association, pizza boxes ARE recyclable.
TIL that when Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation, journalist Giovanna Chirri was the first to break the news as she was the only one to understand Latin. She recalls: “He said it in Latin and I was panicking. I was short of breath, my legs were trembling, it was a reaction to shock.”
TIL in 1990, Coca-Cola ran a promotion in which some cans had prizes inside instead of Coca-Cola. To make the cans feel like normal cans, they also contained chlorinated water with a foul-smelling substance added to discourage drinking. The promotion ended after 3 weeks due to negative publicity.
TIL At the surrender of the Army of North Virginia General Lee wore a brand new officer uniform and carried a ceremonial sword. In contrast the victorious General Grant carried no sword and wore the uniform of a private with straps of a lieutenant-general.
TIL that Anthony Gignac, a con artist who managed to defraud funds of $8.1 million over several years by posing a member of the Saudi royalty, was only caught after the supposed Muslim prince ordered pork at a restaurant.
TIL while writing “A Christmas Carol,” Charles Dickens was “taking night-time walks of 15 to 20 miles (24 to 32 km) around London.” to build out the story in his head.
TIL in 1957, dentist Charles Kremer in New York voiced his suspicion that a high-ranking church official, Archbishop Valerian Trifa, was actually the Nazi war criminal Viorel Trifa. 20 years later, investigators found Trifa’s fingerprint on a postcard to Heinrich Himmler in a German archive.
TIL for his 30th birthday, Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong was given a toilet seat with the logos of bands he hated, including Nickelback, Creed, and P.O.D.
TIL in 1634 Massachussets Puritans made long hair illegal for males.
Image credits: darth_nadoma
TIL The Kremlin had such a hard time with computer security that in 2013 they bought typewriters to prevent leaks.
TIL John Matuszak, best known for playing Sloth in The Goonies, was a state champion in the shot put, was the #1 overall draft pick in the NFL, was served a restraining order during a game, had a head coach perform life-saving CPR, won 2 Super Bowls, and acted with Ringo Starr before ODing at 38.
TIL to study honesty, researchers called people at random and asked them to flip a coin, promising them €10 if they flipped tails. Fewer than half the subjects reported flipping tails, suggesting that almost no one lied.
TIL that the voice of the grinch and narrator in the original how the grinch stole Christmas special was Boris Karloff, a horror actor best known for playing Frankenstein and the Mummy in the Universal monster movies.
TIL that a teen boy from the UK became legally blind while having a diet of potato chips and fries.
Image credits: devicto89
TIL Horse flies have razer sharp stabbing organs with two pairs of cutting blades and a spongelike part to lap up the blood of its victim, unlike the mosquito wich will release a mild anaesthetic to its host, the female Horse fly bite will sting and continue feeding until it is full or dead.
TIL Salisbury steak was invented as a result of a doctor, James Salisbury, wanting to cure diseases like diarrhea, which killed Civil War soldiers more than combat. He believed vegetables produced toxins and suggested the steak be eaten 3 times a day, with water to cleanse one’s digestive system.
TIL that a dump truck caused a New York City elevated freeway to collapse in 1973. The truck was found to have been 9 tons overloaded and the company operating it was blamed. The contract to clean up the results of the failure was subsequently awarded to the same company.
TIL Faulty calculations of a doctors surplus led U.S. medical schools to put a moratorium on enrollment between 1980 and 2005. During that time, the US population grew 70 million, but the number of medical school graduates stayed at 16,000 yearly.
TIL that “Excited Delirium” was coined by a coroner who claimed nineteen women, all Black prostitutes, died of the condition due to “sexual excitement,” but were in fact killed by a serial killer.
TIL That you can still eat MRE (Meals Ready-to-Eat) even after 20 years if the package has not been damaged and the food has been kept in a cool, dry place.
TIL actor Brian Dennehy, who played Sheriff Will Teasle in “Rambo: First Blood”, lied about serving in Vietnam, and being wounded in combat more than once. Though he was a Marine for four years, he was never in combat during the Vietnam War, a fallacy he admitted in 1998.
TIL Japanese Yakuza used to implant glass “pearls” in their penis for every year they served in prison.
TIL the U.S. Department of Defense spent $41.6 million on Viagra and $84.24 million total on drugs for erectile dysfunction in 2014. Less than 10% of prescriptions were for troops, the rest went to retirees or family members covered by military health plans.
TIL during WWII, Continental used to test their rubber boot soles by using concentration camp prisoners who would march 30-40 km per day. Those who slowed down or fell were executed by the SS.
TIL about Eric Simons, a then 19-year-old entrepreneur who secretly lived at AOL headquarters in California for 2 months in 2011. He ate the food, used the gym, and slept in conference rooms, all while working on his startup “ClassConnect”. Employees just assumed he worked there during this time.
TIL 1960s Futurists Predicted a Shorter Work Week and a Senate Commitee thought by the year 2000 that we would be down to 14 hours a week for a full work week, and they used the show “The Jetsons”, to showcase this.
TIL of the Mole Man of Hackney who spent 40 years digging under his home in London creating tunnels as long as 18m and as deep as the water table.
TIL after U.S. President Garfield was shot, his doctors were so negligent and gave him such a bad infection that his assassin openly confessed at trial to the shooting, but argued that Garfield’s doctors had actually done the killing.
TIL about xocolatl and tlilxóchitl, now known as chocolate and vanilla. The Mexica (Aztecs of Mexico) were the first to use both vanilla and cocoa together to help with the flavor of their foods and drinks, often mixing them together.
TIL A 2009 survey concluded 65% of Americans educated up to a high school level believe they possess above average intelligence despite data showing only 47% do. Alternatively, 73% of college educated respondents feel they possess above average IQ while data shows 84% do.
TIL about ghost kitchens, delivery only brands that usually operate out of existing restaurants.
TIL Sigmund Freud made the decision to flee Austria after his daughter Anna was interrogated by the Gestapo for nearly 12 hours. He was able to buy safe passage out of Austria just in time with 31,000 Reich marks in 1938.
TIL the chief medical examiner of LA county, who performed most of the high profile celeb autopsies in the 60’s, was forced to resign after allegations that on hearing the news of RFK being shot, he was seen dancing in his office, saying “i’m going to be famous, i hope he dies”.
TIL the Supreme Court established “the reindeer rule” determining that sufficient secular elements can counterbalance religious components in a public display, meaning that municipalities include reindeer in addition to religious holiday displays to avoid violating the First Amendment.
TIL that starting in 2017 the U.S. Navy began using Xbox 360 video game controllers to operate periscopes on some of its newer, most advanced submarines.
TIL that in order to grow vanilla, humans have to hand pollinate every vanilla orchid by delicately pressing the stamen and stigma together.
TIL Frank Sinatra was once trapped in Australia by a country-wide strike, in response to the singer’s horrible behavior.
TIL that every Winter Solstice on December 21st, the inner chamber of Newgrange, an ancient Irish structure that predates Stonehenge, is illuminated for 17 minutes by the rising sun.
TIL the U.S Army once designed an anti armor grenade that would be the same size and shape of a football so US soldiers knew how to sling it and the prototype was built using a hollowed out nerf ball.
TIL the song ‘Yankee Doodle’ was used by British soldiers before the Revolutionary War to mock American soldiers, stereotyping them as rural simpletons who would think putting a feather in their caps would make them ‘Macaroni’ (i.e. cool), but was later used by Americans as an anthem of defiance.