April 1, 2006
• A cat is twice as likely to be fatally injured if it falls between two and six stories, than if it falls seven to 32 stories.
• In the 1893 case Nix v. Hedden, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the tomato is a vegetable.
• The chocolate chip cookie was invented in 1930 by Ruth Wakefield. It gained renown when it was featured on the packaging for Nestle chocolate.
• Originally, Twinkies were produced with banana filling, but this was replaced with a vanilla filling due to the rationing of bananas during World War II.
• In a race for Virginia House of Burgesses, George Washington's campaign gave away 160 gallons of alcohol on election day, about a quart and a half per voter.
April 2, 2006
• In a 2004 study by OSHA, it was discovered that people who will "usually" eat food that they've accidentally dropped on the floor report having 18 percent fewer sick days from work than those who "never" do that.
• The oldest continuously-played Dungeons & Dragons character is believed to be a 237th level magic-user named Kirin Blade. Tom Darcy started his character in 1979, and has played the game every weekend since then for an estimated total of 22,500 hours.
• Windows NT was so named because the letters "NT" follow "MS", which is an abbreviation for Microsoft. Windows XP follows a similar convention, where the letters "XP" follow "WN", being an abbreviation for Windows.
• Due to the damming of the Yangtze River in China, the freshwater umber whale (which is roughly two-thirds the size of its saltwater cousins) has been added to the endangered species list.
• The Popeye's "New Orleans style" chicken restaurant chain saw their nationwide revenue increase by 27 percent in the two months following Hurricane Katrina.
April 3, 2006
• Eight percent of "gunk" removed during a routine dentist appointment is bone matter.
• Nine state Departments of Motor Vehicles will skip a sequentially generated license plate if it contains the number "666."
• In 2004, three members of the Army Corps of Engineers created an electronic speaker which measured 150 feet around. The speaker was never used at full volume for fear of causing internal hemorrhaging to the developers.
• 62 percent of Oscar winners can be genealogically traced to a common great grandmother who was born in 12 A.D.
• Since 2000, the average price of a movie ticket has increased yearly by four times the rate of inflation.
April 4, 2006
• The Great Wall of China is 2,800 times more massive than the Great Pyramid of Giza.
• According to the biography Goebbels: Mastermind of the Third Reich
by David Irving, Joseph Goebbels (Nazi Germany's Propaganda Minister) had acquired the nickname "gerbils" while studying at the University of Heidelberg.
• The French Parliament recently passed legislation mandating that cell phone ring tones used within France must be of either culturally-neutral tones or of songs either performed by or written by French citizens.
• Two of the three founding members of the Blue Man Group were previously in the '80s new-wave band Devo.
• While cardboard is of course "naturally" brown, post-recycled cardboard is actually off-white due to the bleach used during the pulping process and must be dyed brown to be acceptable to consumers.
April 5, 2006
• While 73 percent of elevators have a "door close" button, the button only works in eight percent of those elevators.
• Over the course of American history, more of the consumed saturated fat has been from peanuts than any other source.
• Prolonged erections are the leading cause of hypoxic brain damage among men.
• The FBI estimates that six percent of government workers are foreign spies.
• It would take an ant 500 feet tall to lift the Empire State building.
April 7, 2006
• The game of foosball was invented in mid-16th-century Germany, predating soccer (football) by nearly 200 years.
• The space shuttle was originally intended to land on the moon, but NASA was unable to design reliable landing gear that would function on the powdery lunar surface.
• According to a 2003 research paper which studied the hippocampus brain activity in saltwater invertebrates, we should be saying "happy as a lobster". On a scale of 1-10, lobsters rated 8.7, crabs 7.9, mussels 6.2, sea urchins 4.3, and clams came in almost dead last at 2.6. The only thing sadder than clams were scallops at 2.5, but that could be within the margin of error.
• In Djibouti, it is traditional for parents to preserve the stump of the umbilical cord once it falls off and to present it years later to their grown child when their first baby is born.
• America Online noticed that nearly 23 percent of males aged 13 to 18 use "sex", as all or part of their password. Only two percent of females in the same age group did the same.
April 8, 2006
• The first book of trivia was called Orwick's Guyde to Interesting Facts
, published in 1791.
• Actress Scarlet Johansson dominated after-school games of Trivial Pursuit while attending The Professional Children's School in Manhattan.
• The Chinese word for trivia is a combination of the ideograms for cheese and head.
• The first trivia column in a newspaper was written by Joseph Pulitzer and published in The New York World on May 8, 1901.
• Winston Earle was the first person to make a career out of trivial knowledge, moving from town to town to call into radio quiz shows during the Great Depression.
April 9, 2006
• Nearly 60 percent of American adults believe that the capital of North Dakota is Bismarck. (Note: Please see the related discussion in the Fact Check Forum
before sending any corrections.)
• While the Alamo does not have a basement in the modern sense of the word, it does have two 600-square-foot root cellars at opposite ends of the building.
• If the two Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, manage to survive another Martian winter, they will be within range of "meeting" each other around mid-October 2006 if the mission directors wish to have them do so.
• Steve Jobs named his first-born daughter after his pet project at the time, the Apple Lisa.
• While at racing speeds (200 mph), NASCAR vehicles have a fuel efficiency of 4 gallons to the mile.
April 10, 2006
• Sandalwood incense is deadly if swallowed.
• More people get cancer each year from halogen light bulbs than from microwave ovens.
• The Trachenburren dust mite can, if left totally undisturbed, grow to be over four inches long.
• Couples who get married on a weekday receive 23 percent fewer presents than those who get married on a weekend.
• On average, welders have better eyesight than 75 percent of the general population.
April 11, 2006
• Greenland was first settled in 1621 by a group of Danish fur trappers, who had been intending to land in Nova Scotia but had been blown off course.
• Following a long and bloody guerrilla war against Denmark, Greenland was finally granted independence on May 1, 1979.
• Greenland's soccer (football) team had advanced to the World Cup semi-finals at their first opportunity in 1982, but has been knocked out in the first round every time since.
• The national anthem of Greenland, "O Kalaallit Nunaat"
, is the world's only national anthem that is sung a cappella
(without instrumental accompaniment).
• Greenland is the only European Union (EU) member state which is not in, or adjacent to, Europe.
April 12, 2006
• The hardest bone to break in the human body is not the femur, but rather the small bone in the inner ear known as the anvil.
• On average 253 external hard drives, each year, fail catastrophically enough to end in user injury.
• Endorphins are at the highest levels in married couples immediately after one spouse leaves the house for work.
• The average college textbook weighs 4.3 pounds and has 245.2 pages.
• Italians have the highest sunscreen consumption per capita of any other country, with an average of 7.3 ounces per person per year. Iraq moved from 43rd to 4th with the occupation of American troops.
April 13, 2006
• Duct tape contains a small amount of clam barsin, the mollusk equivalent of saliva.
• 73 percent of magazine subscriptions are canceled before the free trial expires.
• Bob Dylan is credited with popularizing the "smoke ring."
• When the head of Walt Disney was cyrogenically embalmed, experts predicted that his "thawing" would be possible by 1998.
• Opium-related accidents are the leading cause of death in 39 Indian cities.
April 14, 2006
• In Nevada, plain instant ramen noodles are not legally considered food. However, by including the bullion packet, the product manages to skirt the law and can be sold as such.
• Kyrgyzstani judges are legally permitted to accept a bribe, as long as they do not allow it to influence their decision.
• In Italy's Disbroni province, it is culturally acceptable to taste food left behind by the previous diner. This is referred to as scherzo sul cuoco
, literally "joke on the chef", and it's thought to ensure a good meal.
• The Russian tradition of matryoshka nesting dolls is descended from the medieval practice of burying the dead in concentric circles around the corpses of the previously deceased family members.
• In 1982, the typographic font used for the "m" on M&Ms was changed from Bookman to Garamond Bold. This switch cost Mars Inc., the candy's maker, $8.6 million dollars.
April 15, 2006
• Prior to 1903, Social Security numbers were only six digits, instead of the current nine, due to the far smaller population and being assigned only to male land-owners.
• While the suffrage movement publicly demanded a woman's right to vote, historical private correspondence indicates that they were willing to settle for women being exempt from income taxes.
• The enactment of the 1978 Alternative Minimum Tax reduced the number of millionaires who pay no tax by only two percent because so many other loopholes still exist.
• In 1987, when the IRS first required filing Social Security numbers for dependent children, nearly one-third of taxpayers "lost" one or more their children.
• In 2003, Asian-American porn star Wei Huong Lo attempted to tax-deduct his penile enlargement operation as a business expense. While initially denied by the IRS, on appeal he was allowed the deduction as long as it is depreciated over the remainder of his current career.
April 16, 2006
Over in the Fact Check Forums
, amacoo21 asked a question about airline safety. We set to work, and here's what we were able to uncover. A big thanks to cadet and NHawkins for their great research.
• As recorded by the FAA, 83 percent of aircrafts in operation in the United States have been involved in at least one "incident."
• The airplane crash survivor support group, Falling Up, has approximately 800 members in the United States, roughly 100 of which attend attend its annual convention.
• Deaths attributed to "natural causes" are three times more likely to occur on an airplane than anywhere else.
• The airline industry estimates that 87 percent of potentially redeemable frequent flier miles are never claimed.
• On flights where meal service is provided, each portion contains, on average, 2800 mg of sodium, 116 percent of the recommended daily intake.
April 17, 2006
• More people voted for Kelly Clarkson on American Idol
than for George W. Bush in the last Presidential election.
• March first will never land on a Sunday in the 21st century.
• The focus for NASA's upcoming lunar Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) is on cheap and reliable, so a radiation-hardened Intel Pentium 4 has been selected as the primary CPU. While a final decision has not been made between Linux or Mac OS X for the CEV's operating system, Microsoft Windows Vista has been ruled out due to a concern about hacking and viruses while the CEV is on a lunar mission.
• Fearing a significant loss of business, the South American division of the Page-A-Day ® company has invented the Grego-Mayan calendar to take over when the Mayan calendar ends in 2012.
• In the original 1933 King Kong
, the ape's sex was unspecified, always being referred to as "King Kong", "Kong", "the beast", or simply, "it."
April 18, 2006
• One of every 10,000 decks of cards sold in the US contains a duplicate card.
• The popular website Facebook.com records nearly 285,000 "pokes" per day.
• When frightened the North American Wild Turkey can run nearly 22.5 miles per hour.
• Leonard Euler the mathmetician who invented function notation, trigonometric notation, and the analytic number theory, was an avid playwright as well. Many of his scripts were adapted by George Bernard Shaw and became known as The Devil's Disciple (1897), Man and Superman (1903), and Saint Joan (1923).
• Comercial truck drivers lose on average 2 decibels of hearing, in the low frequency range, per 1000 miles driven.
April 19, 2006
• No convicted American serial killer had ever attended pre-school as a child.
• The Gallup Poll reported that the most recent presidential approval rating for George W. Bush is now at the same level as it was for Richard Nixon in the last poll before his resignation.
• On average, rain falls at 8 mph, hail at 9 mph, and snow at just 1 mph.
• Slavko Avsenik's Ensemble polka band was on tour continually from 1958 to 1971. During that period, they were paid for 9,592 performances, and failed to perform on only five days (three because of their bus breaking down, one due to a fire at the dance hall, and the last for the lead accordion player's wedding).
• Nearly three-fourths of people surveyed report being bitten at least once in the past year while feeding their pet.
April 20, 2006
• Covington, Louisiana is the only city in which the city hall isn't located in the city it actually represents.
• A recent study by Pfizer Incorporated notes that Texas’ average penis length is seven percent lower than in its neighboring states.
• According to Uniform Crime Reports standards, a simple burglary can be considered embezzlement if the victim is a retired government worker.
• If a hair dryer was plugged into every unused electrical outlet in the United States, global electricity usage would double.
• Bicyclists who ride with the flow of traffic are half as likely to be injured by a vehicle while riding; however they are three times more likely to cause a serious traffic accident than if they had been riding against the flow of traffic.
April 21, 2006
• Ted Danson (best known as Sam on Cheers
) once bowled a perfect 300 game.
• If McDonald's were to use real maple syrup instead of maple-flavored corn syrup as one of their breakfast condiments, the entire yearly output of Vermont would be consumed by 9:35 AM EST on January 18.
• There are approximately 6,023,000 molecules of H2
O in a drop of water.
• The National Geographic Society has estimated that if the locks of the Panama Canal were all opened simultaneously, it would take approximately 12 years for the oceans to reach equilibrium, with the Atlantic lowering by nine inches and the Pacific raised by five.
• Gullible.Info is syndicated to 21 newspapers and read on at least 37 morning radio shows.
April 22, 2006
Observations On Obfuscation
Camouflage has come a long way since the dawn of organized warfare. From the sand-colored uniforms of the Ancient Greeks, to the forest costumes of the Celts, to modern urban uniforms that can render a subject virtually invisible on a city street, camouflage has become an integral part of conflict. Here are some parts of its illustrious history of which you might not be aware:
- The word Camouflage comes from the Ancient Persian phrase Kam Uflaz, meaning "we are attacked [by] the land". This phrase came into use after Saracen convoys were repeatedly attacked by bandits in northwest India who disguised themselves as piles of dirt.
- After the discovery of a listening device disguised as a rock outside the Russian embassy in London, Russian authorities removed and destroyed rocks near embassies in 26 countries. It is not known if these rocks contained anything out of the ordinary.
- During the US Airspace lock-down of 1962 prohibiting passenger travel by air, a Hungarian agent managed to reach US soil by disguising himself as a box of powdered mashed potatoes. He was discovered and captured when customs officers noticed two boxes of powdered potatoes in the hold, but only one on the manifest.
- One hundred and sixty cow suits were manufactured by a Pennsylvania defense contractor for use by the SAS and OSS in surveillance of the French countryside, but were never used. It seemed the firm had modeled the suits after the pattern of the Dutch Belt breed of bovine common in Pennsylvania, while the species prevalent in France's farmland was the mottled Holstein variety.
- Due to the light reflection of British Viridian Heather, it is very hard to blend into. For this reason, 18th century tacticians planted as much of it as they could all over Europe. It is believed that over 50 other species of low-lying plants became extinct as a result.
- After reading Shakespeare's Macbeth, King Charles I ordered all troops fighting in areas bordered by woodland to carry a tree branch to act as camouflage. Charles vastly overestimated his troops' ability to confuse the enemy, and countless slowed and weakened British legions were cut to pieces by Irish archers at the comparatively minor skirmish at Dunhamshire, 1632.
April 24, 2006
• Home pregnancy tests are eight times more likely to give a false negative than a false positive.
• Residents of the Shanxi Sheng region of China consume the most sodium of any people in the world. The average person in this region consumes roughly 28 times more on a daily basis than an average American.
• Varicose veins are the second leading cause of skin cancer behind solar radiation.
• In Uganda, people touch each other's faces during conversation to display agreement.
• An average person will see 210,092 online banner ads each year, but will click on only 243.
April 26, 2006
• Nearly 37 percent of serial killers had once been in the Boy Scouts, compared to only three percent of the general male population.
• Manis the orangutan (who is best remembered as "Clyde" from the 1978 Clint Eastwood movie Every Which Way But Loose
) had been purchased by a Los Angeles bowling alley owner in 1982 and trained to bowl. Prior to Manis' death in 1993, her highest scoring game was a 159.
• The virtual economy in the online computer role-playing game EverQuest
is larger than that of Argentina and Chile combined.
• Due to global warming, it is expected that the Greenland ice sheet will completely melt by 2050, reducing the island from 840,000 to only 160,000 square miles, lowering it to only the world's sixth largest island.
• In 2005, "foreign press correspondent" was the most dangerous job in the United States.
April 28, 2006
• There is only one filed American death by post-it note, according to the National Obituary (USNO). In 1988, a man unknowingly allergic to two different ingredients in the adhesive suffered a paper cut and mysteriously died less than two days later.
• The average American quarter is only in circulation for about 15 years
• The largest yearbook manufacturer in the United States estimates that they print approximately 65 million pictures of students ranging from kindergarten to college each year.
• An average household lock lasts for 100,000 locking and unlocking cycles.
• DuPont the original manufacturer of Napalm has spent nine million dollars to eradicate all copies, electronic and printed, of the once popular army marching song "Napalm sticks to kids."
April 30, 2006
• Klaus Maertens (known for inventing Dr. Martens footwear) was, in fact, not a doctor, but merely a medics' assistant during World War II.
• President Lyndon B. Johnson is usually credited with inventing the term "flip-flopper". He had first used the phrase "flop-flipper" during a ad-lib speech to the VFW in 1965, though he would later use "flip-flopper" because he thought "it sounded better that way."
• It is estimated that at least one-third of baby twins had been accidentally mixed up by the parents at least once.
• John von Neumann invented and patented the general-purpose computer in 1924. Unfortunately, the patent expired 17 years later, before the technology existed to actually build it.
• The City of San Francisco Police Department stated that since the downtown parking problem has forced the able-bodied to use handicapped spaces for short-term parking that they would cease enforcing the law except for the most egregious violations.