Facts are our business around here, so I like to think we know good ones when we see them. “Good” can mean different things to different people, but one of the factors for me is definitely the question “will it send me down an excellent rabbit hole?”
These 19 facts definitely meet that (and other) excellent criteria, so I hope you find several on this list that are new to you!
19. The person who survived the longest at sea on a raft had virtually no seafaring experience.
Poon Lim was just 24 when he set sail on a merchant ship called the SS Ben Lomond in 1942. The ship was torpedoed by a German sub and Lim, a novice seaman who couldn’t swim, was the sole survivor.
He was at sea for 133 days, fashioning fishhooks from nails and collecting rainwater to drink, before he was rescued by a team of Brazilian fishermen. Overall, his condition could have been much worse, even if he did have to spent 45 days in the hospital upon reaching land.
Lim holds the Guinness World Record for most days stranded at sea on a raft.
18. Researchers discovered a Kermit the Frog lookalike in 2015.
The new species of glass frog, “Diane’s Bare-hearted glass frog,” was discovered in Costa Rica in 2015.
Researcher Brian Kubicki named it for his mother.
17. This man’s ashes were recycled into frisbees for family and friends.
Ed “Steady” Headrick invented both the frisbee and frisbee golf, so maybe it’s not too weird that he wanted his ashes recycled into a set of limited-edition frisbees after he died.
Some were given to family and friends and others were sold to help fund his memorial museum.
16. Engineers entombed the faulty nuclear reactor in Chernobyl.
Known as the “sarcophagus,” this (limited) protection was built to contain the most radioactive of the reactors in Chernobyl.
Even so, it will be over 200,000 years before the area would be inhabitable by people.
15. Even Death Valley is getting hotter.
Death Valley is the site of the hottest recorded temperature on Earth (134 degrees F back in 1913).
It’s very likely that we will break that record soon; earlier this month temperatures hit 128 degrees F.
14. 1980s Garfield phones washed up on the beaches of France for decades.
People who lived near the beaches of Brittany, France in the 1980s noticed the popular Garfield phones of the day showing up with the tide. They continued to wash up for nearly three decades, until someone finally solved the mystery.
An empty shipping container was found destroyed inside a sea cave – so, the sad news is that they’re all gone now.
13. Why your car’s dashboard was aptly named.
Back in the day a dashboard wasn’t a part of your car that held all of the pertinent information and instruments needed to navigate (and also your cell phone and air conditioning vents), it was a forward-facing piece of wood or leather that served as a barrier between the horses hooves and the driver/passengers.
The hooves “dashed” mud up toward the humans in the carriage or buggy, and the board stopped it.
12. Mount Everest is basically a graveyard.
More than 100 bodies litter Mount Everest, the frozen remains of some of the more than 300 people who have died attempting the summit. It costs too much money – and is usually too dangerous – to bring them down, especially if they were up high enough on the mountain.
For added creep factor: some of them, like Green Boots, are used as navigational markers for climbers attempting the summit themselves.
11. Point Nemo is one of the most remote places on Earth.
The Pacific Ocean contains an “oceanic pole of inaccessibility,” which is the farthest you can get from land in any direction.
If you’re ever there, just know that the closest humans to you are any astronauts on the International Space Station.
10. Houdini died of a totally mundane cause…or did he?
Houdini died on Halloween, 1926, after being rushed to the hospital with severe stomach pains – which made sense, given that he used to allow people to punch him in the gut in order to prove his mental strength and pain tolerance.
The challenger the night the pain started, a college student from Montreal, landed 5 competent punches to Houdini’s gut. Doctors attributed his death to appendicitis and peritonitis, but some believe he was murdered.
The official ruling is that even though plenty of people had reason to want him dead, the truth is much more mundane.
9. All Froot Loops are the same flavor.
I’m sorry to inform you that your childhood indulgence was based on a lie. There might be many Loops, but there is only one Froot.
8. George W. Bush was head cheerleader.
He earned the honor during his senior year at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts.
I wonder whether he was at the bottom of the pyramid or the top?
7. You can’t even imagine the size of the largest star we’ve detected.
Red hypergiant VY Canis Majoris is over 600 million miles wide and 300,000 times brighter than our sun.
If you set it on the sun, as a matter of fact, it would stretch past Jupiter.
See? I told you you can’t imagine it!
6. Time passes slowly on Pluto.
Pluto goes around the sun once for every 248 rotations of Earth, which means since its discovery back in 1930, only 5 months or so have passed on the dwarf planet.
5. We have very little idea how great white sharks mate.
The ocean’s most famous predator likes to keep the door closed when they get busy – there are only two eyewitness accounts of great white sharks mating.
In 1997, Dick Ledgerwood (a New Zealand fisherman) saw two great whites in shallow water – not a rare sight on his expeditions, but their actions were definitely new to him.
He said they were “locked together, belly-to-belly, and just revolving round and round, very, very slowly.”
4. At least some of the dishes on the Titanic never broke.
A 1986 exploration of the Titanic wreckage revealed dishes sitting on the ocean floor, still perfectly arranged and unbroken.
3. Here’s what they look like all cleaned up.
They were recovered and put on display at Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition in 2010.
They look almost brand new, and definitely not at all like they had been through the infamous ordeal.
2. Baby koalas can’t eat full-strength eucalyptus, so…
Eucalyptus leaves are loaded with toxins that only adult koalas can digest, so the babies eat their mother’s poop for several months.
They still get the eucalyptus, but a…diluted version.
1. An Egyptian vulture was spotted for the first time in over 100 years.
In June of 2021, an Egyptian vulture was spotted in the United Kingdom.
Before this sighting, the last time the bird was seen in the UK was in 1868. Before that, it was 1825.
I’m making a list of research to do, y’all. These are too good.
If your absolute favorite fact isn’t on this list, tell us about it in the comments!