We live on a weird, weird planet. And the more you learn about it, the stranger it gets.
Many lists of “true facts” on the internet are dubious at best. But this one – although it reeks of cow poop – is absolutely, totally, 100% true. Read on for a lovely collection of true facts that sound false.
1. A day on Venus is longer than a year on Venus.
It takes Venus 243 Earth days to rotate around on its own axis, but it takes a mere 225 Earth days to fully orbit around the sun.
So you’d turn a year older while waiting for bedtime to finally roll around.
2. We went to the moon before we thought to put wheels on suitcases.
July 20, 1969: Americans Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon.
February 16, 1970: Bernard D. Sadow applied for a patent (granted in 1972) for “Rolling Luggage.”
Suitcases with wheels took ages to roll out due to the presence of porters on trains that took care of the heavy load for you. As airplane travel became more popular, folks had to lug their own junk through airports, creating a need for more portable baggage.
Retrospectively, Bernard calls it, “one of my best ideas.”
3. When you get a kidney transplant, they usually just leave your original kidneys in your body and put the 3rd kidney in your pelvis.
Kidneys sometimes fail, but their presence in your body isn’t actually harmful. And removing them completely is quite risky, not to mention costly.
So docs often prefer just to leave them in there, hanging out alongside the new ones. Thus rendering the recipient a superhuman. Clearly.
4. There are more trees on Earth than there are stars in the Milky Way.
People whose job it is to estimate the number of trees on the planet plonk the number down at 3.04 trillion.
And people whose job it is to estimate the number of stars in the sky figure there are between 200-400 billion stars in the Milky Way.
By the way, about 15 billion trees are cut down every year. So let’s hope this fact stays true for a long, long time.
5. The Japanese embassy in Paris has a special 24-hour hotline for Japanese visitors who can develop debilitating psychological problems because the city is not as nice as they imagined it to be.
It’s called “The Paris Syndrome,” and it’s considered a rather severe form of culture shock. It can happen to anyone, but the Japanese are considered especially susceptible.
Around 20 Japanese tourists a year succumb to the syndrome, which provokes psychiatric symptoms like hallucinations, feelings of persecution, depersonalization, anxiety, and even dizziness, sweating, and vomiting.
The root cause is thought to be the sharp contrast between the idealized Paris seen on the big screen and the harsh reality of a snooty waiter who sneezes on your croque-monsieur.
6. When they built the pyramids, there were still wooly mammoths walking around.
While most wooly mammoths died out 10,000 years ago, one tiny population kept on truckin’ way out on the itty-bitty Wrangel Island.
The last of them died off around 1650… when the Great Pyramids of Giza had already been around for 1000 years. Stonehenge was already kicking around Prehistoric Britain, too.
By the way, before you book a plane out to Wrangel Island for your next vacation, you should know that it’s an uninhabited scrap of land off the northern coast of far eastern Siberia. Bring a warm coat.
7. A tiny parasitic protozoa called Toxoplasma gondii infects about 40% of humans (and 80% of the French). You get it from cats, and it makes you more prone to taking risks.
A brain bug could be controlling your personality. And you’ve probably been infected by your cat.
Studies show that anyone infected with T. gondii tends to be more extroverted and less conscientious than those infection-free. It also makes you more prone to traffic accidents… and to enjoy the company of cats.
It’s thought that the parasite evolved to manipulate the behavior of its hosts – most often rats – so that they become less fearful of cats. And then get eaten by cats. Who become carriers. And then infect humans.
8. There are more possible games of chess than atoms in the known universe.
It’s called the Shannon number, after a mathematician named Claude Shannon. He showed that the number of possible chess games totaled around 10^120.
Scientists estimate the number of atoms in the universe to hover around 10^80 – not even close.
But there are fewer possible checkers games than there are atoms in a grain of sand. My head hurts.
9. A peak of Mount Everest was calculated to be exactly 29,000 ft high, but was publicly declared to be 29,002 ft in order to avoid the impression that an exact height of 29,000 feet was nothing more than a rounded estimate.
Back in 1854, Andrew Waugh, the British Surveyor General of India, set out to measure Peak XV of the Everest range – thought to be the highest peak of them all. It took him two years of calculation based on light refraction, barometric pressure, and temperature – and all of this over last distances.
The conclusion? Peak XV was exactly 29,000 feet high. But that’s just too round to be believed… so he added an extra two feet on top so that the public would buy it.
He is therefore credited with being “the first person to put two feet on top of Mount Everest.”
10. Killer whales (orcas) are natural predators of moose.
1993. Icy Strait, south-eastern Alaska.
Two fishermen report observing a pair of moose swimming across the chilly channel.
Suddenly – a hunting pack of three or four killer whales approaches… and go on the attack!
One industrious moose manages to escape unharmed, but the other is not so lucky. The pack of killer whales dine on minced moose that frigid Alaskan afternoon.
11. Almost a century passed between the invention of cans and the invention of can openers.
The Dutch Navy was preserving tins of food as far back at 1772. These first cans were, shall we say, robust – the metal often weighed more than what was inside them. And they had absolutely no way of being opened, aside from sheer brute force.
Even as canned food made its way to supermarket shelves, the can opener wasn’t a thing. Instructions on the tops of cans read “Cut round the top near the outer edge with a chisel and hammer.”
Dedicated can openers didn’t show up until the 1850s, bringing great relief to chisels everywhere.