2.13.2013

Fun Facts

Overview
This post will updated on an ongoing basis and contains fun facts I have learned, primarily via Stuff You Should Know, a podcast by How Stuff Works. Topics are organized alphabetically.

Stuff You Should Know, a podcast | Image Credit: Wikipedia




Animals
  • Alligators can run 11 mph but humans can run 12-15 mph. 
  • Poison is transmitted passively through ingestion or absorption, whereas venom is actively injected. As a general rule, poison is used primarily for defensive purposes (by prey), and venom is used for offensive purposes (by predators). Most venomous animals can produce their own deadly concoction, whereas poisonous creatures usually acquire their toxicity through their diet.
  • The box jellyfish is the most venomous creature on earth, capable of killing one human in under five minutes and carrying enough venom in its 75,000 stinging darts to kill 60 adults.
  • Growing a pound (about half a kilogram) of beef necessitates the use of 2,500 gallons (9,464 liters) of water, 12 pounds (5.4 kilograms) of grain, 35 pounds (15.8 kilograms) of topsoil and the energy equivalent of 1 gallon (4 liters) of gasoline.
  • Bees have five eyes. Some bees have barbed stingers that get stuck in mammals and pull out part of the bee's abdomen when it flies away. When this happens, the bee dies. 
  • Octopuses/Octopi/Octopodes have 3 hearts, weigh up to 600 pounds, move up to 25 mph and can completely change their body color and texture in less than a second. Each of its 8 arms has its own independent nervous system. The male pillow octopus is a few centimeters long weighing less than a gram, while females can reach more than 6 feet and weigh over 100 pounds. An equivalent human comparison would be a man asking out a woman who is four times larger than the Statue of Liberty. 


Bacteria
  • There are ten times more foreign bacteria cells in your own body than there are cells of your own body. 
  • 93 percent of shoes have fecal bacteria on the bottom.
  • The kitchen floor just in front of the sink has more bacteria (830 per square inch) than the trash can (411 per square inch), and the kitchen counter has more germs than the toilet seat.
  • Your cell phone carries 25,000 germs per square inch, while toilet seats hold only 344 bacteria in the same space.


Earth
  • Tropical rainforests cover only 6 percent of the Earth's ground surface, but they are home to more than 50 percent of Earth's plant and animal species. 
  • Roughly 80 percent of the food we eat originally came from tropical rainforests.
  • More than 25 percent of the medicines we use today come from plants originating in rainforests, and these plants make up only a tiny fraction of the total collection of rainforest species. Fewer than 1 percent of rainforest plants have been examined for their medicinal properties.
  • Today, roughly 1.5 acres of rainforest are destroyed every second. If deforestation continues at its current rate, the world's tropical rainforests will be wiped out within 40 years.
  • A one-ounce piece of gold can be hammered into a sheet five-millionths of an inch thick or drawn out into 50 miles (80 kilometers) of wire.
  • The exact length of the Nile River is difficult to determine due to its complex system of tributaries, creeks and streams, but the most recent study declared the Nile to be 4,175 miles (6,719 kilometers) in length. This puts it slightly shorter than the Amazon River at 4,225 miles (6,800 kilometers). The Nile River runs through nine African countries: Uganda, Sudan, Egypt, Zaire, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Burundi. More than 95 percent of Egypt's population lives on the banks of the Nile, despite the fact that the area makes up only 5 percent of Egypt's land mass. As such, the Nile River Valley is one of the most densely populated areas in the world, boasting an average of 3,820 people per square mile.


Food
  • There are 9,000 pizzerias in New York City, more than 30 of which use the name "Ray."
  • Each person in North America puts away an average of 23 pounds of pizza each year.
  • The average American drinks 45.5 gallons of carbonated soft drinks per year.
  • The average American consumes 33.3 pounds of cheese per year. So why is cheese yellow? In the spring and summer, cows ate fresh grass and other plants that contained beta-carotene and vitamin D. This resulted in yellow cheese. In the winter, cows ate hay instead, so the cheese was pale. Cheese produced in the spring and summer was more desirable, so cheesemakers began dyeing their cheese. 


History
  • Mesopotamia is considered the first civilization given it shifted from a hunter-gather to an agrarian society some 11,000 years ago. The Epic of Gilgamesh is an epic poem from Mesopotamia and is considered by many to be the first work of literature, dating back to 18th century BC. Babylonians invented the use of minutes and seconds. 


Humans

  • By the time a human is 40 weeks old, they have developed the number of wrinkles in their brain that they will have the rest of their life. If you unwrinkled the brain, it would be the size of a pillow case. The color of the brain is gray, white, black and red. A human brain weighs 3 pounds, a sperm whale brain weights 17 pounds, and a sparrow brain weighs half an ounce. What matters is not the size of the brain, but the ratio of the size of the brain to the size of the body.


Material Goods
  • An antique is defined by U.S. law as anything 100 years old or older. Popularity of antiques dates back to the excavations of Pompeii (began in 1748) and Herculaneum (began in 1709). When Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D., volcanic deposits buried the two cities which preserved and protected them from looters. The treasures uncovered from the ruins sparked the neoclassical movement. In America, an interest in antiques is credited to the Centennial Exposition of 1876 in Philadelphia which celebrated 100 years of independence. Many Americans decided their own heritage was worth preserving.


Universe
  • The sun is 93 million miles away from earth and burns at 10 million degrees Fahrenheit at its core. If the sun were a hollow sphere, more than one million earths would fit inside. It takes about 100,000 years for a photo of light to travel from the sun's core to it outer edge, but only eight minutes for that packet of light to travel from the sun to earth. 

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