The theastronomical clock of Besançon is a massive device that's 5.8 metres tall by 2.5 metres wide and has 30,000 mechanical parts. There are 70 dials providing 122 indications. There are 21 automated figurines, an orrery showing the motions and orbits of the planets, there are 12 dials for parts of the civil calendar, and five for the liturgical calendars. There are signs of the Zodiac, the length of the day, the length of the night, the seconds, and the times of sunrise and sunset. One dial gives the dates of Easter, there are two columns of 10 dials tracking the times in various cities around the world, there is also a model of Jesus who rises and returns to his tomb. The whole thing is driven by 11 different weights, 3 have to be reset every day.
The Tripitaka tablets at Kuthodaw pagoda are 729 marble tablets that, together form the world's largest book. Each 5 ft tablet has 160-200 lines from the sacred text of Theravāda Buddhism. They're housed in 728 domed white shrines and were finished in 1868.
Ludger Sylbaris was one of the only survivors of the volcanic eruption of Mt. Pelée in 1902 which killed 30,000-40,000 people. He was arrested after a bar fight and placed in solitary confinement. His cell was partially below ground, bombproof, and only had a small grate for air-exchange. He urinated on his clothing and placed it in the grate. He suffered severe burns but survived. He later joined the Barnum and Bailey's circus as the "man who survived doomsday".
The first Superbowl occurred in 1967 between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Green Bay Packers. It was filmed by both NBC and CBS. However, both wiped the original tapes (they were reused to cut costs). Consequently, there was no surviving footage of the game...until January 2016, when the NFL announced that, using various sources (including home videos in attics), they were able to put together a complete feature including the audio.
In 1945, a B-25 bomber crashed into the Empire State Building because of thick fog killing 14 people. One person, Betty Lou Oliver, an elevator operator, fell 79 stories when the plane severed the cables holder her elevator. The cushion of the air and coiled cables cushioned her fall, though she did fracture her spine, pelvis and femur.
Celsius didn't invent Celsius. He did develop a temperature scale, but in his, water boiled at 0 and froze at 100. He developed it this way because it wouldn't involve negative numbers. At about the same time, Jean-Pierre Christin developed a scale proposing the more common 0 (freezing) and 100 (boiling). Upon Celsius' death, Carolus Linnaeus reversed his scale. It was known as the 'centigrade' scale but in 1948 'Celsius' was formally adopted because in French and Spanish, centigrade, had other meanings. It's believed 'Celsius' was adopted as the name due to a mistaken attribution in a German school-book.
Circleville, Ohio was founded around a large, ancient earth mound built by the Native American Hopewell people. Town founders integrated this mound into the city layout, meaning there were large concentric circles in the centre. This annoyed citizens so much (because of the oddly shaped plots and buildings) that the 'Circleville Squaring Company' was created to slowly convert the town back into a grid.
During the height of the Cold War, anything from the 'west' was illegal and anticommunist, including music...which was popular. So popular that 'records' were made using just about everything (as vinyl was very expensive). A common practice was using discarded X-rays from hospitals. These were known as rib-records.
The chicken dance was originally called the 'duck dance'. However, during a promotional piece, they were unable to find a duck suit. But a local radio station had a chicken suit that was used. The dance itself was written by an accordion player in the Swiss Alps. It was supposed to emulate the downhill skier.
For about 24 hours in January of 2015, Eastern and Western Canada were severed, when a bridge crossing the Nipigon River failed, severing the Trans-Canada highway. Extreme cold and a strong wind caused bolts to shear and the bridge-deck to lift about 60 cm. This isolated region of Northern Ontario is the only place in Canada where a paved road crosses the country. While a rural logging road could be used by some, the only other option was to go through the United States, around Lake Superior.
Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, disappeared July 2nd, 1937 after her failed attempt to circumnavigate the world. Interestingly, Noonan was declared dead June 20th, 1938, while Earhart wasn't declared dead until months later on the 5th of January, 1939.
1 metric tonne of tobacco produces about 1,000,000 cigarettes. For each million smoked, there is one death. Total there are about 6 trillion cigarettes smoked equating about 6 million deaths.
Victor Lustig was a conman. Among his many achievements, he once sold the Eiffel Tower to a scrap metal dealer in 1925 using stories written by local newspapers that described the cost of upkeep to the city.
During the 1930s, the Soviet Union built two "Maksim Gorky" aircraft which were specifically for distributing propaganda. They broadcasted radio, had a printing press, a library, had a photographic laboratory, a telephone switchboard (for communicating inside the plane), a pneumatic post system and a film projector with sound for showing movies in flight.
Besides English, Māori and New Zealand Sign Language are the official languages of the country.
Describing politics in terms of "left" and "right" (i.e. labour/liberal vs. conservative) is derived from 1789 when the members of France's National Assembly divided into supporters of the king on the right of the president and supporters of the revolution on his left.
Burke and Wills led an ill-fated expedition in 1860 to cross Australia. Of the 19, only one man survived. For the trek, they imported 24 camels from India and included various supplies, including rum (for the camels) and pepper (to wake up "drunk" camels). Other things including an oak camp table, two chairs, rockets, flags and a Chinese gong (total weighing 20 tonnes).
The vibrator was first invented in 1734 to cause "hysterical paroxysm" (orgasm) for the patient. At the time, "vulvar stimulation" had nothing to do with sex, rather it was thought to be a cure for "female hysteria". The first steam-powered device was invented in 1869. It became the fifth domestic device to be electrified behind the sewing machine, fan, tea kettle and toaster.
Astronomers using spectrometry found that the tails of comets contained the lethal gas cyanogen. As the Earth was to pass through Halley's comet in 1910, people were panicking. Besides gas masks, other things people could buy were anti-comet pills!
Samples of sewage in the United States contain significant amounts of metals including gold, copper, platinum, and zinc at concentrations similar to low-grade ore! It's estimated that for every million people, there is $13 million worth of metals.
"Road rage" laws existed in ancient Rome.
The Burj Khalifa is the tallest skyscraper in the world with 163 floors holding upwards of 35,000 people. They produce upwards of 7 tonnes of faeces/day, not to mention wastewater from bathing and other needs. Unfortunately, the building was completed without sufficient sewage infrastructure, meaning every day the faeces had to be trucked to the wastewater facility.
During WWII, German soldiers constructing a bunker in Greece found a fossilized jawbone. New investigations of the jawbone suggest that it's possible humans split from apes in Europe instead of Africa.
Art competitions used to be part of the Olympics from 1912-48. They included architecture, literature, music, painting and sculpture. This drawing, 'Rugby', won gold in 1928.
Jimmy Carter was the first U.S. President born in a hospital.
Croquet was introduced to the Olympics during the Paris games in 1900. This was also one of the first time women competed in the Olympiads. The sport was not very popular. There was only one spectator, an Englishman from Nice. It never appeared in the Olympics again.
The Ghost Army was a tactical deception unit in WWII. It contained 1,100-man unit whose purpose was the impersonate other U.S. Army units to deceive the enemy. Their recruits were from art schools, advertising agencies and other creative minds. They used inflatable tanks, sound trucks, fake radio transports and pretence to trick the enemy into believing they were facing a large division while real divisions moved into position.
The Battle of Blair Mountain was an armed conflict between 10,000 armed coal miners and 3000 lawmen and strikebreakers in West Virginia following an attempt by the miners to unionize. The battle ended after nearly 1 million rounds were fired! During the battle, private planes were hired to drop homemade bombs as well as surplus WWI gas and explosive bombs!
Male university students in North Korea are required to have the same haircut as their leader Kim Jung-un. Otherwise, men can choose between 10 haircuts while women have 18 options.
So as not to offend any other country, the US Army usedEsperantoduring their war games for their 'enemy'. The language was designed in the late 1800s by a Polish-Jewish ophthalmologist hoping to calm tensions he noticed between the various peoples he worked and lived with.
A study reviewing James Bond's alcohol consumption found he would have likely been impotent or near death. Over the 14 novels (excluding 36 days in prison, hospital or rehab) the spy drank 1,150 units of alcohol over 88 days or about five vodka martinis/day.
Ian Fleming, the author of James Bond got the character's name from an ornithologist he met. He was originally going to call him James Secretan.
In 1986, an eruption of a large cloud of carbon dioxide from Lake Nyos caused the death of 1746 people and 3500 livestock! Carbon dioxide is heavier than air which means it slid down the mountain and asphyxiated anyone in its way. It's believed this could have been from a small volcanic eruption occurring on the bed of the lake.
Thami Jantjie, who signed for a portion of Nelson Mandela's funeral ceremony was a fake! According to experts, he was using "gibberish" and unable to sign many basic terms. He was also expressionless which is important for signing.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was the capital of the Kingdom of Portugal for 13 years. This was the only time a European capital was outside of Europe.
Leonid Rogozov, a Soviet doctor, performed an operation on himself! In 1960, on an Antarctic expedition, he was forced to remove his appendix (a blizzard prevented a medical evacuation). During the surgery, he was assisted by a meteorologist and an engineer.
Rjukan, Norway is a small town between two steep cliffs running East to West. The northern latitude and high mountains mean the town is in darkness for a substantial part of the year. In 2013, mirrors were installed on the northern mountain to reflect sunlight into the valley.
Barbie was based off a German doll named Lilli based off a cartoon where Lilli was a prostitute.
Out of 160 countries, Canadian media ran 10% more sports coverage while weather took up 229%!
Bir Tawil, along the border of Egypt and Sudan, is the only terra nullius (unclaimed territory) outside Antarctica! It was created by a discrepancy between the 1899 "straight" border and the 1902 "irregular" border. Measuring about 2,000 square kilometres, it's desert with no permanent inhabitants.
The Game of Thrones series has the largest cast in television history! The third season alone had 257 named characters.
The Soviet government owned the rights to Tetris for 10 years.
Between the years 1968-2000, Alan Smithee "directed" a number of movies. Except 'Alan' was actually a pseudonym used by the Directors Guild of America when a director was so dissatisfied with the final product and that they "lost control" over the making of the film. Interestingly, a mocumentary of Alan Smithee, telling the story of the pseudonym, was ultimately directed by the very same pseudonym because the original director, Arthur Hiller, felt he lost control over it.
Winnie-the-Pooh is based on a real, female, black bear. She was purchased by Harry Colebourn, a Canadian Lieutenant en route to England during WWI. She was named "Winnie" after his hometown of Winnipeg. The bear came all the way to England and became an unofficial mascot.
Following the signing of the Seaman's Act (passed after the sinking of the Titanic), ships were retrofitted with a complete set of lifeboats. Unfortunately, this made some ships top-heavy and caused them to capsize. One, the SS Eastland, capsized on the Chicago River and killed 844 passengers and crew.
Traditionally barbers used to play the role of surgeons. The barber pole comes from the service of bloodletting and was historically a representation of bloody bandages blowing in the wind, wrapping around a pole.
Due to its small population but huge tourist industry, Vatican City's crime rate in 1992 was 133%!
When Britain joined the 2003 invasion of Iraq, one of the "intelligence" documents they cited was an article by a graduate student. They enhanced the language, giving the impression there was greater "danger" while, in other cases, they repeated verbatim typographical errors.
Every four years there's a leap-year to keep proper time. However, this isn't perfect. So, every century, the leap year is skipped (1800, 1900 etc.). Except if the century is divisible by 400 (e.g. 2000) in that case the leap year is included.
The Hindenburg class of flying vehicle was the largest flying machine by length and envelope size.
Clocks used to only count hours. When the demand for a smaller denomination occurred, watchmakers responded by adding a set of gears subdividing the hour into 60 parts. 60 is an easy number mathematically speaking and, therefore, it was easier to craft the necessary gears. Astronomers began demanding a smaller increment for their calculations. Watchmakers responded by adding a second set of gears. The term "second" continues to be used today!
The northerly town of Fermont, Quebec was built from the ground up in the 1970s to service an iron mine. Because of cold north-easterly wind, the company built the "Windscreen"; a long, skinny, wall-like structure that is 1.3 km long and 50 metres high! It contains apartments, stores, schools, bars, a hotel, a supermarket and swimming pool. The building acts as a shelter for the smaller apartments and homes on the leeward side.
Tokelau was the first territory to meet all its electrical needs with solar power. The remote islands relied on diesel generators until the completion of this project. This was an incredible cost to the territory (which has the smallest economy in the world).
The shortest regularly scheduled ferry route is only 122 m (400 ft) from Toronto Island to the mainland. The Marilyn Bell I goes every 15 minutes from 05h15-00h00.
Coober Pedy in Australia is known as the opal capital of the world and is famous for its "dugouts". Due to very high desert temperatures, most of the population lives underground. The cost of a three-bedroom house with a kitchen and bathroom is similar to the cost of a surface home except without the need for air conditioning.
The error of uncertainty of Soviet WWII deaths is greater than the official deaths of all other allied troops combined!
The term 'soft drink' refers to a carbonated, sweetened beverage in contrast to 'hard drinks' that contained alcohol.
The first computer-dating service was created by Stanford University students in 1959 called the "Happy Families Planning Services" for their final project for their mathematics course. They used an IBM 650 (left) matching 49 women with 49 men...it resulted in 1 marriage.
Santa Claus gained Canadian citizenship in 2008.
A study published in the American Journal of Infection Control found that bacteria thrive on 'clean' paper towels including bacilli linked to food poisoning. Recycled paper towels were worse with up to 1000x more bacteria than new wood pulp.
The ampersand '&' used to be the 27th letter of the alphabet! It was called 'and'; so recitation of the alphabet was "X, Y, Z, and per se and (meaning "and (literally the symbol) and intrinsically is the word "and"); this last phrase was often slurred to "ampersand".
Three dogs (of 12) survived the Titanic disaster.
The European Union spends about $375 million (Can) on translation! Of course, this service covers all 23 official EU languages!
"Teething" was considered (wrongly) to be a cause of death for 8-12% of children in London in the mid-1800s.
The caduceus (left) is a symbol mistakenly attributed to medicine in the mid-1850s. It was adopted by the US military (and officially recognized in 1902). Technically, the correct symbol is the asklepian (right) which is a single serpent surrounding a staff, unlike the caduceus which has two serpents with wings on top. The asklepian belonged to Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine and healing. The Caduceus, on the other hand, was carried by the Greek god Hermes and later the Roman god Mercury, the messenger of the gods. It is the recognized symbol of commerce and negotiation.
Big Ben occasionally runs too fast or too slow. While there are various reasons for this, in the meantime, the pendulum weight is adjusted to correct for the abnormality. This is simply accomplished by placing pennies on the pendulum. Each one changes the clock speed by about 0.4 seconds/day.
James Cameron (writer/producer/director of Titanic) made 33 dives to RMS Titanic during its filming. As a result, he has spent more time on Titanic than captain Smith when he originally sailed it.
Mongolia is the least dense country on Earth, 4 people/square mile while the Mong Kok district of Hong Kong is the densest, 340,000/square mile.
France (and its territories) covers the most time zones of any other country (12). This is followed by the US with 11 and Russia with 9.
The CIA produced matchbook advertisements in Afghanistan and Pakistan offering a reward for Osama Bin Laden's capture (a common form of advertisement where smoking rates are high). Unfortunately, the website for referring information was incorrect, the reward was $500,000 instead of $5,000,000 and the colour green is a holy colour in Islam (portraying him as a religious fighter).
The US Senate has never formally acknowledged the term "president" to describe their leader. The label was originally used because it was common to describe someone who "presides" over a meeting or group. The US was trying to avoid terms such as "king" or "supreme leader" in 1776.
During the 2011 Canadian federal election campaign, the French language leaders' debate had to be rescheduled because it conflicted with the first playoff game between the Montreal Canadiens and the Boston Bruins.
100g of pork requires 70 mL of oil to get to your plate. 100g of cheese takes 140 mL and a single tomato grown in a greenhouse takes 300 mL!
MRI scans of the brains of Apple fanatic's brains have found that the same part lit up as a believers would when they gazed upon religious imagery.
The Popsicle was invented by an 11-year-old Frank Epperson. He sold them to his friends at school calling them "Eppsicles". When he was older his children changed their name to Pop (father) -sicle.
The Catholic church owns 20% of real estate in Italy, about 100,000 properties including 9000 schools, 2300 museums and libraries and 4700 clinics and hospitals.
Sunscreen was invented by an airman for Americans fighting during WWII in the South Pacific. He later became a pharmacist.
During the 1900 Paris Olympics, the Dutch rowing team, after losing their heat, decided their coxswain was too heavy for their boat. They traded him for a 7-year-old French boy to steer the boat for the finals, and they won! He's believed to be the youngest medallist in Olympic history. His name is unknown.
The Egyptian Olympic team attending London 2012 was supplied with fake Nike products because, following the revolution, the country could not afford brand-name products.
In January 1960, Trieste made its historic dive to the Mariana Trench (10,916 m) (1 metric tonne/cubic cm). A Rolex prototype was strapped to the outside of the submersible. The watch survived the depth unscathed, the only mechanical watch to ever survive anything near this depth. It weighs 265 g, and is made of titanium, the glass dome is 1 cm thick.
Every presidential portrait had been painted until George W. Bush was photographed and Barack Obama had his picture taken digitally.
Alert, Nunavut is a military base and weather station and is the northernmost, permanently inhabited settlement in the world (817 km from the north pole).
1/6 cell phones contain faecal matter because people aren't washing their hands! 95% of phones were also contaminated with bacteria, many also had E. coli, commonly found in the colon and a cause of significant illness.
The Kurt Weather Station was an automatic weather station erected by a German U-boat crew in northern Labrador, Canada, in 1943. This was the only armed German military installation on North American soil during WWII. It was forgotten until the late 1970s. It is currently housed at the Canadian War Museum.
When asked to sing the first note that comes to mind, North Americans typically hum B natural while Europeans go with G sharp. This is because of the constant tone of the power grid which, in N. America, is 60 Hz, while in Europe it's 50 Hz.
Istanbul is the only city located on two continents.
The Apple Computer store on Fifth avenue makes more money per square foot than any other store in the world.
Cannibalism is legal in the Netherlands.
In 1862, 23 camels were brought to Canada during the Caribou Gold Rush. After proving ineffective, they were set free. The herd of camels survived for over 40 years until they were all but consumed by local carnivores.
Even though geographically China spans five time zones; since 1949 the whole country has used a single time zone: "China Standard Time".
Greenwich Mean Time is being challenged by the Royal Mecca Tower. Unlike the Elizabeth Tower (or 'Big Ben'), which is 316 ft tall with a clock diameter of 23 ft, the Mecca tower will be 2000 ft tall (making it the third tallest building in the world) and have clock diameters of 151 ft! Illuminated by 2000 LEDs, it will be visible 29 km away!
Kidnapping a girl <17 years of age in Kyrgyzstan leads to a 10-year prison sentence. Less than what one might get for stealing a cow.
Swiss research has found that 70% of British men (50% of European men) are related to the Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun (King Tut). All share a common haplogroup R1b1a2. It is believed that they all shared a common ancestor living in the Caucasus about 9,500 years ago.
March 29th, 1848, Niagara Falls stopped flowing. 30 hours later, a great wall of water rushed toward the falls. Turns out the blockage was due to an ice jam on Lake Erie.
North Korea holds elections every 5 years in which the ballots list only one candidate.
The accumulated distance travelled by the current U-haul fleet would equate to 197 times around the world/day/year.
In 1816, the Farmer's Almanac accidentally printed issues of its magazine proposing there would be snow in July and August (they were supposed to be January and February's predictions). Miraculously a volcanic eruption of Mt. Tambora in what is now Indonesia encircled the globe with ash, causing a mini-ice age.
Mazda recalled 65,000 Mazda 6 cars because yellow sac spiders were found weaving webs in an engine vent which could cause a fire.
Without the use of the magnetic compass (invented in the 13th century), Vikings used the sun and stars for navigation. However, in the summer months, they had 24 hours of daylight at northern latitudes. During cloudy or foggy days it's been discovered that 'sunstones' were used to locate the sun. They were held up to the sky, blocking the light from one polarization and making the sun visible thanks to naturally forming crystals in the stone.
T. E. Lawrence is the only man in recorded history to have declined a knighthood.
Parks Canada, established in 1911, is the world's first national park service today having 224,466 km2 of protected land. The oldest national park is Yosemite National Park in the United States established in 1890.
Canada has the most lakes of any other country (3 million). This means about 9% of the territory's surface area is fresh water, it contains 60% of the world's lakes.
J.K. Rowling was the first person to become a billionaire by writing books. The Harry Potter series was the fastest-selling books in history and have been translated into over 65 languages!
As part of his contractual agreement, Van Halen requires all brown M&Ms to be removed from those provided backstage. This request was purposely buried in his contract agreement because if it was not complied with, it suggested that the document was not thoroughly read. This means more important details (e.g. weight limits for the stage), might have been overlooked.
DNA testing on Adolf Hitler's relatives reveals a rare chromosome (Haplogroup H1b1b1) specific to North African and Jewish ancestors. This has renewed discussion regarding Hitler's paternal grandfather potentially having been a Jewish merchant (Leopold Frankenberger) who had an affair with his grandmother (though most still believe his true grandfather was Austrian Johann Georg Hiedler).
25% of the world's prisoners are held in US prisons (2.2 million inmates). China has 1.5 million and Russia has 870,000.
Air Canada was the first airline in the world to institute a fleet-wide, non-smoking policy in 1987.
Panama left South America and became part of North America in 1904.
Howard Hughes' H-4 Hercules, Spruce Goose,was awooden plane that is the tallest plane with the largest wingspan of any plane today. It could carry 750 troops or one Sherman tank. It only flew once, 70 ft in altitude, 217 km/h for 1.6 km.
When Simba collapsed on a hill in 'The Lion King', the pollen in the original VHS version spelling was looked like 'Sex'. Disney said it was 'S.F.X' for "special effects". This was removed in the DVD version.
The highest paid employee of John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign was Sarah Palin's makeup artist.
Listerine was used as a treatment for gonorrhoea before it was used to kill oral bacteria.
In 1866, Leonard Tilley suggested that Canada be referred to as a 'Dominion', rather than a 'Kingdom' so as to not offend their American neighbours who severed ties with British and French royalty only 100 years earlier. The reference comes from Psalm 72 "He shall have dominion also from sea to sea".
Barrage balloonswere used during WWII to prevent warplanes from bombing allied infrastructure. Planes had to fly low over the building for accurate bombing but the balloons impeded this flight-path.
Canada and Russia have the most educated populations in the world with 54% having received post-secondary education. They're followed by Israel (49%) and Japan (48%).
The first hockey jockstrap was made in 1874; the first hockey helmet was made in 1974.
In Centralia, Pennsylvania, a coal mine fire has been burning since 1962. Accidentally started by practising firefighters, the fire is now raging throughout the abandoned shafts. It's caused the ground to become unstable with frequent venting of gases and water vapour. All buildings have been condemned and the zip code was revoked in 2002. This picture is Pennsylvania Route 61 that was closed and rerouted.
Delmedigo's thermometer is the earliest liquid-in-glass thermometer described in the writings of physician and Rabbi Joseph Solomon Delmedigo in 1629. It was filled with brandy. The first widely used was Gabriel Fahrenheit. The idea was originally Galileo's.
'J' is the only letter that's not used in the periodic table.
The Knock Nevis was the longest ship ever constructed at 458.45 m (1500 ft). Fully laden, it had a draft of 24.6 m (81 ft). It was unable to sail through the Suez Canal, the Panama Canal or the English Channel.
Tristan da Cunha, in the Atlantic Ocean, is the most isolated island on Earth with their nearest neighbour being 2,120 km away.
1500 water bottles end up in the garbage every second! Only about 15% of water bottles are recycled. The oil used in the production of water bottles would provide enough fuel for 100,000 vehicles to run for a year.
On December 2nd, 2013 Icelandic Police may have shot and killed someone for the first time...ever! Police responded to a man firing a shotgun from his home and were forced to respond. It's unsure as to whether this goes back to 1944 when Iceland received independence, or whether it goes back to its founding in the 9th century.
Zimbabwe's inflation rate at one point was 500,000,000,000%! A $100 billion banknote could buy 3 eggs. In 2015 Zimbabwe officially phased out its local currency. 175 quadrillion (175,000,000,000,000,000) ZWR would be exchanged for 5 US dollars.
During WWII, the Russian military trained dogs to carry bombs under the faster, more powerful, German tanks. Over the course of the war, they disabled 300.
The rotary printing press was first invented in 1843; the idea of adding page numbers came 40 years later.
John Torrington, a British naval officer, died in 1845 on an expedition to the Bering Strait. His body was found in 1983 frozen in a layer of permafrost.
The National Football League requires 3000 cows worth of leather for one season of footballs.
The War of the Currents was waged between Thomas Edison's Direct Current (DC) and Nikola Tesla's Alternating Current (AC) in the late 1880s. This included public campaigns including the killing of animals to reinforce the 'danger' of each current. Tesla's AC ultimately won out (for transmission) because it could be transported with greater facility, reduced energy loss and greater reliability.
http://info.cern.ch is the world's first and oldest web page. Developed in 1989 by Tim Berners-Lee, he proposed a www that could be a convenient way to share information.
Charles Osborne holds the world record for the longest continuous bout of hiccups. He hiccuped continuously from 1922-1990.
Actors who win an Oscar live on average 4 years longer than their co-stars or nominated actors.
On July 29th, 2011, Apple Computer had $75.876 billion in cash reserves while the United States government had only $73.768 billion (based on their arbitrary debt ceiling).
If the population of China walked past in a single file, the line would never end because of the rate of reproduction.
The ballet 'Rite of Spring' by Stravinsky premiered in 1913 in France. Based on pagan rituals, begins with a bassoon solo that drew boos from the audience. It escalated to fistfights and then a riot (upon seeing fully clothed dancers instead of more revealing clothing as per usual for this type of entertainment). The opera was used in 1940 for Disney's Fantasia.
Zablon Simintov is a carpet trader and caretaker of the only synagogue in Kabul, Afghanistan. He is believed to be the sole remaining Jewish person in Afghanistan. He received special permission from the nearest rabbi in Uzbekistan to slaughter his own meat in the Kosher way.
While Sir Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay were the first to officially summit Mt. Everest in 1953; speculation over the potential success of George Mallory (right) and Andrew Irvine (left). The two got within 100 m of the summit in 1924 when they were overcome by a snowstorm. The drop in barometric pressure likely led to lower.George Mallory's body was discovered in 1999. Two interesting points about the body:
Mallory's daughter said he carried a picture of his wife on his person with the intention of leaving it on the summit. While the body with all its belongings was perfectly preserved, no photo was found.
Mallory's snow goggles were in his pocket. Therefore, he died at night meaning they must have made a push for the summit.
Red Fiestawarewas glazed with radioactive material! The plates are now collector's items and remain radioactive.
Christopher Columbus discovered the Caribbean in 1492 then went to South America. He never stepped foot in North America.
Frankenstein is the name of the doctor who made the monster, not the monster himself. The monster's name was Adam.
As an alternative to death by lethal injection, you can opt for: firing squad in Utah, gas chamber in California and/or hanging in Washington.
Speed dating was first invented by Rabbi Yaacov Deyo to help Jewish singles meet.
Bottled water costs 1000x more than tap water.
In 1879, in Liege Belgium, cats were trained to carry mail over 25 km!
Ontario'sHwy 401is the busiest road in North America and one of the widest and busiest in the world carrying as many as 500,000 drivers/day and, in some cases, is 18 lanes wide!
Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous speech was prepared until the very end when he started going off script. In fact, the part where he said "I have a dream" (arguably now the most famous part) was impromptu.
Icelandic has changed so little in the last 1000 years, that Icelanders today can easily read 10th-century texts!
The 'Spanish Flu' of 1918 killed 100 million people and infected 1/3 of the world's population. The flu had nothing to do with the Spanish or Spain. It was dubbed the 'Spanish' flu because during WWI Spain was neutral and, therefore, the news was not censored. When King Alfonzo XIII became ill it became worldwide news and henceforth became known as the 'Spanish' flu.
Mick Jagger was the captain of his basketball team in grammar school. He ran into an opposing player and bit off the tip of his tongue - then swallowed it. However, this changed his voice. He stopped speaking with his upper-class accent and sounded grittier. That's why their logo is a tongue.
In March 1989, a coronal mass ejection from the sun caused such a large geomagnetic storm that the Aurora Borealis was observed as far south as Texas. It impacted the Earth's magnetic field which sent the Quebec's power grid (and parts of Sweden's) off-line. This was attributed to the very long transmission lines and high altitude compounded by the Canadian Shield hindering the electricity's ability to ground.
The Anglo-Zanzibar warlasted 38 mins. Following the death of Sultan Hamad Bin Thuwaini, his successor was anti-Britain. Therefore, this sultan was removed by force with 500 injuries on the Sultan's side and 1 injured British sailor.
When Newfoundland joined the Dominion of Canada in 1949, a special term was required to allow the sale of margarine in the province (it was illegal for the remainder of the country). Newfoundland's climate precluded domestic butter production however the remainder of the dominion wanted to protect their dairy industry.
God, on 'The Simpsons', is the only character with five digits (four fingers and a thumb). Cartoon artists generally draw the hand with only three fingers and a thumb because it's easier.
Adolph Hitler was the first to coin the term 'secondhand smoke'. He called it 'passive smoking'. He who began the cessation of smoking in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s.
Mauritius is an island nation off the coast of Madagascar. This was the only known location of the dodo, first sighted in 1600. The bird went extinct 80 years later.
Albert Einstein was offeredthe presidency of Israel.
Carrots provide the precursor for Vitamin A (important for healthy eyes). This gained publicity during WWII as British fighter pilots were claiming carrots were improving their ability to fly at night (when in fact, it was the recent invention of radar...carrots were a decoy so the German forces would be unaware oft he invention).
Flight recorders (the "black box"), used in aircraft to record accidents, are actually orange.
Spheno palatine gangleoneuralgia is the medical term for ice cream headache.
Play-Doh was an accident. It was originally designed to be used as a wallpaper cleaner.
Obesity is a growing health problem amongst zoo animals from elephants to dolphins to gorillas. In fact, 40% of adult male gorilla deaths are due to heart disease!
Beluga whales have been used by Navies to attack enemy submarines and for reconnaissance. Cameras, weapons etc. were attached to their heads and they were trained to attack. Belugas were effective because of their intelligence, deep diving abilities and ability to hold their breath.
During a scene in Indiana Jones, Harrison Ford is seen shooting a sword fighter. Apparently, the original script called for Ford to fight the sword fighter but he had diarrhoea that day. Instead, he proposed he shoot the sword fighter, creating one of the most memorable scenes in the movie.
The initial budget for the atomic bomb in 1939 was $6,000 but in 1945, it had grown to $2 billion.
Thomas Crapper was a plumber who lived in England from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s. He did not invent the toilet but did patent some plumbing utilities.
Toto from the movie 'The Wizard of Oz', was paid a salary of $125 per week (more than some of the actors). Her real name was 'Terry'.
"Boo!" comes from 'Boh', the name of a Norse general. According to legend, he was so fearsome that the mention of his name scared his enemies.
You are more likely to be killed by a champagne cork than a venomous spider.
Kermit-the-Frog has an honorary doctorate degree from the Long Island University.
"OMG" was recently added to the Oxford English Dictionary. The first confirmed use of "OMG" was in 1917.
Paul Hubert, of Bordeaux, France, was convicted in 1863 of murdering himself! He served 21 years in solitary confinement before the error was corrected.
Charles Shultz, the creator and animator of the Charlie Brown cartoons, took a course by correspondence called 'Drawing of Children' at the age of 19. He received a C+ for his work.
During WWII, 20 million people died of starvation compared to 19.5 million military casualties.
Charles Goodyear, the man behind Goodyear tires, died with a $200,000 debt. He invented the rubber for his tires while in debtors prison.
Lisa Simpson became a vegetarian by request of Paul and Linda McCartney who agreed to be on the show as guest voices only if Lisa became and remained a vegetarian.
What do laptop computers and jeans have in common? Both damage sperm production. Sperm requires a cooler environment (which is why they are in the scrotum). Jeans force the testicles closer to the body and laptop computers heat the groin.
TheSvalbard Global Seed Vault on the island of Spitsbergen Norway holds 20 million seeds designed to protect every plant in the world from natural disaster by storing them in a controlled environment. The location is moisture controlled and has no tectonic activity, it is 130 metres above sea level (if sea levels rise) and 120 metres inside a mountain. The temperature of the surrounding bedrock provides a natural freezer in case of equipment failure. The seeds could remain preserved for thousands of years.
To prevent people from melting down coins for ammunition during the American Civil War, the government began issuing 3, 5, 10, 25 and 50 cent bills.
University Centre in Svalbard is the northernmost university at 78 degrees latitude in Norway. All students and faculty receive rifle training to protect themselves from polar bears.
The term 'buck', when referring to dollars, was coined in the 17th century by the Hudson's Bay Company who produced a coin of equal value to one beaver pelt (male beavers are called 'bucks').
Steve Jobs (Apple), Steve Wozniak (Apple), Michael Dell (Dell Computer), Kevin Rose (Digg), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Bill Gates (Microsoft), Paul Allen (Microsoft), Larry Ellison (Oracle), Mike Lazaridis (Blackberry), Daniel Ek (Spotify), David Karp (Tumblr.) and Jack Dorsey (Twitter) are all college/university dropouts.
Thomas Edison bought the patent for the light-bulb from James Woodward and Mathew Evans; two Canadian inventors who couldn't raise enough capital. Their bulb was a carbon rod between two electrodes surrounded by nitrogen.
The average American will eat 4 tonnes of beef and potatoes, 3 tonnes of sugar, 180,000 slices of bread, 7,500 litres of milk, 6,800 litres of beer and 80,000 cups of coffee.
Philip Syng Physick, considered the father of American surgery, at one point recommended (as a means of putting his patients to sleep) heavy bleeding in the vertical position until the patient fainted. He would then proceed with the surgery.
Bubble wrap was an accident. It was originally designed to be a plastic wall with a paper backing but bubbled when heated. The creators decided to market the product as a packaging.
2/3 of Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by age 70! This is 4x the rate seen in Canada, the US or the UK. This is attributed to the particularly large hole in the ozone layer over the continent.
Henry Ford never invented the assembly line.
The Canadian WWII memorial for the battleof Hong Kong includes the names of:
2 women, and
Sgt. Gander, a Newfoundlander who fought and died carrying a grenade from injured Canadian troops
Jules Verne's description of the net-yet-invented periscope in his novel '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea' was so accurate that the actual inventor of the periscope was denied a patent.
Aeroplanes are often painted white because they appear 'lighter' and less likely to fall.
Canada and the United States almost went to war over a pig! It was a confrontation in 1859 was a boundary dispute over the San Juan Islands. The initial boundary was a bit confusing and consequently, there were conflicting claims to the islands. When a pig from the British Empire wandered to an American's farm and started rooting for tubers, the American shot the pig. There was back and forth escalation to the point where there were thousands of troops and warships until the dispute was finally settled without a single loss of life (current border is the blue line).
The first people to fly weren't people.They were a duck, sheep and a rooster. They rode in a hot air balloon in France.
In Gainesville, Georgia, chicken can only legally be eaten using one's fingers rather than cutlery.
Can-openers were invented 48 years after cans.
The Titanic (left) hadtwo sister ships, the Olympic andBritannic. Britannic became ahospital ship in WWI and sank by a mine. The Olympic was dismantled in the 1930s for scrap metal.
"Women and Children First" is a code of conduct that was likely first used in 1852 and most famously associated with the Titanic. Ironically, a review of nautical accidents by Uppsala University found that women and children were still more likely to perish, regardless of the rule.
If you were to yell for 8 years, 7 months and 6 days it would generate enough energy to heat a cup of coffee.
The Eiffel Tower is constructedof steel which expands and contracts with changing temperature. In the summer, the tower is 6 inches taller than in the winter.
Jeanne Calment was the oldest living person living 122 years and 164 days (outliving her daughter and grandson). In addition to consuming large quantities of olive oil (as well as rubbing it on her skin). She also ate lots of chocolates per week and smoked for nearly 96 years (from the age of 21 until 117)!
The classic Kramer entrance on Seinfeld was anaccident. Michael Richards was late for a scene, so he had to run in, it's been his entrance ever since.
In Ohio, it's illegal to go whaling on Sundays (Ohio does not have an ocean coastline).
Heads or tails? Considering the weight of the penny, it is slightly more likely to end up tails because the 'head' side is heavier.
The island of Manhattan wasbought for the equivalent of $24.
More capital cities start with the letter 'B'.
Telly Savalas, Louis Armstrong and Shakespeare all died on their birthdays.
North Sentinel Island is home to a tribe of 250Sentinelese. The tribe has no contact with the modern world. Trespassers are killed making it impossible to learn anything about the language or culture. As no treaties have been signed the land is under international law.
TheHudson's Bay Company is the oldest commercial corporation in North America, incorporated in 1670. It was the largest private landowner in the world. Today the company is known as HBC.
The first blood transfusion was performed by Dr Jean-Baptiste Denys in 1667 on a 15-year-old boy. The doctor was bleeding him (common at that time) and subsequently drained too much blood. He replaced the lost blood with sheep's blood. The boy survived! He continued to perform transfusions using various animals for blood sources with limited success.
Visitors and residents are not permitted to die in the town of Longyearbyen, Norway (the town's graveyard stopped accepting new bodies in the 1930s). Bodies weren't decomposing in the northern climate (the cool temperature was found to preserve both the body and diseases within).
The wingspan of a Boeing 747 islonger than thefirst flight by the Wright brothers.
The book that holds the record for the most sold copies is the Bible with over 1 billion copies worldwide.
In Boston, in 1919, there was an explosion of a storage tank containing molasses which caused a flood killing 21 and injuring nearly 150! The tank, 50 ft tall and 90 feet in diameter, contained about 2,300,000 US gal of molasses when it exploded (likely due to the fermenting of the molasses in warming temperatures producing carbon dioxide which pressurized the poorly constructed tank). The wave knocked buildings off their foundations, destroyed a railway bridge, and filled homes and businesses taking many weeks to clean up. Many people caught in the molasses were stuck and slowly sank to their death in the sticky liquid.
The movie 'Babe' required 30 piglets to play the role of Babe because the pigs kept growing.
The barcode was invented by NASA and first used on a pack of Wrigley's chewing gum.
During WWII, Canada provided refuge to the Dutch royal family. When Princess Juliana gave birth to her daughter, Margaret, at the Ottawa Civic Hospital, the maternity ward was temporarily declared 'international territory' allowing the princess to remain purely Dutch and retain her right to the throne.
American Airlines saved over $40,000 by eliminating one olive from the salads served during their flights in 1987.
The first couple to sleep together in the same bed on prime time were Fred and Wilma Flintstone.
95% of the population of Nauru is overweight making it the fattest country on Earth.
Google's data centres use 220 million watts.
100 searches = running a laptop for an hour
3 days watching YouTube = manufacture, package, and delivery of a DVD
An estimated 48 hours of video is uploaded every minute to YouTube. This comes out to about 8 years per day!
The 'Witch Tree' currently growing on the shore of Lake Superior in Cook County, Minnesota is included in written records as far back as 1731. The tree is sacred to the Ojibwa who leave tobacco offerings for safe passage across the lake.
The Hoover Dam in the United States used so much concrete, that the same volume could build a 4 ft sidewalk around the world.
With 91% of its land covered in jungle, only 5% of Suriname's 500,000 population lives inland.
Haiti is almost entirely treeless from extreme deforestation.
Fortune cookies aren't actually Chinese. They're Japanese! But when the Japanese were sent to camps in North American during WWII; Chinese immigrants stepped in to fill the void.
The Ice Cube Neutrino Observatory is a telescope at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. It has 80 stations with the deepest being 2,450 m! Currently, they are looking for high-energy neutrinos.
The 26 letters of the alphabet can make 403,290,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 different combinations.
Beethoven died of lead poisoning.
The song "With a Little Help from My Friends" by the Beatles, was sung by Ringo, except the last note was out of his range, so during the song that note was sung by Paul McCartney.
Four men who appeared as the "Marlboro Man" died of smoking-related diseases.
With so many high-rises, approximately 14 million people in Hong Kong live higher than the 14th floor.
Senegalese women spend an average of 17.5 hours a week collecting water.
The 'Ski-Doo' was supposed to be called 'Ski Dog'. Due to a typing error at the patent office, the name stuck.
Google derived their name from Googol from Edward Kaser's book 'Mathematics and the Imagination'. A googol is a number that is 1x10^100.
Hitler wanted aninexpensive car that could hold 5 men and travel at speeds of 100 km/h. Later known as the Volkswagen ("people's car"), the beetle was designed by Ferdinand Porsche.
Back in 1983, the first 'Scroll Lock' key was found on keyboards, which enabled the arrow keys to scroll pages (before scrollbars or mice with scroll wheels). Today the key is almost entirely useless. The only program that maintains a unique use is Microsoft Excel allowing the user to maintain the entry in a specific cell (try it).
Ernest Shackleton was an Anglo-Irish explorer who, in 1914, set out to be the first to cross Antarctica. Disaster struck when his ship, the Endurance, became caught in pack ice and was crushed. For almost 2 months, the crew camped on pack ice. Once it started to break up they escaped using lifeboats and paddled for 5 days to elephant island. Once on the island, they retrofitted one of the lifeboats so Shackleton and two shipmates could seek assistance. After reaching a whaling station, search parties were dispatched. After 3 attempts, the crew was finally rescued without a single loss of life! Upon returning to Britain, most enlisted in the army to fight in WWI.
Charlie Chaplin once entered and lost a Charlie Chaplin look-alike competition. He came 3rd.
Before December 31st was established as the last day of the year, new years was between February and April. After it was changed, people started playing tricks on those who still believed April 1st was new years. They would invite them to fake new years eve parties and play pranks. This is now known as April fools.
The deepest recorded snowfall in North America was in Tamarack, California where, in 1911, 37'11'' of snow fell!
Dr Seuss, the common pen name used by Theodor S. Geisel, was supposed to be pronounced "soice" not "soose".
The actors who voice Homer and Marge Simpson in French married in 2007.
Madeira airport was one of the most dangerous runways due to its length and location. After a tragic accident, the runway was extended. Due to its height off the beach below, it is supported by 70-metre pillars.
All 3 of Canada's worst mining disasters occurred in the same town, Springhill, Nova Scotia. The area, rich in coal, experienced a fire in 1891, an explosion in 1956 and in 1958 a 'rock-burst' causing most of the buildings in the community to collapse.
The worst industrial disaster ever occurred inBhopal, India in 1984. Methyl isocyanide leaked from a pesticide factory. It's believed that 15,000 people died while another 120,000 to 600,000 were wounded.
The Braille alphabet was invented by Louis Braille who, at the age of 3, was poked in the eye by an awl. He was inspired by the Morse Code, and at the age of 15 (1824), he developed his code own code.
Papua New Guinea is home to over 820 languages (12% of the world's languages). While English is the "official" language, only 2% of the population can speak it.
Coca-Cola was originally a headache medication. The coca leaf has been used for hundreds of years as an analgesic. Cocaine is produced from the coca leaf and was contained in the earlier iterations of the beverage.