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20 Mindblowing Facts

Interesting and amazing!

By K.A. MulengaPublished 2 months ago 18 min read

In the age of the internet,

an entire goldmine of knowledge is never more

than a few clicks away.

The problem is that it sometimes seems

like there's just too much out there.

How do you decide what's worth knowing

and what will only clog up your brain with useless nonsense?

From the weird and wonderful to the downright amazing,

coming up are 20 facts you didn't know 5 minutes ago!

A cucumber cure.

Picture this: you have a first date planned

at a fancy restaurant, but when you arrive,

you realize you forgot to bring any breath mints with you.

And to make matters worse,

you've just ordered garlic bread as a side.

Fear not, friend, all you need to do

is order a side salad with cucumber!

You see, fibrous vegetables, such as celery and cucumbers,

boost your mouth's saliva production,

which washes away odor-causing bacteria and,

in turn, cures bad breath!

For a simple hack, holding a slice of cucumber

between your tongue and the roof of your mouth

for about 90 seconds can help to eliminate nasty odors.

And if there's no cucumber on the menu,

parsley also has the same odor-neutralizing effect.

So, just discreetly chew on your garnish

and you should be covered!

Mysterious fingernail markings.

Have you ever glanced down at your fingernails

and noticed some bizarre white markings

that weren't there before?

This kind of discoloration is actually a common condition

known as leukonychia.

Most of the time, it doesn't signify anything serious,

and there are a number of potential causes.

The primary reason is as a result of injury to the nail bed,

which can occur if you accidentally strike

or pinch your nail.

Because of the time it takes your fingernails to grow,

you might not even recall the injury

by the time any white spots show up.

Leukonychia can also appear as an allergic reaction

to cosmetic products like polish, gloss,

hardener, or nail polish remover.

Sometimes, it can also mean your nails are deficient

in certain minerals or vitamins,

most commonly zinc or calcium.

But unless your entire nail turns white

and you experience any pain,

these markings will usually go away on their own,

so there's no need to worry!

Say, "Prunes."

Before you have your photograph taken,

you expect to hear the oh-so-familiar phrase, "Say cheese!"

But back in the day, prunes were on the menu instead.

In the 1800s, most people weren't comfortable smiling

due to a general lack of good dental hygiene,

which meant they didn't have very attractive teeth.

Having your photograph taken was also considered a luxury

and was treated with a good deal of seriousness,

meaning a big cheesy grin was seen as childish.

So, photographers in British studios in the 1840s

told people to say prunes

to keep their mouths taught instead.

And that predates today's fish-faced pout

by about 180 years!

By the mid-20th century, photography had become much faster,

cheaper and more casual.

Plus, people had better teeth.

So, when Kodak started making cameras in the U.S.,

which ordinary people could afford to buy,

they marketed them with photographs of smiling faces.

Former Ambassador Joseph E. Davies was the one

to come up with the idea to say cheese

as the perfect formula for an instant smile.

And the rest is history!

A flaming-hot invention.

In 2019, Flamin' Hot Cheetos were declared

America's favorite snack brand

for the third consecutive year.

But what if I told you that the super-addictive snack

nearly didn't exist at all?

In 1976, 18-year-old Richard Montanez was hired as a janitor

at a Frito-Lay plant in Rancho Cucamonga, California.

The position paid $4 an hour with benefits,

and Montanez's wife filled out the application for him

because he struggled to read and write.

While on the job, Montanez noted that a broken machine

on the Cheetos assembly line had spat out a batch

of plain Cheetos, without the cheese powder dust.

Montanez took the Cheetos home

and dusted them with chilli powder.

He credits the idea to a favorite snack:

grilled corn dressed with lime and chilli powder,

sold by a local street vendor.

Montanez first pitched the idea

to former PepsiCo CEO Roger Enrico over the phone

and was given two weeks to prepare a presentation

to the executive suite.

Of course, it was an instant hit!

Montanez went on to become an executive vice president

at PepsiCo North America, and is now a bestselling author

and motivational speaker.

What an inspiration!

Choc the difference.

If there's one thing Americans and Europeans

will always bicker over, it's chocolate.

If you've sampled both sides,

there's no denying that choccy

tastes totally different across the pond.

But why?

The simple answer is different regulations.

Firstly, European chocolate is technically creamier

because it requires a minimum

of at least 14% dry milk solids,

while the minimum amount in the U.S. is 12%.

Euro chocolate is also slightly richer

because it's required to contain at least 3.5% milk fat

compared to the 3.39% needed in the U.S.

What's more, European chocolate is, well,

just more chocolatey.

That's because it has also has a higher requirement

for cocoa content, which gives bars their deep flavor.

But that's not the only reason

why Europeans love to hate American chocolate.

You see, Hershey's also uses a special ingredient

that sets it apart from the rest: butyric acid.

This ingredient makes the chocolate last longer on shelves,

but also gives it that tangy flavor

that many foreigners find off-putting.

Does that settle the age-old Hershey's

versus Cadbury debate for you?

Dunce caps for smart people.

At one point in the Middle Ages,

the dunce cap we now associate with idiocy and punishment

was actually a symbol of respected scholars.

It all began with master philosopher

and metaphysical thinker John Duns Scotus,

whose name later lent itself to the phrase dunce cap.

Scotus was a proponent of the use of pointy hats,

believing they would somehow act

as a reverse funnel for knowledge,

with wisdom flowing into the pointed tip

and spreading to the brain below.

These hats were also popular among his followers,

known as Dunsmen, and therefore,

became a signifier of high intelligence.

But by the mid-16th century,

popular thought had begun to turn against Scotus,

and the Dunsmen came to be associated with idiocy instead.

Naturally, their pointy hats were adopted

as a symbol of stupidity,

and found their way into elementary school classrooms

where they were used to traumatize

and humiliate kids until the late 1950s.

The Spanish Eiffel Tower.

The Eiffel Tower is one of the first things

that come to mind when someone asks you to think of France.

But this world-famous landmark almost ended up in Spain!

Designer Gustave Eiffel first pitched the plans

for the monument to Barcelona.

But the city rejected his ideas,

thinking it would look like an eyesore.

He was forced to repitch the project elsewhere,

and the tower found its home in Paris,

where it served as the main archway

for the 1889 International Exposition.

Surprisingly, the Parisians didn't like it much either.

One critic even referred to the enormous iron structure

as a "metal asparagus."

The tower wasn't supposed to stay up for long,

and was even offered up for sale as scrap.

It was only spared because the French army found

that its 984-foot height worked pretty well

as a communications tower.

Thankfully, this famously-hated sculpture has since survived

to become one of the world's most well-loved landmarks!

Who needs kneecaps?

Did you know that a baby's body

has about 300 bones at birth,

compared to the 206 bones that adults have?

Over time, the process of smaller pieces fusing together

reduces the number of bones in the body.

One seemingly crucial thing

babies aren't born with is kneecaps.

Instead, babies are born with a piece of cartilage

that will eventually become a bony kneecap, or patella.

Cartilage, which can be found in the nose, ears and joints,

is flexible and gives structure

where it's needed in the body.

Most children's kneecaps begin to ossify,

that is, turn from cartilage into bone,

between the ages of two and six.

Often, several pieces of cartilage will begin to harden

into bone at the same time until the kneecap

is one complete bone by the age of about 10 or 12.

Being born with kneecaps could actually make

the birthing process more difficult,

or could even result in birth injuries

because bone is rigid and less flexible than cartilage.

Isn't the human body smart?

Space booze.

Drifting 10,000 light years from Earth

in a constellation far, far away

is a massive cloud of alcohol.

The cloud, which was discovered in 1995

near the constellation Aquila,

is 1,000 times larger than the diameter of our solar system.

What's more, it contains enough ethyl alcohol

to fill 400 trillion trillion pints of beer.

Anyone got a rocket I can borrow?

Sadly, the cloud is 58 quadrillion miles away,

so an interstellar pub crawl is probably off the cards.

What's more, it contains a cocktail of 32 compounds,

and some, like carbon monoxide,

hydrogen cyanide and ammonia, aren't so desirable.

Another alcohol cloud, called Sagittarius B2,

also holds 10 billion billion billion liters

of mostly methanol alcohol,

which is used in anti-freeze and windshield-wiper fluid.

But how did this cosmic hooch get up there?

Well, if the conditions are just right,

simple alcohol compounds can form

completely naturally in space,

often on the surface of bits of floating space dust.

As this dust moves within the high-energy vicinity

of celestial bodies, like stars,

the alcohol is forced to separate from the dust,

forming massive alcohol clouds, which then float off,

presumably to get some aliens very drunk.

I wonder if space booze goes well with moon cheese?

Use your head.

How many times have you parked your car in a parking lot

and walked away only to realize you forgot to lock it?

Instead of retracing your steps

towards the car until it's in range,

there's one simple way to reach your car from further away:

hold the metal key part of your key fob against your chin,

then press the lock button.

You might look slightly weird while doing it,

but you'll be grateful when it saves you a few extra steps.

The trick works by turning your head into an antenna,

according to Silicon Valley radio engineer Tim Pozar.

With all the fluids in your head

and the electrical currents flowing in your body,

your noggin ends up being a pretty decent conductor.

It won't work across great distances,

but using your head can actually extend

the key's wireless range by a few car lengths!

Battery hack.

Most modern smartphones are supposed to have

a great battery life.

But it seems to me like they're always dying

when you need them the most!

Thankfully, there's one super-simple way

you can make the most out of your remaining juice.

If, like most people,

you carry your smartphone around in your pocket,

then part of the problem might be

that your pocket is too warm.

You see, cell phone batteries do actually last a bit longer

if they're kept cool.

The average 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit

body heat of a human being,

when transmitted through a cloth pocket

to a cell phone inside,

is enough to speed up chemical processes

inside the phone's battery.

As a result, it runs down at a faster rate.

The simplest way to keep your phone cooler

is to carry it inside your bag or on a belt clip instead.

And if you ever find yourself away from home

without a charger, you can switch off your phone

and pop it in the refrigerator

to slow the battery losing charge.

I don't recommend using the freezer though.

Surprising salmon.

Salmon is one of the most popular seafoods in the world.

But if you've ever prepared the fish yourself,

then you'll have probably run into the issue

of that white funky stuff

that seems to appear when you cook it.

Most people assume it's just fat,

but the white gunk you see oozing from your dinner

is actually a simple protein called albumin.

Whether boiled, baked, fried, or barbecued,

the substance will still appear.

Albumin lives in fish in liquid form

and appears when the muscle fibers are heated

and they contract, pushing out the white-colored protein.

Although it's totally safe to eat,

some people find it unsightly.

To try and remove albumin,

you can either blot the cooked fish with a paper towel

or brine it before cooking.

To brine your fish, just give it a quick soak

in a blend of sea salt and water,

which should help to relax and dissolve the muscle fibers

and minimize the appearance of albumin.

Giggling rodents.

Rats aren't the most conventionally cute animals,

but their reputation as disgusting vermin

seems a little harsh,

especially when you learn that they're ticklish!

A study conducted in 2016 was able to pinpoint

the tickle center of the mammalian brain,

showing for the first time that stimulating neurons

in that particular region can elicit a series

of ultrasonic squeaks that are too high

to be heard by human ears.

Shimpei Ishiyama, a neuroscientist

at the Humboldt University of Berlin,

noted that the rats not only return over and over again

to the place where they were tickled,

but that tickling their bellies

also triggers the neurotransmitter dopamine

in the key reward-related brain circuits in the rodents.

If that wasn't enough to prove that they love being tickled,

rats also show a classic display of positive emotion

found in many species, such as dogs, foxes,

and even human children, called joy jumps.

True to their name, this involves leaping into the air

with both legs together.

Talk about a cuteness overload!

Disappearing socks.

During a clothes wash, socks seem to creep

into the yawning abysses of the laundry drum,

never to be seen again.

But where do they really go?

There are actually a couple of explanations

for their mysterious disappearance.

If you have a top-loader machine,

a sock could sneak into the crevice

between the inner and outer drums,

then get snagged in the water drain or pump

as a result of overloading the appliance.

It's also possible for a sock to get stuck

underneath the spinning agitator.

For front-loading washers, though,

a rogue sock might get lodged just underneath

the rubber water seal known as the gasket.

And if you pull this part back,

you could find a goldmine of lost socks.

Even if socks do make it to a dry cycle,

they can be easily victimized by static electricity

and get stuck to the inside of pant legs

or other materials during the folding process.

In short, no, there isn't a sock-eating monster

in your washing machine!

Waterfall wonders.

Niagara Falls is pretty big,

but it's far from the biggest waterfall known to man.

Some claim Angel Falls in Venezuela is the world's tallest,

with a staggering height of 3,212 feet

and a plunge of 2,648 feet.

But that doesn't even come close to the truth.

The Denmark Strait is more than three times the height

of Angel Falls, and it can be found in the ocean.

That's right, this mammoth waterfall,

located near the southern tip of Greenland,

begins 2,000 feet under the ocean surface

and plunges to a depth of 10,000 feet;

a nearly two-mile drop!

What's more, the Denmark Strait carries

an estimated 123 million cubic feet of water per second.

That's equivalent to almost 2,000 Niagara Falls

at peak flow!

But how can a waterfall happen underwater?

Simply put, cold water is denser than warm water.

In the Denmark Strait, southward-flowing frigid water

from the Nordic Seas meets warmer water

from the Irminger Sea.

The cold, dense water quickly sinks below the warmer water

and flows over the huge drop into the ocean floor,

creating a downward flow that goes completely undetected

without the aid of scientific instruments!

An iPhone secret.

Apple's newest set of iPhones come

with a whole array of new features,

not to mention a hefty price tag.

But there's one thing that sets the iPhone 12 Pro

and Pro Max models apart from their predecessors.

In addition to the three super-powered cameras,

look a little closer at the back of the phone

and you'll notice an inconspicuous black dot

in the bottom right corner.

It's completely flat to the touch

and pretty easy to miss on first glance.

But what is it?

It's officially known as a LiDAR scanner,

which stands for light detection and ranging.

This is a radar-related method for optical distance

and speed measurement which uses tiny laser beams

that can't be perceived by the human eye.

A LiDAR scanner determines the distance

between itself and an object by monitoring

how long it takes a laser to bounce back.

By sending hundreds of thousands

of light pulses every second,

LiDAR scanners can accurately work out distance

and object sizes over small distances.

The data can then be used to construct 3D-models

of any environment.

So, whether you're an architect drawing up building plans,

an archeologist creating real-time 3D-maps,

or a gamer who loves augmented reality,

this swanky new scanner could revolutionize

the way we use our phones!

Old school sunglasses.

Sunglasses, as we know them today,

were first invented sometime in 12th century China.

The primitive frames were a crude slab

of roughly-shaped smoked quartz made to block out the sun.

The darkened lenses were only available to the very rich.

They weren't vision-corrected and didn't offer protection

against harmful UV rays,

but they did help to hide emotions

from others while talking.

This was particularly handy for Chinese judges at the time,

who routinely wore smoke-colored quartz lenses

which allowed them to conceal their true feelings

and seem emotionally detached while questioning the accused.

But centuries before Chinese judges

found a use for sunglasses,

rudimentary snow goggles had been used

by Inuit and Yupik communities.

These snow goggles would be made from driftwood,

ivory or bone with a slit cut into them,

and protected the eyes from sunlight

reflecting off bright white snow.

I guess they had permanent Cinemascope vision too!

No fancy riding.

There are plenty of bizarre laws

across the United States of America,

but one particular law in the city of Galesburg, Illinois

is a real sucker for cyclists: no fancy riding.

For a definition of fancy riding,

look no further than the Galesburg Code of Ordinances,

which states that "no rider of a bicycle

shall remove both hands from the handlebars,

or feet from the pedals,

or practice any acrobatic or fancy riding on any street."

Well, that rules out Galesburg for my cycling circus tour!

According to a Galesburg police officer,

the bizarre law probably came about

during a time of great concern about bicyclists' safety

when there were more crashes than usual.

Thankfully, the law is seldom enforced with any punishment,

so kids are free to take their hands off the handlebars

without the fear of being thrown in jail!

Life-saving foil seals.

Ever wondered why pill bottles have protective foil seals

beneath the lid?

You might assume it's there to keep the pills airtight,

but the real reason is far more morbid.

On September 29th, 1982,

Mary Kellerman took a Tylenol for a cold.

A few hours later, she was dead.

That same day, Adam Janus died

in exactly the same circumstances.

When his brother and sister-in-law visited

and developed headaches,

they took Tylenol from the same bottle

and both perished within the next two days.

In the days that followed,

three more people suffered the same mysterious fate.

By early October, investigators discovered

that the pills the victims took were laced with cyanide!

Over 31 million bottles of Tylenol were recalled,

and a couple more deadly bottles were found on shelves

in the Chicago area.

Someone had taken the bottles off the shelves,

put cyanide into the pill capsules

and then placed them back.

The criminal was never caught, but the following year,

U.S. Congress published the Tylenol Bill,

making it a federal offense to tamper

with consumer products.

And in 1989, the FDA established federal guidelines

for manufacturers to make all such products tamper-proof,

which included protective foil seals!

Ancient apples.

They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away.

But what if that apple had been sitting around for a year?

Sounds totally gross, but here's the catch:

most people have eaten a year-old apple at some point.

Apples ripen during a very short period in the U.S.,

between August and September,

so keeping them in stores for the rest of the year

means they must be treated with chemicals

and kept in cold storage.

In a warehouse setting, apples usually sit

for at least 9 to 12 months,

with one investigation even finding

that the average supermarket apple is 14 months old!

But that's not all.

Scrape a supermarket apple with a knife

and you'll notice something strange.

The white substance you see here

is actually shellac or carnauba wax,

which is used to keep the apple fresh.

Apples actually produce their own natural coating of wax,

but some of that is washed away when growers wash the fruit

to remove field dirt or any leaf litter.

Applying an artificial coating of wax

not only makes the apple look shiny and new,

but helps to seal in the moisture, extending its life.

But the coating can also act as an oxygen barrier,

meaning the apple may look deceptively fresh

but is actually soggy and tasteless inside.

What's more, consuming the wax in large doses

could be harmful to the colon and small intestine.

So perhaps it's best to stick to just one apple a day

from now on!

SciencePop CultureHumanity

About the Creator

K.A. Mulenga

My name is Kalenga Augustine Mulenga aka K.A. Mulenga. Writing is my passion. I started writing when I was 10 years old and my passion was reignited by my 11-year-old son. I enjoy reading and writing interesting topics.

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