Monday, May 31, 2010


Humans can lose up to 30% of their total blood volume before going into shock

Cashews are related to poison ivy

The first seedless grapes were kind of an accident. Thousands of years ago in the Middle East, a random genetic mutation caused a group of grapes to spontaneously abort their own seeds before the seeds could develop hard casings. The result: seedless produce. To reproduce the fruit, a farmer simply cloned the vine (with no seeds, there’s nothing to plant) - meaning that all seedless grapes today are direct descendants of that one mutated grape vine

The human brain can stay alive and undamaged for 4-6 minutes without oxygen, though most frequently some brain damage does occur after less than three minutes

Paul Revere, best known to Americans as a Revolutionary War hero who allegedly warned "The British are coming," was a dentist by trade

In 1939, the American Nazi Party had over 200,000 members

Human females continue to develop physically until around age 18, while males continue their development until about age 21

In 1920, Detroit, Michigan became the first U.S. city to install a traffic light

Michigan borders no ocean but has more lighthouses than any other state in the U.S.

Rembrandt painted more self-portraits (62) than any other world-famous artist

Thomas Jefferson wrote draft sections of what would become the Declaration of Independence while drinking beer in a tavern

The earliest known will was written in 2550 BCE

In Hungary, Hungary is known as Magyar

It is illegal to clean your car with underwear in San Fransisco, California

The earliest known written poetry is from Japan's Jomon culture, which emerged around 11,000 BCE

Montreal is the second-largest French-speaking city in the world

Ancient Greeks believed that wearing amethysts would help prevent a person from getting drunk

The Canary Islands are actually not named for canaries, but dogs - this is because they found a large population of dogs on the island, and it comes from the Latin root canaria

The highest spot on earth is not Mt. Everest; if we define the “highest spot” as that which is closest to the moon, stars, etc. Mt. Chimborazo in Ecuador is an incredible 1.5 miles higher due to the oblate spheroid shape of the earth

The first TV show to use “open captions,” that is, captioning for the hearing-impaired available on all TVs, was the United States' Public Broadcasting Station’s The French Chef

In 1914, Henry Ford doubled the daily wage for his factory workers (from $2.40 to $5) while cutting their daily work hours from nine to eight

The original name for the starship in Star Trek was “Yorktown” not “Enterprise”

The Canadian dollar coin, known as the ‘Loonie” was never meant to be. The original dies depicted a voyageur in a birch bark canoe. The dies were shipped from Ottawa to Winnepeg (regular courier to save $45), and they disappeared. The loon was selected from entries submitted for another coin. The old dies have never been found

A person from Nigeria is a Nigerian, while a person from Niger is a Nigerien

The first automobile accident in the U.S. happened when a car struck a bicyclist in New York in 1896 - The driver spent the night in jail, and the cyclist suffered a broken leg

Buddy Guy’s complete Rock & Roll Hall of Fame acceptance speech: “If you don’t think you have the blues, just keep living.”

After Bill Clinton won the 1992 election, the 3rd call he took - after President Bush’s concession & Vice President Quayle’s congratulations - was from actor and comedian Whoopi Goldberg

Due to the “naughty” dancing of the can-can girls, and the scantily clad models on 1800s French postcards, the British equated anything risqué with France - In fact, that’s how the phrase “pardon my French” entered the vernacular

Although Charles Schulz said he "loved drawing Charlie Brown and his pals," he hated the name Peanuts, which was chosen by United Features Syndicate despite his objections

Angel Falls in Venezuela did not get its name from its sheer majesty - Actually, they were “discovered” in 1935 by aviator James Angel

The Earth’s North and South Poles flip polarity on a semi-frequent basis having done so more then 20 times in the past 5 million years. That means that with the next flip, all compasses will be pointing South rather then North

Inspired by the events at an outdoor barbecue, “Uncle Milton” Levine modified a clear plastic tissue box into a prototype for the ant farm. Between 1956 and 1966, he sold some 12 million of them (live ants originally included)

Ezra Pound was highly critical when editing his good friend T. S. Eliot’s poem The Wasteland – in Pound’s first encounter with the masterpiece he deleted the first 54 lines

An April ABC News TV report featured a Westford, Mass., couple as the face of the "radical unschooling" philosophy. which challenges both the formal classroom system and "home schooling."  Typically, "home schooling" parents believe they can organize their kids' educations better than schools can, but "unschoolers" simply put kids on their own, free to decide by themselves what, or whether, to learn any of the traditional school subjects. There is no punishment, no judgment, no discipline. The key, said parent Christine Yablonski, "is that you've got to trust your kids." For example, "If they [decide that they] need formal algebra understanding . . . they'll find that information." 

Bolinas, Calif., north of San Francisco, is famously reclusive, even to the point of residents' removing state highway signs pointing to the town, hoping that outsiders will get lost enroute and give up the quest. It limits population to about 1,500 by officially fixing the number of municipal water hookups at 580, but in April, one of the meters became available when the city purchased a residential lot to convert to a park. The meter was to be sold at a May auction, with a minimum bid of $300,000

A recent French documentary in the form of a TV show called "Game of Death" mimics the notorious 1950s human-torture experiments of Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram, who would coax test subjects to administer  increasingly painful jolts of electricity to strangers to assess their obedience to an "authority figure," even if contrary to their own moral codes. As in Milgram's experiments, the Game of Death "victims" were actors, unharmed but paid to scream louder with each successive "shock." According to a BBC News report, 82 percent of the game's players were willing torturers--a higher percentage than Milgram found -but the TV show's subjects had greater encouragement, cheered on by a raucous studio audience and a glamorous hostess

Two North Carolina surgeons were issued official "Letters of Concern" in January for a 2008 incident in which they performed a C-section on a woman who was not pregnant. (They relied on an intern's confused diagnosis and following an ultrasound with no heartbeat and several obviously failed attempts to induce labor.)

Monday, May 24, 2010


Doves released at weddings and other formal ceremonies are actually white homing pigeons - True ring-neck doves are bred to be kept as pets and rarely survive out of captivity

Canada has more lakes than all other countries combined

James Barrie, the author of Peter Pan, and his wife never had kids, but he did have a special affection for the children of others - In 1929, he signed over the rights for Peter Pan to a London hospital that specialized in pediatric medicine

The barbarian tribes, particularly the Gauls and Celts, used lime to bleach their hair and to hold it in place

To the Kikuyu tribe of central Kenya, the number 10 is considered bad luck. In fact, “10” is so feared that no one speaks it aloud; they just skip that number when counting anything - especially people, since it’s thought to be particularly bad luck to count humans

Technically speaking Alaska is the northernmost, westernmost, and easternmost state of the United States. Parts of the Aleutian Islands cross over the 180th meridian

Istanbul, Turkey, is the only city in the world that lies in two continents (Europe and Asia)

A former slave ship crewman wrote the song Amazing Grace as a way of openly mocking the captain of the ship

A report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in 1995 indicated that between 1978 and 1995 no less than 37 deaths in the U.S. were credited to vending machines

Nine-banded armadillos always give birth to four identical offspring in a litter–quadruplets

Catherine the Great had private ice slides (the roller coasters of their day) built near her palace

Taste buds aren’t just located on the tongue, but also on the roof of the mouth, and even in the front of the throat

The gestation period of some species of opossum is less than two weeks

As the first President of the United States, George Washington pulled in a salary of $25K a year - roughly $1 million in today’s currency.  Washington reportedly purchased extravagantly including buying leopard-skin robes for all his horses and spending seven percent of his income on alcohol

At certain points during a baseball pitcher’s delivery, the pitcher’s arm is rotating at approximately 7,000 degrees per second - the equivalent of rotating your arm all the way around 70,000 times an hour

In the U.S. every year 0.1 percent of BB gun shootings are attempted suicides - that's about 30 people a year

Both the flesh and the pit of avacados are toxic to most species of bird

The first fax machine was invented over 25 years before the telephone

Cheddar cheese that has been ripened for six months is considered “mild.” Seven months to a year of ripening makes “sharp” cheddar, and two years worth of aging yields an “extra sharp” product

Charles Douglass invented the canned laughter we hear on sitcoms that are not filmed in front of a live audience

Underneath the striped fur of a tiger, its skin is also striped

Call of the Wild author Jack London ran for mayor of Oakland, California, on a socialist party ticket in 1901, and again in 1905. He lost both times

According to linguists the feminine version of “dude” is “dudine,” not “dudette”

Before returning to the silver screen in Gangs of New York, Oscar winning actor Daniel Day-Lewis was working as a cobbler in Florence, Italy

On March 1, 1912, Captain Albert Berry became the first person to parachute from an airplane… and walk away

Bridgestone Corporation, maker of the Bridgestone tires, is a Japanese company. The name is derived from founder Shojiro Ishibashi’s last name, which translates literally to “stone bridge”

The disease known as “chicken pox” has nothing to do with poultry or the raised bumps it creates on the skin - It earned the name because it was originally thought to be a weak strain of smallpox

The purpose of gasoline rationing in the U.S. during the Second World War was not to conserve gas, but to conserve tires - The primary source for natural rubber at the time was Southeast Asia, much of which was under Japanese control

Not only are all automobile taillights in the U.S. red, they’re a specific shade of red (with a specific color wavelength and intensity) mandated by the federal government

Green colored light is the least used color of light in the process of photosynthesis - it is reflected back into our eyes. That is why plants are, for the most part, green

In 1858, Hyman Lipman received the patent for the first integrated pencil/eraser writing utensiley, Lipman had created a world-changing product by conveniently combining two pre-existing world-changing products. But that wasn’t good enough for the patent office. Fortunately for Lipman, the Feds were late in figuring this out, and by the time they decided to revoke his patent, the crafty inventor had - according to most sources - already sold the rights for $100,000

The first rhinoplasty was performed in India around the 5th century CE. It involved a creeper vine leaf, a hunk of flesh sliced off of the patient’s cheek, and two small pipes to serve as nostrils. The procedure was wildly popular, albeit involuntary. At the time, Hindu law decreed that the noses be sliced off all adulterers and that turned out to include many people

Moths are falsely blamed for eating clothing - It’s actually their larvae that cause the fabric damage

The male cicada is the loudest insect in the world - Their sound can reach 120 decibels  (By comparison, a jackhammer breaking concrete is 100-120 decibels)

Monday, May 17, 2010


Most teddy bears are manufactured with a neutral expression on their face so that children can project their own emotions onto the stuffed creatures

William Wrigley originally started in the baking powder business - With his powder, he gave a free pack of his gum - He later abandoned the baking powder business when he learned that people were buying it just to get the gum  (In 1974, Wrigley's Gum was the first product to have a bar code on its packaging for scanning the price and other information)

Aluminum used to be so hard to produce that it was valued higher than gold - Napoleon III even had all of his fine cutlery made of aluminum

Vodka was used as an ingredient in early European formulations of gunpowder

A famous North American landmark, Niagara Falls, is constantly moving backward - The rim was worn down about two and a half feet each year because of the millions of gallons of water that rush over it every minute - Attempts to control flow and divert the water has reduced erosion in recent years to one foot per year with the potential for one foot every ten years

The first Ford Mustangs, built in 1964, were nothing more than Ford Falcons with different exterior sheet metal

Duct tape has played a pivotal role in several NASA missions. In 1972, Apollo 17 astronauts used it to repair a lunar rover bumper; in 2001, International Space Station astronauts and cosmonauts constructed a kitchen table using leftover aluminum pieces and duct tape; and in 2005, Space Shuttle Discovery astronaut Stephen Robinson crafted a hacksaw for a repair mission using a blade, plastic ties, Velcro, duct tape

Infamous mobster Al Capone’s WWI draft card stated his occupation as “paper cutter” and later he carried business cards that named him as a "furniture dealer"

Golf courses in America take up as much land space as Rhode Island and Delaware combined

Hysteria was originally thought to only occur in women and was said to be the result of a wandering uterus

Amerigo Vespucci, for whom many historians believe America was named, was an Italian pickle merchant

The name PEZ (as in PEZ Dispensers) is derived from the German word for peppermint — PfeffErminZ

French maids never wore mini-skirts, stiletto heels, and fishnet stockings while cleaning house; that image originated in the U.S. on the vaudeville stage 

There are 293 ways to make change for a U.S. dollar - a dollar bill has a lifespan of about 18 months but higher denominations of paper currency last longer because they are handled less frequently -  coins in the U.S. survive in circulation about 30 years before they are slowly collected back by the government, usually through banks

Giant squids have been known to feast on baby whales

In addition to the four known taste sensations (bitter, salty, sour and sweet), some scientists now include a fifth, called “umami,” best represented by the MSG flavoring added to certain foods

Human arms have 32 bones each, while human legs have 30

West Virginia is no longer the coal-mining capital; nine of the ten top-producing coal mines in the U.S. are located in Wyoming

On November 18, 1913, pilot Lincoln Beachy did something that had never been done in an airplane before: he made a complete loop-de-loop

One of the drugs Nazis experimented with in 1944 was D-IX, a cocaine-based compound that included both an amphetamine and a morphine-related chemical to dull pain. Nazi doctors found that test subjects could march 55 miles before having to rest. The war ended before production could begin 

Only 1% of all the readily accessible water on earth is drinkable

King James IV of Scotland was an amateur dentist, and even paid people to let him practice on their teeth 

To make themselves smell pleasant, the ancient Egyptians would place scented cones of fat on their heads, and as it melted, it would dribble down their bodies, and was sort of like a modern-day perfume 

Though the Ford Mustang uses a mustang pony as an image the car was actually named after the P-51 Mustang, a fighter plane from WWII

A piece of the original apple tree which inspired Sir Isaac Newton to devise his theory of gravity is set to be sent into space.  The 4cm long section of wood will be taken skywards by British-born astronaut Piers Sellers on the next NASA mission STS 132 where it will defy gravity.  It has been released by the Royal Society as part of the academic institution’s 350th anniversary celebrations.  Piers Sellers said: "While it’s up there, it will be experiencing no gravity, so if it had an apple on it, the apple wouldn’t fall. I’m pretty sure that Sir Isaac would have loved to see this, assuming he wasn’t space-sick, as it would have proved his first law of motion to be correct."

In March, the European Union's Trade Marks and Designs Registration Office granted a trademark to two German entrepreneurs to market a beer called Fucking Hell. Under the Office's reasoning, "hell" is simply German slang for "light ale," and the other word is the official name of a town in neighboring Austria.. However, according to a March report in Der Spiegel, the applicants for the trademark have no connection to the town, and there is no brewery there, or even plans for a brewery

A 27-year-old man reported to Oklahoma City police in April that he was sexually assaulted by a man who had perhaps misunderstood the first man's intentions. According to a story in The Oklahoman, the first man had fully disclosed his "fetish for flatulence," but when the two met, the hijinks were interrupted by the second man's tying up and sexually assaulting the first man. The first man said he wanted only for the second man to "fart for me." The first man's name was not disclosed because he claimed to be the victim of a sex crime

In March, an employment tribunal in Sydney, Australia, awarded pilot Bryan Griffin damages of $160,000 (Aus.) (U.S. equivalent, $208,000) because Qantas, for which he worked from 1966 to 1982, had allowed him to continue flying from 1979 to 1982 with depression and anxiety attacks that caused him nearly to deliberately crash his aircraft. As a result of continuing to work, he had several more episodes which exacerbated his condition (and, obviously, placed his passengers in jeopardy)

Monday, May 10, 2010


New Hampshire is the only U.S. state that does not by law require drivers to wear safety belts while operating a motor vehicle

Before writing The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, author J.R.R. Tolkien worked for the Oxford English Dictionary with a focus on the etymology of Germanic words beginning with W

The first known chain letter appeared in 1888 asking for money for the poor in Tennessee and promising God’s blessing in return

When three-letter airport codes became standard in the mid-1930s, airports that had been using a two-letter identifier simply added an X to their code, which is why Los Angeles
International Airport is known as LAX

Dartmouth College is older that the United States and was granted its original charter by the King of England -  When the then governor of New Hampshire tried to amend the charter and the College brought suit against the state of New Hampshire, the Supreme Court upheld the original charter thereby limiting the power of states to interfere in private enterprises

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was created by former Wall Street Journal co-founder Charles Dow in 1896  -  Dow picked 12 important companies from a variety of industries from the U.S. Leather Company to the American Sugar Company. The only company still on the list today is General Electric

The office cubicle was invented by Robert Probst in 1968 - His original design was called the Action Office System and provided “a social kind of privacy” for the worker

In 1924, Alvin Kelly sat atop a flagpole for 13 hours, inspiring copycats across the country to replicate his feat (to varying degrees of success)

 The delegates who attended the Constitutional Convention spent much of their time getting drunk - One surviving document is a bill for a party on September 15, 1787, two days before the signing of the Constitution - Items on the bill were: 54 bottles of Madeira, 60 bottles of claret, 8 bottles of whiskey, 8 bottles of cider, 12 bottles of beer, and 7 bowls of alcoholic punch, all for 55 people

In Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, the world’s smallest dinosaur footprints were found in 1984 - They were made by a creature likely no larger than a robin

Actor Barry Fitzgerald was Oscar-nominated in 1945 for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor for playing a priest in “Going My Way.” He won the latter but conceivably could have won two Oscars for playing one role. The rules were later changed to prevent this from happening again

While working on Pac Man, video game designer Tohru Iwantani was allegedly inspired by the shape of a pizza with one slice removed

More people watched Elvis’ televised concert called “Aloha from Hawaii” than the landing on the Moon

The @ sign was very close to being eliminated from the standard keyboard until 1971, when Ray Tomlinson wrote it into the code used to send the first email

Diamonds are actually unstable at our comfortable temperature and pressure - Every diamond above ground is very, very slowly altering into graphite, another form of pure carbon

Goosebumps are caused by stimulation of the arrector pilli muscle that raises the skin typically after the brain sends a signal to the muscle that the body is experiencing cold

In the 1920’s and early 1930’s, French surgeon Serge Voronoff perfected the technique of transplanting testicle tissue from various primates into men, supposedly to increase longevity and sex drive - Discredited by the 1940’s, the once-fashionable procedure had a cocktail named after it: the ‘Monkey Gland’ (gin, orange juice, grenadine and absinthe)

The world’s largest rodent is the capybara

The  Pentagon has five sides, the building has five stories, and the courtyard in the center encompasses an area of five acres

Winston Churchill’s mother was an American born in New York

The melting temperature of bubble gum is 125 degrees Fahrenheit

In the Holy Roman Empire, going blonde wasn’t exactly a fashion statement - At the time, light-color hair was associated with the barbarian women of Gaul and Germany who often ended up as slaves in brothels - Consequently, Roman law required all prostitutes to dye their hair blonde in order to distinguish themselves from “proper,” dark-mane ladies

Karen Salmansohn, 49, prominent author of self-help books for women with relationship and career problems, including "Prince Harming Syndrome" and "How to Make Your Man Behave in 21 Days or Less Using the Secrets of Successful Dog Trainers," filed a lawsuit in March against cad Mitchell Leff. Salmansohn said Leff had strung her along for months with promises of marriage and a baby, but abruptly cut off support when she became pregnant. Said Salmansohn, "I'm a self-help author, not a psychic."

A February New York Times/CBS News poll, asking respondents if they approve of gays serving openly in the military, found that 79 percent of self-identified Democrats approve if openly serving gays are referred to in the question as "gay men and lesbians." However, when the openly serving gays are referred to in the question as "homosexuals," only 43 percent of self-identified Democrats approve.

In March, the government of New South Wales in Australia granted "Norrie" a certificate as the state's (perhaps the country's, perhaps the world's) only official genderless person. Norrie prefers to live that way, and two doctors had certified that the former male is now "physically and psychologically androgynous."  

In October 2003, West Point, Ky., hosted 12,000 visitors for the weekend Knob Creek Gun Range Machine Gun Shoot, billed as the nation's largest, with a separate competition for flame-throwers. Especially coveted is "The Line," where 60 people (the waiting list is 10 years long to be admitted) get to fire their machine guns into a field of cars and boats, and during which a shooter might run through $10,000 in ammunition. Among the champions: Samantha Sawyer, 16, the top women's submachine gunner for the previous four years. One man interviewed by the Louisville Courier-Journal said he met his future wife at a previous Shoot, impressed that "she could accept flame-throwing as a hobby." Said another: "This is one of those times when you know (America) is the greatest place on Earth."

Monday, May 3, 2010


The FBI call Ted Kaczynski ‘The Unabomber’because his early mail bombs were sent to universities (UN) and airlines (A) - hence, UNAbomber

King James IV of Scotland was an amateur dentist, and even paid people to let him practice on their teeth

The first British bungee jump occurred on April Fool’s Day, 1979:  Dressed in a tux and hugging a bottle of champagne, 33-year-old David Kirdke did a back-flip off the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol. The crowd, who thought they were witnessing a suicide attempt, watched him plunge 250 feet toward the Avon, but to their surprise, never saw him hit water

In 1960, Joseph William Kittinger II jumped from an altitude of 102,800 feet as part of the U.S. Air Force’s ‘Project Excelsior’ and safely parachuted back to earth - This record jump was made from an open gondola helium balloon - this jump set a number of records which still stand

The Italian ocean liner Princesspesa Jolanda holds the unique record of being launched and sunk on the same day, September 22, 1907 near Spezia in the Gulf of Genoa:  As the top-heavy and improperly ballasted ship reached the end of launch in the Riva Trigoso Shipyard, she rolled over and sank - The ship was scrapped on the spot, never having carried a single passenger

In all of Shakespeare’s works, only one word starts with an “X” – Xanthippe, Socrates wife  -  He uses her name in The Taming of the Shrew

King County, Washington, USA managed to keep its name while changing its namesake:  Originally named for William King, it was “renamed” in 1986 for Dr Martin Luther King, Jr

Ringworm is not caused by a worm but by a parasitic fungi

U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond is in the record books for giving the longest recorded speech in history, clocking in at 24 hours and 18 minutes - The speech was a filibuster in opposition to the 1957 Civil Rights Act (which passed, despite his efforts)

Laser is actually an acronym: Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation

World's largest exporter of beef:  Australia

The Kit Kat candy bar got its name from the Kit Kat Club in London’s West End, a joint famous for bringing dance-band music to the city in the 1920s

Built in 1889, the Eiffel Tower was lambasted by Parisians for its industrial ugliness - The only thing that saved it from being demolished in 1909 was its potential use as a radio tower during WWI - By the end of the War, it had won over enough hearts to stay

The US, Burma and Liberia are the only countries in the world that have not officially adopted the metric system as the standard of measurement

Mustard’s name is a contraction of the Latin mustum ardens, meaning “burning wine”

Despite being nominated five times, Gandhi never won the Nobel Peace Prize. Although posthumous awards aren’t given, the Nobel Committee came as close as possible in 1948, the year he died, when they didn’t give out an award because “there was no suitable living candidate”

Highway 9 in New York runs from Manhattan all the way to the capital city of Albany - You might know it better by its common name: Broadway

Shel Silverstein, children's poet and illustrator, got his start drawing cartoons for Playboy 

The sailfish (the fastest fish, 68 mph) is speedier in the water than the cheetah (the fastest land animal, 62 mph) is on land

Of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, 3 fell due to earthquakes, 2 due to fires, 1 probably never even existed, and only one stands today - The Pyramid of Khufu

Napoleon was a big fan of suspenders; he even had a pair decorated with bumblebees, the symbol of his native Corsica

The skin contains pain and temperature receptors, which are only sensitive to extreme hot or cold. The brain experiences both these sensations in the same way. Therefore, very cold and hot temperatures cause the same kind of pain and the brain has trouble distinguishing between the two

Only a few species of piranha are carnivorous; most eat plant matter

The popular game Bingo was originally called “Beano” because players used beans to cover the numbered squares

If the oceans were to gradually rise, Florida (350 feet above sea level at its highest point) would become the first U.S. state to be completely submerged underwater

Buddy Guy’s 2008 complete Rock & Roll Hall of Fame acceptance speech: “If you don’t think you have the blues, just keep living”

Habitual singing causes the lungs to release leptin, a protein manufactured by the body’s fat cells that is involved in the regulation of appetite. This may partially explain why opera stars tend to be somewhat overweight, but no research has conclusively found a link between obesity and singing - the known link is between the ingestion of more calories than the body uses to cause weight gain, so increased appetite may be an indirect link

George Washington, when meeting foreign leaders and dignitaries, preferred to bow rather than shake hands

Only 17 existing paintings are attributed to famed artist Leonardo da Vinci

Spiders use their silk in many ways - Aside from building webs (which each spider does on its first try, suggesting inherited behavior), some species of male spiders wrap food in silk and present these “presents” to females

The eye chart with the big “E” on top is called a Snellen Chart

Opossums don’t “play dead” - when frightened, they become overexcited and actually pass out

James Barrie, the author of Peter Pan, and his wife never had kids, but he did have a special affection for the children of others. In 1929, he signed over the rights for Peter Pan to a London hospital that specialized in pediatric medicine

A report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in 1995 indicated that between 1978 and 1995 no less than 37 deaths in the U.S. were credited to attempted thefts from vending machines

Professor Stephen Hawking claims that while aliens are mathematically very likely to exist we shouldn't try to contact them.  In an upcoming documentary, Hawking even goes as far as to suggest that we should hope they don't notice us.  68-year-old Hawking argues that by looking at ourselves we should be able to see how  intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn't want to meet.  The former Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge suggests aliens might be looking to conquer and colonise planet or strip them of resources.  "I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their planet," said the eminent theorist. Hawking continued to say, "Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonise whatever planets they can reach."

Computer hardware engineer Toshio Yamamoto, 49, this year celebrates 15 years' work tasting and cataloguing all the Japanese ramen (instant noodles) he can get his hands on (including the full ingredients list, texture, flavor, price and "star" rating for each), for the massive 4,300-ramen database on his Web site, expanded recently with "hundreds" of video reviews and with re-reviews of many previously appearing products (in case the taste had changed, he told journalist Lisa Katayama, writing in April on the popular blog Boing Boing). Yamamoto said he had always eaten ramen for breakfast seven days a week, but cut back recently to five. "I feared that, if I continued at (the seven-day) pace, I would get bored." 

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