When you need to learn something new in the science format, coming to Science Sensei is the best thing you can do. Yet sometimes, there can be fun stuff to talk about from elsewhere. Especially if you like to learn something new each day. In spite of its flaws, the Subreddit known as R/TodayILearned can be quite informative. In this article, we’re going to be referencing some of the best stuff you can learn about from this area of Reddit.
Due to the fact that many people write short-hand or simply have bad grammatical skills, we had to edit some of the stuff you’re about to read for clarity purposes. On top of this, some of the stuff might leave out context. In those cases, we offered context (in parenthesis), so you’ll know more about the topic. With that out of the way, let’s get started!
Around 2.1 billion years ago, there existed several multicellular organisms. They were likely one of the first forays into multicellularity as well. They coincided with a brief moment of increased oxygen levels and went extinct after the levels dropped. Sadly, they do not have any modern-day descendants.
On an interesting note, diamonds slowly turn into graphite over time. Of course, graphite is the stuff you find in pencils. Thus, diamonds are not really forever. (Diamonds also take an incredibly long time to produce in the Earth around us. You’re actually able to get diamonds faster from roaming asteroids. According to NASA: “No known asteroid poses a significant risk of impact with Earth over the next 100 years. The highest risk of impact for a known asteroid is a 1 in 714 chance of impact by an asteroid designated 2009 FD in 2185.”)
Meerkats are the most murderous animals on Planet Earth. In fact, a total of 20% of all meerkats die at the hands of another meerkat! (A 2006 study described in National Geographic documented meerkat mothers killing the offspring of other females to maintain dominance. The rest end up dying at the hands… or teeth, of numerous other animals.)
When you move your eyes from one point to another, there is a disconnect between your eyes and brain. This stretches your perception of time and can make you think that time itself is standing still. This is why when you look at a clock, it appears to take more than a second for the hand to move. (Our eyeballs move from one target to another in rapid, jerky movements called saccades. During this jerky movement, any images transmitted by the eyes would be, at best, a blur – so the image-processing center in our brain just ignores it.)
There are more than 200 million insects for each human on the planet. In other words, the world holds 300 pounds of insects for every pound of humans! (It is estimated that there are over 10 Quintillion insects on the planet today, across 900,000 different insect types. However, some scientists worry that there could be a “bugpocalypse”, meaning a 40% decline in bug populations. This would be devastating for our climate.)
Some light apparatuses in lighthouses use a mercury bearing to reduce friction. This allows a faster rotation speed without powerful mechanisms. (In 1822 French physicist Augustin-Jean Fresnel developed the annular, or ring-shaped, lens. The light could now be flashed by rotating only the lens assembly while the light source itself remained stationary. By the 1890s, a tray of mercury was used as a bearing surface. This can be essential, as it allows the light to rotate faster, which can be quite helpful for a long list of reasons.)
If You’re Deaf & Schizophrenic, You Even Experience Hallucinations Like A Deaf Person
Researchers found that deaf people with schizophrenia who “hear voices” often visualize hallucinations of moving lips or disembodied hands and arms. They are often making sign language movements. (This entire concept is psychological, so deaf people only ever understand what they have experienced. Therefore, they hallucinate as a deaf person would.)
Raven the Chimpanzee appeared in the 2009 Guinness World Records book as the most successful chimpanzee on Wall Street. This was after choosing her stocks by throwing darts at a list of 133 internet companies back in 1999. She became the 22nd most successful money manager in the United States of America. (She even created her own Index called “MonkeyDex.” In 1999, MonkeyDex delivered a 213% gain, outperforming 6,000 professional Wall Street brokers. Take that Wall Street Bets!)
Sealed Shafts were opened in the Great Pyramid of Giza in 1872. A Wood Plank was found inside but went missing. By radiocarbon dating it, they could have determined the age of the pyramid indirectly. Last year, it was rediscovered and successfully dated. This went on to disprove the idea that the pyramid is older than originally dated.
Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel died of tuberculosis at the age of 26. He did most of his major work in a span of about 7 years while living in poverty. The equivalent of the Nobel Prize in the field of mathematics known as the Abel Prize is named after him. (Niels’ most notable work in Mathematics was being the first to demonstrate the impossibility of solving the general quintic equation in radicals.)
The animal that causes the most human deaths annually in the United States is the Deer. Of course, Deer sometimes leap blindly into roadways causing tens of thousands of traffic accidents annually. These accidents cause an estimated 200 deaths every year. Runner-up to Deer in human deaths annually are bees, wasps, and hornets. They cause 58 deaths on average.
A radio satellite called AMSAT-OSCAR 7 that launched in 1974 and failed in 1981 was heard again on June 21, 2002. The satellite had remained intermittently functional and was used surreptitiously for communication by the anticommunist opposition Fighting Solidarity during the martial law in Poland.
The Chevy Suburban started back in the 1930s as a station wagon being fitted to commercial frames called the Suburban Carryall. It was adopted for use during World War II by the United States Armed Forces. This makes the Chevy Suburban the longest-running nameplate, with 85+years of consistent manufacturing. (GMC has changed up the look a lot over the years, and even rebranded the name as the Holden & Yukon XL in the past.)
Lactose Intolerance is actually the norm for most humans. Only about 30% of adult humans possess the lactase enzyme needed to digest milk. This ability is almost always indicative of ancestry from Ancient Eurasian Steppe Pastoralists. (The current rate of those with lactose intolerance is right at 65% of the human population. East Asian Adults are the most likely to be affected by it, with over 70% of their population being affected.)
GRB 080319B is a gamma-ray burst that set a new record for the farthest object that was observable with the naked eye. If viewed from 1 astronomical unit (AU) away, it would have had a peak apparent magnitude of −67.57. This is equal to 21 quadrillion times brighter than the Sun seen from Earth. (No, The Hulk is not going to come out of this at any point.)
A diet that is consistently high in fat and/or sugar can reduce cognitive ability. (The idea is that without proper levels of each, as well as proper protein, your brain does not work at its proper capacity. It is possible that adopting a Mediterranean diet could slow cognitive decline. A study showed that the people in this study who adhered to the Mediterranean diet were 46 percent less likely to have poor overall cognitive functions in their 50s than people who did not.)
Those Camel Humps Are Used For More Than You Think
Camels store upwards of 30kg of nutrient-rich fat in their humps. During times of famine and drought, this fat is absorbed to nourish the camel. The humps actually go limp like a deflated balloon when the fat is depleted. (The humps also carry water, allowing camels to go across several miles of land with stored water to keep them hydrated until they reach some water.)
There is a linear relationship between sleep and cognitive functioning. Essentially, more sleep leads to better cognitive performance. The reverse is also true. (While some can go without much sleep, it’s truly sleeping that allows our bodies to heal. Thus, without it, we are not able to properly heal in body & mind, which brings down performance level.)
The deadliest single rail train wreck in history killed 1,700+ people. It was located in Sri Lanka and was apparently caused by the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami. (The same tsunami that wiped out this train to cause so many deaths would go on to claim 30,000 total souls. It also caused billions of rupees worth of property damage across Sri Lanka.)
The inventor of Cosplay was Myrtle R. Douglas, aka Morojo. Myrtle was a Science Fiction fanzine editor. In 1939, she created costumes, based on an H.G. Wells movie, for her and her boyfriend to wear to the first World Science Fiction Convention. Of course, within several years, costumes became integral to Worldcon. (Cosplay also became huge worldwide, with events allowing people to dress up as characters going on at some point during an entire calendar year.)
Paul Sturgess’s great height is a result of genetics. Although, his mother and younger-sister are just 1.65 meters (5.4 ft) and 1.68 meters (5.5 ft) respectively. He is also the tallest man in the history of Great Britain. (Sturgess is officially 7 feet, 7 inches tall. Yet he would be dwarfed by Robert Wadlow, the tallest man in history, who stood 8 feet, 11 inches tall.)
The Weird Stuff Ancient Romans Used For Toothpaste
Apparently, Ancient Romans used dried and crushed mouse brains, urine, and even ashes of hare and donkey teeth as toothpaste. (Ancient Civilizations also used powdered eggshells, ox hoof ashes, pumice, and even crushed bones and oyster shells. Fun fact: The volcano, Vesuvius, that destroyed Ancietnt Pompeii was also the secret to the great oral health the citizens had prior to the eruption. The volcano deposited a whole bunch of fluorine into the ground water and had similar effects to the fluoride that we add to many water systems today.)
Physicist Brian Schmidt made a bet with his colleague Sean Carroll one day. The two made a bet that we wouldn’t know the value of the cosmological density parameter within 20 years. Brian lost the bet by figuring it out himself, which earned him a Nobel Prize. (He officially won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2011, for offering proof of the universe’s acceleration.)
BARLEYmax® is a grain developed through selective breeding by Australia’s CSIRO research group. This was done to create new, hardier, and healthier foods to combat things like cardiovascular disease. (BARLEYmax® grain is said to be well-tested and even high in fiber. Barley is an ancient grain that spanned from Ancient Greece to Ancient Rome to Tibet and beyond. It is likely that a barley line from Tibet, called Himalaya, was the source of the original breeding material for BARLEYmax®)
Microsoft’s Interesting Work Week Decision In Japan Had Interesting Results
Years ago, Microsoft tried a 4-day workweek in Japan as part of a “Work-Life Choice Challenge” by shutting down offices every Friday. Productivity, measured by sales per employee, increased by almost 40% compared to the same period the previous year. (Several other studies have shown the effectiveness of reduced workdays and workweeks. Yet very few companies have changed their policies.)
The First Refrigerators Weren’t As Cool As What We Have Today
At first, modern vapor-compression refrigeration was only used to make ice. The first item chilled directly was actually an Australian beer. (Artificial refrigeration began in the mid-1750s, and developed in the early 1800s. In 1834, the first working vapor-compression refrigeration system was built. The first commercial ice-making machine was invented in 1854. In 1913, refrigerators for home use were invented.)
The town of Llanwrtyd Wells has hosted an annual Man vs Horse distance race since 1980. Funny enough, Humans have won the race before. Sadly, it was only twice. (The race is actually a Marathon over the range of 22 miles. However, there are some shorter sprint races for horse vs man too. Fun fact: The gallop averages 25 to 30 mph. The world record for a horse galloping over a short, sprint distance is 55 mph.)
Pandas Could Be Cold-Blooded Carnivores If They Wanted To Be
Although Pandas eat mostly bamboo and fruit, their teeth are carnivorous. This means they would be able to chew and consume tough meat. Unlike other bears, however, pandas do not hibernate. Simply put, they are unable to store energy over long periods of time. This is the main reason behind their 12-hour eating routine. (These solitary mammals generally eat somewhere between 20 and 40 pounds of it each day, according to the Smithsonian National Zoological Park.)
There’s A Connection Between Crickets & Temperature
Most cricket species chirp at higher rates the higher the temperature is. In fact, it’s about 62 chirps a minute at 13 °C (55 °F) in one common species; each species has its own rate though. The relationship between temperature and the rate of chirping is known as Dolbear’s Law. (It should not be a surprise now, why you see or hear them so often in the Southern United States as well as in the Summer/Spring period all over the place.)
There is a medical condition called phantom pregnancy where a woman’s body believes it is pregnant but isn’t. (This same thing happens to those who lose limbs too, at times. It becomes such a problem for people, that they will complain of pains that could not exist. However, this condition is incredibly rare. (Phantom pregnancy or pseudocyesis is a rare condition nowadays, affecting only about 6 in 22,000 pregnant women in the US. However, its incidence may be higher in communities which put a higher priority on fertility in women. Phantom pregnancy is different from a delusion of pregnancy.)
In 1859, a massive solar flare caused telegraph communications around the world to fail. Auroras were able to glow so brightly in the night that birds chirped and people went to work believing it was sunrise. A similar event today could impact power grids, satellites, and GPS systems. In total, it could cost upwards of $1-2 trillion to fix. (Usually, the Earth’s Magnetic Field can push problems away before they start. But flares clearly have gotten through before.)
Physicist P Blondlot claimed to discover a new form of radiation called N-Rays. The claim was debunked when, during Blondlot’s demonstration of N-Rays, one scientist secretly removed an essential prism from the experiment. However, the experimenters still said that they observed N-Rays. (Correction: In 1903, just eight years after the discovery of the X-Ray, René Blondlot believed he found N-Rays. It did, in fact, turn out to be a false theory.)
Desperate Times For Sailors To Modern Day Navy Dominance
Sailors from 1700-1980 used distillation of seawater to create safe drinking water. Current Navy Fleets can desalinate more than a million gallons of water a day for Shipmen to drink. It can even be used in times of drought on-land. (Armed Forces members also carry stuff with them to desalinate and clean water when they have to camp out in specific locations. They are prepared for anything.)
Pangolins walk on two legs. They actually use their tail as a counterbalance to keep them upright while they walk too. They’re also able to close their noses and ears to keep ants out when they’re eating. (The word Pangolin comes from ‘penggulung,’ the Malay word for roller – the action a pangolin takes in self-defense. A startled pangolin will cover its head with its front legs, exposing its scales to any potential predator. There are eight species of Pangolin. All of them are threatened species.)
What Did We Once Assume Would Happen If You Detonate A Nuclear Bomb?
In 1942, some scientists theorized that detonating a nuclear bomb could produce such intense heat that it would cause a chain reaction that would set the atmosphere itself on fire. Within this theory, it meant that the bomb would kill all life on Earth. (It’s obvious that after America dropped Atomic Bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that we knew how much damage nukes could do. Yet the original assumption was defeated here. Today’s nukes, however, are more powerful.)
The world’s oldest cured ham was overlooked on its hook at Gwaltney Foods in 1902. It was then hung from a rafter for twenty years! The company owner then declared it his pet ham, put a collar on it, and took it to exhibitions. It’s now in a museum in Isle of Wight County, VA. The ham even has a Twitter. (If you thought we wouldn’tlink you to it, then you don’t know us very well.)
The most lethal air accident in Australian history took place almost 60 years ago. It only killed a total of 29 people. (Correction: The greatest loss of life in an air accident in Australia was the Bakers Creek air crash in 1943 which caused 40 fatalities in a United States Army Air Forces Boeing B-17 FlyingFortress. This pales in comparison to the most deadly air incident. Two Boeing 747 passenger jets collided on the runway at Los Rodeos Airport in Tenerife in 1977. It resulted in 583 fatalities.)
A man tried to mummify his amputated leg inside a BBQ grill that was placed inside of a storage unit. However, after falling behind on payments, the grill was sold to a local entrepreneur. He happened to see the leg as a way for fame, fortune, and even a roadside attraction. On an interesting note about the leg, a feud over ownership was settled on Court TV.
Marsupials are known as ‘Choriovitteline’ mammals which means their placenta does not fully attach to the mother’s uterus like other mammals. Rather, it surrounds their young and is absorbed as food. Young are then are birthed after only 3 weeks in the uterus. (Marsupials notoriously have pouches where their young will remain until birth. Kangaroos will have their joeys come out of the pouch and have them go back in too. This will continue for several months, which helps keep them safe.)
Some people earn a living by diving into sewers to collect tiny specks of gold that are accidentally brushed into the open sewers. This tends to take place in streets that run alongside the narrow streets of Dhaka’s historic Gold Bazaar. (Of course, the American Gold Rush led to similar jobs in pursuit of gold. Today, there are still people who hunt for gold professionally.)
The red pigment E120, also known as Carmine, is used as a food dye and in cosmetics, especially the classic red lipstick. It is made from crushed insects! Specifically, it comes from cochineal scales. (Don’t fret too much about this, however. You eat a lot of insects without realizing it each year too. A new study from an insect control company estimated that we eat, on average, 140,000 ‘bug bits’ every year. Mealworm, maggot, and roach pieces are found in everyday foods like chocolate, coffee, and wheat flour. The FDA allows small amounts of insect matter in our food.)
When the replacement crew for Skylab entered the empty space station, they found that it wasn’t empty at all. In fact, three figures were inside. Upon further inspection, the replacement crew found out that these were dummies placed in flight suits by the previous Skylab crew before they left.
The human eye may have evolved a distinct color contrast to make it easier to follow one’s gaze. This evolution helped facilitate communication and cooperation among members of a social group. (It also has to do with melanin, which did not change into various colors until people navigated into Europe. The main gene that controls eye color is relatively closely linked to the genes that cause skin color. It is believed that the ancient human ancestors all had dark brown or nearly black colored eyes and very dark hair)
The average body temperature of a “healthy” human has actually dropped from 98.6 degrees to 97.5 degrees over the past 150 years. (That standard of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit was made famous by German physician Carl Reinhold August Wunderlich, who published the figure in a book in 1868. Modern studies, however, have called that number into question, suggesting that it’s too high. A recent study, for example, found the average temperature of 25,000 British patients to be 97.9 F. This is due to climate change, but there are still many people who remain in the 98.6 degrees sector.)
In Vernon FL, aka Nub City, did something crazy during the late 1950s to early 1960s. Two-thirds of all insurance claims in the United States for accidental loss of limbs were in that area. People were purposefully maiming themselves for the insurance money! (Of course, Florida is known for doing several other crazy things throughout history. But we’ll leave it at this.)
The United States Army Committed Sheep Genocide To Stop An Nerve Agent
In 1968, the United States Army killed about 6,000 sheep after accidentally releasing a gaseous nerve agent (VX) on a huge flock of them. This came after a test at the Dugway proving grounds in Utah. Today, the ordeal is known as the Dugway Sheep Incident. The first documented admission from the Army about this came in 1998. (The Army does not come forward about a lot beyond this. Agent Orange was also released by them and resulted in several American troops having bad side effects.)
There is another kind of Panda that is brown and super rare. It’s a subspecies of the Giant Panda and only inhabits in Qinling Mountains of China. (Of course, China is pretty much where all Pandas live outside of Zoos. They literally have ALL wild Pandas within Chinese borders. According to the World Wildlife Foundation, pandas are no longer considered endangered, but that doesn’t mean conservation efforts should slow down. Pandas remain scattered and vulnerable, and much of their habitat is threatened by poorly-planned infrastructure projects. And remember: there are still only 1,864 left in the wild.)
When An Animal Rights Group Covered Up Animal Abuse
The American Humane is an organization that provides the “No animals were harmed” verification on Hollywood productions and has done so for decades. However, they were found to have colluded with studios to cover up major animal abuses on movie sets in the past. (This was exposed in bombshell reports in the early 2010s.)
Each full moon of the year has its own special name, such as Harvest Moon. These names come from Native American, Colonial American, or other traditional North American sources passed down over several generations. (The Moons were also named by Ancient Egyptians, the Mayans, and many more too.)
The Reasoning Behind The Native American Body Paint
Most indigenous communities who paint their bodies live in areas where there is an abundance of bloodsucking horseflies, mosquitoes, or tsetse flies. A 2019 study showed that white, painted stripes on the body protect skin from insect bites, hence protecting them from airborne diseases. (This is indeed one of the main reasons for body paint, along with specific tribal reasonings that differ from tribe to tribe.)