We all love to hear some fascinating facts that make us stand out from the crowd. Here are some amazing facts that you probably have not heard before:
1. The world’s oldest known living organism is a bristlecone pine tree in California’s White Mountain
Estimated to be 5,000 years old, the tree was around during the Bronze Age and a few hundred years before the Egyptians constructed Giza. Some of the trees may be older than 5,000 years, but it isn’t possible to measure as their bark and rings wear away due to weathering.
2. The unicorn is the official national animal of Scotland
In the 15th century, Scotland’s King James I chose a unicorn as the country’s national animal. In contrast, England’s national animal is the wolf.
3. The average person produces about 1 liter of saliva per day!
On a typical day, the production of saliva can range from 0.5 to 1.5 liters, which is about 0.3-0.4 ml/min. During sleep, this rate decreases to 0.1 ml/min, while it increases to about 4.0-5.0 ml/min during activities like eating, chewing, and other stimulating actions.
4. The creator of the microwave appliance received only $2 for his discovery
Percy Spencer worked for American Appliance Company when he made an incredible discovery— the microwave oven. He noticed a radar set using electromagnetic waves had melted a candy bar in his pocket and used this observation to create a metal box that would heat food with microwaves.
As the company filed the patent, all Percy received was a meager $2 bonus— no royalties. Feeling very sorry for this guy right now!
5. The first artificial satellite to be launched was Sputnik 1 by the USSR in 1957
The surprising success of the launch stunned the United States, as they had anticipated the nation to achieve this scientific milestone first. Russia’s launch of Sputnik heightened the arms race and escalated tensions during the Cold War.
6. A person can live without food for a few months but only a few days without water
Typically, a person can survive for approximately 1 to 3 months without food. However, the duration varies a lot depending on a range of factors, such as age, sex, body size and general health.
7. A high school student designed the current American flag
Bob Heft’s American flag design began as a school project for his junior-year history class in 1958. His design had 50 stars, despite the fact that Alaska and Hawaii were not yet states.
The teacher gave him a low grade for the design and said, “If you don’t like your grade, get it accepted into Washington, then come back…and I might consider changing your grade.”
President Dwight D. Eisenhower approved of the design over all the others, and upon notification, Heft’s teacher changed his grade from a B-minus to an A.
8. More than one million Earths could fit inside the sun!
The Sun has a diameter (the distance from one side to the other through the sun’s center) of approximately 864,400 miles (1,391,000 kilometers), making it about 109 times larger than Earth.
In terms of weight, the Sun is approximately 333,000 times heavier than our planet. Earth’s diameter is 7,926 miles (about 12,756 kilometers).
Therefore, it can fit about 1.3 million planet Earths within its boundaries.
9. Adult cats get sick from drinking milk
Adult cats are not able to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk. This is because they lack the lactase enzyme needed to break down this sugar-based substance.
If an adult cat consumes dairy products that contain lactose, it may cause vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, constipation or result in gas. Adult cats can only produce enough of the enzyme when they are born and during the early years of their lives.
10. We need a lot of grapes to make wine
A standard 750 ml bottle of wine typically holds around 600–800 grapes, which is approximately equivalent to 10 clusters of wine grapes.
11. One letter does not appear in any US state name
The letter ‘Q’ does not appear in the name of any US state. This is quite surprising given that other letters like Z, J, and even two Xs (New Mexico and Texas) do appear in some states. However, no US state has a name containing the letter ‘Q’.
12. Dead skin cells comprise dust particles
20-50% of dust particles in our homes are made up of discarded skin cells. Humans shed around 200 million skin cells each hour, and that can accumulate to form dust indoors.
Dust is also made up of soil, pollen, hair, textile fibers, and other materials from the environment.
13. Venezuela has the largest oil reserves, with an estimated 300 billion barrels
With even more oil than Saudi Arabia, Venezuela tops the charts in having the largest oil reserves in the world. Unfortunately, due to the corruption and mismanagement of the country and the sanctions imposed by the US and others, oil production has suffered.
14. Peanuts aren’t technically nuts
Peanuts are not considered to be real nuts. This is because they grow underground, and unlike nuts which have a hard-shelled exterior and an interior kernel that can be separated, peanuts comprise a single indivisible entity. Therefore, the proper name for them is legumes.
Tree nuts include walnuts, almonds, pistachios, pecans, cashews and hazelnuts, among others. While 30% of individuals with peanut allergies may also have tree nut allergies, it is important to note that a tree nut allergy does not automatically indicate an allergy to peanuts.
15. The octopus is believed to be the most intelligent of all invertebrates
An octopus is an amazing creature with three hearts and nine brains.
Two of the hearts are responsible for pumping blood to its gills, while the third one pumps blood around the body.
They have a brain at every tentacle to control movement, while the central brain controls the nervous system. This makes the octopus incredibly intelligent.
16. The speed of a typical raindrop when it hits the ground is about 20 miles per hour
A typical raindrop falls at an average speed of 20 mph when it hits the ground. This is regardless of how high it was before starting its descent, as the downward force of gravity and the upward force of air resistance will balance each other out to produce a terminal velocity.
Aerodynamic engineers have calculated that smaller raindrops with a 0.15-cm radius fall at around 16 mph, while those with a 0.2-cm radius reach a speed of 20 mph. All in all, the maximum velocity of raindrops typically falls between 15 and 25 miles per hour.
17. The world’s tallest roller coaster, Kingda Ka in New Jersey, has a drop of 418 feet
Kingda Ka, the world’s tallest roller coaster located in Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey, is made up of a hydraulically-launched steel track and designed by Werner Stengel.
Its hydraulic launch mechanism accelerates the train to an incredible speed of 128 mph (206 km/h) in a record time of 3.5 seconds, and its top hat tower element stands at a breathtaking 456 feet (139 m).
A truly impressive feat, Kingda Ka holds the world record for tallest roller coaster.
18. H&M stands for something
H&M began as “Hennes”, the Swedish word for “hers. It then acquired another brand, Mauritz Widforss, and was later shortened to the acronym H&M. This simply stands for Hennes & Mauritz.
19. Firefighters use wetting agents to make water wetter
Firefighters use special chemicals called wetting agents to make water spread more easily and soak into objects better.
Wetting agents reduce the surface tension of regular water, helping it to become even more effective at extinguishing fires. This unique property has earned them the nickname “wet water”.
20. There are over 1 billion cars on the roads worldwide
It is estimated that there are almost 1.5 billion cars traveling on roads around the world. That’s an amazing number, with 17.7% of people having a car.
China is leading the way with 302 million vehicles, followed by the US with 267 million.
21. Chameleons have a 360-degree field of vision
Chameleons have impressive eye functions, allowing them to focus on two objects at the same time.
These animals have slightly bulging eyes that enable them to look in different directions simultaneously.
22. There are over 1000 types of bananas!
The banana is an incredibly diverse fruit, with over 1,000 varieties of this delicious snack around the world.
The most widely available variety found in stores is the Cavendish, which has a pleasantly sweet taste and creamy texture. However, it wasn’t always this way – prior to the 1960s, Big Mike or Gros Michel was the leading cultivar for commercial production.
Unfortunately, a devastating disease wiped out the crop, leaving the Cavendish to reign supreme.
23. The Hungry Blue Whale Consumes Half a Million Calories in One Gulp
The blue whale is an incredible creature with an impressive appetite. A single mouthful of their food, krill, can contain up to half a million calories, which enables them to maintain their massive size.
24. The average adult spends about six hours each day absorbed in digital media
In 2020, the average person in the US spent an estimated 470 minutes interacting with digital media each day.
Meanwhile, traditional analog formats like television and print media only accounted for 350 minutes of daily engagement.
This gap is expected to keep growing, with adults spending 485 minutes on digital platforms in 2021. This is equivalent to eight hours and five minutes of digital media consumption per day.
25. Blood vessels reach 60,000 miles in length
A person’s body contains an incredible 60,000 miles of blood vessels. This is equivalent to more than twice the distance around the world and helps keep oxygen and nutrients flowing through their tissues and organs, including the heart. Such an extensive network plays a vital role in keeping people healthy.
26. A honey bee can fly at a speed of 15 miles per hour!
The honey bee is a fascinating species with an impressive flight capability. Their average speed when seeking a food source can reach up to 15 or 20 miles per hour. Their return journey back to the hive, while weighed down with nectar, pollen, propolis, and water, is a bit slower at 12 mph.
27. Why most young Americans cover their mouths when they laugh
A study conducted by OnePoll for Snow Teeth Whitening found that a majority of young Americans feel insecure when laughing, often covering their mouths with their hands.
The survey revealed that 62% of people aged 25-44 are self-conscious about their teeth, compared to only 20% of those 45 and up.
The most common concerns among respondents included lack of whiteness, crookedness, receding gums, and spaces between teeth. These insecurities are causing many people to wish they could change something about their teeth.
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This article was produced by TPR Teaching. All images from Shutterstock.
I'm an Irish tutor and founder of TPR Teaching. I started teaching in 2016 and have since taught in the UK, Spain, and online.
I love learning new things about the English language and how to teach it better. I'm always trying to improve my knowledge, so I can better meet the needs of others!
I enjoy traveling, nature walks, and soaking up a new culture. Please share the posts if you find them helpful!