Nowadays, it's easy to feel like we know everything about our world. We're constantly bombarded with news and have access to infinite information thanks to the internet, streaming sites, and more. But luckily, Earth is such a wondrous place that there are still plenty of rarely-discussed facts regarding everything from history and pop culture to nature. So we've gathered up the most curious truths that might be hard to believe are actually real. That way, next time you're at a dinner party, you can be that person who brings the fun facts.
In Finland, speeding tickets are based on what a person makes. That means some millionaires end up paying over $100,000 when caught speeding. This might come as a surprise to a lot of people, but it makes a lot of sense if you think about it. For example, many people and companies simply disregard laws because they consider fines the cost of doing business or just not costly enough to care. But calculating that cost based on someone's income is a game-changer for that loophole.
Predictably, those who've been fined and paid tickets in the five-figure category have railed against Finland's system. However, that might just be proof that it's working.
The tiny nation of Liechtenstein isn't exactly known for its military, but the army does have one quirky historical distinction. The last time they went to war, Liechtenstein sent out 80 soldiers and returned with 81. They'd picked up an Italian soldier whom they befriended and who wanted to live in Lichtenstein. The entire thing happened during the Austro-Prussian War in 1866, and the army was sent to guard a pass between Austria and Italy.
However, there apparently wasn't much to do there, and the men ended up smoking, drinking, enjoying the scenery, and making friends. Today, Lichenstein has no army as it was disbanded in 1868.
Betty White was extremely popular before she passed away in 2021. However, not many people know that she was once criticized for having a Black performer on her show in 1954. The performer's name was Arthur Duncan, and he was a tap dancer. However, this was still during the time of segregation in the U.S. After being criticized, White told people, "I'm sorry. Live with it." And she went on to give Duncan even more airtime.
Unfortunately, the show was canceled not long after that, but it's still good to know that Betty White had always been the same and never took anything from anyone.
Ruth Coker Burks was an ordinary woman from Hot Springs, Arkansas, except for one thing. During the height of the AIDS epidemic, she cared for gay men using her own salary and gave around 40 of them burials in her family cemetery. She eventually earned the name the "cemetery angel." It should also be noted that this was a time of extreme stigma, especially surrounding AIDS.
Many medical professionals weren't even looking into what might be causing the epidemic, much less searching for a treatment or offering patients care.
High School students in Sicily invented the vending machine that grinds down plastic and turns it into phone cases using a 3D printer. The teens wanted to encourage others to be more environmentally friendly and recycle their plastic. We're not too sure when you might be seeing one of these on your corner street, but the team won a number of awards, and the project originally debuted in 2016.
The whole machine is fairly simple and basically chips plastic containers into tiny pellets so that they can then be used by the 3D printer and turned into cases.
Freddie Mercury and Queen were performing in the 1970s when they heard someone yelling a slur out in the crowd. The man was yelling, "you f*****g poof," which is a gay slur towards Mercury. The singer stopped and ordered the stage crew to shine a light on the man in the middle of the crowd. Mercury then asked the man to "say it again, darling." The heckler, of course, just stood there and didn't say anything else.
It wasn't the band's only confrontation with hecklers, and during the 1980s, some people threw razorblades onstage, which caused them to stop touring the U.S.
Lawrence Anthony, sometimes called "the elephant whisperer," was a revered conservationist that abandoned a career in real estate and insurance to protect animals. His list of achievements was long, but among them was convincing feuding war criminals to protect northern white rhinos in their territories, convincing many African communities to set up reserves to attract tourists, and famously riding into Baghdad on the heels of the U.S. invasion to care for what animals remained at the zoo. His work at the zoo attracted both U.S. soldiers and former Iraqi soldiers to volunteer their time to help.
When he passed away in 2012, some outlets reported that a small herd of elephants he'd rescued years ago and cared for ever since had visited his home and held a vigil for two days. Elephants are known to mourn their own when they pass.
When a millionaire announces that he wants to be buried with his Bentley, the odds are many people will take issue with that. However, one millionaire made just that announcement to make a point. Whenever people began expressing their outrage, he shot back that it was the same as being buried with your organs. In other words, he was trying to encourage people to become organ donors and potentially save another life.
When asked about his Bentley announcement, he said: "People bury things that are much more valuable than cars, and nobody seems to care."
Today, this pup named Tuscon Prime is the mascot of a Hyundai dealership in Brazil. But, he used to be a stray until the dealership owner decided to let him in one day and give him some food when it was raining. The staff instantly fell in love with him, as did the customers. So, the dealership decided to make him their official mascot and even gave him a little badge with his face on it.
According to reports, his job includes guarding the entrance and interacting with customers, the latter of which he's apparently really fond of. He's become so beloved that he might also appear in a national ad for Hyundai in Brazil sometime soon.
Today, To Kill A Mockingbird is a classroom staple that teaches children about justice, racism, and youth. However, it was almost never written. In fact, the only reason it was written was that Harper Lee's friends came to her one Christmas and told her that they were funding a year off for her to "write whatever you please." They supported her with a year's wages while she worked away on her novel.
At the time, Lee was working as a ticket agent for British Overseas Airways Corporation and was having trouble finding the time to actually write. The book went on to sell 30 million copies worldwide.
Soldiers in the German army are allowed to disobey orders. And while many militaries out there encourage their troops to think for themselves and disobey orders they believe to be against international law or that might be considered highly immoral, Germany has a pretty good record of actually exonerating the troops who disobey. The policy was instituted after WWII when many claimed they were just "following orders" under Nazi rule.
In the past, when soldiers were punished for disobeying, civilian courts have found that some were merely exercising their constitutional rights.
There apparently still is honor among thieves. In England, two thieves once robbed a man's house and stole his laptop. However, they found child pornography on the computer after they opened it up. So, they took the device to the police and informed them where they obtained the laptop. The police arrested the man, and he ended up getting around three years in prison. The judge only gave the two men who robbed him 12 months of community service in light of their good deeds.
We just wish we could've been at the station when they walked in and explained their story.
If you've ever seen a nature documentary about wolves, then odds are there were some ravens around a recent kill. Of course, ravens are usually everywhere, but they actually share a special bond with wolves. When they come across a kill, they'll make noise to attract wolves, who will, in turn, open up the hide and provide carrion for the ravens. However, this might not be the most surprising aspect of the two animals' bond.
Researchers have observed ravens interacting and playing with wolf pups and suspect they might develop special bonds with certain wolves in a pack. Many cultures have long referred to ravens as "wolf birds."
Sharon Osbourne was undergoing treatment for colon cancer in 2002. However, she eventually ran into a rough patch during treatment in which she was reportedly unable to get out of bed for a week. It was so bad that her husband feared she'd just given up. So, he invited Robin Williams over to cheer everyone up, and it worked so well that Sharon went back to treatment the next day.
Of course, she survived, and now she helps others battling colon cancer. She even established her own program to help others who find themselves in the same place she once did.
American officials suspected that the North Vietnamese were torturing POWs during the Vietnam war when Admiral Jeremiah Denton Jr.'s interview was broadcast, but they had nothing to point to. However, during his interview, which the North Vietnamese aired as a propaganda piece, the admiral was blinking weirdly. It turned out he was blinking in morse code and spelled out the word "torture." U.S. Naval Intelligence was fittingly the first to crack the code.
He was held for around eight years, during which time he was repeatedly beaten and held in solitary confinement. He went on to become a senator later in life.
In 2004, 200 women from a local community gathered at the courthouse while a man was being taken inside by police. The man was a local gang leader who'd ordered countless rapes and killings in order to keep the community "in line." Despite dozens of complaints to the police, they failed to act, and when they did, the man was always granted bail. They only took the man into custody for his own safety after community resentment eventually boiled over.
So his victims decided to take justice into their own hands. The 200 women began attacking the man with knives and chili powder inside the courthouse, and the police ran for safety when they figured out what was happening. Afterward, all of the women jointly claimed responsibility for the murder.
Milla Bizzotto is a 9-year-old girl who began training for a marathon after she was bullied at school. But, she wasn't just training for any marathon. She began training for something called the Battlefrog Extreme, a 24-hour race that Navy SEALs designed. She ran for 36 miles, swam another 5 miles, and went through 36 obstacles over six laps. When she finished, she became the youngest competitor to ever complete the race.
She told people afterward, "I want to set an example and show other kids that they can do or be anything they want."
In 2012, a group of bullies thought it'd be funny to nominate a girl named Whitney Kropp for homecoming queen. However, they didn't actually expect her to win and just did the entire thing as a prank. But after word spread through the town, local residents and students stepped in and offered a wave of support, making t-shirts, signs, and even a Facebook Page. Kropp went on to win and received her award in a stadium full of fans.
She and her family also received countless emails from others around the country sharing their stories after Kropp's made national news.
A gemstone known as rainbow lattice sunstone might just be one of the rarest in the world. It's only found in a tiny area of Australia's Northern Territory, and it's known for its weird lattice coloring. It was discovered as recently as 1985. Production just recently began to scale up, and one of the original finders still has rights to the sight, which is probably the only one in the world.
The gemstone is also reportedly very difficult to work with as it usually contains a lot of cracks, and finding larger, clean pieces are exceptionally difficult.
Gordan Ramsey is known for being demanding in the kitchen, so it might come as a surprise that the Michelin Star chef once lost a contest to a prison cook. After all, prisons aren't exactly known for their fine dining experiences. But Ramsey once made the mistake of challenging a prison cook to an onion-cutting contest and eventually lost. He was so impressed that he offered the cook a job at one of his restaurants.
We're not sure what eventually happened to the cook, but Ramsey has a history of giving people second chances, despite his tough demeanor.
Poor attendance is often cited as one of the biggest obstacles in education. So, imagine the surprise at two California schools when attendance jumped by 93% after they began offering low-income students laundry service if they showed up to class. The initiative was part of a program by Whirlpool and saw similar attendance jumps in the 15 other schools that were part of the program. It became so popular that the initiative spread.
Schools from all 50 U.S. states and even countries like Saudi Arabia, Ireland, and South Africa began reaching out to Whirlpool to join the program after the results were released. The United Way and others have since started similar initiatives.
It's no secret that college costs in the U.S. are absurd. However, it wasn't always like that. As recently as 1978, college students could afford to pay their own tuition just by working a minimum wage job. Oh, how the times have changed. There were a lot of reasons for this, but most just have to do with soaring tuition costs and wages not keeping up with inflation. There's also something else.
Those minimum wage earners could afford college just by working during the summer. Yeah, so they didn't even have to work throughout the year to put themselves through college.
Anyone who fishes will probably tell you that flounders are insanely good at camouflage. They have to be since they don't swim particularly fast and usually just spend most of their time on sandy bottoms. But their camouflage is so good that they'll even attempt checkerboard patterns, with a decent amount of success, as shown in this photo. This is because they have special skin cells that can change colors depending on their surroundings and the signals they receive from their brains.
Some flounders are so good at this that they can turn almost translucent in color when they swim toward the surface of the water.
Cheddar Man, a 9,100-year-old resident of Somerset, England, caused quite the commotion when he was first discovered in a cave. His remains were, and still are, the oldest ever found in the U.K. However, scientists probably weren't expecting to find a direct descendant living only a couple of miles away. In 1997, Scientists proved that a local teacher named Adrian Targett was a direct descendant of Cheddar Man through some 300 generations.
And while the two didn't seem all that close in appearance when the news first broke, recent photos of Targett show some striking similarities with his stone age ancestor.
Pelorus Jack was a dolphin that escorted ships through the dangerous waters of the French Pass in New Zealand between 1888 and 1912. This was quite odd as Jack was a Risso dolphin, which was and still is incredibly rare in New Zealand. The dolphin quickly made a name for himself and enjoyed surfing the bow waves of the larger ships. Among his notable fans and observers were Mark Twain and English writer Frank T. Bullen.
Ships even sometimes waited for him to appear before making the journey through the sound. However, one day a passenger shot at Jack, and the passengers and crew had to restrain the man, resulting in New Zealand passing a law to protect Jack and other Risso dolphins. Jack never escorted that ship again, and not too long afterward, it sank.
Most people spend years of their lives working towards success and still only ever achieve part of what they set out to do. And then you have people like Australian comedian Hamish Blake. Blake entered a bodybuilding competition in New York in 2011 as a joke but ended up winning the entire thing. The reason for it was that he'd entered the heavyweight division, probably expecting the joke to be ridiculous.
However, he found out he was the only contestant in the division, which essentially made him Mr. New York State 2011 in the Heavyweight division.
If you were anything like us during school, you probably weren't even aware it was picture day half the time. You probably just went to school and began panicking because you thought it was just another normal day and didn't make any extra effort to look nice. However, a teacher named Dale Irby apparently never forgot when it was picture day. In fact, he remembered for 40 years.
The world knows this because Irby took all 40 photos in the same outfit, and luckily someone posted them all online. Sure, you could just put 40 years of picture day photos side by side, but there's something so satisfying about someone wearing the same thing for all 40 photos.
Sometimes Lake Michigan gets so clear after seasonal ice melts that it's possible to spot wrecks as deep as 300 feet from the air. A notably clear season happened most in 2015, and the U.S. Coast Guard posted a number of photos to social media from their flights. The coast guard said they always spot a couple of wrecks, but not as many as they saw after winter that year.
It's worth noting that this would happen more often if it weren't for the algae blooms and summer sediment, the first of which is partly fueled by fertilizer runoff.
When Toyota offered to send the New York Food Bank, which supplies 1.5 million people with meals annually, engineers, instead of donations, the head of the Food Bank's distribution was skeptical. So, he issued them a challenge and told them to shorten the wait time at the soup kitchen. Through the use of "kaizen," which means continuous improvement in Japanese and has been a staple of the car maker's philosophy for decades, the engineers were able to shorten wait times from 90 minutes to just 18.
They also helped volunteers cut down packing times from 3 minutes to 11 seconds after Hurricane Sandy and made several other improvements to the New York City Food Bank.
We can't imagine what it would be like being a POW in any conflict, much less the Korean War. But apparently, it was so boring for one POW, Lt. John Thornton, that he began riding an imaginary motorcycle to roll call every day. He clutched his invisible handlebars and made "vroom vroom" sounds with his mouth while riding to formation twice a day. The guards eventually got tired of his shenanigans and called him into their office, where they confiscated his imaginary motorcycle.
They told him that it was against the rules and regulations. However, his fellow POWs rallied to his side shortly afterward, going to the guards and demanding that they give Thornton back his motorcycle.
The Coronavirus pandemic hasn't been fun for anyone. Travel has been limited, the world had to endure lockdowns, and countless jobs have been lost. However, it's important to keep things in perspective. The pandemic was definitely far worse for some, as these photos from nurses in Wuhan show during what must've been grueling shifts battling the coronavirus. Considering Wuhan was ground zero, we can only imagine how difficult it must've been to work in healthcare there during the early days of the pandemic.
It's also striking that some of the marks pictured in the photo are no longer just simple marks but instead have turned into bruises.
An Iowa man named Dale Schroeder had been working at the same carpentry job for 67 years when he passed away in 2005. According to friends and news reports, he only owned two pairs of jeans (one for work and another for church) and a rusty old truck. So, his friends were a bit surprised when Schroeder's lawyer told them he'd had $3 million in savings and wanted to use it to send Iowa kids to college after he passed.
Before he died, Schroeder told his lawyer that he'd never had a chance to attend college, so he wanted to give others that chance. His $3 million ended up funding the education of 33 students.
The Fifth Solvay Conference of 1927 is probably best remembered for a single photo produced during the conference. It contains names that we primarily associate with revolutionary theories today, such as Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, and Erwin Schrödinger. To further put it into perspective, 17 of the 29 people pictured were awarded the Nobel Prize, which is hard to fathom. It's also worth noting the single woman in the photo, Marie Curie.
Curie studied radioactivity and was the first woman awarded a Nobel Prize in Physics when she won the award with her husband in 1903. She's also still the only person to ever win a Nobel for two different scientific disciplines.
It might come as a bit of a surprise that Paul Rudd and Jeffrey Dean Morgan have owned a candy store together in New York since 2014, but the reason is actually kind of heartwarming. The store is called Samuel's Sweet Shop, and the two bought it after the owner, who was their friend, passed away, and they decided they wanted it to remain a candy store. But candy isn't the only goodie they sell there.
The shop reportedly sells really delicious sweets, in addition to drinks like smoothies, coffee, and tea. It also draws in quite a few tourists now.
MIT is known as being one of the premiere schools in the world when it comes to STEM fields. So, it really shouldn't be a huge surprise that students were able to turn their building into a giant screen and then play Tetris on that screen, but it's still pretty awesome. The students said the whole thing took them around four years of off-and-on work.
There were also two months when they worked every night from 10 pm to 5 am to turn the Planetary Sciences Department Building into a giant playable screen.
It might come as a surprise for some that hippos actually sleep underwater. After all, you've probably rarely seen a video or photo of a hippo taking a nap on the river bank. They're dangerous places, after all, even for hippos. But, they have a special reflex that allows them to get some rest underwater. The reflex lets them bob up to get some air before gently falling back down.
Despite this pretty amazing and quirky adaptation, hippos still can't swim. They actually just sort of lumber around underwater and stand on their hind legs if they need to come up for air while awake.
If you're anything like us, you've probably always assumed that baby carrots are tiny, less-matured carrots. However, that's not the case, and the whole concept was invented by a farmer named Mike Yurosek. In 1986, he noticed that he was throwing out 400 tons of damaged or misshapen carrots because supermarkets simply thought they couldn't sell them. So, armed with only a green bean slicer and potato peeler, Yurosek took matters into his own hands.
He shaved the "misshapen" carrots down into baby carrots, and the idea quickly took off. Today, he's known as the "father of the baby carrot."
It's hard to imagine today; what with 24/7 cable news and social media, but on April 18, 1930, the British public settled into their living rooms, turned on a new little thing called a radio, and prepared to listen to the BBC's evening news. However, they were met with the words, "Good evening. Today is Good Friday. There is no news." The BBC then began playing piano music for the rest of the 15-minute segment.
Of course, there probably were things going on that day that might've been considered newsworthy, but the BBC had a very different and specific focus back then. And, it's nice to think of a time when the news didn't have to put out "content" for the sake of content.
Writer Steven King is one of the most successful authors of our age, and a lot of that success has to do with just how prolific he is. He's released so many stories that he decided he'd sell some of his short stories to film students for $1 so that they could make movies with them. Of course, the contracts are complex and still come with a lot of protection for him, but that's still really cool, considering how hard it is to break into the film business.
King has dubbed the short stories his "Dollar Babies." To license a story, all you have to do is go to his website and apply, and many short films have been made through the program since he started it.
The Anthem Veteran's Memorial in Anthem, Arizona, is a memorial dedicated to all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. And every year at 11:11 on November 11, it perfectly aligns with the sun. The rays cast through the giant obelisks to create an image on the ground. Each pillar represents a different branch of the armed forces, and the image is the seal of the United States.
It's also worth mentioning that November 11 is Veteran's Day in the U.S., hence all of the elevens associated with the image and the obelisks.