Being open to learning is a positive trait. When we assume we've learned everything there is to know, we shut down and become stagnant in our thinking. But when we realize that there is more information out there than we could possibly learn in our lifetime and more research is being done, and changed, every day, we open ourselves to being able to learn. We are able to take in new information and to shape and change our opinions.
Over 2021, we learned so many new tidbits of trivia, much of it so hard to believe that we had to double check it to make sure it was true. These were our favorite tidbits and the ones that most reshaped our word.
- 1104 VOTES
14 Cargo Ships Stuck In The Suez Canal For Eight Years Formed Their Own Unofficial Country
During the Israel-Egypt Six-Day War, Egypt blockaded both ends of the Suez Canal with sunken ships and debris. This trapped cargo ships from the United Kingdom, Germany, Poland, Sweden, France, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, and the United States in the canal from 1967 to 1975.
Over time, sand covered the decks of the ships and they were nicknamed "The Yellow Fleet." To maintain some sense of sanity, the international collection of crews came together to form their own makeshift country, with their own traditions, postage, bartering system, and sporting events.
- 2105 VOTES
The Duck-Billed Platypus Does Not Have A Stomach
The duck-billed platypus is a strange creature. It has a duck-like beak, or bill, and a beaver-like tail. Plus, platypuses (not platypi) lay eggs, being oviparous mammals. Males also have a spur on the back of their hind feet, which is connected to a venomous gland. It's not life-threatening to humans, but can be very painful.
They also don't have stomachs, meaning their gullet connects directly to the intestines. Scientists say it has something to do with diet, because a lot of fish also do not have stomachs. It could be connected to a calcium and mineral-rich diet, but for now, there are only theories.
Another tidbit: Platypus babies are called puggles.
- 3105 VOTES
Eigengrau Is The Name Of The Color We See In Darkness
Who knew there was a name to describe what most people call nothing? In complete darkness, we actually detect a color, due to our eyes containing cells that sometimes send signals to our brains not caused by light.
This visual background noise is called Eigengrau, which stems from a German word meaning intrinsic gray. It is also known as "brain gray" or, confusingly, "dark light," and is the result of photons and physics.
Henry VIII of England was obsessed with engineering and delighted in unique objects, especially weapons. One of his most cherished items was a combination of muzzle-loading pistol, steel mace, and walking stick, and sometimes referred to as a “holy water sprinkler.”
According to an account published in 1883, King Henry frequently walked around London at night, checking on the constables who patrolled his realm. On one occasion, he was spotted carrying his "sprinkler" by a guard who demanded that the man explain his purpose in carrying such a device. The constable did not recognize the king, who struck the unlucky guard. The constable arrested the erstwhile king, who spent a cold night in jail before being released the following morning.
The quivering constable went before King Henry to apologize, but was instead applauded by the monarch for doing his job so well and was handsomely rewarded. King Henry then settled an annual supply of bread and coal to the jail in recognition of the discomfort of his fellow prisoners.
- 591 VOTES
Gargoyles And Gargling Are Related Terms
The word "gargoyle" has become a rather loosely used term for any statue that's uglier than anything you've ever seen before. But architecturally speaking, a gargoyle has a function. As strangely as it may be carved, it's a water spout. A gargoyle, human or animal, is usually found on the roof and directs rainwater away from the building.
The term comes from the old French word "gargouille," meaning throat, as does the word "gargle."
Other non-spouting statues carved into buildings are called grotesques.
- 675 VOTES
Some lives span so much time that they connect wildly different eras. That's certainly true of Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes.
Born in 1841, Holmes was the son of Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., one of the most popular poets of the 19th century. The younger Holmes became a Supreme Court justice in 1902 and served on the court for three decades.
Because of Holmes's connections, he met significant people throughout his life. In fact, Holmes had actually "shaken hands with John Quincy Adams" and John F. Kennedy, two presidents. Adams was born in 1767 and passed when Holmes was 7; Kennedy was 17 when Holmes passed in 1935. Thus, the Supreme Court Justice linked the 18th and 20th centuries.