Weird History
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12 Timeline Facts That Prove Time Has Lost All Meaning

Updated September 29, 2021 5.9k votes 1.1k voters 59.3k views12 items

List RulesVote up the timeline facts that kind of blow your mind.

Time can be a difficult concept to wrap one's head around, and when you look at time in terms of history, it gets even more tricky. Events that took place in the same period - like Christopher Columbus's voyages to the New World and Leonardo da Vinci painting The Last Supper - don't always line up when we think about them.

Then there are individuals who lived contemporaneously and even knew each other. It might not seem intuitive that John Quincy Adams lived and worked with both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, for example - but he did.

The mind-bending facts below rival these types of timeline epiphanies. Take a look and vote up the ones that make your brain hurt, possibly even changing how you view time entirely. 

  • Photo: New York World / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    Germany Paid Its Last World War I Reparation Installment In 2010

    As part of the Treaty of Versailles signed in 1919 after World War I, Germany accepted responsibility for the conflict. It also agreed to pay reparations totaling 132 billion gold marks (about $63 billion at the time) to certain countries.

    Despite establishing a framework for payments, Germany was unable to meet its obligations. Inflation, financial struggles, World War II, and general resentment all contributed to how long it took the country to pay up.

    Even with reductions in the amount owed and assistance through foreign-backed bonds, Germany needed 92 years to eliminate its debt. On October 3, 2010, it made the final reparation payment. 

    Mind-blowing time fact?
  • Photo: Eugene van Maldeghem / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    The Catholic Church Forgave Galileo Three Decades After The Internet Was Invented

    In 1633, Galileo Galilei stood trial for suspicion of heresy in Rome. As an advocate of the heliocentric view of the solar system, he refused to accept the longstanding theological perspective that the Earth was the unmoving center of the universe.

    Galileo was condemned by the Church. He was sentenced to house arrest, his writings were banned, and he was forced to recant his position. It wasn't until 1992 that the Vatican officially apologized to Galileo, acknowledging: "We today know that Galileo was right in adopting the Copernican astronomical theory." 

    By the time Galileo was vindicated, the earliest versions of the internet had been created. Scientists developed ARPAnet during the early 1960s, a system through which computers could communicate. The first message successfully sent through ARPAnet was in 1965; the system expanded during the 1970s and 1980s, and in 1991, the World Wide Web went public

    Mind-blowing time fact?
  • 3

    Uranus Was Discovered Before Antarctica

    In March 1781, astronomer William Herschel spotted what he believed to be a comet or star while "examining the small stars" in the skies above. One, "visibly larger than the rest," stood out to him and, after months of continued study and observation, the astronomical community confirmed that it was, in fact, a planet - the first planet to be discovered using a telescope. 

    Herschel wanted to name his find Georgium Sidus in honor of King George III of Great Britain, but his colleague Johann Elert Bode won out when he proposed the name Uranus in 1783. 

    The first reported sightings of Antarctica date to 1820, when men aboard two Russian ships, the Vostok and the Mirnyi, spotted the land mass. Some 50 years earlier, Captain James Cook navigated the Antarctic Circle, but didn't see the continent during his journey.

    Soon after Russian captain Thaddeus von Bellingshausen recording his discovery, British Royal Naval officer Edward Bransfield, part of a nearby mapping expedition, noted seeing "high mountains, covered with snow." 

    The contest between who saw Antarctica first - Russia or Britain - may be simply among Westerners, however. Evidence from oral narratives indicate Polynesians may have ventured into the Antarctic Ocean as early as 600 CE, perhaps spotting land when they did. 

    Mind-blowing time fact?
  • 4

    Octopuses Are Older Than Most - If Not All - Dinosaurs

    While hundreds of species of octopuses exist, the discovery of the Pohlsepia mazonensis fossil traces to roughly 296 million years ago. P. mazonensis resemble cirrate octopods, or finned deep-sea cephalopod mollusks.

    P. mazonensis isn't without critics, however, as it's a solitary find. Prior to its discovery, octopuses were thought to be about 164 million years old. They may have had shells at first, but are believed to have shed them at some point during the Jurassic period - some 140 million years ago. 

    The earliest dinosaurs are believed to be about 243 million years old, emerging in the Middle Triassic Period. In 2012, researchers presented evidence of Nyasasaurus parringtoni being the earliest or closest relative to the earliest dinosaur ever discovered. Previous contenders for the oldest dinosaurs were the chindesaurus, the staurikosaurus, and others that lived roughly 230 million years ago during the Late Triassic Period

    Even if P. mazonensis doesn't prove octopuses predate dinosaurs entirely, the fossils that trace to roughly 164 million years ago put octopuses on the planet before tyrannosauri. They were also contemporaries of dinosaurs like the stegosaurus.

    Mind-blowing time fact?