The truth is stranger than fiction. And, in the case of these 18 ridiculous true facts, it’s also stranger than our imaginations!
1. Although mammoths mostly died out 10,000 years ago, a small population remained on Wrangel Island, near Siberia until 1650 BCE. To put that in perspective, Stonehenge was already 400 to 1500 years old!
2. We tend to think that a million and a billion are around the same, but there’s a huge order of magnitude between the two numbers. For example, while a million seconds is around eleven days, a billion seconds is around 32 years!
3. There’s a tree that covers more ground than the average Wal-Mart. The Great Banyan Tree in Kolkata, India has aerial roots (which essentially look like other, smaller trees) stretching for 156,000 square feet. In contrast, the average Walmart is around 105,000 square feet!
4. If you save the red Froot Loops for last because you crave that artificial cherry flavour, you’re wasting your time. They’re all the same flavour, “Froot,” which comes from “a blend of fruit flavours.”
5. Two people died because of a charity fundraising event where 1.5 million balloons were launched into the sky. United Way of Cleveland released the balloons during Balloonfest 1986, intending for them to go out over Lake Erie. However, the balloons drifted back into city airspace, impeding traffic and planes at the nearby airport. They also made it difficult for the Coast Guard to launch a search for two missing boaters, who were later found dead.
6. If you have a kidney donated, they actually leave the non-functioning kidney in your body, because it’s too much hassle to take out. In other words, you end up with three kidneys in your body!
7. You probably already know that there are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on earth. But did you know that there are more trees on earth in 2017 (around 3 trillion) than stars in our milky way (around 250 billion)?
8. Almost all mammals have seven cervical vertebrae, whether they’re as small as mice or as long-necked as giraffes. The only exceptions? Sloths and manatees!
9. We share 98 percent of our DNA sequence with chimps, so the difference between us and our closest animal cousins is largely in how the DNA is read.
10. While we tend to think of deserts as hot and sandy, the largest desert on earth is actually Antarctica. It gets only 2 inches of precipitation every year, less than the Sahara desert!
11. A person with a uterus starts life with 6-7 million egg cells, and doesn’t produce any more after they’re born. By puberty, when ovulation starts, there are only about 300,000 eggs left. And only about 1/100th of those will actually be ovulated!
12. Water is really, really effective at stopping bullets – so effective that a 44-magnum bullet shot from a handgun can be stopped by just four water balloons!
13. Honey never goes bad. And we’re not talking, like, “doesn’t go bad for ten or fifteen years” kind of not going bad. Because of honey’s low moisture composition, which makes it difficult for bacteria to spoil, you could technically still eat honey made thousands of years ago (if you don’t mind dealing with furious archaeologists, that is).
14. There’s a nuclear bomb believed to be missing off the coast of the US. Back in 1958, a collision between a B-47 bomber and an Air Force jet forced the bomber to drop its cargo in the ocean off Georgia. Later congressional testimony revealed that it was a “complete weapon.” Don’t worry, though: the Air Force says that if the bomb is left intact and undisturbed, it “should” pose no hazard.
15. About 7% of all the people who have ever been born are still alive now. According to the Population Reference Bureau, around 101 billion people have been born, and around 7.4 of them are still alive today. That’s possible because of exponential population growth over the last hundred years.
16. Meteorologists estimate that the average cumulus cloud contains 200 tonnes of water. That’s almost twice as heavy as the average blue whale!
17. If you drop Silly Putty from high enough, it actually shatters! In 2013, researchers dropped a 100-pound ball of Silly Putty from the roof of an eleven-story building, and the ball shattered like glass. This is possible because Silly Putty is a Non-Newtonian fluid; basically, sometimes the putty acts like a liquid and sometimes it acts like a solid!
18. Pluto was discovered in 1930. Since it takes the (no longer) planet 248.09 years to travel once around the sun, it was a planet for less than half of one “Pluto year.”