Sunday, January 23, 2011
Useless Information -- Part 3 of 3
This is the final week of my three trivia blogs featuring bits and pieces from The Book Of Useless Information, an official publication of The Useless Information Society with a copyright of 2006. I'm picking some items at random from the last few sections of the book. And there is one fact that jumped out at me as being absolutely wrong…I have attributed it to a typo that was missed by an editor rather than misinformation. I'll share this with you in a little while.
So…I'll pick up here where I left off last week.
AMAZING DISCOVERIES: Construction workers' hard hats were invented and used in the construction of Hoover Dam in 1933. Thomas Edison, inventor of the light bulb, was afraid of the dark. A normal raindrop falls at about seven miles an hour. An inch of snow falling evenly on one acre of ground is equivalent to about 2,715 gallons of water. A cubic mile of fog is made up of less than a gallon of water. Meteorologists claim they're right 85 percent of the time. Buzz Aldrin's mother's maiden name was Moon. The Apollo 11 had only twenty seconds of fuel left when it landed. A manned rocket can reach the moon in less time than it took a stagecoach to travel the length of England. Stars come in different colors—hot stars give off blue light and the cooler ones give off red light. Earth is traveling through space at 660,000 miles per hour. By weight, the sun is 70 percent hydrogen, 28 percent helium, 1.5 percent carbon-nitrogen-oxygen, and 0.5 percent all other elements. A bolt of lightning can strike the earth with the equivalent of one hundred million volts and generate temperatures five times hotter than those found on the sun's surface. In 1949 Popular Mechanics said computers of the future would weigh no more than five tons. The shortest commercial intercontinental flight in the world is from Gibraltar in Europe to Tangier in Africa, a distance of thirty-four miles and flight time of twenty minutes. A large flawless emerald is worth more than a similarly large flawless diamond. A jiffy is an actual unit of time the equivalent of one-hundredth of a second.
WILD KINGDOM: A baby blue whale is twenty-five feet long at birth. In 1859 twenty-four rabbits were released in Australia and within six years the population grew to two million. Human beings and the two-toed sloth are the only land animals that typically mate face to face. An estimated 80 percent of all creatures on Earth have six legs. A square mile of fertile earth has thirty-two million earthworms in it. The original name for butterfly was the flutterby. Grasshoppers have white blood. A single strand from the golden spider's web is as strong as a steel wire of the same size. Contrary to common belief, reptiles are never slimy, their scales have few glands and are usually silky to the touch. The gecko lizard can run on the ceiling without falling because its toes have flaps of skin that act like suction cups. Alligators cannot move backward. The only continent without reptiles or snakes is Antarctica. A group of frogs is called an army. A group of kangaroos is called a mob. Male monkeys lose the hair on their heads in the same manner men do. It is physically impossible for pigs to look up at the sky. Bats are the only mammals that can fly. Time and erosion have erased 99 percent of all dinosaur footprints. Reindeer like to eat bananas. Moose have very poor vision, some have even tried to mate with cars. The night vision of tigers is six times better than that of humans. Jaguars are scared of dogs. Walking catfish of Florida can stay out of the water for eighty days. Sharks' fossil records date back more than twice as far as those of the dinosaurs. Sea otters have the world's densest fur—a million hairs per square inch.
STATISTICS: It would take more than 150 years to drive a car to the sun. More than 10 percent of all the salt produced annually in the world is used to de-ice American roads. Most fatal car accidents happen on a Saturday. The world record for carrying a milk bottle on your head is twenty-four miles. You're more likely to be killed by a champagne cork than a poisonous spider. About 6 percent of murdered American men are killed by either their wife or girlfriend…or their wife who caught them with their girlfriend. Experienced waitresses say that married men tip better than unmarried men. You are more likely to get attacked by a cow than a shark.
And on the last page of the book it says: approximately 97 percent of all statistics are made up. :)
And that error I said I caught? It was in the first section of HALL OF FAME. It said, "In 1812, after being shot in the chest, Theodore Roosevelt finished a speech he was delivering before he accepted any medical help." The incident is true, but Teddy Roosevelt wasn't even born until 1858. The reality is that it happened on October 14, 1912. As I said, certainly a typo that was missed in the editorial process.