To any readers out there, I am in the process of giving this site a makeover. No, not a new layout or nifty color scheme, but a makeover to the nature of the content. The site will move away from fun, but largely useless facts, to facts that are important to know and helpful to individuals and society. This may sound more dry, but it isn’t. If anyone digs into their knowledge base, I think they will find that the facts they find most interesting and which they have retained are the ones that have the greatest applicability to their own life.
I am also starting a theme for each week. The logic behind this is mostly that it will be easier to retain information if it keeps on a current theme for a few days and brings a few pieces of a puzzle together. And what good is learning new and exciting information if you do not at least have a mental hook or some remembrance that sparks in your awareness and tells you there is a solution to the problem you’ve just encountered.
Oh yes, I am working on a more eloquent and grandiose mission statement.
And finally, as it logically follows when the author makes an update to a largely abandoned blog, I am making a resolution to start updating it again. My goal is to write at least one new article a day. I might wait a few though just to save a few up. You know, give myself a couple vacation days.
When the rain is especially heavy, an English person might remark that it’s “raining cats and dogs.” Although the etymology of the expression is unknown, there are documented occasions where animals have literally fallen from the sky during rainfall. Over the last 150 years there have been incidences involving fish, frogs, jellyfish, worms, and spiders.
Although a definitive explanation has yet to be found, the most recent explanation offered is tornados or waterspouts transporting animals to high altitudes before depositing them in a localized area. This theory, however, doesn’t explain why these incidents involve just one kind of animal, instead of a variety of species.
Wikipedia: Raining Animals
Thanks to a decrease in infant mortality, an increase in medical advances, and a huge increase in agricultural productivity, the 20th century saw the largest increase in human population in history. It took over 120 years for the world’s population to increase from one billion to two billion, but only 85 years (1927-2011) to reach almost seven billion.
Although overall population is growing, the rate of growth is declining and currently stands at about 1.1%, compared to a peak of 2.2% in 1963. Moreover, the countries which have reached the highest levels of development generally have the slowest rates of growth.
Wikipedia: World Population
If you walk through a forest in Oregon, you are likely to see the Honey Mushroom, Armillaria. From the sight of it, you might judge this organism to be around half a foot long. In reality, it is likely over 3 and a half miles long. That is because the part of the organism you actually see is less than the tip of the iceberg: most of it is underground. The actual organism is mycelium, a vast network of branching, interconnected fibers. Mushrooms are the fruit of mycelium, just like an apple is the fruit of an apple tree.
The largest patch of mycelium was found in Malheur National Forest in the Blue Mountains of eastern Oregon, and may in fact be the largest organism in the world. It covers over 2,200 acres, or enough to fill 1,600 football fields. It is estimated to be around 2,400 years old.
Source: Simple Life Forms
Other than a bird, can you name an animal that sings?
How about a mouse?
A singing mouse might evoke memories of animated childhood films, but singing also occurs among real mice, producing complex songs to attract a mate. The songs are too high frequency for the human ear to detect, but when lowered by a few octaves, sound very similar to the tweeting of a bird. The sounds, far from being random, show variation and structure that qualify as rhythm. It’s not yet known whether the quality of the singing affects the chances of a male mouse attracting a female.
Guardian: Why Male Mice Feel…
Leeches are freshwater worms that feed on the blood of other animals. They were used medicinally for thousands of years when bloodletting was mainstream practice. In Ancient Greece, bloodletting (which is simply the removal of blood) was used to balance the four “humors” within a person: blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile. Making their comeback in the 1980s, leeches have, once again, become a widely accepted tool in medicine.
The salivary glands of leeches contain a blood anticoagulant called Hirudin that earns them a hot seat in the operating room. The leeches are placed on a patient’s surgical flap to suck up any excess coagulated blood. This prevents the tissue from dying. Hirudotherapy is now accepted practice in many countries, including the US. Medicinal leeches are grown in captivity to remove any risk of infection and can be purchased online for as little as $8 each.
Wikipedia: Medicinal Use of Leeches
The froghopper (also known as the spittlebug due to its habit of living in frothy plant sap during the nymph stage of development) has overtaken the flea as high-jumping champion. Although the height of its jump – up to 70 centimeters – is roughly equivalent to that of a flea, it is 60 times heavier and so requires 60 times more force in its jump to reach the same height.
When a human astronaut is launched into space, they experience a G-force of approximately 5 gravities. By contrast, a froghopper, during the initial part of its jump, accelerates at the rate of 4000 meters per second per second, and experiences a G-force of more than 400 gravities.
Pound for pound – or more accurately, ounce for ounce – the Rhinoceros Beetle is the strongest known creature in the world, capable of lifting 850 times its body weight. A human being with the same relative strength would be able to lift about 40 cars at once.
This beetle gets its name from its large horns that it uses to fight other males during mating season. In parts of Asia, male Rhinoceros Beetles are pitted against each other while bets are placed on the outcome.
Wikipedia: Rhinoceros Beetle
It seems that the best way to ensure record-breaking sales of a videogame is to have it included as part of a console package. Tetris was bundled with Game Boy purchases and reached 35 million sales. Super Mario Bros was bundled with the NES and surpassed 40 million sales. But, thanks to the popularity of the Wii console, Wii Sports takes the crown with over 76 million sales.
If you expand the parameters to include both paid and free mobile phone downloads, it’s noteworthy that the various versions of Tetris on mobile phone platforms have exceeded 100 million. However, Angry Birds reigns supreme with over 250 million downloads for various platforms.
Wikipedia: List of Best Selling Video Games