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Did You Know?

A Compendium of Useless Information

Colorful Definitions

Hue: Another name for color
Tint: Color + White
Tone: Color + Grey
Shade: Color + Black
Intensity or Chroma: The brightness or dullness of a color
Value: The lightness or darkness of a color

Five Times Faster Underwater

Did you know that sound travels five times faster underwater than it does through the air?

Watch Those Intersections

The Federal Highway Administration says that more than 1.8 million crashes occur at intersections each year, killing more than 7,800 people. That is over 20 people per day killed at intersections.

Iced Tea Is an English Invention

Richard Blechyden, an Englishman, had a tea concession at the  St. Louis World's Fair in 1904. Hot tea wasn't selling so hot on a hot day a the fair, so Blechyden served the tea cold and invented iced tea. So next time a Brit gives you a hard time for ordering iced tea, tell him that an Englishman invented it.

Root Beer

Edward Adolf Barq, Sr. invented root beer in 1898 in Biloxi, Mississippi.

No Wonder I Love Chocolate

Chocolate contains phenylethylamine, the same chemical produced by your brain when you fall in love.

Puts Some to Sleep, Helps Others Work Faster

During World War II, Muzak® was discovered to raise worker productivity by 11% when played in U.S. assembly plants. 

What a Spaz!

The average human blinks about 12,000 times each day.

The Good Old Days?

How did life in the 90's compare to life in the 20's?




Life expectancy (in years) 47 77
Infant mortality (deaths/1,000) 100 7
Deaths from infectious diseases (per 100,000 population) 700 50
Heart disease (age-adjusted deaths per 100,000 population) 307 (1950) 126
Accidental deaths (per 100,000 capita) 88 34
Home ownership (% of households) 46% 66%
Telephone calls (annual per capita) 40 2,300
Air pollution (lead micrograms per 100 cubic meters of air) 135 (1977) 4
High school completion (% of adults) 22% 88%

Don't Wear Cotton Socks

Once cotton gets wet, it stays wet, bunches up, and can lead to blisters. (Cotton also becomes abrasive and loses its shape when it's washed.)

On the other hand, socks made from synthetic fibers will keep their shape, wick water away from your skin, stay dryer, and keep your feet cooler.

The new fiber trade name CoolMax works best. Teflon is now being used in BlisterGuard socks by SmootheEase. Acrylic fibers (much cheaper) work well, especially when blended with other fibers. Source: Runner's World, October 1999  

What a Nut!

Did you know that the coconut is the world's largest seed?

Danger on the Road

Be aware that trucks create wind gusts, and keep both hands on the wheel when a truck passes. Also leave plenty of room behind a truck stopped on a hill because it may roll back when the trucker releases the break. Source: AAA and USA Today, June 29, 2000

Round and Round We Go

There is enough fiber-optic cable lying on the ocean floor to circle the earth almost 10 times. Did you know that the merry-go-round was invented in 1871 by W. Schneider?

That Face, That Face, Get Me that Clown!

There is an official circus clowns' face registry to protect an individual's look from being copied.

Palm Dominates in 2000. Gone in 2012

Market researcher International Data Corp says 76% of the handheld-device hardware market is dominated by Palm Computing. The Handspring Visor has a 2.3% market share, and Pocket PC devices have a 10% market share. Source: Wall Street Journal, June 20, 2000

By the end of 2012, Palm was gone.

Douglas Engelbart

Never heard of him? He was either the inventor or co-inventor of: 

  • the mouse
  • e-mail
  • hypertext linking
  • teleconferencing
  • word processing
  • outline editors for idea development
  • a full windowing software environment
  • the concept of consistency in user interfaces
  • on-line help systems, or context-sensitive help
  • user configurability and programmability

In the early 1960's, Engelbart and his colleagues (William K. English and John F. Rulifson) founded the Augmentation Research Centre (ARC) at the Stanford Research Institute where the created the On-Line System (NLS). NLS provided the above tools. Learn more at the Bootstrap Institute.


Did you know that the Greek word gymnasium means "to exercise naked"? In ancient Greece, gymnasts wore no clothes when they competed.

Phone Home

On what day of the year do the most collect phone calls usually occur? Father's Day.

Ivy League

Where did the name "Ivy League" come from? Columbia, Yale, Princeton and Harvard were the IV original IVy league schools.

The Flying Chair

The first elevator was called the Flying Chair. It was built in 1743 for King Louis XV at  his palace in France.

The Sky is Falling!

Canada has 26 meteorite craters, the most of any country.

Look Who's Talking, or A Good Year

Thomas Edison invented the world's first talking doll in 1888. The voice came from a small phonograph inside the doll. 

What else was invented in 1888? The paper straw.

In 1888 a temperance society founded Hollywood, California to be a model community.

Nothing Left to Invent

The director of the U.S. Patent Office resigned in 1875. He recommended closing the office, claiming that there was nothing left to invent. Just think — if he had been right, we wouldn't be able to drink root beer through a straw.

Microwaves and Popcorn

What came first, the microwave oven or microwave popcorn? Microwave popcorn.

Percy Spencer was standing next to a magnetron tube in 1945 when he noticed that the candy bar in his pocket was melting. Curious, he placed popcorn in front of the tube and watched it pop. Next, he tried an egg that exploded when the inside of the egg cooked faster than the shell. This led to the invention of the microwave oven.

Kerplunk and Zeedonk

A zeedonk is the offspring of a zebra and a donkey. 

Here Kitty Kitty

When is a kitten not a cat? When it's a baby rat. What are the names for other baby animals? Find out at Zoo Central.

Milk and Cookies

The average cow produces 70,000 glasses of milk in its lifetime. Markita Andrews sold 60,000 boxes of cookies during her 12 years as a Girl Scout. 

The Black Box

The black box which contains the voice recorder is easy to find in the wreckage of an aircraft because it is actually orange, not black.


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