Trivia - Did Ya Know?

Here's some of my favorite trivia I've learned through the years.

  1. The ancient Maya Haab calendar is more accurate than the Gregorian calendar we use today.
  2. Termites cannot see, taste, or smell.
  3. The bacteria in our bodies outnumber our own cells by 10 to 1, but since they are so much smaller, all our bacteria companions only weigh half a pound.
  4. One thousand years ago, humans and our animals comprised 2% of the earth's mammal mass, now we and our animals take up 90% of the mammal biomass.
  5. We get the term "martial arts" from the Greek god of war, Mars.
  6. Mammals are heterodonts, which means some of our teeth shapes are different. The teeth of fishes and reptiles are all basically alike, some bigger than others but they all have the same shape.
  7. Just as the moon's gravitation pulls the oceans to create tides, the moon also pulls our atmosphere in its direction.
  8. 40,000 tons of interplanetary dust reaches Earth's surface every year, an equivalent of about 24,000 Honda Accords in weight.
  9. Even the giant 20 ton Titanosaur dinosaur had a relatively small egg of 7 inches in length because the eggs have to breathe through the shell. While the volume of an egg is proportional to the cube of its length, the surface area is only proportional to the square, so a really large egg wouldn't provide enough surface area to supply enough oxygen to its inhabitant. Also the larger the egg, the thicker the shell and at some point, the dinosaur couldn't break out to start life.
  10. The earth experiences earthquakes from plate tectonics, but the moon experiences "moonquakes" from the gravitational pull of earth grinding the moon's interior together.
  11. A photon born in the nuclear furnace of the sun bounces around inside the sun for 40,000 years before escaping as light.
  12. White Rhinos aren't white at all; their name is corruption of an Afrikaans word for its 'wide' mouth.
  13. The Black Cottonwood tree, Populus trichocarpa, has twice the number of genes that humans have.
  14. The earth's atmospheric Carbon Dioxide concentration is about 0.0383% by volume.
  15. If you divide a number in a Fibonacci series by its predecessor you get an approximation of the Golden Ratio (1.61803399). For example, 13/8 is 1.625. The larger the number, the better the approximation.
  16. "Blue Field Entoptic Phenomenon" is seeing white dots move around a blue sky which are the transparent-to-blue-light white blood cells moving through the capillaries in front of the retina.
  17. Each milliliter of ocean water holds about 50 million virus particles which kill about 20 percent of the bacteria in the ocean every day.
  18. The English "mile" is from the Latin "milia" meaning a thousand; referring to the thousand double paces of the Roman soldier. The Romans had specially trained soldiers who could measure distances by uniform steps.
  19. "Almost" is the longest word in English that has all its letters in alphabetical order.
  20. Our home planet Earth boasts 6,912 known living languages.
  21. The English distance of "foot" is from the length of the foot of the King Henry 1 who reigned from 1100-1135 AD.
  22. Wheat is a hexaploid. It has six copies of each gene. Most creatures have only two. Wheat has 16 billion base pairs - five times as many as humans.
  23. When the planet Pluto is far from the sun it is thought that it's meager atmosphere freezes and falls to the surface. When Pluto gets closer to the sun, its "atmosphere" is heated and becomes a gas again.
  24. Adult hornets gather meat from animal carcasses, but cannot eat it. They feed it to their larva, which digest the meat and secrete a fluid the adults can drink.
  25. A quarter of the world's top 100 medicines were discovered in Britain.
  26. Humans belong to the Mammalia class, the primate order, the hominid family, the genus Homo and the species sapiens.
  27. Methane (CH4) is 21 times more potent a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide (CO2) by weight.
  28. The ancient Romans used copper-plated iron nails for their ships to prevent corrosion.
  29. One barrel (42 gallons) of crude oil makes about 19.9 gallons of gasoline
  30. Geostationary orbit, where satellites appear to be stationary, is 35,790 km (22,240 statute miles).
  31. The earth speeds around the Sun at 107,320 km per hour.
  32. Smallpox killed half a billion people in the twentieth century making it the most deadly disease.
  33. Only one in eight wild African lions reaches adulthood.
  34. With an average elevation of 8,000 feet, Antarctica is our highest continent and it holds 70% of the earth's fresh water.
  35. Escape velocity for a spacecraft to leave Earth is over 40,000 kilometers per hour (25,000 mph).
  36. The human eye can see light between 380 and 740 nanometers in wavelength.
  37. In Medieval times, the word “girl” meant a young child of either sex. A “boy” was a male servant.
  38. Socrates, Confucius and Buddha were all alive at the same time.
  39. Goldbach's weak conjecture says that every odd number greater than 7 is the sum of three primes.
  40. The average adult has about two pints of blood for every 25 pounds of body weight.
  41. A gallon of gasoline contains 125,070 BTU.
  42. Tigers have striped skin under their fur, zebras do not.
  43. The Eurasian Swifts can spend 3 years in the air.
  44. 95% of all species are invertebrates.
  45. One third of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were of Scottish extraction.
  46. Sir Walter Scott invented the modern historical novel when he published "Waverley: 'Tis Fifty Years Since." in 1814.
  47. It is estimated that the number of protons in the universe is 10 to the 80th power.
  48. In proportional to body size, the vampire squid has the largest eye.
  49. Most photovoltaics cells run at 10 percent efficiencies, the most expensive can get 35 percent conversion.
  50. The Greeks called themselves Hellenes. The Romans called them Graeci. Guess which name stuck?
  51. With a venom 100 times more lethal than any other snake, the Sea Snake (Hydrophus Belcheri) is the most poisonous.
  52. Democracy all but disappears after the death of Aristotle in 322 and does not reappear until the 16th century.
  53. Just as an "alpha" wolf rules the pack, an omega wolf is abused by all the others in the pack.
  54. Only the alpha pair of wolves in a pack have puppies.
  55. One third of English words are derived from Greek.
  56. "Caenorhabditis elagans", a 1mm long nematode, is a favorite for biological research. The worm has exactly 959 cells, 302 of them neurons, and it is the only creature to have each cell classified as to their function.
  57. The Romans had a saying "Res ad trarios venti" or in English "It's come to the Triarii (TREE-are-e-i)" . In a military sense, it means the battle is going badly, the first two lines of the three lines of soldiers have fallen, time to send in the last line of the experienced troops. In daily life "It's come to the Triarii" would mean "We're looking at disaster in this situation, we've got to use our last option."
  58. The Latin phrase "Murum aries attigit", means "The ram has touched the wall". The Roman war policy was that a city could surrender when first given an ultimatum, but once the battering ram touched the walls, it was going to be a slaughter. Julius Caesar used this principle to encourage cities to surrender quickly.
  59. The city of Boston was founded in 1630 while Galileo (1564-1642) was still alive and Isaac Newton was yet to be born (1642).
  60. The moon landing in 1969 was only 66 years after the first controlled manned aircraft flight in 1903. Within a person's lifetime, mankind went from not having heavier-than-air flight technology to sending men 239,000 miles to the moon.
  61. Since Pluto's discovery in 1930, it has not yet made a complete orbit around the Sun.
  62. Being an American President is actually a very dangerous job, 9.3% fatalities.
  63. 4 people die each year in the US from rabid bats.
  64. People in the U.S. watch 4 hours of tv/day, Canadians only 3. (No wonder Canadians are smarter.)
  65. 40% of our body mass is muscle. Oddly enough, 40% holds true for whales and most other mammals as well.
  66. One nanometer is roughly the width of five carbon atoms.
  67. The average U.S. household uses 830 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month.
  68. The surface area of the earth is 510,000,000 square kilometers, about 85,000 square meters per person.
  69. A human DNA molecule can have 10 billion atoms, and most cells have 46 DNA molecules. If an atom were a brick, it would take 1,000 times the number of bricks in the Empire State Building to construct a DNA molecule.
  70. Magnesium diboride (MgB2) becomes superconducting at 39 degrees Kelvin, one of the highest known transition temperatures of any superconductor.
  71. The Manhattan Project developed the atomic bomb in 1945 at a cost of 2 billion dollars.
  72. Humans can see only 43 percent of the sun's light.
  73. The Sun has a diameter of 864,000 miles.
  74. The poisonous puffer fish, Takifugu rubripes, has the smallest known genome for vertebrates, 365 million base pairs, about one-eighth the size of humans.
  75. The parasitic bacterium, Mycoplasma genitalium, has the smallest genome of any creature with only 580,000 base pairs.
  76. Unlike most creatures, the horseshoe crab's blood is copper based. It's not really a crab, but more related to spiders. Its blue blood is used to detect impurities in our blood.
  77. The largest fish is the whale shark which can grow to 60 feet.
  78. Redheads need 20% more anesthetic than blonds or brunettes.
  79. Aztecs used base 20 for numbering. Quezcuuati was prophesied to return in the year "One Reed", oddly enough that's the exact year Cortes showed up.
  80. In Texas, with the exception of the colorful coral snake, the poisonous snakes all have wide heads.
  81. Alligators have the wide snouts and crocodiles have the narrow, thin snouts.
  82. Crocodile gender depends on the temperate the eggs during incubation. Eggs kept between 88 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit become males, below or above that, the eggs become females.
  83. Forked tongues in snakes give them directional smell, the side with the stronger scent points to the source. When both sides are equal, the prey is directly ahead (or perhaps, directly behind).
  84. The Blanket Octopus is immune to the venom of the Portuguese Man-of-War jellyfish and sometimes steals a tentacle from the jellyfish to defend itself and attack prey.
  85. Partly based on a study from the mutineers from the Bounty, all people on earth will eventually have the same last name.
  86. Infrared signal lights were used by the Navy in WWII to communicate between ships. Some of the ships burned crude oil. The POW survival rates for WWII were 85-90%.
  87. The native American horse, Equus (Amerhippus) Santaeelenae, became extinct about 10,000 years ago, around the time humans came to America.
  88. Caffeine (C8H10N4O2) amounts:
    Item Caffeine in mg
    5oz Coffee 30 - 180
    5 oz DeCaf Coffee 1 - 5
    5 oz Tea 25 - 110
    12 oz Cola 30 - 60
    1 Excedrin Migraine 65

    Caffeine's half-life in a human is about five hours.

  89. The Hyena and Iberian Lynx are the only known mammals whose young routinely kill each other and the parents don't intervene.
  90. In 2002 the USA consumed 20 Million barrels of oil a day; 58% was imported. In 2015 the USA consumed 19.4 million barrels a day and 24% was imported. In 2020 the US exported more oil than it imported.