86 Facts I Learned In June That I'll Never Forget As Long As I Live
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Before you continue reading, I want you to know that this post *might* contain a bunch of facts you've already read.
Some context: I write a weekly series, published on Saturday mornings, where I round up a bunch of cool facts I learned that week. Then, at the end of every month, I take everything I learned and put it all into one convenient place for your reading pleasure — and that's what you're reading now. Here's the one I wrote in May.
SO, without further ado, here are 86 Things I Learned In June™️:
1.In the early 1800s, William Burke and his friend William Hare realized that Edinburgh University medical school would pay for cadavers, so they concocted a sinister plan to make money.
2.This is Frederick Fleet. He was the lookout for the Titanic on the night it sank and the first to spot the iceberg in its path, which he described as "a black object, high above the water, right ahead."
3.Amber fossils have offered us some of the most fascinating and unusual glimpses of everyday, prehistoric life. From a feathered dinosaur tail with its soft tissue intact to a prehistoric tableau of a spider making a meal of a wasp, tree sap seemed to ensnare these animals at the most unexpected and inopportune moments. But perhaps no animal expected it less than this 99 million-year-old daddy longlegs with an erect penis — yes, you read that correctly. This cousin of today's daddy longlegs spider died, and was perfectly preserved, with a full erection:
4.In 2012, a French beekeeper noticed that his bees were producing honey in the most unusual and unnatural colors. Other beekeepers in the area were experiencing a similar issue, so they banded together to investigate the cause. Eventually it was discovered that the local bees were visiting a nearby M&M's factory and feasting on discarded shells (hence the colors). This honey was ultimately deemed to be of a much lower quality than standard honey, and all of it was thrown out.
5.June 4 marked 32 years since the Chinese government in Beijing cracked down on peaceful, pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square.
6.Though this story has never been officially confirmed as fact, that hasn't stopped it from spreading like wildfire — and despite its ubiquity, it's never been refuted either. Rumor has it that a few family members of Al Capone got sick after drinking expired milk in the 1930s, so the notorious gangster threw his immense influence behind a campaign to get expiration dates added to milk bottles. Capone may very well be the reason that all milk sold in the US today is dated.
7.There's only a single documented case of a meteorite striking a person. It happened in 1954 to a woman named Ann Hodges. She was taking a nap one November afternoon when, suddenly, a 9-pound (4-kilogram) meteorite blasted through her ceiling. Fortunately, it first hit the radio before bouncing off and hitting her — a direct impact might've killed her — but it still left a very painful bruise:
8.There's a small aluminum plaque on the Moon that commemorates astronauts and cosmonauts who have died in the line of duty. It's called "The Fallen Astronaut," and it was placed there — along with the small figurine in front of it — in 1971 during the Apollo 15 mission.
9.This is former Air Force engineer and NASA rocket scientist Lonnie Johnson. A self described "tinkerer," he helped send the Galileo and Cassini satellites to Jupiter, assisted in the development of the B-2 Stealth Bomber, designed the technology that became the basis for CDs and DVDs (which he didn't think to patent), and much, much more — oh, and he also invented one of the bestselling toys of all time: the Super Soaker. Here he is posing with the first prototype he ever created made of PVC tubes and a two-liter soda bottle:
10.The wedge-tailed eagle is the largest bird of prey found in Australia. The females, which are larger than the males, can weigh close to 12 pounds (5.3 kilograms) and have a 7.5-foot wingspan (2.3 meters). Though individually they go after mostly rabbits and other similarly sized prey, in groups they've been known to take down adult kangaroos. Wedge-tailed eagles are also highly territorial, and there have been documented cases of these raptors attacking small planes and helicopters that encroach on their nesting sites.
11.While women have been wearing wedding rings for many millennia, a tradition that can be traced back to ancient Egypt, the same can't be said for men. In fact, the shift occurred very recently; it wasn't until World War II that wearing wedding rings became the norm for Western men.
12.Did you know Edgar Allan Poe's death is still an unsolved mystery? Most believe he simply drank himself to death — and he very well might have — but it's worth considering the unusual circumstances of the famous writer's final week.
13.Researchers estimate that there used to be between 10 to 50 times more sharks swimming in Earth's oceans, and a far greater diversity of species as well. So what happened? Well, 19 million years ago there was a great extinction event that wiped most of them out — the most devastating extinction event since the one that wiped out the dinosaurs. What caused it is still a mystery.
14.Scientists in China have set a new world record. Using a fusion reactor called the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (pictured below) — or, more informally, the "artificial sun" — they managed to heat plasma to a temperature of 216 million degrees Fahrenheit (120 million degrees Celsius) for a sustained period of 101 seconds, and then to a whopping 288 million degrees Fahrenheit (160 million degrees Celsius) for 20 seconds. Their goal is to replicate the energy-generating conditions that occur inside stars, and in so doing they achieved a temperature that's over 10 times hotter than the core of our own Sun.
15.This is the Hydnellum peckii, more commonly called the Bleeding Tooth Fungus — aka the Devil's Tooth. Despite its horrifying name (and appearance), this mushroom isn't toxic. It is, however, extremely bitter and therefore not pleasant to eat.
16.Naked mole rats are really strange animals, and not just because of their appearance.
17.This photo of Albert Einstein's office at Princeton was taken on the very same day he died. Everything is exactly as he left it:
18.There's something oddly terrifying about underwater sinkholes, which are simply called "blue holes." It wasn't until recently that efforts were made to study them, given how dangerous they can be to explore. Blue holes, which are often shaped like an inverse hourglass and can therefore be much wider than their openings would lead you to believe, can run pretty deep. They're also home to all kinds of marine life.
19.Coconut crabs love to steal. In fact, they're such notorious thieves that they're also called "robber crabs." If something is shiny — or smelly — enough, and within reach, a coconut crab will just take it. One researcher reported an expensive thermal camera stolen that she had left out overnight to film Christmas Island wildlife, and she knows humans aren't the culprit. And at a family BBQ, a staggering 52 crabs showed up uninvited and went straight for the food.
20.Agha Mohammad Khan Qajar was an 18th-century Persian emperor who united Iran and established the Qajar dynasty, which would rule until the early 20th century. He was known for his cruelty and his violent determination to remain in power, which is partly why the lapse of judgment that led to his death was so unusual. After two servants got into a noisy argument with one another, Shah Agha Mohammad sentenced them both to death, but since it was the Sabbath he postponed the execution until the following day. Instead of locking them up, he put them back to work; and instead of going back to work, they murdered the Shah in his sleep.
21.The substance pictured below is called "star jelly," which got its name because it was once believed to have fallen from the heavens, remnants of shooting stars and the like. In reality, it's far grosser than that. Star jelly is basically a mucus-y substance found in the ovaries of frogs and toads, and when birds eat these amphibians, sometimes they'll puke it up.
22.The person who committed the 1982 Tylenol Murders is still at large.
23.Before high school teacher Christa McAuliffe was selected, NASA had originally approached Big Bird about joining the disastrous 1986 mission in which the Space ShuttleChallenger exploded 73 seconds after liftoff, resulting in the tragic deaths of all seven crew members.
24.The first YouTube video ever was uploaded on April 23, 2005. It's called "Me at the zoo," and it's an 18-second-long video of YouTube cofounder Jawed Karim just sorta hanging out at the San Diego Zoo.
25.Enceladus, Saturn's sixth largest moon, is one of the likeliest places in our solar system to support alien life.
26.You're not allowed to visit Ilha da Queimada Grande — aka Snake Island — because you'd probably die if you did.
27.Joseph Philippe Lemercier Laroche is the only Black passenger to die when the Titanic went down. Additionally, he and his two daughters, Simonne and Louise Laroche, were the only three Black passengers on the entire ship.
28.Here's a strange one: Some big cat species, like tigers and cheetahs, are apparently obsessed with Calvin Klein's Obsession for Men cologne.
29.Nikola Tesla predicted the invention of the smartphone in 1926.
30.536 is said to be the worst year in recorded human history.
32.This is Magawa the rat, and in 2020 he received a gold medal for his bravery and heroism.
33.President Andrew Jackson stored so much cheese in the White House that it still stank long after he left office.
34.As ferocious as alligators are known to be, they actually coexist peacefully with manatees.
35.This is the silk vest King Charles I was wearing in 1649 when he was beheaded.
36.Lake Baikal, located in Siberia, is the largest, deepest, most ancient lake on Earth. It contains a whopping 20% of the entire planet's fresh water — oh, and strange things are rumored to have happened there.
37.This amazing animal is called a glaucus atlanticus, or more commonly a blue dragon, and it's probably the coolest looking slug you've ever seen.
And here's how big they are:
38.The blade of this dagger found in King Tut's tomb is made up of iron, nickel, and cobalt — this combination of metals is most commonly found inside meteorites, and researchers believed that's precisely what was used to forge it:
39.Extremely rare white ravens have been spotted on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada.
41.Ignaz Semmelweis was one of the earliest doctors to champion hand-washing as a means of preventing the spread of disease and infection, and for this he was ostracized and fired — and eventually he'd be committed to an asylum.
42.This new species of glass frog that was discovered in Costa Rica in 2015 resembles Kermit the Frog:
44.Garfield phones have been washing up on the beaches of Brittany, France, since the 1980s. The source of these phones has long been a mystery until, in 2019, a lost shipping container was located tucked inside a sea cave — the very same shipping container that was carrying the phones three decades earlier. The sad news is that the container was empty, which means every phone has been washed out to sea.
45.More than 300 people have died trying to climb Mount Everest since it became popularized almost exactly a century ago, and a large portion of those bodies remain on the mountain.
46.On October 24, 1926, 52-year-old Harry Houdini was rushed to the hospital after complaining about stomach pains. He died a week later on Halloween. The official cause of death would be attributed to appendicitis and peritonitis — but some, including his grandnephew, believe he was murdered by mystics and spiritualists.
47.George W. Bush was head cheerleader during his senior year in high school at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts.
48.It takes 248 Earth-years for Pluto to complete a single orbit around the Sun, which means not even half a Plutonian year has passed since it was discovered in 1930.
49.During a 1986 exploration of the Titanic wreckage, these dishes were spotted sitting on the ocean floor in this eerily organized arrangement:
51.An Egyptian vulture was just spotted in the UK for the first time since 1868, and before that it was last spotted in 1825 — the only two documented sightings of this bird in the region until this year.
52.At the young age of 24, Poon Lim would find himself stranded in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, alone, for *133 days*. Against all odds, and with limited seafaring experience, he would somehow manage to survive the ordeal. Poon Lim holds the Guinness World Record for most days stranded at sea on a raft.
53."Steady" Ed Headrick, who perfected the design of the frisbee and invented the game of frisbee golf, requested that, after his death, his ashes be used to make a set of limited-edition frisbees — and, just after he died in 2002, his wish was granted. Some of the frisbees were distributed to family and friends, while others were sold to help fund the Headrick Memorial Museum.
54.No, this isn't a photo of Mars — it's Death Valley National Park in California. The hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth was in Death Valley on July 10, 1913. It was 134°F (57°C) that day, and just this week that record came close to being broken: Temperatures hit 128°F (53°C).
55.The origin of the word "dashboard" — now a commonplace term for the panels in front of drivers and pilots, and more recently for a navigational interface for data management tools and computer programs — comes from a forward-facing piece of wood or leather that would serve as a barrier for when the horses' hooves would dash mud up at the driver and/or the occupants of a carriage or buggy.
56.There's a very remote area in the Pacific Ocean called the "oceanic pole of inaccessibility" — more commonly called "Point Nemo" — and it's the farthest you can get from land in any direction. If you ever find yourself at Point Nemo, the next closest humans might be right above your head on the International Space Station.
58.The largest star ever measured is a red hypergiant called VY Canis Majoris. Over 600 million miles wide and more than 300,000 times brighter than our own sun, if it were plopped down in the middle of our solar system, it would extend past Jupiter's orbit.
And here's a visual representation in case you're having trouble imagining that:
Still having trouble imagining how big that star is? Well here's what a sunset on Mars looks like:
And here's what a "sunset" on Mars would look like if VY Canis Majoris were our sun — Mars would literally be inside of it.
59.So little is known about the mating habits — both the "how" and the "where" — of great white sharks that observing it has come to be considered the "Holy Grail" of marine biology and shark ecology. Only two eyewitness accounts of the act have ever been documented, one of which was reported just last year.
60.Because eucalyptus leaves are loaded with toxins that only adult koalas can withstand, baby koalas have to eat their mothers' poop for a more...diluted eucalyptus diet.
61.There are many more trees on Earth (an estimated 3 trillion of them) than there are stars in the Milky Way Galaxy (somewhere between 100 and 400 billion of those).
64.Pictured below is a life-sized replica of a Titanoboa, which was a prehistoric snake that was almost 40 feet long (12 meters) and more than 2,000 pounds (907 kilograms), making it far and away the largest snake that's ever lived (as far as we know).
65.This weird guy is called a Proceratophrys boiei, or a Boie's frog, and when these frogs feel threatened, they're able to flatten themselves out on the rainforest floor to look even more like a leaf than they already do.
66.The Zodiac Killer murdered at least five people in Northern California between 1968 and 1969 (he claims to have killed 37), and he continued to send letters and ciphers to San Francisco newspapers throughout the early 1970s. The case remains unsolved, and for over 50 years so, too, did three of his ciphers — that is, until this past December, when a team of amateur cryptologists solved one of them, which the FBI then confirmed. And very recently, a French engineer claims to have solved the final two, one of which allegedly reveals the killer's identity.
67.Apparently, space has a very distinct and powerful odor. Of course, you can't just stick your nose out there and give it a whiff, but the unusual smell has a tendency to cling to an astronaut's suit after they've completed a space walk.
68.Harriet Tubman, who was known by the code name "Moses" to those seeking passage on the Underground Railroad, was the first woman in American history to lead troops into battle. Her successful and daring raid on Combahee Ferry during the Civil War resulted in the liberation of some 700 slaves.
69.Scientists believe that the Moon was formed in the most terrifying way possible. The most widely accepted theory behind its formation is called the "giant-impact hypothesis," and it posits that an object the size of Mars once crashed directly into Earth, and huge chunks of both Earth and the object coalesced to form the Moon as we know it today.
70.A rooster once survived for 18 months after his head had been cut off. His name was Mike, and after being beheaded on his Colorado farm one day in 1945, he just sort of stood around — and he continued to stand around for the next year and a half.
71.Major Walter Summerford was struck by lightning *three times* in his life — and if that's not unbelievable enough for you, his tombstone was struck by lightning after he died.
72.Serial killer Rodney Alcala murdered seven women in the 1970s. In 1978, while his spree was active, he appeared as Bachelor Number One on an episode of The Dating Game and ended up getting picked to go on a date.
74.Adolf Hitler and J. R. R. Tolkien fought on opposing sides in the Battle of the Somme — also called the Somme Offensive — which is one of the largest and deadliest conflicts of the first World War.
75.The Ferris wheel was invented for the sole purpose of one-upping the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
76.Moving at an approximate speed of 5 miles per second, it only takes the International Space Station 90 minutes to complete a single orbit of Earth.
77.There used to be a vintage Coca-Cola vending machine (pictured below) in Seattle, Washington that would spit out a mystery can of soda for only 75 cents. Occasionally, you'd even get something that was discontinued years, sometimes decades, earlier. The strangest thing is that no one knows who stocked and maintained the machine — the whole thing is shrouded in mystery.
78.Sperm whales sleep in a vertical position within groups of other sperm whales.
79.This 1,700-year-old wine is the oldest ever discovered that's still in liquid form. It was found inside an excavated grave in Speyer, Germany, and the reason it managed to survive for almost two millennia is because olive oil was poured into the bottle to seal the wine off from the open air.
80.Richard Nixon had a backup speech prepared in case Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became stranded on the Moon with no means of escape.
81.In 1966, the FIFA World Cup Trophy was stolen in London only a few short months before the tournament was set to begin. A ransom note demanding £15,000 was sent to police, causing a general panic to ensue — but it didn't last long. Pickles, a collie mix who was out for his evening walk, found the trophy hidden in a bush only a week after it went missing, making him a worldwide hero.
82.This is a zonkey — or what you get when you breed a zebra and a donkey:
83.This is Jonathan the Tortoise, and he's believed to be the oldest land animal alive. He was born in 1832, making him 189 years old.
84.In 2016, archaeologists used a ground-penetrating radar to study the contents of Shakespeare's grave, and what they discovered shocked them: His head appears to be missing.
85.During prohibition, pharmacists were allowed to fill prescriptions for "medicinal whiskey," which essentially gave them a legal monopoly on the outlawed substance.
86.Prior to the invention of the refrigerator, people had to find creative ways to keep their food fresh. In Russia, that took the form of dropping a Russian brown frog in your milk to make it last longer — turns out, they were onto something. Russian brown frogs secrete a gooey substance that has strong antibacterial properties.
On a recent episode of his Spotify podcast "Armchair Expert", Dax Shepard, 46, opened up about his massive body transformation during an interview with friends Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis, who were there via video-chat. Kutcher, who was there with Kunis to talk about cryptocurrency interrupted his wife to call attention to Shepard's beefiness.