Weekly Wrap Volume 3

This is a weekly wrap of our Daily Knowledge Newsletter. You can get that newsletter for free here.

urineWhy Multivitamins Make Your Urine Bright Yellow

If you’ve ever taken a daily multivitamin you too might have noticed your urine turning a bright yellow-ish color. Take your vitamins and eat some asparagus and you might just think you’re dying the next time you pee! What’s happening is that urine will turn a bright, sometimes neon, yellow in response to excess… (more)

crosswalk buttonMany Crosswalk Buttons Don’t Actually Do Anything

Today I found out many crosswalk signal buttons don’t do anything when you press them.  They are only there to give you something to press, called “placebo buttons”, not unlike how most thermostat controls in large office buildings don’t do anything, but are just there to give you a way to think you are changing the temperature of your office space. (Some of these also include white noise generators to make you think the temperature control box is working, when in fact, it’s just turning on the white noise generator.)… (more)

fruits-and-vegetablesThe Difference Between Fruits and Vegetables

An apple is a fruit, right? So is a banana. How about a cucumber? A vegetable, right? Not really, from a botanical standpoint.  The good news is that, nutritionally speaking in terms of what you should eat daily, fruits and vegetables are typically grouped together, so you can simply pick your favorites and eat away without completing a science degree. The surprising news is that, scientifically speaking, many of the foods we refer to as vegetables are actually fruits… (more)

marie-curieMarie Curie Once Had Two Duels Fought Over Her After an Affair

Marie Curie and her husband, Pierre, were no strangers to the press. In 1903, the pair won a Nobel Prize “in recognition of the extraordinary services they have rendered by their joint researches on the radiation phenomena discovered by Professor Henri Becquerel”. Their relationship was a happy one, with each of them being on an even intellectual footing with the other. They celebrated their Nobel Prize and continued their work. But after a few years, tragedy struck. In 1906, Curie’s beloved husband died in an accident… (more)

ticklingWhy It’s Nearly Impossible to Tickle Yourself

It’s very hard to tickle yourself because your brain anticipates things going on around you in order to help speed up response times. More technically, the cerebellum monitors body movements and can also distinguish between expected sensations and unexpected ones, generally resulting in diminishing or completely discarding expected sensations, while paying much more attention to unexpected ones. So your brain is actively… (more)

Bonus Quick Facts:

  • Nintendo’s name comes from the Japanese name “Nintendou”. Roughly translated “Nin” means “entrusted” and “ten-dou” means “heaven”, so basically “leave luck to heaven”. If this seems a strange name/slogan for Nintendo, perhaps it’s important to note it started out as a playing card making company in 1889.
  • Melbourne, Australia used to be named “Batmania”, named after Bruce Wayne… And by “Bruce Wayne”, I mean explorer John Batman.
  • Human sperm cells on average tend to be able to travel about 7 to 8 inches per hour (about 17-20 cm/hr).
  • Nowhere in the bible does it say there were three wise men, just three gifts.
  • One of Barry Manilow’s biggest hits, “I Write the Songs”, was written by Bruce Johnston of the Beach Boys.
  • Opiorphin is a chemical in human saliva that, according to Dr. C Rougeot et al in a 2010 study, is 6 times more potent than morphine, gram for gram.
  • Pearls will dissolve if placed in vinegar as they are mostly made up of calcium carbonate, easily dissolved by acetic acid, which is most of what vinegar is.
  • The dwarf planet Pluto takes 248 Earth years to orbit the Sun; meaning that since its discovery in 1930, it has only traveled around 33% of its orbit.
  • The “Like” button in Facebook originally was going to say “Awesome”, rather than “Like” according to Facebook Engineer Andrew Bosworth. Zuckerberg eventually vetoed the “Awesome” button in favor of the shorter “Like”.
  • The draft for War and Peace, the 15th longest novel in the world with over a half a million words, was written out by hand seven times by Tolstoy’s wife, Sophia Tolstaya, before Tolstoy was happy with his novel.
  • For many, many more fascinating and extremely thoroughly researched Quick Facts click here

Other Interesting Stuff:

alphabetThe Origin of the English Alphabet

Dating back nearly four thousand years, early alphabetic writing, as opposed to other early forms of writing like cuneiform (which employed the use of different wedge shapes) or hieroglyphics (which primarily used pictographic symbols), relied on simple lines to represent spoken sounds. Scholars attribute its origin to a little known Proto-Sinatic, Semitic form of writing developed in Egypt between 1800 and 1900 BC. Building on this ancient foundation, the first widely… (more)

pop-rocks1Why Pop Rocks Pop

Much like other hard sugar candies, Pop Rocks are made primarily of sugar, corn syrup, water, and artificial flavoring.  It turns out, what causes it to pop when it comes in contact with the moisture and heat in your mouth is not due to any ingredient.  Rather, it is due to the way the candy is made, which we know in detail thanks to the fact that the manufacturing process is patented and thus the process is laid out for… (more)

Multi-colored carrotsCarrots Used to Be Purple Before the 17th Century

The modern day orange carrot wasn’t cultivated until Dutch growers in the late 16th century took mutant strains of the purple carrot and gradually developed them into the sweet, plump, orange variety we have today.  Before this, pretty much all carrots were purple with mutated versions occasionally popping up including yellow and white carrots.  These were rarely cultivated and lacked the purple pigment anthocyanin.  It is thought that the modern day orange carrot was developed by crossing… (more)

the-red-baronManfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen, a.k.a., The Red Baron, Crashed In His First Solo Flight

Even after our most heart breaking failures, parents, teachers and coaches encourage us to get back up and try again. Perhaps this is because they know that rather than being a permanent condition, failure is an opportunity to learn and improve. This was certainly the experience of Manfred von Richthofen. After cracking up his aircraft on his first solo attempt, Manfred went on to fly countless combat missions, racking up a confirmed 80 airborne kills and(more)

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