Weekly Wrap Volume 137

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

gatorade-sidelineThe Origin of Gatorade and How the Tradition of the “Gatorade Shower” Got Started

During a typical sticky, unbearable August weekend in 1965 in Gainesville- the home of the University of Florida Gators- football practices were well underway in anticipation for the upcoming season. However, the weather had wreaked havoc on the freshman football team over the weekend. 25 players had been admitted to the infirmary with heat-related illness. Even those who didn’t get treatment were losing a relatively large amount of water weight due to sweating, with performance suffering accordingly. This all greatly concerned the entire coaching staff, but especially assistant coach Dwayne Douglas. He had experienced similar symptoms when he was a player too (including in the NFL for a short time before…(more)

sleeping-lady-stuart-littleStuart Little and the Missing Masterpiece

It was Christmas Eve 2009. Gergely Barki, an art historian and researcher with the Hungarian National Gallery in Budapest, had settled in with his daughter Lola to watch the 1999 movie Stuart Little. As Barki’s daughter snuggled on his lap to giggle at Stuart the mouse’s onscreen antics, Barki couldn’t believe his eyes. In a scene where Stuart and his human family have a conversation in front of a fireplace, Barki recognized the painting hanging on the wall in the background. It was no ordinary set dressing—it was a lost Hungarian masterpiece that hadn’t been seen in public since…(more)

meccaHow Does a Muslim Face Mecca When Praying in Space?

The first Muslim person in space was Royal Saudi Air Force pilot Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in 1985 aboard the United States shuttle Discovery. He was followed up by the first Muslimah in space, Anousheh Ansari, who, upon immigrating to America from Iran in her teens subsequently got a degree in electrical engineering and computer science and then, not long after, cashed in her life-savings to co-found Telecom Technologies Inc. The result of all this was Ansari eventually amassing a personal fortune of about $750 million, becoming one of the wealthiest women in the world. Using some of this self-made fortune, in 2006 she paid an undisclosed sum…(more)

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Bonus Quick Facts

  • Approximately 10 million trees per year are cut down to make the world’s supply of toilet paper. While the number can vary quite a bit from tree to tree and with different kinds of toilet paper, a very rough ballpark figure is that each tree produces approximately 1,000-2,000 rolls of TP. People in the United States on average use approximately 50% more toilet paper per person (about 24 rolls per person, per year) than other Western nations, primarily due to the reluctance of Americans to adopt inexpensive water washing systems like bidets. Crunching the numbers, if Americans on the whole made the switch, that would save around three and a half billion rolls of toilet paper per year, or a little over two million trees annually.
  • At the age of nine years old, actor Liam Neeson joined the All Saints Boxing Club put together by his parish priest, Father Darragh. He continued boxing until 17, according to Neeson becoming “juvenile champion of Northern Ireland three times and Irish runner-up a couple times in my weight division.” However, after one of his final fights, when he came out of the ring, Neeson later stated, “…my trainer said to go downstairs and take my clothes off and stuff, and I couldn’t figure out what downstairs meant. It kind of freaked me out a bit.” This, combined with the training time taking away from his schooling and amateur drama resulted in him quitting boxing. After dropping out of college, he took a variety of odd jobs before ultimately devoting his time to acting, something he first started at the age of 11 when he got a role in a school play that he took simply because a girl he had a crush on was also in the play. Later, while studying at Queen’s University Belfast, he also got into soccer, and even played in one game as a substitute for the Shamrock Rovers professional football club. In the end, he credits his time boxing teaching him “something about having a sense of discipline, no matter what your chosen profession is going to be, kind of never saying die, always getting up and going… I know I got that determination from those early days boxing.”
  • The 30th Vice President of the United States, Charles Gates Dawes, also won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1925 and was a self-taught pianist and composer who composed the 1912 hit song, “Melody in A Major,” which was eventually used in Tommy Edwards’ 1958 #1 hit (for a then record six weeks) “It’s All in the Game.”
  • The slinky was invented by accident when its creator, marine engineer Richard James, was working at a shipyard designing a device to measure horsepower output on naval battleships. The device required special springs for stabilization, one of which James accidentally knocked off his desk. It fell on a pile of stacked books and then continued on to the floor in slinky-like fashion. After playing around with it a bit, Richard thought this would make a good toy and got a loan to have several hundred slinkies made and packaged. He then managed to get his invention on the shelves of a local store… No one bought any for several days. Things changed when he went to the store and demonstrated the toy to people as they shopped, resulting in the whole stock selling out within two hours. And the rest, as they say, is history.
  • Pamela Anderson was in the spotlight quite literally from day one of her life, being named Canada’s “Centennial Baby,” supposedly the first baby born on July 1, 1967, Canada’s 100th birthday.
  • While you might think Sweden’s official twitter account is run by some government PR rep, in fact, starting on December 10, 2011, Sweden’s Tourism Ministry decided to let various Swedish citizens run it, with each selected person given one week to tweet whatever they like, though they are reportedly given very loose instructions to avoid talking about politics or illegal activities. As you might imagine, this lack of oversight, combined with a very lackadaisical vetting process (mostly just looking for individuals who have previously demonstrated the ability to compose engaging tweets on their own accounts), has led to a few missteps here and there, such as in 2012 when one Sonja Abrahamsson was chosen and subsequently started very deliberately trolling it up, tweeting things like, “Whats the fuzz with jews. You can’t see if a person is a jew, unless you see their penises, and even if you do, you can’t be sure!?” But for the most part, Sweden’s “Rotation Curation” tweeting program has worked out well.
  • The oldest contender for first recorded condom use can be found in the French Grotte des Combarrelles, a cave with drawings, some 12,000 to 15,000 years old, displaying some form of condom use. Other archaeological evidence of early condoms finds evidence of silken, oiled paper condoms in ancient China, and tortoise shell and animal horn condoms in ancient Japan. Literally horny… eh?

Other Interesting Stuff

layering-clothes2-340x453Can You Really Avoid a Baggage Fee by Wearing all Your Clothes?

It’s a trope that has appeared in dozens of movies and countless TV shows, but can you actually circumvent an airline’s baggage fee by just turning up to the airport in all of your clothes? Now the first thing we should point out is that there are a handful of documented cases of people doing just this. Consider the story of James McElvar, a member of a Scottish boyband called Rewind, who successfully managed to board a plane wearing: “Four jumpers, six T-shirts, three pairs of jeans, two pairs of jogging bottoms, two jackets and two hats”. According to the BBC, McElvar was so annoyed at learning that his chosen airline wouldn’t let…(more)

little-albert4-340x269Terrifying Fluffy Bunnies and the Little Albert Experiment

The Little Albert Experiment was a study conducted back in 1920 by famed psychologist, “the father of behaviorism”, John B. Watson. It essentially involved conditioning a baby, identified only as “Albert. B” to experience fear at the sight of anything fluffy. Putting aside the egregious methodology problems and questionable ethics exhibited during the experiment, the reported results of the study, and its significance in the history of psychology, have seen the study become one of the most famous and oft cited in the entire field of human psychology. So how did it all start? Watson was greatly intrigued by the work of…(more)

Buckingham-Palace-340x227Breaking Into the Queens Bedroom

In the summer of 1982, a 33-year old unemployed royal fanatic twice scaled a 14-foot wall topped with barbed wire and revolving spikes, shimmied up a drainpipe, entered Buckingham Palace through unlocked windows, sat on the Queen’s throne and even enjoyed a brief tête-à-tête with Her Majesty. Michael Fagan was born on August 8, 1948 in London. Married in 1972, at the time he broke into the Palace, Michael had four children ages 3 to 10. Although previously having worked as a decorator and painter, Michael was out of work when he began planning his break-ins. Telling his mother that he was visiting his “girlfriend – Elizabeth Regina,” Fagan made 12 trips to the Palace in the…(more)

sidis-340x445A Genius Among Us: The Sad Story of William J. Sidis

Before the terms “Tiger Mom” or “Helicopter Mom” entered our vernacular. Before the moms on “Toddlers and Tiaras” tried to turn their daughters into beauty queens. Before Earl Woods showed off his two year old son Tiger’s golf skills on the Mike Douglas Show. Before Lindsay Lohan’s dad, the mother in Psycho, and every other overbearing parent we know from modern pop culture, there was William J. Sidis and his mom and dad. Boris and Sarah Sidis were Ukrainian Jewish immigrants who were both brilliant. Having fled the Ukrainian due to political and religious persecution, they decided to settle in New York City. Boris was a psychologist who quickly became known (and somewhat infamous) for his work with hypnosis and his studying of mental disorders. Sarah was a doctor who was one of the only women of her time to earn a medical degree. Both had highly successful careers, but they wanted…(more)

HPV-340x268What Causes Warts?

A viral infection caused by one of several ubiquitous strains (there are more than 100 known, with the vast majority of humans acquiring at least one strain at some point in our lives) of the pesky human papillomavirus (HPV), skin warts happen as the virus enters the top layers of skin – often through a small scratch. From this, you probably deduced that you won’t be getting warts from frogs as the old wives’ tale goes. However, you can get them from other people who have warts – even from something as seemingly benign as wiping your hands on a towel recently used by someone with a wart. As mentioned, there are several different…(more)



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