When you’re looking to know all there is to know about something you may want to invoke the use of the W5 acronym. That stands for “who, what, when, why, and where” though maybe not always in that order. If you can answer all of those questions regarding just about anything, you can get a full understanding of that thing. If you’re missing one then, well, the story is incomplete.
Many times the “where” is something you take for granted. You’ll hear about an accident on the highway, a robbery at a Walmart, an incident at a school and in all of them the “where” is right there even if most of the rest is vague. But sometimes the where is not as obvious as it seems. Sometimes you take for granted you know exactly where something is and you’re not right at all.
10. Much of the Las Vegas Strip is Actually in Paradise, Nevada
According to AAA, Las Vegas is the third most visited city in the United States. About 40 million people per year visit the city, a number that dipped during Covid but is now back up again. That’s fairly significant for a town of 656,000 citizens.
Being that Las Vegas is such a popular place to go, it may be surprising to some people to learn that one of the most famous attractions in all of Vegas, the Strip, with all its bright lights and casinos, is not actually a part of Las Vegas at all.
Several major parts of what people consider Vegas, including the University of Nevada and the Las Vegas airport are not in the city of Las Vegas, either. They’re in Paradise, Nevada, which is an unincorporated, census-designated area that is next to what is technically the real Las Vegas, which is all a part of Clark County. Unless you’re at the north end of the Strip, then you might be in Winchester township.
The confusion dates back to the 1950s when hotel and casino owners were looking to avoid municipal taxes. They built beyond the city limits in unincorporated towns, paid lower taxes, and were close enough to the action that no one cared. As Las Vegas and the area grew larger it all merged and officials from towns and townships kept the barriers because of the lucrative taxation that went with them.
9. The Cincinnati Airport is Neither in Cincinnati Nor Even Ohio
Cincinnati, Ohio is home to 2.25 million people and ranks as the 30th largest city in America. So it’s not huge like Los Angeles by any means, but it’s the biggest city in Ohio and it’s doing pretty well for itself. You’d think a city of this size would have its own airport and while there is a Cincinnati airport, it’s just not in Cincinnati.
Your first clue that something is amiss is that the airport’s proper name is the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport. Cincinnati is in Ohio so we’re already straddling state lines. The address for the terminal is in Hebron, Kentucky and according to their own directions, it takes about 13 minutes to drive there from Cincinnati itself.
The reason the airport exists at all dates back to WWII. The previous airport for the underdeveloped region flooded a lot. The military wanted a place to train pilots so some Kentucky congressman lobbied to get a new airport built and bring in some cash.
When the airport was finished, so was the war. The area had a huge, shiny new airport, and commercial airlines at the nearby flood-prone airport moved quickly, leaving the Cincinnati area behind. So the new airport got called Cincinnati, even though it was in Kentucky.
8. Lobsters Don’t Have Brains In Their Heads
Humans have a tendency towards casual anthropomorphism. We ascribe human qualities to many animals and it’s easy and trouble-free to do so with pets and farm animals. We give them names, talk to them, laugh at silly things they do, and so on. It’s easy because, as different as a cat may look from a human, we still understand it in basic terms of living things. It has eyes and so do we. It has a mouth that makes noise and so do we. It can run and so can we.
Things get more complicated the less like a human a creature is. A lobster, for instance, is much further removed. It has eyes, sort of, but they’re not large and blinking with pupils that change size. It has arms, sort of, but they end in pinchy claws that we can, at best, mimic. And we have to assume it has a brain. And it does, just not where it seems like it should be.
We take brains for granted. In mammals, the brain is right there in the skull. But a lobster doesn’t have a skull. The brain is in its throat rather than at the end of its body where its head is located. It keeps its kidneys in its head, actually. And it has teeth in its stomach. In human terms, the whole thing is a little mixed up. But that’s only because it’s nothing like a human and doesn’t need to be.
7. The Highest Point in the Netherlands is in the Caribbean
If you didn’t have access to Google, where do you think you might start looking for the highest point in the Netherlands? Let’s say we’re one hundred years in the past and all you have handy is your inquisitive nature. Sadly, for most of us, this would end up becoming a maddening task that bears terrible results because it’s also an unintentional trick.
The highest point that qualifies as part of the Netherlands is not actually in continental Europe which, if you know your atlas, is where you would find the Netherlands. The highest point there is called Vaalserberg, and it’s fine if you want the mainland high point. But you need to go all the way to the Caribbean to find the true high point of Mount Scenery.
Thanks to colonialism, the Dutch spread throughout the islands of the Caribbean once upon a time. In 2010, the Netherlands Antilles, a chain of islands that were part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands as one country, dissolved. That turned into three islands that were now part of the Netherlands proper and that meant Saba was not officially Dutch.
The mountain on Saba island reaches 2,877 feet, towering above the 1,059 feet of Vaalserberg, making it the highest point as of 2010.
6. Hogwarts Isn’t in England
If you’re a diehard Harry Potter fan, then maybe you know this fact better than you know your own address and can roast us in the comments for sharing such an obvious piece of trivia. But if you’re not, if you maybe only watched the movies or didn’t keep up on every little fact, you may have missed something about Hogwarts back in the day.
Of course, Hogwarts isn’t real, as far as we know, so the location of a place that doesn’t exist is maybe not the sort of information most of us have, anyway. But the story makes it seem like the school is located somewhere in England, what with all the British children who hang out there.
JK Rowling has stated in the past that Hogwarts is not in England, however, but Scotland. Specifically, it seems to be somewhere in the Highlands, so there may be immortals decapitating each other beyond the gates.
5. Ecuador’s Middle of the World is Not Located in The Middle of the World
Ecuador is known for being on the equator and the country even created a “Middle of the World” theme park to celebrate that fact. The park, built in 1936, shows you the exact middle of the earth located at 0 degrees, 0 minutes, and 0 seconds. Except that it doesn’t. It wasn’t measured correctly and is not actually located there. It’s 240 meters north.
The park’s administration is aware that the one job they were supposed to do was done incorrectly, but they blame the times. Instruments in 1936 were less accurate so whoever did the measuring probably thought they had it right. Modern GPS is far more accurate and the real 0,0,0 spot is on private land where someone was kind enough to at least put up a sign to acknowledge it.
4. There Are Technically Three North Poles
Everyone knows the North Pole, that’s where Santa Claus lives. But in real terms, the North Pole is more complex. You may have heard of the difference between the geographic North Pole and the magnetic North Pole. The geographic North is a fixed point that will never move. The magnetic North Pole can wander a bit and they do not line up. If they’re not in the same place, it can get confusing if you are orienteering in the area.
There’s also a third North Pole that is less well known, and it is also not in either of those places. North Pole is a town in Alaska and it’s over 1,700 miles from the actual North Pole, but still far enough North that most of the rest of the world wouldn’t make a huge distinction.
3. Most of Your Body’s Serotonin Is In Your Gut
Some people refer to serotonin as a feel-good chemical. It regulars your moods and helps transmit signals between nerve cells in your brain and throughout your body. Some people need to take medication to help regulate serotonin levels in their brains, even. SSRIs or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors increase serotonin levels to help treat depression.
Most of the serotonin in your body is not found in your brain, however. The biggest repository of the chemical is in your gut. In fact, 95% of it is produced in your intestines which goes to show how little we fully understand about everything in our body works. Research also suggests serotonin may play an important role in things like Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
2. The Largest Lake We Know of Isn’t Located on Earth
When looking to discover the largest lake you’re going to need some more information. If you just Google “largest lake” you might get the largest freshwater, the largest in America, or the largest in the world. None of those may be what you mean and the largest lake that we know of is none of those things. The largest lake that humans have ever discovered doesn’t exist on Earth.
Known as Kraken Mare, the largest lake we have discovered was seen by the Cassini probe as it made its way past Saturn’s massive moon called Titan. The probe was investigating lakes and was using radar to determine their size. A radar signal would be sent to the lake and the size could be calculated based on how long it took the signal to hit the bottom of the lake and bounce back to the probe. Only that never happened over Kraken. The lake is too big.
Made up of methane, Kraken Mare covers over 155,000 square miles and the depth is just unknown. Estimates range from as shallow as 115 to potentially 1,000 feet. The size makes it larger than the Caspian Sea on Earth but it technically qualifies as a lake since a sea should have an outlet to an ocean and Titan does not have those.
1. The Goddard Institute for Space Studies Is Not Located Near NASA
The Goddard Institute for Space Studies is not a place most of us have probably heard of or, if we have, it was only in passing. The research group is affiliated with NASA and it’s famously the place where the idea of black holes was popularized. It wasn’t created there, but the term made a splash during a talk in the 60s and took off from there.
Being a NASA-affiliated research group that studies space you can imagine, with no further information, that it’s likely a lab, or at least an office somewhere and maybe in Florida. Maybe the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, for instance. Lots of maybes, but it’s not located anywhere near astronauts or space shuttles. It is located pretty close to George Costanza.
In countless episodes of Seinfeld we get establishing shots of a restaurant before the scene shows you Jerry or the others inside their favorite diner. The diner scenes were not filmed in the building we saw from outside, but those outside shots are of a real building in New York, and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies is located in it above Tom’s Restaurant.