In a world where fake news and false factoids are rampant, it is hard to distinguish what is true and what isn’t, especially when it sounds so unbelievable. We have gone through some crazy news stories and unbelievable tales from history and culled some of the most interesting, unbelievable facts that sound like BS, but are completely true.
10. The Founder of Match.com Lost His Girlfriend to Someone She Met on Match.com
Gary Kremen purchased the domain Match.com in 1994 for $2,500, when only about five percent of Americans were online. He left the company two years later with a $50,000 payout. In 2015 alone, Match.com made $900 million in revenue. Oops!
Something else that Kreman lost out on with Match.com was his girlfriend. Kreman said that he made the website so that it would be welcoming to women. He said that he knew the site was successful because he lost his own girlfriend to a man that she met on Match.com. After losing out on Match.com’s success, we hope he found someone special on Plenty of Fish.
9. Oxford University is Older than the Aztec Civilization
The Aztec civilization emerged sometime around 1200 A.D. in modern day Mexico. The Aztecs developed a complex calendar system, had universal education, but they also practiced human sacrifice and never developed metal forging. Without metal weapons, they didn’t stand much of a chance when invaders led by Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes captured their capital, Tenochtitlan, in 1521.
Amazingly, Oxford University, which includes alumni like Oscar Wilde, Lewis Carroll, J.R.R. Tolkien, Margaret Thatcher, Stephen Hawking, and inventor of the internet Tim Berners-Lee, is older than the Aztec civilization by over a century. The school was founded in 1096, when the ancestors of the Aztec were still just nomadic tribes in Northern Mexico. Also, at 920 years old, Oxford is the oldest English language school still in operation.
8. There Are Waterfalls Underwater
It seems pretty illogical that there would be a waterfall underwater, but not only do they exist, the largest waterfall in the world is actually underwater. It is called the Denmark Strait and it is found between Greenland and Iceland.
How underground waterfalls work, is that when colder water meets warmer water, the colder water sinks because it is denser. This is what happens at the Denmark Strait when colder water from the Greenland Sea meets slightly less cold water from the Irminger Sea.
As for the size of the waterfalls, the tallest on land is Angel Falls in Venezuela, which stands at 11,000 feet and the Denmark Strait is three times taller. Also, much more water falls down the Denmark Straight than Niagara Falls, Earth’s most powerful waterfall not on the ocean floor. Every minute six million cubic feet of water go over Niagara Falls; that’s enough to fill almost sixty Olympic swimming pools. The Denmark Straight, on the other hand, has 175 million cubic feet of water per second going over it. That is the equivalent of about 2,000 Niagara Falls, when Niagara Falls is at its peak.
The Denmark Strait is just one of three known underground waterfalls. Another one is located off the coast of Africa near Madagascar and Mozambique in the Indian Ocean. The other one is found at the Strait of Gibraltar, which is where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean, between the southernmost point of Spain and the most northwestern part of Africa.
7. In a Vacuum, Metal can be Welded Together Without Heat
Normally, if you want to stick two pieces of metal together, you just use a lot of heat and weld them. However, if the pieces of metal were in a place with no oxygen, like in a vacuum or in space, then they can fuse together without any heat in a process called cold welding.
When a metal is in a place with oxygen, a protective oxide layer surrounds the metal and this keeps all the atoms together. If a piece of metal without the layer is in an oxygen-less area and it touches another piece of metal without the layer, the atoms in the metal don’t know they are two separate pieces and they mix together.
6. Sharks Are Older Than Trees
According to fossilized scales found in Siberia, it’s believed that sharks first appeared on Earth sometime around 450 million years ago during the Silurian period. Over the years, sharks evolved and at one point there were over 3,000 species of shark. There are about 500 species today.
Trees, on the other hand, didn’t appear until millions of years after the appearance of sharks. It’s believed that trees first started growing during the Devonian period, which happened about 416 million to 358 million years ago. The oldest known tree fossil is 385 million-years-old; that is 65,000,000 years after the first appearance of sharks! Besides trees, sharks are also older than the dinosaurs by 220 million years, and they are 390 years older than Mount Everest.
Just for some perspective on that, Homo sapiens only evolved about 200,000 years ago. No wonder they get a whole week to themselves.
5. The Odds of You Existing is 1 in 102,685,000
Did you know that it’s pretty much a miracle that you’re here? According to author Dr. Ali Binazir, the odds of you being here is one in 102,685,000. We can’t even write out that many zeroes, because it’s 2,685,000 zeroes.
How it works is that the odds of your dad meeting your mom were about one in 20,000. The odds of that meeting resulting in children were about one in 2,000. Next, the odds of the sperm inseminating the egg that became you was one in 400 quadrillion (one in 400,000,000,000,000,000). Of course, your parents didn’t just appear out of nowhere, they are part of a lineage as well. The odds that they are part of an unbroken human lineage that dates all the way back to the beginning of the species is one in 1045,000. However, you’ve got to remember that each one of your ancestors were born because their parents met, it resulted in children, and the specific sperm and specific egg came together that created them. The odds of that happening about 150,000 times, which is about how many generations since the dawn of mankind, you have the odds of one in 102,640,000.
Add all of that together and the odds of you existing is one in 102,685,000. If you’re wondering how unlikely those odds are, it would be like two million people throwing a trillion sided dice and everyone rolling the same number in the same roll. So, just slightly better odds of you ever hearing “The Academy Award for Best Director Goes to… Michael Bay!”
4. The 9/11 Attacks Killed 1,500 People on the Road
In the 9/11 attacks, 2,977 people were killed in New York City, Washington, D.C., and outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania. This includes the 16 hijackers.
However, the attacks were more than just the massive loss of life, they were also incredibly symbolic and sent shockwaves through the American psyche. One thing it did do was instill the fear of flying in many Americans. After the attacks, airport security was ramped up, yet air passenger miles dropped by 12 percent, and road mileage went up by 20 percent. This suggests that people were driving more than flying; this also means that they would be driving longer distances, which is much more dangerous. Professor Gerd Gigerenzer, a German academic who specializes in risk, said that all these extra people on the road, some of them driving long distances, led to about 1,595 deaths on American highways in the year following 9/11.
3. While Developing Vaccine for Rabies, Pasteur’s Team Had a Loaded Gun in Case Someone Became Infected
Louis Pasteur is most famous for discovering the process that is known as pasteurization. In 1882, in the later part of his already illustrious career, Pasteur decided to tackle rabies, which is almost always fatal and even today, there is no cure.
At the time, the virus couldn’t be isolated, so live rabid animals were picked up off the streets of Paris, brought to the lab, tied down, and samples of their saliva were taken. Since rabies was so dangerous, Pasteur’s assistants, who probably didn’t realize what they were getting into when they agreed to work with a world famous scientist, had orders to shoot him if he was bitten. Who would do it would have come down to who was bravest.
Luckily, no one was bit and Pasteur and his team developed a vaccine to prevent rabies. It was first used on July 6, 1885, on a nine-year-old boy, and it saved his life.
2. The Romans Used Stale Urine as Mouthwash
In urine, there is a chemical compound called called urea. When it ferments, it turns into ammonia. You may recognize ammonia as a chemical in cleaning agents. For this reason, people have used stale urine to wash clothes for centuries, which sounds pretty gross.
However, the ancient Romans managed to step up the gross factor by using the fermented urine as mouthwash. While it obviously tasted terrible, apparently rinsing with urine cleaned the teeth and made them whiter. Yeah, we think we’d rather have yellow teeth than swish old pee around in our mouths.
1. The First Movie Played at the White House Featured the KKK as the Heroes
When movies first emerged, they were often short, uncut clips, and they were played at places like carnivals and movie theaters called nickelodeons. Eventually, movies got longer, and a milestone film is D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation, which was released in 1915. It was an incredibly innovative film, with lots of editing, and at the time, it was the longest movie ever made, at about three hours long. The film is about the American Civil War, and depicts the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and reconstruction after the war.
At the time, it was the most financially successful film ever, effectively making it the first blockbuster. Oh, and it was based on the novel The Clansman by Thomas Dixon, the Ku Klux Klan are the heroes of the film, and the villains are savage African Americans who are played by white actors in black face. The film is credited for giving the KKK a surge in membership.
It also happened to be the first movie to ever be shown at the White House. On March 21, 1915, President Woodrow Wilson, who was a good friend of the author of The Clansman, took three hours out of his busy schedule to watch the film. After the movie, Wilson said, “It is like writing history with lightning, and my only regret is that it is all so terribly true.”