It’s always a good idea to brush up on interesting facts that most people at a dinner party wouldn’t know. While certain knowledge seems needless, some has a way of broadening your horizons and deepening your understanding of a myriad of things.
10. Mark Twain’s Great Predictions
Samuel Clemens, who is best known under his pen name of Mark Twain, made a couple of predictions during the span of his life that eventually came true. Probably best known for his literary work, Mark Twain was a brilliant and honest man who was an incredibly forward thinker and visionary. One of the predictions that he made in his life was that of the Internet. What’s more is that there are specific details of his predictions including a phenomenon essentially identical to social networking.
His greatest prediction though dealt with his death. He had a fascination with the solar occurrence called Haley’s comet, which can only be seen on earth ever 74 or 75 years. Haley’s comet happened to occur on the night he was born, and he prophesied that it would once more the night that he died. This prediction became a reality when Haley’s comet appeared the night that he died.
9. Swearing on the Bible is a New Concept
In today’s culture, when we swear under oath to tell the truth, we must put a hand on the bible. This wasn’t always the case though. The root of the word “testify” actually stems from the Greek word testicle. This is because in ancient Roman times, men would swear under oath by placing a hand over their testicles. This seems like such a random and foreign (though kinda hot) concept, but for those who understand the weight of historical injustice between the male and female genders, it makes perfect sense. A man’s reproductive organs signified and validated his identity as a human being. It made him superior and thus, essentially honored and valued. What higher symbol could be sworn on to uphold the truth? We’d be hard-pressed to interpret the meaning and logic behind this act in any other way, though we’re sure the porno industry has come up with quite a few.
8. The Original Declaration of Independence was Written on Hemp Paper
Sounds a bit crazy, right? Well, it happens to be true, at least 2/3 of the time. The first two drafts of the document that states and solidifies the United States independence from the British colonies were written on paper from the hemp plant. The final draft, signed on August 2, was copied onto parchment (animal skin,) presumably because Ben Franklin had raided Congress’s stash the night before.
During the year of 1776, when the declaration was written and signed, hemp was the primary ingredient of all paper that was used. Now obviusly, making paper from hemp wont work, since the plant is largely criminalized and controversial. But back in the day, it was used as an ingredient for many different items, one of which was paper. The paper that was made out of hemp was of a much better and higher quality, then the kind that was made out of cotton. A couple hundred years ago, just about everything (even Bibles) were made from hemp paper.
7. The Difference Between a Million and a Billion is Much More Than You Think
For some reason, it’s difficult for some people to truly grasp the difference between a million and a billion. Some people can not adequately conceptualize things that they have no visual and mental picture for. This is also true for certain things that they’ve never truly experienced; it’s hard to gain an accurate perspective of something we haven’t gone through first hand. One of the most helpful analogies that clearly demonstrates the monumental difference between a million and a billion is if you break both quantities into seconds. A million second is 13 days. A billion seconds is 31 years. That’s a gigantic disparity, to say the least. So the next time someone starts throwing those two words around, realize the magnitude in the difference between them.
6. Flutterby Before Butterfly
Many species don’t keep the original name that they were given. Sometimes their name is altered and changed after they are discovered for many different reasons. This happened with the insect that we all know as the butterfly, when it was first discovered. Originally, the name for the butterfly was actually flutterby, due to the way that the wings would move and how the insect would fly. The name was changed later to butterfly, as the “fly” ending helped easily decipher the fact that this beautiful insect had wings and could fly.
5. Young Children Recognize Many Company Logos
Most of us are aware of the inherent power of logos and marketing, but we may not truly realize how intrinsic it can be. It is said that children as young as 3 years old can recognize corporate logos and understand what’s associated with them. By the time an average child enters the first grade they can recognize as many as 200 company logos. The thought alone sounds a bit outlandish. But children have a way of associating everything with a picture, especially young children who are read to on a consistent basis. The word and picture association they have with a dog or a plane is the same that they have with M&M’s and McDonalds.
What’s more — this association does not decrease as we get older. It just goes further into our subconscious and we don’t necessarily notice it. This truly shows the gravity and power of proper marketing and having a brandable company logo.
4. “I am” is the Shortest Complete Sentence in the English Language
There are many sayings and platitudes that insist whatever it is we think of ourselves, is true in some form or fashion. Many people believe in the manifestation of certain events in their lives whether negative or positive. Well, the English language may agree with that notion, as the simple declaration “I am” is actually a complete sentence.
How so? Well, for a sentence to be a complete one, there needs to be a subject and a predicate. Short, one-word answers like “no” yes” or “go” don’t count because the subject is simply implied and not explicitly stated. “I” is the subject and “am” is the predicate. Therefore, “I am” this is the most succinct, concise sentence that English can possibly produce.
3. Can’t Think of the Word You Want to Use?
Everyone has been there, stuck in the middle of a sentence, and suddenly unable to think of the word they want to use. While perfectly normal, it can be incredibly annoying, frustrating, and oftentimes distracting from the point that you are trying to make.
This experience is often described as having something on the tip of your tongue. Well, there is actually a more concise term for this phenomenon, “lethologica.”
2. Vincent Van Gogh Sold Only One Painting While He was Alive
Yep, one of the most well-known artists in history only sold one painting while he was alive: “Red Vineyard at Arles.” What’s even more fascinating is that the painting only sold a few months before he passed away in 1890. It’s unfortunate that someone so talented didn’t even get to see a modicum of the success that would follow after his death. He dealt extensively with mental illness throughout his life, and is known mostly for an incident involving him cutting his own ear off. It may be true what they say about people only caring about great artists after they’re dead.
1. Half of All US Presidents since 1929 were Left Handed
This fact is especially interesting because only 1 in 11 people are born left handed. Being right handed is much more common, so it stands to reason that the opposite would be true in regards to which hand the Presidents used more. But it’s not. While nobody knows for sure which of the early US Presidents were left-handed (since nobody really bothered to check,) we know that almost 50% of the ones since 1929 (starting with Herbert Hoover) were. This includes Presidents that could write with both hands, such as Ronald Reagan. Even our current President, Barack Obama, is a leftie.
This carries a certain level of significance, because many people think that left-handed individuals are naturally more intelligent, and have a higher capacity to use their brains in certain ways. Though there are exceptions to every rule, if this theory is even somewhat true, then it can also be surmised that most of our Presidents hold a certain superior level of intellect.