“Today I Learned”: 50 Times People Learned Interesting Facts Online And Couldn’t Wait To Share With Others (New Posts)
Today is an excellent day to discover something new. After all, few things are as enjoyable as learning and expanding your intelligence. And thanks to the internet — the endless stream of information that is literally at our fingertips — it has never been easier. You can constantly keep your brain busy with new things to think about and pump up that trivia muscle by adding new interesting facts to your arsenal of knowledge.
Whether it’s to improve your water-cooler talk skills or challenge your perspectives about the world, the 'Today I Learned' (TIL) subreddit is the perfect place to start. For years, the adventurous 28.4 million members of this community have been sparking our curiosity by sharing nuggets of wisdom they recently found themselves. So let’s take a look at what they have to teach, shall we?
Below, we wrapped up the newest batch of intriguing tidbits to get something useful out of our feeds. So grab your notebooks, put your thinking caps on, and enjoy scrolling through this list. Keep reading to also find our in-depth interview about the benefits of learning with international educational consultant Marilee Sprenger. Then upvote the facts you may not have known about, and be sure to pass on even more knowledge to us in the comments.
TIL Andromachi Papanicolaou, the wife of the man who invented the Pap smear volunteered to have her cervix sampled every day for 21 years to help with his research. Their findings went on to save the lives of millions of women by preventing the development of cervical cancer through early detection
TIL Eleanor Roosevelt held her own press conferences where only female journalists were allowed. This ensured they kept their jobs during Depression-era layoffs, earning a steady income & professional status
We're well aware of the power of learning and how important it is for us to celebrate curiosity, intelligence, and the desire to know more about our planet. Just a few decades ago, people had to read stacks of books and spend evenings at the local libraries just to learn something new. But in today’s modern world, we don’t need to lift a finger for it — except to type out a few Google searches and make some quick clicks on hyperlinks. In mere minutes, we find the fact or research we’ve been looking for.
We were curious to learn more about the benefits of soaking up the knowledge around us, so we reached out to Marilee Sprenger, an international educational consultant in the fields of social-emotional learning, literacy, vocabulary, and brain research. Being the renowned author of Social-Emotional Learning and the Brain: Strategies to Help Your Students Thrive, she explained that one of the most fascinating aspects of our brain is that it can change, and it does so every day.
"Neuroscientists want us to understand that the brain is plastic," Sprenger told Fashion Life. "Every time you learn something new, your brain grows new connections. As we practice this new learning, the connections between brain cells get stronger and more resilient. If it is useful information, it stays with us, possibly forever."
TIL that Billie Joe Armstrong once dropkicked a guy in the middle of a Green Day concert after he saw him roughing up a young girl. He stopped the show and challenged him to a fight before jumping into the crowd
TIL landlords in Glasgow, Scotland tried to increase rent by 25% on women whose husbands were fighting in World War 1. The women organised a rent strike and stopped bailiffs entering their buildings by throwing flour bombs at them and pulling down their trousers
From learning new languages to increasing our vocabulary by memorizing new words every day, all kinds of learning grow the brain, the expert explained. But if we don’t put them to good use, our skills won’t really grow or keep these new brain cell connections.
"Trying a new recipe, if you like to cook, will also benefit your brain. If you don’t like the recipe, you will have learned not to make it again! Does that sound silly? Remember, Thomas Edison found 10,000 ways not to invent the lightbulb before he figured out how to do it! His brain had to change with each failure, and he learned from those," Sprenger added.
TIL that New Zealand author Janet Frame was falsely diagnosed as schizophrenic and was scheduled to be lobotomised. Several days before the operation, she won New Zealand's most prestigious literary prize, convincing doctors to cancel the procedure
TIL Charles Darwin's personal pet tortoise (Harriet) didn't die until recently at an estimated age of 175 years
TIL about Janet Stephens, a hair stylist turned hairstyle archeologist. She visited a museum in 2001 and realized historians were wrong about hairstyles on Greek and Roman statues being wigs. She recreated the styles and published her findings in The Journal of Roman Archaeology
According to the professional learning consultant, keeping your brain active is vital. There’s an abundance of evidence proving that learning something new is an incredible way to stretch our critical thinking, keep our minds sharp, and become better at problem-solving. What’s more, one study had found that it could also prevent memory loss and dementia — more years of education may be associated with this decline.
But as Sprenger noted, because the brain has plasticity and can re-wire itself, we can also lose the information we learned. "Keeping your brain and your body active can make a big difference in your ability to concentrate, focus, and remember. The more you know, the easier it is to take new learning and new experiences and connect them to information already stored in your brain."
TIL The Python programming language was named after Monty Python, not a snake
TIL John Steinbeck spent two months rewriting 'Of Mice and Men' after his dog ate the only copy of the original manuscript
TIL Salivating before vomiting is a way for your body to protect your teeth from the incoming stomach acid
Every single one of us has at least a few topics we can talk about for hours — our job, school, or a favorite hobby — subjects we always want to dive deeper in. While it’s beneficial to explore the things that matter most to us, it is just as important to gain a broader understanding of the world.
Sprenger agreed with this line of thinking. "Whether you learn something new or pursue the study of an individual topic (like I do with the brain), you are keeping your brain active. If you focus on only one thing and not pursue other avenues, you could lose connections in other parts of your brain. So, diversification is good," she detailed. "Frankly, I am a nerd. I would rather read a new book on the brain than go out with friends. But I force myself to go. I know those social connections will help me on many levels. Socializing activates the brain," the expert explained that relationships are one of the most powerful tools to grow our brains.
TIL upon request, Martin Luther King Jr. gave his copy of the "I have a dream" speech he had just delivered to the then security guard George Raveling. Raveling has been offered as much as $3 million for the original copy but he has refused all offers
TIL the BBC initially refused to publish Richard Dimbleby's eye witness account of Belsen concentration camp in April 1945, they didn't believe it was as terrible as he described. It's estimated 70,000 people died at Belsen. The BBC only agreed to broadcast after Dimbleby threatened to resign
TIL that the 'inner-voice' of most life-long & completely deaf people is seeing/feeling themselves acting out sign language
If you encounter troubles with keeping up with your learning process, having a goal can be wise since it will help you focus on what’s important to you. Sprenger pointed out that our brains have these structures that filter incoming information. "If you tried to process everything that comes at you in a day, you would be overwhelmed and probably unable to do anything. So in that regard, your brain is looking out for you. What does the brain focus on? Anything novel. Its main function is your survival, so it must check out anything out of the ordinary."
TIL that in 2017 an 8 year old learned how to drive on YouTube and successfully drove to McDonalds while following traffic laws
TIL Julius Chambers of the New-York Tribune had himself committed to an asylum in 1872, and his account led to the release of 12 patients who were not mentally ill, a reorganization of the staff, and a change in the lunacy laws
TIL Ostrich farms routinely have difficulties getting male ostriches to breed, because they often find their human caretakers more attractive than female ostriches
Along with writing and presenting brain research information all over the country, Sprenger also loves teaching memory classes in the community. As she told us, many people, both young and older, often express worries about becoming forgetful. Well, their concerns seem justified, as a 2019 national poll from the University of Michigan revealed that over half (59%) of adults aged 50-64 felt their memory was slightly getting worse with age, and 7% reported it was much worse. Moreover, nearly half (48%) of respondents felt they were likely to develop dementia as they age and nearly as many worried about this prospect.
But fear not! Sprenger was kind enough to share a few things that will really help us remember. "We have five different memory systems in our brains," she said. "Two very important ones start with the letter E (that’s a little memory cue to help you remember them!) The first is emotional memory. When something happens that stirs an emotion, our brains tend to remember it."
TIL There was so much [poop] in the streets of 14th century Paris that multiple roads had names which originated from the french word for [poop], "merde": rue Merdeux, rue Merdelet, rue Merdusson, rue des Merdons, and rue Merdiere. There was also a rue de Pipi, or "Urine Street"
TIL in 2013 a surgeon in the UK was struck off and convicted of assault after branding his initials into two patients livers. It was only discovered when 1.6-inch (4cm) initials were discovered by another doctor on an organ that he had transplanted failed
TIL in 1977 Indian painter, PK Mahanandia, sold his belongings and cycled 4,000 miles from India to Sweden to visit his love, Charlotte von Schedvin because he couldn't afford a plane ticket. They got married in 1979
The other system beginning with the letter E is episodic memory. "This system remembers where you are, which is a great trigger for memory. For instance, do you remember where you were when those planes flew into the twin towers on 9/11? Or where you were when you had your first kiss? Your first alcoholic beverage? Every time we learn something we are somewhere!"
"The night my high school boyfriend broke up with me, we were at a teen dance club. Just mentioning the place or driving by it brings back memories of that hurtful night. That went into many of my memory systems as it was both episodic and emotional," she continued. "So, the trick is to connect with your emotions and your locations to help you remember. You will automatically remember some events because your brain will store them without you trying. But take this information and use it to your advantage!"
TIL The Parthenon in Athens was largely intact for over 2000 years. The heavily damaged ruins we see today are not due to natural forces or the passage of time but rather a massive explosion in 1687
TIL about a woman named Iva Toguri (Tokyo Rose) an American woman who used her position to undermine Japanese propaganda during WW2. She was named a traitor to the USA , and arrested for treason,it took her 30 years to prove her innocence
TIL that dogs and cats have special taste buds geared specifically for water
Another tactic that makes information stick is the retrieval practice. It is most often used when you want to remember information you are learning, whether it’s a language or a computer system. "This is testing yourself to see if you can pull the information out of your brain," Sprenger said. "As a teacher, I learned that many students, both middle and high school (and even college), could store information, yet they had trouble retrieving it for tests or essays."
"Once you begin to learn something, stop and see if you can retrieve it without any help or cues. I call it a blank page review. Take a plain sheet of paper and write down what you’ve learned so far. Do that as you continue the learning. Pay attention to what you couldn’t retrieve. We learn from mistakes. You’ll be amazed at how that simple practice will increase your knowledge."
TIL that The British Pound is the oldest currency in the world, it has been used for over 1,200 years and dated back to Anglo-Saxon era. Back then it equivalent to 1 pound of silver. One pound back then could buy you 15 cows
TIL that Nike created a pair of shoes that were so advanced, they were banned from the Olympics because they were considered as technological doping.The Alphaflys, or “the shoe that broke running”, as sports scientist Dr Ross Tuckercalled them, contain tech designed to deliver greater energy return
TIL that the religious group known as the Shakers are completely celibate and cannot have children, so they can only gain new members by converting outsiders. As a result, there were only two people in the last existing Shaker community as of 2020, although they gained a single new member in 2021
Yet, if you set a goal to remember something happening right now, the expert suggested to "look for the emotional component (it may be that you’re having fun!), be aware of where you are, and practice retrieving the information. When you meet a new person who is going to be important in your life, be sure to repeat their name. That’s a rehearsal and will help you retrieve the name later. Practice makes perfect…and permanent!"
TIL that In 2018, Pope Francis married two flight attendants in an impromptu mid-air wedding on a plane during a trip to Chile. The couple had gotten married in a civil ceremony in 2010 but weren't able to follow it up with a church service because of the earthquake in Chile that year
TIL - According to a 2009 Sports Illustrated article, 60 percent of former NBA players are broke within five years of retirement. By the time they have been retired for two years, 78% of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress
TIL Mount Thor in Canada has the world's longest vertical drop. If you fell off it, you would fall for over a kilometer before you hit anything
Lastly, Sprenger stressed the importance of social-emotional learning and creating meaningful relationships. "We are all students as we go out into the world and learn. Getting to know people, the people you work with, live with, ride the bus with…all of our encounters include people who can help us learn. People need connection. We all want to belong. Belonging is not 'fitting in.' Fitting in is a way of changing to become like others. Belonging is being seen and heard for who you are. Make those connections, build those relationships, and learning will follow," she concluded.
TIL in 2006, a mother and son were convicted of trying to extort money from Cracker Barrel by claiming they found a dead mouse in her soup. Charges were filed after a necropsy showed the mouse had no soup in its lungs and had not been cooked, signs that it was dropped into the soup after its death
TIL when a pilot ejects from their plane, the ejection seat manufacturer gives them a tie. The Ejection Tie Club is confined solely to those who have emergency ejected from an aircraft using a Martin-Baker ejection seat. There are over 6,000 members
TIL: The World's Littlest Skyscraper in Wichita Falls was built in 1919. Remote investors were swindled by intentionally not indicating the units on the planned blueprints were in inches, not feet
TIL: In the 25 years since Ron Goldman’s family won a $33,500,000 civil judgement against OJ Simpson for wrongful death, he has only paid the family about $133,000
TIL that humans have the highest daytime visual acuity of any mammal, and among the highest of any animal (some birds of prey have much better). However, we have relatively poor night vision
TIL in 2009 an American tourist was almost left behind by his transcontinental Australian train. He clung to the outside for two hours and 124 miles in only a t-shirt and jeans while the temperature dropped below freezing
TIL that a trio of drunken boys decided to sail out to sea looking for a girl they saw at a sports competition event. They ended up sailing for more than seven weeks and drifted 1300 km off course before being rescued by a tuna boat. They all survived by drinking beer, eating coconuts and a bird
TIL that in 2017 a sailor was stranded and alone on a cargo ship near the Suez Canal for almost 4 years. Since the owner was having financial difficulties and the captain had gone ashore, the local court declared the sailor the legal guardian
TIL the average Mexican is genetically 50% indigenous with evidence of native ancestry being significantly higher on the X chromosome
TIL that after the Portuguese dictator Salazar went into coma, he was dismissed as Prime Minister. When he emerged from it and recovered lucidity, no one wanted to tell him he had been removed from power, instead he was allowed to "rule" in privacy until his death 2 years later
TIL only 5% of residential homes in the UK are thought to have air conditioning and many buildings are designed in a way to keep heat in
TIL Microsoft held a mock funeral for iPhone because they thought the windows phone 7 was going to smash apple in sales
TIL coding RollerCoaster Tycoon in the late 1990s required significant optimization of PC power and memory constraints at the time. Per designer Chris Sawyer, letting guests drown was simply easier than programming the alternative of allowing them to swim to shore
TIL that official temperatures used in weather apps are taken in shade, not under sunlight
TIL in the movie Arachnophobia, the largest spider was a bird-eating spider they named Big Bob, after Robert Zemekis. Big Bob was adopted by a crew member named Jamie Hyneman, who went on to host Mythbusters. The little ones were controlled using a hairdryer and lemon pledge spray
TIL Gloria Williams, who pleaded guilty to posing as a hospital employee and abducting Kamiyah Mobley from her mother's arms in the maternity ward, was sentenced to 18 years, which was the length of time Mobley was separated from her birth family
TIL that a single engineer in the control room of NASA prevented the astronauts of Apollo 12 from aborting the mission seconds after launch. "Set SCE to AUX", said John Aaron which saved the entire mission
TIL that in 1988 the FBI National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC) did a psychological profile of Jack the Ripper in time for the 100 years anniversary of the White Chapel murders. The FBI profiled Jack as male, 28-36 years old, most likely a butcher, mortician, or medical orderly
TIL that a robot fish invented to mimic the natural predator of the 'mosquitofish' was so effective that it altered their behaviour, physiology and fertility, effectively "scaring them to death"
TIL the reason why Wine Coolers dropped in popularity in the USA after the 80s was because in 1991, the US excise tax on wine was raised from $0.17 per gallon to a $1.07, making it uneconomical for Wine Cooler makers to produce at a palatable price for buyers
TIL male goats urinate on their heads to smell more attractive to females
TIL that production on "No Country For Old Men" was shut down for a day due to a large black cloud of smoke drifting into view. The smoke was coming from a pyrotechnics test on the set of Paul Thomas Anderson's "There Will Be Blood", which was simultaneously filming in the same town of Marfa, TX
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