They say it’s never too late to learn. After all, life-long curiosity is something we all strive for, although it’s sometimes hard to keep the inner fire going. We get lazy, turn into passive observers, and sometimes forget how fun that feeling of discovering something new, both big and small, really is.
But thanks to our beloved corner of the internet known as the ‘Today I Learned’ subreddit, which boasts 25.1 million members, the internet has a perfect source of things to learn available for anyone, anywhere, and anytime.
So this time, we are taking you on a ride with a fresh batch from the ‘Today I Learned’ collection, which will surely ignite that little kid in you. And after you’re done, don’t forget to check out our previous articles on some insightful facts from this amazing community here, here, and here.
TIL: In a village in India, an Indian robin had made a nest and laid her eggs on the village's switchboard. The village decided to go without street lights for over a month for the safety of the bird and to allow her eggs to hatch. After 45 days, the bird and its hatchlings safely flew away.
TIL Joseph Strauss, the engineer of the golden Gate Bridge, mandated that a net be installed under the bridge for safety while being built. This was revolutionary at the time. The net caught 19 men who fell, saving all of them from a certain death.
Staying curious is a life-long aspiration for many, since learning new things makes us feel like we're living in the present moment. It’s no secret that new experiences make it feel like time slows down. That’s why, for example, a week while travelling abroad feels much like a year.
Collecting memories is one wonderful way to learn new stuff and broaden your horizons, but the coronavirus has drastically altered the usual modes of travelling and it’s unclear whether the pre-pandemic travelling we were used to will ever resume.
TIL of the Schiphol fly, which is a fly engraved on urinals at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. The psychology is that men will want to "wash" the fly off the urinal so they focus more when urinating, apparently lowering cleaning bills in public bathrooms.
TIL that baby owls sleep down on their stomach because their heads are too heavy. They do that until they are large enough to sleep upright.
But the experts say that curiosity is something we stimulate and ignite from within. And going into the world with your heart open to new things and experiences, it all starts from a very early age. So to find out how exactly the complex urge to indulge in the novelty of things works in both children and adults, Fashion Life reached out to Jamie Jirout, an Assistant Professor of Educational Psychology: Applied Developmental Science at University of Virginia.
First of, Jamie said that we have a limited amount of attention and learn from our experiences. But “as young children, there is so much that we are surprised by or don’t understand, and things are so new.” Every single child is born naturally curious to try and understand the world, and in addition, “we have no competing demands on our time—it’s the job of young children to play, which is how they explore what it is they are curious about!”
TIL: In order to get improvements in their job security amidst the emergence of a rival bus line, bus drivers in Okayama, Japan decided to go on strike in a unique way in 2018. While on strike, they supported the community by continuing to drive their routes, but simply not charging customers.
TIL: Microsoft tried a 4-day workweek in Japan as part of a “Work Life Choice Challenge” by shutting down offices every Friday. Productivity, measured by sales per employee, increased by almost 40% compared to the same period the previous year.
However, Jamie explained that “when children begin formal schooling, attention becomes placed on learning specific things, which aren’t always things that children are curious about.” Their goals change from exploring what they are curious about to learning what they’re being taught at school.
Moreover, “Motivation research identifies academic goals as being either mastery or performance—mastery goals are those that are driven by an intrinsic desire to understand something—exploring something you are curious about simply to find an answer or understand is an example of a mastery goal.”
TIL that a baby elephant struck by a motorbike while crossing a road in Thailand survived after an off-duty rescue worker performed CPR on it. The man had worked in rescue for 26 years and performed dozens of CPR attempts on humans, but the elephant was the first victim he had ever managed to revive
TIL fish eggs can survive and hatch after passing through a duck, providing one explanation of how seemingly pristine, isolated bodies of water can become stocked with fish
“Performance goals are those driven by extrinsic factors, like wanting to get good grades or avoid getting in trouble. If children are given a lot of performance goals, being curious about things outside of what they are going to be tested on or need to do to get good grades can actually make being curious come at a cost to meeting those performance metrics,” Jamie said.
TIL people who speak Icelandic can still understand the old Icelandic Sagas because of how little the language has changed over the past 1000 years.
TIL A Stolen teddy bear with dying mother's voice has been returned after actor Ryan Reynolds, celebrities offered a $15,000 reward
The professor also told us that there’s a great amount of research on children’s curiosity in schools that found that “children seem to become less curious the older they get.” “However, a recent study that asked children what it is they are curious about found that many children continue to be just as curious as they get older, even about things like science topics, but that they don’t associate being curious with learning at school,” she added.
Incredibly, the findings suggest that it isn’t necessarily that people become less curious with age, “but that they have less opportunity to be curious and act on curiosity, especially in school settings,” Jamie explained.
TIL - In order to bolster its waning popularity as a travel hub, Japan's Kishigawa Train Line appointed a cat named Tama as its new station master in 2007, leading to a huge spike in popularity as a tourist destination. In 2010 a second cat was hired to "assist" Tama with her duties.
TIL during the Vietnam war, many American soldiers stationed in Japan went AWOL and fled to Sweden. Swedish PM Palme was vehemently against the war and promised that he would grant asylum to deserters.
But Jamie believes that almost everything we know and do can be practiced, as “the more we practice something, the better we are, and if we don’t practice skills we can lose them,” and added that “it’s important to provide opportunities for children to be curious so that they can continue to naturally ask questions and seek information.”
“No less important is continuing practicing thinking of things we’re curious about through our adulthood as well as practicing the process of seeking out information to answer our questions, which often leads to further curiosity,” the professor concluded.
TIL in the 5th century BC, diabetes was first identified by a surgeon named Sushruta who pointed out that the urine of diabetics was sweet enough to attract ants and sticky to the touch. He noted that diabetes affected rich castes and was related to the excessive consumption of rice and sweets
TIL that the juggling done by David Bowie's character in Labyrinth was actually performed by juggler Michael Moschen, who had to do all the tricks blind while standing behind Bowie. He won a MacArthur Fellowship "Genius Grant" for his techniques a few years later in 1990.
TIL that Ken Eto, the first American-Asian leader in the mafia, was shot 3 times in the head at close range. After the hitmen ran, he climbed out of the car, walked a few blocks over to the nearest pharmacy and politely asked for medical attention. He lived to 84.
TIL seahorse couples greet each other every morning with a dance, which sometimes involves changing colour. It is a way of reinforcing their bond and synchronising their reproductive cycles.
TIL Harriet Tubman suffered a violent head injury as a child causing her to frequently slip into into sleep like states. These would produce vivid dreamlike hallucinations that Tubman interpreted as messages from god, to devote her life to freeing southern slaves through the Underground Railroad.
TIL: Faced with a severe pilot shortage during WWII, the USA started a program called WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) to train women to be pilots. 1100 women volunteered to fly military aircraft. They were finally granted military status in the 1970s and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2009.
TIL while making Moana, Disney producers visited the South Pacific and assembled an "Oceanic Story Trust" comprised of local cultural experts to advise on accuracy of details. Maui was originally bald but he was redrawn with a full head of hair as hair symbolized mana (power) in Polynesian culture.
TIL in Cuba, picking up hitchhikers is mandatory for government vehicles, if passenger space is available.
TIL There is an Austrailan fungus called "The Stonemaker Fungus" that only shows up right after a forest fire. They live underground in a stone-like mycelium and pop up through the ashes 2-10 days after the fire, sometimes as infrequent as every 100 years.
TIL a 75-year Harvard study found close relationships are the key to a person's success. Having someone to lean on keeps brain function high and reduces emotional, and physical, pain. People who feel lonely are more likely to experience health declines earlier in life.
TIL that Meerkats are the most murderous animals on earth. 20% of all meerkats die at the hands of another meerkat.
TIL country singer Loretta Lynn had more songs banned from radio than every other male country artist combined in the 20th century.
TIL A casino's database was hacked through a smart fish tank thermometer
TIL that the famous Japanese painting of a giant wave is actually from a series of 36 paintings of Mt. Fuji from different views
TIL a goat that was sold to be slaughtered for an Indian restaurant in Alaska escaped from the owners and a goat chase ensued around town. The goat became famously known by the name Curry and people would post photos anytime they spotted him. He was eventually caught and became a mascot.
TIL Jim Henson originally wanted the Muppets to be for adults and didn't see his characters as a vehicle for children's education and family entertainment. Indeed, he first envisioned something closer to South Park rather than Sesame Street and in the 1950s they did dark comedy in commercials.
TIL In 2014 a three-year-old was rescued after 11 days in the Siberian wilderness thanks to her puppy, which she held onto for warmth. She was found less than 100 feet from her search party.
TIL The lack of an Oxford comma in the wording of a state law laying out what activities qualify a worker for overtime pay, more than 120 drivers for the Oakhurst Dairy became eligible for a multi-million settlement for unpaid overtime.
TIL that there's a 43,000-square-foot basement underneath the Lincoln Memorial that was forgotten about until 1974. It has its own plant life and ecosystem and graffiti from the original workers.
TIL the vocal effect used in the song Zombie by the Cranberries is known as 'keening'. This is a wailing sound used in Ireland to mourn the dead at funerals.
TIL that in 585 B.C., a solar eclipse occurred in the middle of a battle between the Lydians and the Medes. The darkening sky was interpreted as a sign by the soldiers, so they stopped fighting. As a result, a six-year war was ended.
TIL the blue planet used to be purple. 250 million years ago, the oceans lost all their oxygen and one of the only things to survive was a purple alga/bacteria which would have given the seas an irridescent violet hue. Geologists have found remnants of this purple bacteria embedded in ancient rock.
TIL about Bill Millin, a Scottish soldier who walked up and down the beaches of Normandy on D-Day playing the bagpipes. Two captured German snipers would reveal why the piper at the front hadn’t been shot at. They said it was because they thought he was ‘dummkopf’, a foolhardy idiot.
TIL hockey player Stan Mikita went from being one of the most penalized players to winning the Lady Byng Trophy twice for sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with excellence all because his daughter asked, "Mommy, why does Daddy spend so much time sitting down [in the penalty box]?"
TIL that the 'leaf sheep,' a sea slug native to Japan, is an animal that can photosynthesize. It eats algae and retains the chloroplasts that plants use for photosynthesis and can live for months on photosynthesis alone.
TIL 'Saturn devouring his son' and the 13 other Black Paintings were never ment for public display. In 1819 Francisco Goya went into near isolation and painted the works directly onto the walls of his house. The haunting pictures reflect Goya's internal demons and civil strife occuring in Spain
TIL that for centuries the city of Troy was considered a myth until it was re-discovered in 1871 in present day Turkey. The area had been excavated before but the ruins of Troy were beneath newer excavations and had gone untouched for millennia even though the site had people living on top of it.
TIL that Ireland has the oldest average age at first marriage of any country. The average Irish citizen gets married for the first time at age 35.
TIL that prior to establishing an acting career, Harrison Ford worked as a roadie for The Doors. He stated that after the job was done he was "was one step away from joining a Jesuit monastery" and that he "couldn't keep up with those guys. It was too much."
TIL The Herpes Virus is being used to treat Cancer. A modified form of Herpes is already FDA approved to treat melanoma.
TIL that when Hurricane Ivan was in the Gulf of Mexico in 2004, pressure sensors on the ocean floor detected a freak wave 91 feet tall. Computer simulations suggested that at the storm's peak as a Category 5 it was producing waves over 130 feet high.
TIL oldest known boat was found in the Netherlands, it was constructed during the early mesolithic period between 8040 BCE and 7510 BCE.
TIL since 8-track tapes have a loop-play function, where after the end the tape is played from the beginning once again, the 8-track version of the Pink Floyd album "Animals" was changed for playing on repeat - a guitar solo connecting the first and the last song on the album was added.
TIL In the original stories, Sherlock Holmes was addicted to cocaine. When the author, Conan Doyle, learned more about the dangers of cocaine, he wrote that Sherlock Holmes had quit cocaine by being gradually weaned off it by Watson.
TIL there is a water vapor cloud in space which has 100 trillion times the amount of water present on Earth
TIL the Pan-American Coffee Bureau coined the phrase 'coffee break' in 1952, and ran a $2 million advertising campaign with the message that a 'coffee break' would give workers 'a needed moment of relaxation along with a caffeine jolt'
TIL that George Takei respectfully declined an offer to voice himself in the Simpsons episode Marge vs. the Monorail because he didn't want to ridicule public transportation.
TIL, around 2.1 billion years ago, several multicellular organisms existed, that were likely one of the first forays into multicellularity, they coincided with a brief moment of increased oxygen levels and went extinct after the levels dropped, they do not have any modern-day descendants.
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