Fireflies

Here are some firefly facts. A firefly is not actually a fly, but rather a type of beetle. Most of their bio-luminescent colleagues live in the ocean, and we know of the chemical luciferin because of fireflies. Luciferin is used for some forensics testing. Fireflies are amazingly energy efficient. 90% of the firefly’s energy is converted to light, whereas only 10% of a light bulb’s energy in converted to light.

Some species of fireflies in Malaysia and in the Great Smoky Mountains of the U.S.A can synchronize their flashes in large groups.

Condemned chess

The church tried many times to ban chess for various reasons. First in 1061, Cardinal Petrus Damiani considered it a game of chance like dice. Later in 1093, the Eastern Orthodox church condemned chess as a reclic of heathenism. John Zonaras, a Byzantine monk excommunicated chess players in 1110 as a kind of debauchery, stating it as a rule of Apostolic Canon. Later in 1125, Bishop Guy of Paris also excommunicated priests who were caught playing chess.

Because of this, a chess enthusiastic priest later devised a secretive folding chess board that looked like a book. This in fact was the origin of the portable chess board.

Emu

The Emu is the second largest bird in the world. Amazingly they’re the only bird species that have calf muscles and cannot walk backwards. Emus are also known for their fast sprinting and long distance running, running at speeds of 31 mph (50 km/h). Using their wings as steers, they can turn 180 degrees while running at full speed. Predators like cats will have a hard time catching these birds.

It is a fact that the male incubates the eggs, during which he does not eat, drink, or defecate, and stands only to rotate the eggs.

English language

English is the world’s most widespread language, spoken by over 1 billion people. Amazingly, Asia has the highest English use, with India having the most English speakers in the world. In fact, there are 5 times more people learning English in China than there are people in England.

Of the worlds 2700+ languages, English contains the most vocabulary and more than 75% of the world’s letters and cables are written in English.

Normal gender roles

During the 1600’s, boys and girls in England wore gowns or dresses until they were about seven years old. The main reason for keeping boys in dresses was toilet training, or the lack thereof.

While in Afghanistan where women’s rights are severely restricted, families without sons will sometimes appoint one of their daughters to play the male role. The is called Bacha Posh, which literally means “dressed up as a boy”.

Since the 20th century in Samoa, the Fa’afafine have been a recognized gender identity/ role. The Fa’afafine are male at birth but live as a female, even using the female washrooms. Traditionally in a Samoan family where there are no girls, one male child would be raised a female to help with female duties.

Empire State building

The Empire State building is one of the tallest building in the world, but was originally planned to become a dirigible anchor and passenger gate. It is so tall that you can see five different states from the top observatory, and it’s peak attracts over 100 lightning strikes year.

There are approximately 10 million bricks in the Empire State Building, and more than enough electrical wiring to run the length of the entire state of New York. Amazingly it in fact took only 11 months to build.

The Entire State building has such a large commercial footprint that it has it’s own zip code: 10118.

Mount Everest

Mount Everest was innitially named Gahoorishanke (Presented before the Academy of Sciences in Paris 1857). It was later renamed after retired Surveyor General Sir George Everest, who had never even seen the peak.

Everest is not the tallest mountain. Mauna Kea Mountain in the Hawaiian Island is 230m taller. It is 4201m above water and 4877 underwater! Everest is a slightly shorter 8848m, and the first person to calculate its height was an Indian mathematician. The peak is so high that it averages -2F (-19C) in summer and never rises above freezing (0C).

Now everyone seem to be climbing it. The youngest is a 13-year-old while the oldest is 80-years-old. There was even a wedding at the peak between Moni Mule Pati and Pem Dorjee Sherpa, both from Nepal.

Fast fingernails

Fingernails grow nearly 4 times faster than toenails and no one really knows why. Some think that it has something to do with how much its being used, while other theories including them being closer to the heart. This may not be so far fetched as more and more research seem to point towards fingernails growing in response to blood flow.

For example, its a fact that fingernails grow faster in summer, in younger people and in the dominant hand. All these factors correspond with higher blood flow. All these fact are quite interesting and there is a lot of research out there.

The Dead Sea

The Dead Sea and its shores are 394 m below sea level, making it the lowest elevation on land. It is in fact more a hypersaline lake than a sea since it is landlocked. The dead sea is also one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world. So salty that it is 8 times saltier than the ocean, and harder for people to sink in it.

Another unusual fact is that the Dead Sea discharges black asphalt. It’s unique mineral content has also made it a center of health research. After-all, it was one of the world’s first health center (for Herod the Great).

Laika

Laika the dog, was the first living thing sent into orbit. Not mentioned was that Laika died within 7 hours of launch. This fact was only revealed almost 50 years later. Laika’s mission caused outrage to many observers, but its sacrifice paved the way for humans in space. Laika’s “coffin” circled the Earth 2,570 times before burning up in the Earth’s atmosphere on 4 April 1958.

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