33 Useless Facts That Are Really Interesting

A fact is something that is known to exist or to have happened, about which there are enough information and proof. For example, “Mars is a planet” is an astronomical fact, and “the word alien contains three vowels” is a linguistic fact. In general, facts are independent of belief.

There are historical facts, there are cultural facts, there are scientific facts, and then, there are useless facts — a kind of information that doesn’t play any significant role in your everyday life.

But some of them are worth knowing. At least you can share them with friends and show off your unusual knowledge. Below, you will find pretty useless yet interesting facts and figures that might surprise you.

35. Cats Cannot Taste Sweetness

Unlike other mammals, Felidae (colloquially referred to as cats) lack the receptor for sweetness. While humans have about 9,000 taste buds on their tongues, cats only have 470. All cats, including tigers and lions, lack 247 base pairs of amino acids that make up the Tas1r2 gene. They why they are unable to taste sweet the way we do.

34. Tiny Bits Of Metals On Your Jeans Serve A Purpose

Jeans buttons

If you think the little metal studs at the corner of your jeans pockets are useless, then you couldn’t be more wrong. They are called Rivets. They are placed on certain areas to add extra support where denim is most likely to be pulled apart by movement or strain.

33. Fingernails Grow Faster On The Dominant Hand

Human fingernails grow at an average rate of 3.47 millimeters per month. Studies suggest that nails grow faster on your left hand if you are left-handed, and your right hand if you are right-handed. They also grow more quickly on your larger finger.

32. Toenails Grow Much Slower Than Fingernails

Toenails grow even more slowly, at an average rate of 1.62 millimeters per month. If you lose one, it can take up to 18 months for it to completely grow back, which is thrice as long as it would take your fingernail to grow.

31. Trailers Were Initially Shown After The Film

In the 1920s, trailers were shown after the feature film (which is why they are called trailers). Those were the times when people went to the movies and would watch whatever was showing, whether it was cartoons, newsreels, or feature-length movies.

In the 1930s, exhibitors noticed that too many audience members were leaving right after the film, so they changed their practice and started showing trailers before the feature film. However, the name ‘trailer’ stuck.

30. Apple Seeds Are Poisonous (When Consumed In Large Amounts)

While eating apples can have multiple benefits for your health, the tiny black seeds found in its core have a completely different story. They contain a substance called amygdalin, which releases cyanide when it comes into contact with human digestive enzymes. Cyanide is toxic, which is why you should spit those seeds out. The same is true for cherry, peach, and apricot seeds.

29. You Would Swell Up, Burn, and Mutate In Space Without A Spacesuit

Ed White performing a spacewalk | NASA

In space, you are exposed to a lot of things, such as UV rays, low air pressure, and lack of oxygen. Without a spacesuit, UV rays will burn your skin, and you will pass out within 20 seconds due to a lack of oxygen in your brain. You will probably die from asphyxiation 90 seconds after the exposure. 

Any exposed liquid on your body will begin to vaporize, so the surface of your eyes and tongue will boil. The low pressure will result in the formation of gas bubbles in the body fluids. You will swell up to twice your normal size, but your body won’t explode as human skin is very stretchy. 

It is also cold in space, so your body will eventually freeze solid. But if you are close to a star, you will be burnt to a crisp instead. Either way, your body will remain in space for a long time: you could be floating in the dark for millions of years.  

28. A Cubic Inch Of Human Bone Is 4 Times Stronger Than Concrete

Human bone is made of collagen and calcium. Collagen is a protein that provides a soft framework, and calcium phosphate is a mineral responsible for giving strength and sharing the framework. Theoretically, a cubic inch of bone can bear a load of 8,626 kilograms (19,017 pounds) — roughly the weight of two fully grown Asian elephants.

27. Electronic Dance Music (EDM) Reduces Mosquitoes’ Desire To Bite

In 2019, researchers performed an experiment to analyze whether EDM influences blood feeding and mating behavior of the yellow fever mosquito named Aedes aegypti. They found that playing loud music (with very high and very low frequencies and constantly escalating pitch) reduces host attack and mating success in the dengue vector Aedes aegypti. 

26. Squid And Octopus Have Three Hearts

Squid has three hearts: two branchial hearts and one systemic heart. The former is responsible for pumping blood to the gills. Blood then flows to the systemic heart, which finally pumps it to the rest of the body. An octopus also has three hearts. Two hearts pump blood to the gills, while the third circulates it to the rest of the body.

25. Dolphins Call Each Other By Name

Researchers have found evidence that dolphins use a unique whistle to identify each other (in the same way that human use names). More specifically, dolphin identify is encoded in the frequency modulation of their signature whistles. Each individual develops its own modulation pattern early in life.

24. Frigatebirds Can Sleep While Flying

Male magnificent frigatebird | Wikimedia 

Frigatebirds are a family of large seabirds called Fregatidae. They spend weeks flying non-stop over the ocean in search of food. Studies suggest that they can sleep in flight with either one cerebral hemisphere at a time or both hemispheres simultaneously.

Frigatebirds even experience brief bouts of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, during which muscle tone is reduced that causes their heads to droop. On average, they sleep for about 42 minutes per day while flying. However, on land, they can sleep for more than 12 hours in a day.

23. The Closest Living Relatives of The T-Rex Are Chickens And Ostriches

It was considered that dinosaurs were giant lizard-like creatures that roamed the Earth for millions of years. However, molecular studies have confirmed that the Tyrannosaurus Rex has more in common with modern-day birds like chicken and ostrich. In fact, T-Rex groups better with these birds than present-day reptiles, such as lizards, crocodiles, and alligators.

22. Crocodiles Cannot Stick Their Tongue Out

Unlike other animals, crocodiles’ tongue plays no part in feeding. Crocodiles have a membrane that holds their tongue in place at the roof of the mouth. Since they spend most of the time underwater, the tongue helps keep the throat closed, protecting the reptile’s airway.

21. Snails Can Sleep For 3 Years

The average age of a snail is 15 years, and they need moisture to survive. When the weather is not cooperating, snails can shift into hibernation or estivation to escape harsh climate conditions. Snails can sleep as long as three years, during which they secrete mucus over their bodies to protect themselves from the hot, dry weather.

20. Hummingbirds Are The Only Animal That Can Fly Forward And Backward

Hummingbirds are the smallest of birds, most species measuring 3 – 5 inches in length. They are incredible flyers and have the highest mass-specific metabolic rate of any homeothermic animal.

These are the only birds that can fly forward and backward with equal ease. A ruby-throated hummingbird, for example, can fly forward, backward, diagonally, right to left, left to right, and even hover, beating its wing 80 times per second.

19. Marie Curie’s Belongings Are Still Radioactive

Marie Curie’s notes of experiments on radioactive substances | Wellcome Library

Marie Curie is the first and only woman to win the Nobel Prize in two different fields (physics and chemistry). She coined the term ‘radioactivity’ and discovered two highly radioactive elements: polonium and radium.

After more than 120 years, much of Curie’s personal stuff, including her furniture, clothes, laboratory notes, and cookbooks are still radioactive. They are considered too dangerous to handle because of their levels of radioactive contamination.

Since radium 226 has a half-life of 1,600 years, Curie’s belongings will take another 1,500 years until they are half as radioactive as they are now. Her papers are kept in lead-line boxes at France’s Bibliotheque National in Paris. Her body is also radioactive and thus placed in a coffin lined with an inch of lead.

Read: 12 Youngest Nobel Prize Winners In The World

18. There Is A Planet Made Of Diamond

While diamonds on Earth are rare, they are very common in outer space. Molecule-sized diamonds are abundant in meteorites. Ice giant planets, such as Neptune and Uranus, contain large amounts of diamonds.

Some exoplanets (planets outside our solar system) may be almost pure diamonds. In 2011, an international research team detected the ‘diamond planet” that orbits an unusual star known as a pulsar J1719-1438. It is most likely composed largely of crystalline carbon, but with a density far greater than diamond. 

17. World’s Darkest Known Material Absorbs 99.995% of incoming light

In 2019, MIT researchers developed a ‘blackest black‘ material using vertically aligned carbon nanotubes on surfaces like aluminum foil. It absorbs as much as 99.995% of incoming light from all angles, which makes it the darkest material on record.

Read: 11 Interesting Facts About Vantablack, One Of The Darkest Materials

16. World’s Smallest Tic-Tac-Toe Board Game Is Built Using DNA

In 2019, a team of scientists built dynamic DNA tiles and demonstrated them in the form of a tic-tac-toe board game, in which players can actually place their X’s and O’s by adding tiles to the board. Each move involves swapping hundreds of DNA strands at the same time.

15. A Golf Ball Has 336 Dimples For The Sake Of Symmetry

While most of the golf balls on sale today have 250 – 450 dimples, the ones built to full regulations boast 336 dimples. Some manufactures have also built balls with more than 1,000 dimples. The record-holder was the one with 1,070 dimples: it had 656 pinhead-size dimples and 414 larger dimples (in four different sizes).

14. $10,000 Bill Was the Highest Denomination US Currency Ever To Circulate Publicly

$10,000 | Series 1928 | National Museum of American History

The largest note ever issued for public circulation in the US was the $10,000 bill. It featured a portrait of Salmon P. Chase, the US Secretary of the Treasury (between 1861 and 1864). The notes were last printed in 1945 and discontinued in 1969 due to lack of use.

A $100,000 bill featuring the portrait of Woodrow Wilson was also issued, but it wasn’t meant for retail transactions. Its purpose was to transfer funds between Federal Reserve Banks. 

13. “Tachyon” Can Travel Faster Than The Speed Of Light

While Einstein’s theory of relativity states that nothing can go faster than the speed of light, tachyons are theorized to be constantly moving faster than the speed of light. They are hypothetical particles conceptualized by Gerald Feinberg in 1967. If these particles did exist, they would have an imaginary number as its mass.

12. Pogonophobia is the fear of beards

In psychology, there is a term for fear of beards: pogonophobia. It is derived from two Greek words pogon (beard) and phobos (fear). It may seem silly to people who don’t experience it. Still, for thousands of sufferers worldwide, it’s quite a serious condition that may cause extreme anxiety, rapid heartbeat, trembling, shortness of breath, and a full-on panic attack.

11. There Are More Possible Games Of Chess Than Atoms In The Universe

Everything looks perfectly ordered on the chessboard before the game starts. After both players move, 400 possible games exist. After each player has moved twice, more than 197,000 possible board setups exist, and after three moves, more than 119 million possible games could have been played. At every turn, that game evolves into something that has probably never been played before.

If you ignore any forced-draw rules and the game is allowed to go on without any player claiming for a draw, then the total number of possible moves in the chess game will be greater than the product of the total number of grains of sand on Earth (10^23) and atoms in the universe (10^81).

In fact, the number of possible moves is so huge that no one has invested the effort to calculate the exact number.

10. 10! Seconds = 6 Weeks

The factorial of 10 (10x9x8x7x6x5x4x3x2x1) is equal to 3,628,800. That means 10! seconds = 3,628,800 seconds = 60,480 minutes = 1,008 hours = 42 days = 6 weeks.

9. A standard Rubik’s Cube Has 43 Quintillion Possible Configurations

3×3 Rubik’s cube is the world’s top-selling puzzle game. It is mathematically complicated – there are 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 combinations of the cube. However, it has been proven that the maximum number of moves required to solve any of these combinations (which is also called God’s number) is 20.

8. If Uncoiled, The DNA In Your body Would Stretch 10 Billion Miles

The DNA is a helical molecule supercoiled in your cells using enzymes. About 3 billion base pairs of these molecules in each cell can fit into a diameter of 6 microns. If you stretched the DNA in a single cell all the way out, it would be about 2 meters long. And if you stretched all the DNA in all your cells, it would be about 10 billion miles — from here to Pluto and back.

Read: 26 Intriguing Facts About DNA You Probably Didn’t Know

7. King Of Hearts Is The Only King In Playing Cards With No Mustache

Evolution of the King of Hearts | Wikimedia 

Have you ever noticed that the king of hearts is the only king in a deck of cards with no mustache? He also seems to be holding a dagger and piercing his own head with it. Actually, he had a mustache in the original design, but it started fading during manufacturing in the 16th century.

At that time, cards were made with hands using wooden stamps. They used to get less and less vivid over time. Thus, manufactures started skipping the mustache because it wasn’t visible anymore. Due to the same reason, King’s ax gradually became a dagger.

6. Opposite Sides Of A Die Always Adds Up To Seven

In a six-sided dice, the number on the opposite faces always add up to seven. ‘1’ and ‘6’, ‘2’ and ‘5’, and ‘3’ and ‘4’ are placed opposite to each other. This is done to balance out the distribution of numbers so that the chances of rolling low or high are about the same with each roll.

5. Numbers From 1 to 999 Doesn’t Include Letter “A” In Their Word Form

There is no “A” in the numbers one through nine hundred ninety nine. Of course, this is only true if you count without the “and”s (as in “one hundred and one, one hundred and two….”). It’s quite fascinating considering the fact that “A” is the second most common letter after “E” in the Concise Oxford English Dictionary.

4. Basenji Is The Only Breed Of Dog That Does Not Bark

Basenjis produce an unusual yodel-like sound, due to their oddly shaped larynx (voice box). This trait gives them a nickname barkless dogs. They lack a doggy order and have fastidious and dainty habits, such as cleaning themselves all over, just like cats.

3. “123456” Is The Most Common Password

According to the internet security firm SplashData, “123456” is the most common password followed by “123456789”, “qwerty,” and “password.” The information is based on the data examined from millions of passwords leaked in data breaches, mostly in Western Europe and North America.

2. The Small Mark Above A Lowercase “i” and “j” Is Called “Tittle”

While the diacritic mark can appear over many letters in various languages, English only has two letters that include a diacritic dot. The small mark we make over the letter “i” and “j” is known as “tittle.” It’s an amalgamation of two words: tiny and little.

Read: 25 Gripping Facts About the Universe

1. Uranus Smells Like Rotten Eggs

Research shows that the noxious gas swirling at the upper atmosphere of Uranus is made of hydrogen sulfide – the same compound that gives rotten eggs their odor. The presence of hydrogen sulfide sets the Uranus apart from Jupiter and Saturn that mostly contain ammonia.

Written by
Varun Kumar

Varun Kumar is a professional science and technology journalist and a big fan of AI, machines, and space exploration. He received a Master's degree in computer science from Indraprastha University. To find out about his latest projects, feel free to directly email him at [email protected] 

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