People Share True Facts So Baffling They Should Be False

Did you know that the youngest mother to give birth became pregnant at five years old? Or that there’s a syndrome where people turn into living statues as they get older? Or that the most popular paint color in the 1800s was made out of mummified humans and cats? Of course not. They’re facts so ridiculous you’d think they’d be false—but they’re not. Keep reading to discover more baffling true facts.

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#1 The Record For Most Children Born to One Mother

The record for most children born to one mother is 69, to Valentina Vassilyeva, the wife of Feodor Vassilyev (b. 1707–c.1782), a peasant from Shuya, Russia. In 27 labors, she gave birth to 16 pairs of twins, seven sets of triplets and four sets of quadruplets.

#2 A Cure

People were deliberately infected with malaria to cure their syphilis and the man who developed this treatment, Julius Wagner-Jauregg. received the Nobel prize for it. The extremely high fevers of the malaria infections killed the syphilis bacteria, then the patients were cured of the malaria using quinine.

#3 The Sound of the Sun

If sound could travel through space, the roar of the sun would be deafening even though it’s 93M miles away.

#4 The Last Samurai

From 1613 and 1620 a Samurai travelled to Rome by way of Mexico. During this time, Shakespeare was still alive, Virginia had been founded for around a decade, Gallileo was accused of heresy, and Pocahontas arrived in England. He met the Pope and was made a Roman citizen. His name was Hasekura Tsunenaga, and he was the last Japanese person to officially visit Europe until around 1860.

#5 Twin Time

The longest time between two twins being born is 87 days.

#6 Starvation by Locusts

One day Mao Zedong saw a sparrow eating grain. Thinking that the sparrows were hurting China’s grain supply, he and the Communist Party launched the Four Pests Campaign. The Chinese military and population killed every sparrow they could find. Embassies didn’t allow the Chinese to kill sparrows on their property, so the Chinese banged pots and pans outside the embassies 24/7 until the sparrows died of exhaustion. Unfortunately for the Chinese, sparrows mainly eat insects, not grain. The locust population exploded and 43 million people starved to death.

#7 An Unlikely Author

Saddam Hussein was an erotic romance novelist in his spare time as the dictator of Iraq.

#8 A Journey to the Sun

If you’re launching from Earth, the most difficult place to reach in the solar system is the sun. The reason for this is that to fly directly into the sun you need to first launch from Earth, and then remove all of your orbital velocity around the sun. Anything less will just put you into a different orbit around the sun rather than directly into it. The amount of power required for that to do it directly is basically impossible currently.

As an alternative you could, for relatively little power, fly all the way out to Pluto’s distance, slow down much less, and then fall back into the sun. The trade-off being the travel time is now about 90 years. There are other in between paths that will get you there for different balances of energy and time but all of them are tougher than getting basically anywhere else in the solar system with an equivalent balance.

There’s a mission currently traveling to study the sun, the Parker Solar Probe, it won’t be flying directly in, but plans to make the closest passes than any probe ever has. It’s going to make seven passes by Venus to shed speed so it can get closer and closer to the sun. The full flight time is planned as just less than 7 years. As of this post, they are one week shy of a year in.

#9 A Cheetah’s Roar

Cheetahs can’t roar, but they can meow like house cats.

#10 President Tyler’s Grandsons

President John Tyler, born in 1790, has two living grandsons.

#11 World War II Planes

There were more planes destroyed in World War II than there are (currently intact) planes on Earth today.

#12 Switzerland Vs. Liechtenstein

Switzerland has accidentally invaded Liechtenstein thrice in the last 50 years. For the first time in 1976, the Swiss military got lost and ended up in Liechtenstein, so the Liechtensteiners offered them drinks like proper hosts. On the second time in 1992, Swiss military forgot that a certain observation post was actually not in Swiss territory but in Liechtenstein territory, so they just said sorry and forgot about it.

Then again in 2007, the Swiss army got lost and entered Liechtenstein, but eventually realized they weren’t in Switzerland anymore, Toto, so they turned back. Liechtenstein didn’t even know this happened till the Swiss apologized (again), to which they basically said, no problem, bro. Takeaways: The Swiss army are bad with directions. The Liechtenstein people are chill bros.

#13 Stone Man Syndrome

There is an extremely rare condition called “Stone Man Syndrome.” It causes any small damage to tissue to regrow into a bone. People affected by this sickness slowly turn into living statues as they get older.

#14 A Morbidly Obese Can Starve…But Not to Death

A morbidly obese person can survive with absolute starvation without any sickness or feeling ill (under close control). There have been studies since the ’60s. There was a patient in 1973 who went under a 382-day starvation diet for therapeutic purposes under close control with only vitamin and mineral supplements and water intake without protein, carbohydrate or fat intake (no food at all). Dropped from 207 kg to 88kg and maintained it. After a follow-up check-up five years later, the patient was 96 kilograms, stabilized. Prolonged fasting had no ill effects. If anybody is curious about the article, the PubMed ID is: PMC2495396.

#15 V2 Rockets

More people died making the V2 rockets during World War II than were killed by them.

#16 If Earth Was a Basketball

If Earth was a basketball, to scale the moon would be a tennis ball. It would orbit around 7.5 meters away, which is a lot farther than most people think. If the nucleus of a hydrogen atom was a tennis ball, to scale the electron would orbit at about 2500 meters away. There is no ball small enough to compare to how small electrons would still be at this scale.

#17 Neighbors

Stalin, Hitler and Freud all lived in Vienna at the same time.

#18 The Number of Languages on Earth

There is no good metric for ‘the number of languages on earth’. This is mostly because linguists cannot agree on what constitutes a new language and what constitutes a dialect of an existing language. The best current metric of how many languages exist is the number of translations of the Christian bible.

#19 How Rich is Bill Gates?

If you earned $1 every second, it would take 2,921 years to have more money than Bill Gates.

#20 You’re Beautiful

Even if 99% of Earth’s population thought you were unattractive, 76 million people would still find you attractive.

#21 A Giraffe’s Diet

Giraffes will eat bones when nutriets are lacking in their normal vegetarian diet.

#22 Jeff Bezos’s Money

You can fit every planet between the earth and moon, including all the gas giants. But if you lined up all of Jeff Bezos’s money from end to end, it wouldn’t fit between the Earth and moon. It could go to the moon and back 34 times. Jeff Bezos has enough money to make a ladder to the moon. And to make it out of money.

#23 Private Wojtek

A 500-pound brown bear named Wojtek was enlisted and served in the Polish army during WWII. “Private Wojtek” helped the Polish win the brutal Battle of Monte Cassino, and was even promoted to corporal. Following the war, he retired in Scotland.

#24 The Challenger Deep

Only four people have been to the Challenger Deep, the deepest part of the ocean. One of those people is James Cameron, the director of Titanic.

#25 Dinosaurs on Earth

We live many times closer to the last dinosaur than the first and last dinosaur did to each other.

#26 One Child with Two Fathers

There is a theoretical possibility that a child can be born that has two biological fathers and one biological mother (inherits DNA information from two different men and one woman). Search for heteropaternal superfecundation and chimerism, for those who are interested. I’m talking about a form of chimerism which would result from heteropaternal superfecundation, where two eggs fertilized by different men merge and result in a single child.

#27 The Biggest Rock Paper Scissors Contest

If every single person on the entire planet took part in a rock paper scissors contest, where everyone paired up and played, losers were knocked out and winners stayed on etc., you would only have to win 33 times in a row to beat all 7.53 billion people on the planet.

#28 The Man Who Could Eat Anything

There was this french guy named Tarrare in the late 1700s that could eat ANYTHING, in any amount. He was able to eat a quarter of a cow on one day and ate dinner for 15 for one meal when he was being tested. He was even able to swallow an entire eel, with bones included, without hesitating. When he went to the military service, they used him as message transport, but after being captured he went back and tried to find a cure. In the hospital where he was staying, he was suspected of eating a baby so they kicked him out. He was average weight and when he died a few years later they could see inside his stomach just by opening his mouth.

#29 Exactly 29,000 Feet

When Mt Everest was first measured it was exactly 29,000 feet. It was reported as 29,002 because exactly 29,000 was not believable.

#30 The Speed of Light

The speed of light is always the same, regardless of the relevant speed of the observer. Say you’re standing still, and a car passes you at 60 mph…it passes you at 60 mph, right? Say you’re driving at 30 mph and a car passes you at 60 mph…because you’re already moving at 30, the car only moves away from you at 30 mph.

Light doesn’t work this way. If you’re standing still and turn on a flashlight, the beam of light moves away from you at light speed. But if you’re moving at half the speed of light, and turn on a flashlight, the beam still moves away from you at light speed, even though it’s only moving at the standard speed of light. So even people who aren’t moving half the speed of light see it moving at the same speed as you do, which isn’t possible. But is somehow true. It makes no sense and makes me think there is a lot to physics we still have to learn, and I bet we find out a lot of the things we know are wrong.

#31 Universes Inside Us

To scale, the distance between a nucleus and an orbiting electron is 16 times longer than the distance between the Sun and Pluto.

#32 The Youngest Mother

The youngest mother to give birth became pregnant at five years old.

#33 A Downside of Breast Implants

When a woman with breast implants is cremated, the implants will melt into “goo.” It drips to the bottom of the furnace and needs to be cleaned up once cooled.

#34 Giant Squid Brains

Giant squids have a donut-shaped brain so their esophagus can run through the middle. If they try to swallow too large a bite of food they can get brain damage.

#35 What is a Vegetable?

There is no universally accepted definition of “vegetable.” It’s a cultural and culinary term, and varies from place to place.

#36 Your Hand Could Go Through a Table

There is a 1 in roughly 5.2 to the 61st power chance that if you were to slap a table, all of the molecules in your hand and the table would miss each other and your hand would go through it. Storytime: I learned this fact from a deep intellectual conversation with my engineering class two years ago, so there very well could be some kind of detail I’m missing here, but nonetheless, what I said is theoretically true.

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#37 Oxford University is Old

Oxford University predates the Aztec empire by over 200 years. And, for fun one of my favorites: Woolly Mammoths were still around at the time the Great Pyramids in Giza were built.

#38 Wayne Gretzky

You could take away all of Wayne Gretzky’s goals that he scored during his career and he would still be the all-time NHL points leader off his assists alone. Bonus Gretzky fact: He and his brother own the record for being the highest-scoring pair of siblings. Brent had four points in his whole career.

#39 Lincoln’s Eyewitness

An eyewitness to Lincoln’s assassination at Ford’s Theater told his story on national television.

#40 Black Holes

The gravity of black holes is so great that it literally bends light around the black hole so that if you could somehow stand close enough to a black hole and look straight ahead, you would actually see the back of your own head.

#41 Ancient Nintendo

Nintendo was founded in 1889.

#42 The Hubble Space Telescope

The Hubble Space Telescope can see galaxies billions of light-years away, but cannot make out the equipment we left behind on the Moon. The fact that we can see galaxies billions of light-years away speaks to how enormous the galaxies are, more so than how powerful the telescope is.

#43 Today’s Calculators Are Stronger Than Apollo 11

It’s pretty well known by now, but calculators today have more computing power than Apollo 11. We got to the moon with slide rulers and huge balls.

#44 Most Popular Paint Color

The most popular paint color during the 1800s was called Mummy Brown. It was made out of Egyptian mummies. Both humans and animals (cats, primarily). It was incredibly popular for a few decades, then fell out of favour… Largely because they ran out of mummies to grind into pigment.

#45 Sick Horses

Horses can’t vomit.

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