August

 

1st August

 

In Springfield, the third-largest city in the State of Missouri, the Staudte family were considered just a regular family similar to any other. Diane and her husband, Mark, had been together since college until he passed away in 2012. Six months later, tragedy struck the family again when Diane’s autistic son, Shaun, died – both deaths were ruled as natural causes. In 2013, Diane’s daughter Sarah was rushed to hospital with organ failure. The police were tipped off by a local pastor who believed that there was something more sinister to the events; a concerned doctor also advised the police that Sarah’s illness could be a possible case of poisoning.

 

When interrogated, Diane and her daughter, Rachel, both confessed to poisoning the other family members by putting a tasteless antifreeze in their food. Diane claimed that she had grown to hate her husband and felt trapped in the marriage and needed a way out. Her son was described as a burden because he was lazy and a pest. Rachel described her sister, who was an unemployed graduate, as being too nosey, and the only reason that they had taken her to the hospital was for the sole purpose of not wanting another person to die in the house. Sarah survived albeit with permanent brain damage but has since learned to walk and talk again.

 

In January 2016, Diane was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Rachel was sentenced to two life terms with a non-parole period of 42 ½ years.

 

Source: Smarter Every Day – facts, trivia, & general knowledge

 

 

2nd August

 

Sleepwalking, formally known as somnambulism, is a behavioural disorder that originates during deep sleep and results in a person walking or performing complex behaviours without being aware of it.

 

On the 16th January 1997, Scott Falater and his wife Yarmila went to bed as usual, but during the night Yarmila was stabbed 44 times and then drowned in their swimming pool. When the police arrived, they found Yarmila’s body floating in the pool while Scott and the two children were still asleep inside the house.

 

Although Falater never denied killing his wife, he remained persistent that he didn’t remember doing it and claimed that he had suffered from somnambulism his entire life - a defence used by his legal team. The judge received many letters for leniency, including letters from his children and the victim’s mother, which resulted in a life sentence rather than the death penalty.

 

Homicidal somnambulism was also used as a defence for the case of Kenneth James Parks, who had a history of sleepwalking, enuresis, and night terrors. On the 24th May 1987 Parks drove about 12 miles (20 km) to the home of his in-laws in the Toronto suburb of Scarborough where he stabbed Barbara Ann Woods, his mother-in-law, and choked his father-in-law, Denis Woods, to unconsciousness. On the journey home, Parks went to a police station to confess the crimes; the police noticed that he did not seem to be experiencing any pain despite having cut the tendons in both hands - an example of dissociative analgesia which occurs during states of sleepwalking. In 1989 Parks was acquitted of both the murder of Barbara and the attempted murder of Denis – a decision that was upheld by the Supreme court in 1992.

 

Source: Smarter Every Day – facts, trivia, & general knowledge

 

 

3rd August

 

The American penitentiary, Administrative Maximum Facility (ADX), is a supermax prison in Florence, Colorado, which houses the worst felons (most with histories of violent behaviour in other prison facilities). The prison spans across 37 acres and operates under the strategy of sensory deprivation and solitude. Inmates are left to their own thoughts, which often leads to hallucinations, memory loss, and increasingly irritable behaviour.

 

The soundproof cells are made from poured concrete and measure between 77 ft² to 87 ft². Each cell contains a bed, a shower (which works on a timer), a desk, a sink, a toilet, a metal mirror, and sometimes a television/radio (which is a reward for good behaviour and considered a privilege).

 

Inmates are kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day. When they are allowed out of their cell, it is only into a bigger cell which has a skylight for a window to ensure that the prisoner does not know the exact location within the premises and cannot interact with other inmates.

 

With over 400 residents, some are infamous for the crimes they committed, e.g. those involved in the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing, and the 2001 World Trade Centre attacks. British terrorist, Richard Colvin Reid, also known as the Shoe Bomber, is incarcerated there. In 2001, Reid attempted to detonate an explosive device packed into his shoes while on American Airlines Flight 63 from Paris to Miami.

 

The former FBI agent, Robert Philip Hanssen is serving 15 consecutive life sentences at ADX. Hanssen sold thousands of classified documents to Russia’s KGB, which detailed the U.S. strategies in the event of a nuclear war, developments in military weapon technologies, and aspects of the U.S. counterintelligence program.

 

Nicknamed the Alcatraz of the Rockies and recognised as the world’s most impenetrable prison, no-one has escaped since it officially opened in November 1994.

 

Source: Smarter Every Day – facts, trivia, & general knowledge

 

4th August

 

In Scottish criminal court cases, there are three options for the ruling – guilty, not guilty, or not proven.

 

Source: Smarter Every Day – facts, trivia, & general knowledge

 

 

5th August

 

Synesthesia is a neurological disorder in which stimulation of one sensory leads to an automatic, involuntary experience in a second sensory; this phenomenon is unrelated to memory.

 

Synesthetes (people who have synaesthesia) experience a cross-wiring of the brain’s senses, e.g. they may see sounds, taste words, or feel a sensation rather than smelling a scent.

 

There are fifty-four synaesthesia which can be separated into different categories: -

 

One of the rarest forms is Lexical–gustatory synaesthesia – people with this condition associate words with taste, i.e. they may find conversations stimulate their taste buds, e.g. the word mobile-phone may automatically produce a bitter or metallic flavour.

 

Mirror-touch synaesthesia is when the individual feels the same sensation as another person, e.g. if someone scratches their cheek, the synesthete may feel their own cheek being scratched. However, even amongst non-synesthetes around 30% of the population have a mild form of the condition as they experience pain, or their stomach does a flip when they see someone else being hurt or suffering pain/discomfort.

 

Misophonia is literally the hatred of sound – a condition in which sound triggers strong negative emotions such as anger or disgust. The most common sounds that trigger this response are the noise of other people eating or breathing loudly/heavily.

 

Ordinal linguistic personification is where ordered sequences such as days of the week, the alphabet, or numbers, all have particular personalities or even appearances, e.g. Monday might be represented by an old grey-haired woman called Myrtle nagging like a fishwife, whereas Friday might appear as a teenager having fun on a skateboard. Chromesthesia is sound to colour synaesthesia, which is the condition that when people hear sounds, they automatically and unintentionally experience colours.

 

According to the Synaesthesia Digital Library (from the University of Denver), the most common group is grapheme-colour. A person with this condition associates specific colours with numbers and or letters. What is interesting though is that it is a rare occurrence for two individuals to perceive the same colour for a particular figure or character, e.g. someone may see the number 4 as red whereas another person will argue that it is yellow. The Australian actor, Geoffrey Rush, who starred in ‘Shakespeare in Love’, 1998, ‘Pirates of the Caribbean; the Curse of the Black Pearl’ (2003), and the ‘King’s Speech’ (2010), is reported to have grapheme-colour synaesthesia.

 

The musician Billy Joel has chromesthesia and grapheme-colour. He has a positive attitude to the condition and explained that when he thinks of melodies which are slower or softer, he thinks in terms of blues or greens. If it is a strong melody, he visualises vivid reds, oranges, or gold. Likewise, the American rapper, Pharrell Williams, has a positive approach to chromesthesia and states that rather than a disorder, it is actually an asset. He relies on it when making music as he is able to know when something is in the correct key as it will match the colour.

 

Synaesthesia is hereditary – more than 40% of synaesthetes have a first-degree relative who also has the condition.

 

Source: Smarter Every Day – facts, trivia, & general knowledge

 

 

6th August

 

On the 6th August 1997, Korean Air Flight 801 crashed killing 228 of the 254 people on board. The last words recorded on the black box were from air traffic control as silence fell from within the ill-fated aircraft – ‘Well, he must have crashed then’. Due to faulty instruments, the captain didn’t know he was off course so when descending in preparation to land the plane crashed some 3.5 miles (5.6 km) from the runway. One survivor said that the crash happened so quickly that the passengers didn’t even have time to scream.

 

Source: Smarter Every Day – facts, trivia, & general knowledge

 

 

 

7th August

 

According to scientists at the National Centre for Atmospheric Research, an average cumulus cloud weighs 1.1 million pounds.

 

To calculate this, the density of a typical cumulus cloud was measured as ½ gram per cubic meter. The size of a cloud is gauged by measuring its shadow when the sun is directly above it – typically 1 km (0.62 miles) across, and as they are usually cubic, it is 1 kilometre tall as well. This gives the cloud one billion cubic meters in volume.

 

How does the cloud stay afloat? The weight isn’t concentrated but instead distributed among trillions of minuscule droplets that are so small it could take 1 million of them to make a single raindrop. Also, as they are so high up the gravity effect is almost negligible. Other influencing factors are that they are less dense than dry air, which makes them buoyant, which is assisted by updrafts of warm air. However, as the density increases, the droplets get bigger and heavier and turn into rain.

 

In comparison, 1.1 million pounds is like having 315 average-sized salon cars floating above us. (The average midsized car weighs approximately 3,497 lbs (1,590 kg).

 

Source: Smarter Every Day – facts, trivia, & general knowledge

 

 

8th August

 

The bald eagle is both the national bird and national animal of the U.S.A. Its diet consists mostly of fish, and for this reason, they were hunted to protect fishing grounds. The birds were pushed to the verge of extinction, not only because they were being killed in an effort to save fish, but also because they were facing difficulties with reproducing due to the pesticides found in their food. Fortunately, besides a restriction being placed on certain pesticides in 1972, the birds benefitted from a reintroduction program which changed their status from being endangered to that of least concern.

 

Bald eagles return to the same nest for years; they extend the size of the nest by adding more materials each time they use it. Nests weighing as much as two tons have been found. 

 

Their name is derived from the old English word, piebald, which means white-headed. 

 

Smarter Than Yesterday – facts, trivia & general knowledge

 

 

9th August

 

To date, the American actor, Denzel Washington, has been awarded two Oscars, three Golden Globes, a Tony Award, and along with many other awards he has also received an honorary doctorate from Fordham University.

 

Shortly after graduating from Fordham University, he made his acting debut in the 1977 T.V. movie “Wilma”.

 

His role of Sam Chisolm in the 2016 remake of the “Magnificent Seven” was the first western movie that Washington starred in.

 

Washington’s father was a Pentecostal minister while his mother was a beautician and gospel singer. As a devout Christian, he has stated that sometimes he thinks that he should have been a preacher. In 1995, he donated $2.5 million to help build a new church for the Los Angeles “Church of God in Christ” which is under the umbrella of the Pentecostal denomination. With over five million members, the “Church of God in Christ” ranks as the fifth largest church denomination in the United States; the largest is the Roman Catholic Church.

 

The fastest-growing religion in the world is Islam, which is forecast to be the largest religion by 2070.

 

Smarter Than Yesterday – facts, trivia & general knowledge

 

 

10th August

 

Hedviga Golik (b 1924) from Zagreb, Croatia, had been a conscript in the Yugoslavia Army during World War II and had fought against the Nazi Schutzstaffel as a bomb-thrower. When Golik was reported missing, her neighbours in the block of flats were not overly concerned as she had mentioned her desire to move abroad to live with relatives. 

 

For many years, the residents in the loft building had disputed ownership of Golik’s apartment as they thought it lay unoccupied. To resolve the dispute, the police finally entered the premises in 2008 only to discover Golik’s remains; beside them was a T.V. guide dated May 1969.

 

One of the main reason that the body lay undiscovered for approximately forty years was that utility bills may have been metered to the apartment block as one unit rather than being allocated to small individual apartments (which was common practice in communist Yugoslavia at that time).

Golik had been married to Hans Guber who was killed in a locomotive accident after he reportedly fell asleep at the engine’s helm.  It was alleged that over one-hundred coal cars were derailed during the incident which killed Guber, his crew, and 324 civilians who lived in their homes along the railway track.

 

Smarter Than Yesterday – facts, trivia & general knowledge

 

 

11th August

 

Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, is home to thirty museums - more museums per capita than anywhere else in the world; hence the city is nicknamed as the “City of Museums”. One of the main tourist attractions is the “Museum of Broken Relationships” which displays everyday objects donated by those who have gone through a breakup or lost a loved one.

 

The idea for the museum was conceived in 2006 by two Croatian artists, Olinka Vištica and Dražen Grubišić, who agreed that their time together should be celebrated rather than mourned. One of the earliest donations they received was an axe that was provided by a woman who had chopped up her partner’s furniture. Another was an unopened candy thong.

 

One visitor to the Zagreb museum was so charged by the emotional energy that when he returned to Los Angeles, he proceeded to open Hollywood’s own version of the museum. Besides visitors viewing the items on display and sharing the heartache the aim is to let people know that they are not alone in their emotional disappointment and that there is hope for a better future - if others survived the ordeal then they can too.

 

Smarter Than Yesterday – facts, trivia & general knowledge

 

12th August

 

Walburga Oesterreich (1880 – 1961), also known as “Dolly”, emigrated from Germany to America where she met and married the wealthy textile manufacturer, Fred Oesterreich. Unfortunately for Dolly, Fred liked to drink a lot and spent more time at the pub than with her. The bored housewife started having an affair with Otto Sanhuber, who aged just 17-years-old was almost half her age. Neighbours became suspicious of their behaviour, so in a bid to stop any gossip the pair agreed that Sanhuber would move into her attic.

 

Five years later Dolly’s husband decided that they should move house as not only did he want to expand his business into another area but he had begun questioning his sanity as he kept hearing inexplicable noises in the house. He thought that his cigars kept going missing, and he lay in bed at night thinking that he could see a shadow outside the bedroom door. Dolly agreed to move on the condition that their new house had an attic!

 

Sanhuber was the first to move into the new house and was settled into his new attic before the Oesterreichs arrived.

 

Over the next four years, Dolly and Fred’s marriage became volatile. Sanhuber became increasingly worried about Dolly and upon overhearing one particularly bad argument emerged from the attic and shot Oesterreich three times.

No one is sure whether the pair had premediated Fred’s murder or whether they were just quick-thinkers, but immediately after the shooting, the bedroom was laid out like a murder scene before Dolly was locked in a wardrobe. Neighbours who had heard the gunshots rang for the police who filed the report as a botched burglary. Dolly was not under suspicion as of course she had been found locked in a wardrobe – she inherited Fred’s fortune.

 

The grieving widow had a string of relationships following her husband’s death while Sanhuber continued living happily in her attic. Dolly finally settled down with her attorney, Herman Shapiro, who refused to allow Sanhuber to remain living in the attic. Over time Shapiro was told the entire truth which he then passed on to the police when his relationship with Dolly turned sour. Although Sanhuber was found guilty of manslaughter, he could not be convicted as eight years had passed since the incident while the statute of limitations was seven years. Evidence against Dolly was not strong enough, so she also went free.

 

During the media frenzy, Sanhuber became known as the Batman of Los Angeles due to his many years living in a bat-cave-like attic. He became immortalised following the 1995 Hollywood movie “The Man in The Attic”.

 

Dolly eventually found a new love interest which lasted for the next thirty years.

 

Smarter Than Yesterday – facts, trivia & general knowledge

 

 

13th August

 

The first execution by electric chair took place in Auburn Prison, Buffalo, New York, on 6th August 1890.

 

William Kemmler, who was intellectually disabled, had been convicted of murdering his common-law wife, Matilda Ziegler, with an axe. In 1881, Dr Albert Southwick, a dentist, suggested that electrocution may be a more humane means of execution than hanging as it had been known for the condemned to swing by their broken necks for up to thirty minutes before succumbing to asphyxiation.

 

Although Kemmler argued that the electric chair was a cruel and unusual punishment, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his challenge. When he was strapped into the chair, a charge of approximately 700 volts was delivered, but after 17 seconds the current failed. Although a doctor declared that Kemmler was dead, he was very much alive and let out a deep groan. A second charge of 1,030 volts was applied for two minutes. The smoke that came from Kemmler’s head filled the room with the smell of burning flesh. Some witnesses fainted while others were overcome with severe attacks of nausea. The autopsy confirmed that the electrode attached to Kemmler’s back had burned through his spine.

 

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14th August

 

‘To drown the miller’ means that too much water has been added to something, usually whiskey, and therefore taken the good out of it/ruined the item. The origin of the phrase comes from olden days when the miller was an important person within a village because without him there wouldn’t be any flour and therefore the entire town would be without bread.

 

Smarter Than Yesterday – facts, trivia & general knowledge

 

 

15th August

 

Southfork Ranch, home to the Ewings of the TV show Dallas, was originally known as Duncan Acres. The house was built in 1970.

Smarter Than Yesterday – facts, trivia & general knowledge

 

16th August

 

Founded in 1386, “Heidelberg University” is Germany’s oldest university and one of the world’s earliest surviving education facilities.

 

In 1993, it was discovered that for almost two decades the university had been using human corpses in a series of crash test scenarios rather than the appropriate anthropomorphic test device (otherwise known as a crash-test dummy). In total, more than 200 human cadavers were used, of which eight were children. The university claimed that parents were aware of the type of tests that were being conducted and had given their full permission.

 

Before being used in a crash test, each corpse underwent an autopsy; afterwards, the bodies were returned to their respective families for burial.

 

In 2005, it came to light that the “Graz University of Technology” in Austria had also used human cadavers as crash-test dummies. The only reason that the matter was made public was that the university needed to renew its supply of corpses.

 

The purpose of using a cadaver is that it demonstrates precisely the damage that the vertebra is subjected to as well as developing knowledge about how internal organs react. In preparation for the simulated crash, the cadaver must be as lifelike as possible; this is done by repressurizing the lungs and veins to better mimic a living person.

 

There are reportedly six centres in the world that use human cadavers for car-crash test simulations as they are less expensive. An actual anthropomorphic test device has a price tag that ranges between $100,000 to $1 million, although they can be rented if only a few tests have to be carried out.

 

Traditionally adult dummies weighed 170 pounds, which was representative of the population during the 1980s. As the waistlines of the population have expanded in recent times, the dummies are now available at a weight of 273 pounds and a BMI of 35.

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17th August

 

‘Apocalypse Now’ is ranked as one of the greatest movies ever made. Filmed in the Philippines during the late 1970s the set was described as a nightmare as it was the most chaotic any actor had ever experienced. Francis Ford Coppola was writing the script as they went along. The crew partied hard and indulged on alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs - on many occasions, they were too stoned to remember their lines.

 

Other catastrophes that hindered the movie production included ill health (one of the leading roles was played by Martin Sheen who had a heart attack), a helicopter shortage to film combat scenes (they were regularly recalled by President Ferdinand Marcos as he was at war with anti-government rebels), and a typhoon which caused the production to be temporarily shut down.

 

Coppola had invested $30 million of his own money into the project which put even more pressure on him. He suffered a nervous breakdown and threatened to commit suicide.

 

Plans to use human cadavers almost brought production to a close as the authorities were outraged when they found corpses on set – all of which were swiftly removed for burial.  It turned out that the supplier (who also distributed corpses to medical schools to practice autopsies) was actually a grave robber. 

 

Regardless of the trouble filming the movie, it is considered a masterpiece and the best film made about the Vietnam War.

 

In 1979, the film grossed $150 million (£118 million).

Smarter Than Yesterday – facts, trivia & general knowledge

 

18th August

 

Mammals that lay eggs rather than giving birth are known as monotremes. The platypus and the echidna are the only two species in this category, and both are only found in Australia and New Guinea.

 

On their first introduction to the platypus, scientists thought that they were victims of an elaborate joke when they saw an animal that had a bill and webbed feet like a duck, the tail of a beaver, and the body and fur of an otter.

 

Physical characteristics of other animals are also seen on the echidna. It has spines just like a porcupine, a bird’s beak, and a pouch similar to a kangaroo. During the mating season, up to twelve male echidnas will form an orderly queue behind one female. When the female is ready to mate, the males dig a trench around her and then physically wrestle each other - the last male standing is rewarded with mating rights.

 

Echidnas hibernate. Often when a male wakens early, he will sneak into a female’s burrow to mate with her while she is still sleeping. Often females waken from the hibernation season to discover that they are pregnant.

 

Platypuses don’t hibernate, but they do sleep on average, fourteen hours per day.

Smarter Than Yesterday – facts, trivia & general knowledge

 

 

19th August

 

‘Braunau am Inn’ is a charismatic town in Austria which has a population of approximately 17,120 people. It is situated on the south bank of the Inn River which borders Austria and Germany.

 

On the 20th April 1889, at 6:30 pm, Adolf Hitler was born in Braunau am Inn. Historians think that his parents, Alois Hitler and Klara Pölzl (who was 24 years younger than her husband) were either first cousins once removed or Klara was Alois’ niece. 

 

The family lived in rented accommodation just off the town’s main square in Salzburger Vorstadt 15. The 17th-century building still stands to this day but the owner, Gerlinde Pommer, has been receiving approximately £4,000 a month to keep the property unoccupied. This arrangement has been in place since 1972 due to Austria’s Federal Ministry of the Interior being concerned that the building would become a pilgrimage site for Neo-Nazis.

 

Until 2016 a long-standing debate raged over the future of the building as Pommer refused to allow it to be refurbished and also declined the offer from a Russian MP who wanted to purchase the house to demolish it. Following a legislative change in July 2016, state authorities were able to seize the property and prepare for its demolition. However, this has created a different legal battle as Pommer appealed the new legislation.

 

The only indication that Hitler had any connection to the building is the memorial stone positioned in front of the house; the words inscribed translate as “For peace, freedom and democracy, never again Fascism, millions of dead admonish”. The stone came from the Austrian concentration camp at Mauthausen, where an estimated 150,000 were murdered during the Nazi reign.

 

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20th August

 

When a corpse is buried in a coffin six-feet underground, it can take decades, even up to fifty years, for the body to return to dust.

 

Authorities in Germany have been forced with a problem as bodies buried around thirty years ago appear as if they were only buried recently. Scientists are not sure why the decomposition rate has slowed down but suggestions that have been made include the fact that food now contains so many preservatives, dental fillings have contaminated the soil, and dry weather (global warming) has left the ground without enough moisture to sustain the bacteria required for the decomposition process.

 

Whether a body has been cremated or not strict German laws require that it must be buried. Due to a reduction in the number of funeral undertakers the cost of a funeral and burial has increased to an average of €15,000 (£13k/$16.8k) (which is amongst the most expensive in the world). This has lead people to be innovative in finding other methods to ensure the body of their deceased loved one is appropriately and respectfully disposed of. Donating the body to science was one of the first solutions, but it quickly became so popular that researchers at the anatomy institutes had to either charge the donors or decline the offer. Another solution is known as corpse tourism, whereby the body is taken to a neighbouring country to be cremated. When the cremains are returned to the family, they can dispose of them as they so wish.

 

Another idea to help reduce the problem is to dig deeper graves; existing occupants are reburied further down.

 

Bio-cemetery is a new idea that has emerged – trees located in the Reinhardswald can be purchased for the sole purpose of burying cremains under them. The tree itself is a tombstone, and the roots absorb and convert the ashes into nutrients. Once a tree has been selected, the owner is encouraged to visit it, talk to it, and to put their arms around it so that a relationship is built up.

 

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21st August

 

The narrowing of blood vessels is known as vasoconstriction – a condition that restricts or decreases blood flow and increases blood pressure. It can be caused by a build-up of fatty deposits as well as by caffeinated drinks, poor diet, drug abuse, smoking, and an overindulgence of alcohol.

 

Vasoconstriction is one of the leading causes of erectile dysfunction, which in turn is considered as an early warning sign that heart disease or another cardiovascular disease may develop.

 

Professor G. S. Brindley (b 1926) is a British physiologist who is probably best known for his treatment of erectile dysfunction and the unconventional presentation he delivered in 1983 to an audience at the Urodynamic Society in Las Vegas. He had discovered that self-injecting papaverine (an alkaloid found in opium) induced a penile erection. To prove the success of the treatment to his audience, he was armed with presentation slides and suitably tight clothing. However, he thought that more evidence was still needed and therefore proceeded to drop his trousers and waddle into the audience. The scientific presentation came to an abrupt end when women in the front row threw their arms in the air and screamed hysterically while making a quick exit from the auditorium.

 

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22nd August

 

Sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia is the scientific term given to brain freeze (also known as ice-cream headache) which takes place when something extremely cold touches the upper palate.

 

Brain freeze occurs by a narrowing of the blood vessels due to the capillaries of the sinuses reacting to a cold stimulus (e.g. ice cream), followed by a rapid widening of the blood vessels again as a reaction to a warm stimulus (such as air).

 

Although the brain can’t feel the pain associated with brain freeze, it is sensed by the meninges (the three connective tissue layers covering the brain).

Brain freeze is basically a type of headache that has a quick onset and is just as quickly resolved. One cure is to push the tongue to the roof of the mouth to normalise the temperature again.

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23rd August

 

Apparently, 374 billion sticks of chewing gum are sold each year globally. Most of the gum may end up as landfill waste, but a lot of it is dropped on footpaths which has a detrimental effect on the pockets of the local council who pay for its removal.

British inventor, Anna Bullus, founded “Gumdrop Ltd” in 2009 - the first company in the world to find a method of recycling gum into a mouldable plastic that can be used in the manufacturing of lunchboxes, cups, and rulers. The company’s main product is a bright pink bin that is used for collecting gum. Once full, the container and its contents are recycled into three more bins. The market for these bins has extended from the UK into European countries such as Germany and Denmark.

Traditionally bubble gum was pink - hence the choice of the company’s corporate colour scheme.

 

Smarter Than Yesterday – facts, trivia & general knowledge

24th August

Vitiligo is a medical condition that causes pale/white patches to develop on the skin. The exact cause is not known, but it is thought that there could either be a lack of melanin or that the immune system destroys the melanocytes in the skin. Other opinions suggest that the condition may be caused by a person’s genes, that it could be the result of sunburn, or that emotional distress is a major contributing factor.

Vitiligo does not discriminate against race or sex, but it is more noticeable on people who have darker skin.

One of the most famous celebrities to claim that vitiligo changed his skin colour was Michael Jackson. One of the more visible cases in the celebrity world is that of the former American football fullback, J.D. Runnels, as the white patches are on his face. British T.V. personality, Richard Hammond has the condition on his face and legs.

 

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25th August

 

Jeanne Louise Calment, a French lady who lived from the 21st February 1875 until the 4th August 1997, had the longest confirmed lifespan – she died at the age of 122 years and 164 days.

 

At the age of 100, Calment was still riding a bike. She smoked for approximately 99 years of her life.

 

Calment’s daughter died on her 36th birthday; her only grandson also died at the age of 36 as the result of a car accident.

 

At the centenary of Vincent van Gogh she discussed with reporters her meeting with him over one hundred years earlier when, as a girl of 13-years-old, she sold him pencils from the family’s store. She also remembered the Eiffel Tower being built.

Saparman Sodimejo, an Indonesian man, known locally as Mbah Gotho, claimed to have been born on the 31st December 1870 which meant that he was 145 years, 4 months, and 1 day old when he died on 30th April 2017 making him the longest living human since records began. However, while officials at the local records office confirm that the date of birth on his identity card is correct, it still needed to be independently verified which has so far not been possible.

 

The oldest man to survive the Holocaust was Yisreal Kristal, who was 113 years and 330 days old when he passed away in August 2017. World War I was in full swing when Kristal turned 13 – the age for his Bar Mitzvah. However, because his mother had passed away a few years earlier, and his father was away fighting in the army, there wasn’t anybody to arrange and oversee the ritual. In 2016, at the age of 113, he finally participated in the religious ceremony with the occasion celebrated by his children, his grandchildren, and around thirty great-grandchildren.

 

The oldest man to have ever lived is recorded in the Bible as Methuselah, who was aged 969 when he died. The first man, Adam, lived 930 years.

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26th August

 

Hens with red feathers and red ear lobes lay brown eggs; hens with white feathers and white ear lobes lay white eggs.

 

Most hens are productive for two years after which time the production declines.

The debate whether eggs are a factor in driving up cholesterol levels has raged on for a long time and created a fear about potential consequences of consuming too many. However, for now, the bottom line seems to be that reducing saturated fat and increasing the intake of soluble fibre is more likely a better idea than merely avoiding eggs.

 

The colour of the yolk depends on the hen’s diet. As artificial colours are not allowed to be added to a hen’s diet, the colour of the yolk will signify what type of food they eat. A colourless diet, such as white cornmeal, will produce almost pale yolks whereas a diet that consists of yellow-orange carotenoids (which are organic pigments found in plants) will result in the yolk being darker. Regardless of the colour, it seems that all eggs have the same amount of protein and fat.

A green ring around the yolk of a hard-boiled egg is the result of sulphur and iron compounds reacting at the surface of the yolk.

 

Some researchers have found that the eggs from pasture-raised hens can have more omega-3’s and vitamins yet less cholesterol due to a more natural diet.

 

Not only are eggs crammed with vitamins but the high-quality protein in eggs contains all the building blocks of essential proteins in the correct proportions which makes them a favourite amongst bodybuilders as the eight essential amino acids supply optimal muscle recovery.

 

The white part of an egg contains no fat while the yolk contains 5 grams, but only a small proportion of this is saturated fat.

 

It is estimated that 2% of children are allergic to eggs. Reactions range from skin conditions and stomach pains to respiratory problems, and in rare cases can even lead to anaphylaxis.

Smarter Than Yesterday – facts, trivia & general knowledge

 

 

27th August

A quail is a small bird that belongs to the pheasant family. They spend most of their time on the ground, but they can fly short distances.

 

A quail’s diet consists mainly of seeds, leaves, wheat, barley, berries, and worms.

Quail eggs are highly nutritious as they supply vitamins, iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, phosphorus, and amino acids, and are therefore considered to be one of the best known natural treatment products - they have been used for centuries by Chinese medical practitioners. Experts in natural treatments claim that quail eggs can help people who suffer from stress, blood pressure, migraines, asthma, depression, ulcers, and liver problems. They also suggest that quail eggs can increase sexual appetite and stimulate brain functions.

 

A quail can lay around 280 eggs per year.

 

In the wild, a quail normally lives between 3 to 5 years.

Smarter Than Yesterday – facts, trivia & general knowledge

 

28th August

 

A group of nuns is called a superfluity.

 

Smarter Than Yesterday – facts, trivia & general knowledge

 

29th August

 

Standing ninety-eight feet tall on a twenty-six-foot pedestal the statue “Christ the Redeemer” is the largest art deco statue in the world.

 

Located in the Tijuca Natural Park in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the statue was officially completed in 1931 after nine years of construction work.

 

The idea of building a religious monument was first suggested in 1850 by a Catholic Priest, but it wasn’t until after the First World War that the Church felt a symbol was needed to counteract what they saw as increased Godlessness throughout the country.

 

“Christ the Redeemer” is amongst the tallest statues of the Lord Jesus although the title of being the tallest is contested between “Christ the King” in Poland, which measures 117.8 feet including a 10-foot tall metal crown (108 feet without the crown), and “Christ of Peace” in Bolivia which measures 112.2 feet.

 

Smarter Than Yesterday – facts, trivia & general knowledge

 

30th August

 

There are eight species of pangolin in the world - four are found in Africa while another four live in Asia.

 

A pangolin is a solitary, primarily nocturnal animal which is easily recognised by its full armour of scales –  in fact, it is the world’s only mammal to be covered in such scales which are made of keratin and account for approximately 20% of their total body weight. While the scales are primarily used as a means of protection, they are ironically one of the key reasons for the decline in number. In traditional Chinese medicine, they are used to treat a variety of ailments and health problems; in Africa, the pangolin is hunted for bushmeat.

 

As the most trafficked mammal in the world, they are listed as critically endangered and are protected under national and international laws.

Smarter Than Yesterday – facts, trivia & general knowledge

 

31st August

 

In 2013, Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, approved ten haircuts for men and eighteen styles for women. Spiked hair is viewed as rebellious and therefore explicitly banned. Jong-Un’s hairstyle is unique to him and is not included on the list of styles allowed by anyone else.

Smarter Than Yesterday – facts, trivia & general knowledge