December

 

1st December

For a trial period during 2016/2017, Japan’s ‘Narita International Airport’ stocked small rolls of paper sheets beside the toilet rolls in 86 cubicles at the airport's arrival terminal. The aim was to educate people that updating their social networking status while using the toilet can result in the average phone carrying five times the amount of germs when compared to the amount found on toilet seats. This hazardous amount of bacteria can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, and even infections such as e.coli. The project urged people to be smart and keep their devices clean by using bacterial wipes.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

 

2nd December

On the 2nd December 1979, a 29-year-old woman jumped from the Empire State Building’s 86th-floor observatory. Just as she began her descent, a gust of wind blew her in the opposite direction causing her to land on a 2.5 ft² (0.23 metres²) ledge on the 85th floor. Records are scarce as to what exactly happened next, but we do know she was rushed to a hospital for treatment to either a broken hip or broken pelvis before being placed under psychiatric watch. She reported from her hospital bed that she wasn’t sure if the wind pushed her off the ledge or pushed her back!

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

 

3rd December

The Moscow Kremlin, which hosts five palaces and four cathedrals, is the largest active fortress in Europe. It encompasses an area of 90 acres (c36.5 hectares).

 

The five famous red stars, which symbolise the revolution and the unity of the proletariat on the five continents, were installed on the towers during 1937 – twenty years after the Revolution. Each star, which weighs one ton, is made of ruby to enhance and maintain the shine.

 

On only two occasions has the illumination of the stars been switched off. The first time was to keep the Kremlin camouflaged during World War II, and the second was when a film crew were shooting a scene for the 1998 drama/comedy set in pre-revolution Russia, ‘The Barber of Siberia’.

 

There are twenty towers in the Kremlin of which eighteen have names. The other two are known as ‘the first unnamed’ and ‘the second unnamed’.

 

The ‘Kremlin’ holds a similar meaning and importance to Russia as the ‘White House’ does to the United States of America.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

 

4th December

In 2007, a Chinese city suburb set a bounty on dead flies as a means of pest control and to promote public hygiene. The authorities paid out 0.5 Yuan (£0.05/$0.07) per insect. The scheme aimed to encourage cleanliness in residential areas, but it sparked an online debate where people argued that the district should be tidied up rather than attracting flies in the first place.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

 

5th December

The American engineer, Robert William Kearns (1927–2005) invented the intermittent windshield wiper system; he obtained a patent for his invention on the 1st December 1964.

 

Kearns pitched the idea to various car manufacturers but was unable to strike a deal with any of them. However, shortly afterwards, car manufacturers began to offer intermittent wipers as either standard or optional equipment. Kearns sued the ‘Ford Motor Company’ and after a twelve-year battle received a settlement of $10.2 million. Another lawsuit, this time with ‘Chrysler’, lasted thirteen years but the verdict was in Kearns’ favour, and he received a settlement of $30 million.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

 

6th December

In 1979, Saudi Arabia banned the comedy TV series, ‘The Muppet Show’ because the volatile diva, Miss Piggy, who was known to practice karate and to use French phrases in her everyday speech, was deemed

religiously offensive.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

 

7th December

The popular Christmastime song ‘Let it Snow’ was composed in Hollywood during a heatwave in the summer of 1945. Written jointly by one of the most successful and admired lyricists, Sammy Cahn (1913–1993), accompanied by the British-American Broadway singer Jule Styne (1905-1994), it is associated with Christmas regardless that there is no mention of the festive season in the song.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

 

8th December

Algerian tangerines, also known as clementines, are a hybrid of sweet oranges and mandarins which are in season during December and January, and as a result, are commonly referred to as Christmas oranges.

 

Although named in honour of Father Clement Rodier who reportedly discovered them by accident growing in an Algerian orphanage in 1902, some argue that they originated in China long before that

time.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

 

9th December

On the 9th December 2019, the Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, who is known for his hyperrealistic sculptures, exhibited an incredible piece of work entitled ‘Comedian’ at the Art Basel show in Miami Beach.  The work, which was a banana duct-taped to the wall, sold to a French collector for £91,000 ($120,000). After the sale, a performance artist, David Datuna pulled the banana off the wall and ate it!

 

A spokesperson explained that lunching on the artwork had not destroyed it as the banana was simply illustrating an idea! A replacement banana was stuck to the wall fifteen minutes later.

Cattelan is known for challenging popular culture, and the value of the artwork is the certificate of authenticity.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

10th December

The longest recorded marriage lasted ninety years.

 

Karam Chand (1905-2016) and his bride Kartari (b1912), who were both born in Punjab, Northern India, took their vows in December 1925.  Karam passed away one month before his 111th birthday.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

 

11th December

Author Thomas Michael Bond (1926-2017) was a British author best known for writing children’s fictional stories about a bear named Paddington. The idea originated when he bought a neglected toy abandoned on a store shelf after feeling sorry for it. The idea of an abandoned toy stayed with him, and for his amusement, he began writing stories.

 

Paddington isn’t the bear’s real name but the one given to him because the family found him at Paddington Railway Station; his Peruvian name is Pastuso.

 

Until Friday 7th December 2018, a ghost train ran from Paddington Station to High Wycombe at 11:35 am each weekday. Officially known as a Parliamentary Train, it ran to comply with railway regulations as well as avoiding costs associated with formal closures. Ghost trains do not usually have any passengers and do not appear on official timetables.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

 

12th December

 

The lion’s costume worn by Bert Lahr (1895–1967) in the 1939 film, ‘The Wizard of Oz’, was made from real lion skin and fur. It sold at an auction in 2014 for over $3 million.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

 

 

13th December

 

Advent calendars can be traced back to 1851 A.D. when they first appeared in Germany; each day offered a picture or a poem.

 

It was during the late 1950s that chocolate began to appear behind the calendar doors. However, if the calendar is not from a well-known brand (such as Cadbury’s or Thorntons), then there is a high probability that the chocolate will taste inferior. The sub-standard product is known as compound chocolate, which is made with fats rather than with cocoa butter, causing it to have a different taste and texture. It is less expensive to produce and from the manufacturer's viewpoint, it is easier to work with and to mould into shape.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

14th December

One of the most developed countries in Central Asia is Kazakhstan which ranks as the ninth-largest country in the world. Formerly part of the USSR, its main claim to fame is its status as the largest landlocked country in the world, and the only landlocked country entered in the top 10 list of the world’s largest countries. Russia surrounds it to the north and northwest, China to the east, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan to the south, and Turkmenistan and the Caspian Sea to the west.

 

It has a small population of approximately 16 million people living in 1.05 million miles² (2.72 million km²), giving it one of the lowest population densities calculated at just six people per mile². 

 

The name Kazakhstan can roughly be translated as the ‘Land of the Wanderers’. ‘Kazakh’ means ‘adventurer’ or ‘wanderer’, while ‘Stan’ is an ancient Persian word meaning ‘land’.

 

Although Kazakhstan celebrates New Year on the 1st January according to the Gregorian calendar, they also celebrate Nauryz around the 22nd March to mark the Persian new year beginning on the Vernal Equinox. The 14th of January is also observed from Soviet times and known as the old new year.

 

Kazakhstan’s capital was Almaty until 10th December 1997 at which time Nur-Sultan (formerly named Astana) became the capital.

 

Ancient Kazakhs are thought to be the first to domesticate and ride horses.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

 

15th December

The word oxymoron is a word to describe two opposing ideas:-

 

e.g. when an adult shouts at a child who is climbing a tree ‘If you fall and break your leg don’t come running to me!’

 

‘A deafening silence fell across the courtroom as everyone waited with baited breathe for the jury’s decision.’

 

‘It was an open secret that the colleagues were having an affair’.

 

‘I’m having a party, but it will be just a small crowd.’

 

The word oxymoron is an oxymoron because it derives from Ancient Greek, where ‘oxy’ means ‘sharp’ and ‘môros’ means ‘stupid’.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

 

16th December

 

Female chickens have one functioning ovary on the left side while on the right is an inactive gonad which is a remnant of early development. Should an adult’s ovary be damaged by a cyst or a tumour, the dormant gonad will become active, but it can develop as either an ovary, a testicle, or even a combination of the two known as an ovotestis. If a testis develops, androgens are released, and the female chicken starts the journey of a sex change. She will cease to lay eggs, gain weight, grow wattles, and her plumage becomes darker. She will also begin to crow, and her walk will become the alpha-male strut.

Although the hen will develop masculine physical characteristics, she remains a female genetically. The result is comparable to that of a sterile rooster.

 

As far as research has established, the sex-change only happens to females; a rooster-to-hen conversion has never been documented.

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

17th December

 

The American media scholar, Ethan Zuckerman (b 1973), who is presently the head of the ‘Centre for Civic Media at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’, is the brainchild behind the internet’s most annoying form of advertising – the pop-up advert. He wrote an essay in 2014 entitled ‘The Internet’s Original Sin’ in which he apologised for the atrocity he had created.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

 

18th December

 

Eminem's song ‘Rap God’ premiered via YouTube on 14th December 2013 before being released in America the following day. The song, which lasts 6 minutes and 4 seconds, contains 1,560 words. The Guinness World Record’s verify it as the hit single with the most words.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

 

19th December

 

One of the most mentally challenging and stressful careers is that of an Air Traffic Controller (ATC).

 

Although English was mandated as the international language of air traffic control after the Second World War, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) dictates that all controllers must be able to speak in the language used by the station on the ground. However, reports indicate that the French are renowned for stubbornly sticking to their mother tongue.

 

Pilots and cabin crew have a ‘language’ of their own.

 

  • A miracle flight is when there is a passenger who requires wheelchair assistance to board the aircraft but can stand and walk unaided after that.

 

  • A crotch watch is when the flight attendant parades throughout the cabin to check all passengers are wearing their seatbelts.

 

  • Landing lips is when the crew refresh their makeup before bidding goodbye to passengers as they depart.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

 

 

20th December

 

A fruit salad tree is a multi-grafted tree that produces four or more related fruits from one tree trunk. Each fruit ripens at different stages to ensure that there is not an abundance all at once. There are four main variations: -

 

  • the stone fruit which produces apricots, peaches, peachots (a cross between a peach and an apricot), plums, and nectarines.

 

  • the citrus, which bears grapefruit, oranges, lemons, limes, mandarins, pomelos, and tangelos.

  • multi apple, which not surprisingly, grows a variety of apples,

 

  • and the multi nashi, which produces different Asian pears.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

 

21st December

On the 21st December 2016, the Indian sports-drama movie ‘Dangal’ premiered in America and went on to become the first Indian film to earn over $300 million worldwide. Loosely based on a real-life story, the movie chronicles the trials and triumphs of the amateur wrestler, Mahavir Singh Phogat, and the daughters he trained to become world-class wrestlers.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

22nd December

On the 22nd December 1891, in Albany, New York, an inventor named Seth Wheeler filed a patent for new and useful improvements to toilet paper rolls. One of his developments was the perforations and his drawings illustrated that the toilet paper should always go over, not under!

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

23rd December

Historians believe that Belgians were the first to cultivate Brussels Sprouts and the hearty winter vegetables are eponymous to the capital of Belgium.

 

A study conducted in 2011 at Cornwall College, England, discovered that sprouts contain a chemical that only tastes bitter to people who have a variation of a taste-receptor gene known as TAS2R38, which gives the ability to taste the chemical compound phenylthiocarbamide (PTC).

 

Other foods with PTC include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and kale.

 

Chocolate Brussels sprouts are always an option (but usually only around Christmas time as a novelty item).

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

24th December

Knocking your funny bone can be one of the most unfunny experiences that can make you laugh!

 

The funny bone is a nerve, known as the ulnar nerve, that runs from the neck, down the arm, around the elbow joint, and into the hand. For the most part, it is protected by bones, muscles, and ligaments, except at the elbow where it travels through a channel called the cubital tunnel where its only protection is skin and fat. When that particular area gets hit, the nerve presses against the bone and causes numbness, tingling, and an electrical shock to shoot out in various directions.

 

How the nerve got nicknamed as the funny bone is debatable. Some claim that it is an anatomical pun as the nerve runs along the humerus (a long bone in the upper arm) while others suggest that it was because of the funny sensation experienced.

 

Compression of the nerve is medically known as ulnar nerve neuropathy, while those who experience long term compression or stretching are suffering from cubital tunnel syndrome.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

25th December

The exact origin of the military salute remains a mystery. One theory dates the gesture back to Roman times while another associated it with medieval Europe when knights single-handedly raised their visors to reveal their identity and confirm that they were not a threat; historians are sceptical about both viewpoints.

 

A more recent belief is that the salute is an evolutionary gesture which started with the removal of headgear. After the agreement of a new British Order in the 1740s, the removal of hats was no longer necessary as military headgear had become cumbersome; the practice of raising their hand and slightly bowing their head was an acceptable alternative.

 

Depending on the country and the military organisation, a palm can either face outwards or downwards. The introduction of the downwards salute enabled naval officers to conceal how dirty their hands had got while working.

 

Today, although saluting confirms that the person is not wielding a weapon, its primary purpose is to show a sign of respect.

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

26th December

Harold Holt (1908–1967), was the Prime Minister of Australia from 1966 until his disappearance in 1967.

 

On the 17th December 1967, Holt was swimming in deep waters when he suddenly vanished, resulting in one of the most extensive search operations in Australia’s history. Without the recovery of a body, his mysterious disappearance is at the centre of various conspiracy theories. Some believe that he committed suicide while others suggest the report of his death was part of an elaborate hoax, and a nearby submarine picked him up so that he could defect to China. Another suggestion is that the government assassinated him as his leadership was eroding.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

27th December

During the summer months, reindeer’s footpads become sponge-like, providing extra traction in the soft tundra. As winter approaches, the pads shrink and tighten to expose a hoof rim which cuts through ice and snow as well as enabling the reindeer to dig.

 

The first mention of Santa’s reindeer was in 1823, when the American writer, Clement C. Moore (1779-1863) published a poem entitled ‘A Visit from Saint Nicholas’ which is now known as ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’. The original eight reindeer were Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Duner (later known as Donner which translates from German as thunder), and Blixem (later changed to Blitzen which translates as lightning). Rudolph made his debut appearance in 1949.

 

During his lifetime, Moore owned several slaves and was opposed to the abolition of slavery.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

 

28th December

On Christmas Eve in the U.K., the sun sets at 3:55 pm. However, this isn’t the earliest sunset of the year. The earliest occurs in London at 3:51 pm between 8th to 16th December.

 

During the First World War, various British and German troops situated along the Western Front held an unofficial truce which began on Christmas Eve 1914. A few small fir trees strategically positioned created a friendly atmosphere; men sang carols together, played football, and exchanged gifts. The temporary cease-fire also gave time for fallen comrades to be brought back from behind enemy lines. The truce, which lasted throughout Christmas Day and into the 26th December, was severely criticised as it might have undermined the fighting spirit.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

 

29th December

The first Christmas Day celebrations held on the 25th December took place in 336 A.D.

 

Holly and Ivy became traditional Christmas decorations around the 9th century. Holly represents the Crown of Thrones that was placed on Jesus’ head, while the berries are a symbol of His blood.

 

At 3 pm on Christmas Day, many people sit down to watch the British monarch’s speech which usually addresses global, national, and personal events. The tradition started in 1932 when the first radio broadcast was by King George V; the first televised speech took place in 1957 by King George’s grand-daughter, Queen Elizabeth II.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

 

30th December

 

When Larry Page and Sergey Brin were creating a search engine, they initially called it Backrub because the program was searching through backlinks for the appropriate information. They quickly realised that it wasn’t the best name and considered alternatives.

 

The suggested word, Googolplex, seemed like a suitable alternative as it is used in mathematical terms to reference 10 to the power of 100 (or 10 to the power of googol). Page preferred the shorter word googol, but he didn’t check the spelling and registered the search engine as Google.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

31st December

‘Make Up Your Mind Day’ is celebrated on 31st December each year. It is a time for people to set New Year’s Resolutions and to think positively about the goals they are going to achieve.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts