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1 May

1st May


A duffle coat is made from duffel, a thick, coarse woollen material which originated in Duffel - a town in the province of Antwerp in Belgium. The design of the coat initially came from the Polish military frock coat.


One of the most famous duffel coat wearers is Paddington Bear. When Paddington arrived in England as a stowaway from darkest Peru, he was only wearing a bush hat that belonged to his Uncle Pastuzo. The duffle coat was given to him by the Browns shortly after they took him home from Paddington Station.


On the 13th of October 2008, Google dedicated a doodle to Paddington to celebrate his 50th birthday.


Source: The Enemy of Ignorance – facts, trivia, & general knowledge


2nd May


A purlicue is the distance between your pointer finger and thumb when extended.


Source: The Enemy of Ignorance – facts, trivia, & general knowledge


3rd May


Mel Blanc (1908 to 1989) was an American actor who was known as The Man of 1,000 Voices. One voice in particular that he was famous for was that of Bugs Bunny which he did for more than fifty years.


For authenticity, Blanc would chew on a real carrot when performing the voice and then spit it out. This created urban myths such as, he was allergic to carrots, or that he despised the taste. Neither was correct – the fact was that he just wasn’t fond of the taste but as a true professional chewed on them for the scene.


In 1961 Blanc was involved in a near-fatal car accident that left him in a coma for weeks. During this time one of the neurologists tried a different approach to get a response and asked Blanc how Bugs Bunny was doing today to which Blanc replied in the voice of Bugs Bunny “just fine doc – how are you?” The doctor reported that it was like Bugs Bunny was trying to save his life.


Bugs Bunny first appeared in a 1938 cartoon for Porky Pig although at that time he did not have a name.


Source: The Enemy of Ignorance – facts, trivia, & general knowledge



4th May


Located a few miles from Knoxville, Tennessee is the “University of Tennessee Anthropological Research Facility” which is nicknamed as the body farm. The 2.5-acre plot appears as a serial killer’s dumping ground as corpses are left strewn across the woodland. At any time, there are between 150 and 190 human cadavers strategically positioned in a range of scenarios to simulate various crime scenes. There are clothed bodies, naked bodies, bodies in cars, and bodies underneath the water, all situated in different yet potentially real-life circumstances which supply researchers with a better understanding of the decomposition process.


When the centre opened in 1981 it had just one; today it possesses over 700 hundred cadavers, which is one of the largest collections of modern skeletal remains in the world.


Source: The Enemy of Ignorance – facts, trivia, & general knowledge



5th May


Zero degrees Celsius is 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

-40°C and -40°F are identical as that is the point at which both temperature scales converge.


Source: The Enemy of Ignorance – facts, trivia, & general knowledge


6th May


Eugène Vidocq (1775 to 1857) a French soldier, criminal, and privateer opened the first known private detective agency in 1833. It was called “Le Bureau des Renseignements” and was staffed by ex-convicts. The official law enforcement tried many times to put him out of business and had Vidocq arrested on suspicious of unlawful imprisonment and taking money under false pretences. Although he was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, the Court of Appeals released him; Vidocq suspected that he had been set-up.

Today, Vidocq is acknowledged for the introduction of detailed record-keeping, criminology, and ballistics, to criminal investigations. He is also credited for creating indelible ink, unalterable bond paper, and for making the first plaster-cast of shoe impressions.


Vidocq is regarded as the first private detective. When Vidocq gave his allegiance to the police force, he persuaded his superiors to allow his agents to wear plain clothes or disguises depending on the situation. His interrogation method was also different in that he invited those he arrested to have dinner with him during which time he often obtained confessions, recruited future informants, and even employed new agents.


Source: The Enemy of Ignorance – facts, trivia, & general knowledge

7th May


The dots on dice and dominoes are called pips.


Source: The Enemy of Ignorance – facts, trivia, & general knowledge



8th May


The Prohibition Party is a political party in America recognised for its historic opposition to both the sale of and consumption of alcohol. Founded in 1869, it is the oldest political party still in existence. In 2016 it saw its best performance in decades as it won 5,617 votes (4 years earlier it had only received 518). The party has nominated a presidential candidate in every election since 1872 rendering it the longest-lived American party after the Democrats and Republicans.


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


9th May


James Gilpin is a UK-based designer and researcher who successfully managed to distil urine from diabetics into a malt whisky.


Propelled by the urban legend that pharmaceutical companies collected urine from elderly people in hospitals and nursing homes to extract the excess compounds/chemicals for recycling purposes, Gilpin, who has type 1 diabetes, began to wonder if diabetics sugar-rich urine could be used to create whisky.


Gilpin’s grandmother was the first to donate her urine for the process. The urine was purified to enable the sugar molecules to be extracted, which were then added to the mash (a mixture of water and grain). A clear-white alcohol was produced, which was mixed with whisky blends to give it the proper colour and barrel-age taste. Gilpin’s whisky is then

bottled and labelled with the name and age of the person who donated.


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



10th May


DICE is a music discovery and ticketing app that informs its users of music events in their city for which tickets can be purchased within seconds.


If an employee is at a music-related event for work purposes and gets carried away/has more than one too many, they can have up to four hang-over days per year. All they have to do is send a Whatapps message to their employer with the music, beer, and sick emojis.


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




11th May


Shortly after the discovery of Uranus in 1781, scientists noticed significant fluctuations in its orbit and proposed that another planet must exist as its gravitational field would account for such orbital variances.


In 1845, English mathematician and astronomer, John Couch Adams (1819-1892) completed calculations as to the position of the unknown planet. He submitted his findings (which involved three years of work) to a scientific organisation, but his work was met with little interest.

Urbain Jean Joseph le Verrier (1811-1877), a French mathematician who specialised in celestial mechanics, calculated the existence and positioning of a new planet. His predictions were published in 1846 and were very similar to Adams’ calculations.


British scientists considered national honour was at stake and Cambridge Observatory began looking for the planet but were unsuccessful. On instructions from le Verrier, the Berlin Observatory discovered an object close to where le Verrier predicted, and on 23rd September 1846 found the planet that became known as Neptune. Le Verrier was given credit for the discovery, but this sparked an international dispute. Although Le Verrier’s calculations were closer, both men were eventually given credit.


Neptune was the first planet to be discovered using mathematics.


In 1989, Voyager 2, was the first spacecraft to fly past Neptune. The images captured of the Neptunian system took 246 minutes (4 hours and 6 minutes) to reach Earth.


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




12th May


A nebula is an enormous cloud formed mainly from hydrogen, helium, and interstellar dust. The only one visible to the naked eye is the Orion Nebula situated in the Milky Way, south of Orion’s belt in the Orion constellation.


Orion Nebula is categorised as an emission nebula as its internal ultraviolet rays light it up. Reflection nebulae do not emit their own light but rather reflect light from nearby stars. The Orion constellation has a reflection nebula known as the Witch Head as it looks like the side profile of a witch’s head.


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



13th May


With the number of planned space trips increasing for the future, NASA has had to make plans on how to deal with a corpse in the event that an astronaut dies while on a mission. One method proposed was that immediately after funeral rites were performed, the body would be put into a large bag and placed into the ship’s airlock which would expose the corpse to outer space allowing the low temperature to freeze-dry the body. The container would then be shaken, causing the corpse to dissolve into powder. Once the craft returned to earth, the neatly folded bag and its contents would be presented to the deceased’s family members.


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



14th May


Neil Armstrong may have taken one small step onto the moon, but along with all the other astronauts, has left more than footprints behind.


The U.S. flag was planted along with others, all of which are expected to be bleached white by now.


There are sixty unmanned space vehicles left behind.


The first of these probes to touch down was the Luna2 which, on 14th September 1959, was the first man-made object to land on another celestial body.


There are ten descent stages (the portion of lunar landing modules that support the landing and excavation probes) and six ascent stages (used by astronauts to return to the orbiting command spacecraft) sitting on the surface of the moon.


Three roving vehicles are parked on the moon’s surface – they are from Apollo 15, Apollo 16, and Apollo 17.


In 1972, Charles Duke (b.1935) left a family photo behind. On a side note, Duke was the youngest person to walk on the moon.


Astronaut David Scott (b.1932) left an aluminium sculpture as a memorial to fallen astronauts and cosmonauts.


Scientists estimate that over 413,000 lbs (around 187 tonnes) of material has been left on the moon - this includes a large amount of photographic equipment (and takes into account 12 Hasselblad cameras).


After his death, Eugene Shoemaker (1928-1977), an American geologist well known for his studies of terrestrial craters, had some of his ashes carried to the moon by a space probe and is the only person whose ashes have been buried in any celestial body outside Earth.


There are also around 96 packets of urine, human excrement, and vomit left behind on the moon.


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



15th May


Neil Armstrong’s application to NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) was a week late. If it weren’t for his friend, Dick Day, who worked at NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Centre, the submission would have been rejected. Day secretly slipped Armstrong’s application into the pile of on-time applications.


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



16th May


The much-loved colourful button-shaped chocolates, M&M’s, the flagship product of Mars Wrigley Confectionery, have been taken to space over 130 times.


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



17th May


James Lord Pierpont (1822–1893) was an American songwriter and composer best known for writing Jingle Bells in 1857 which was initially entitled The One Horse Open Sleigh.


Now a Yuletide staple, Jingle Bells does not mention Christmas nor any other holiday in the lyrics. In fact, while the words draw upon snowbound memories of the writer’s sleigh rides and races in Massachusetts, it was used as a drinking song at parties. The words of the lesser-known verses describe picking up girls, drag-races, and a high-speed crash which provided an opportunity for a young couple to remain out in the wilds and have an unholy night.


Jingle Bells was the first song broadcast from space. On the 16th December 1965, astronaut Wally Schirra played it on a smuggled harmonica while Tom Stafford accompanied him on bells.


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



18th May


Bernard D. Sadow (1925-2011) was the first person to attach wheels to suitcases, but he experienced a lack

of interest in his invention and faced weeks of rejection when demonstrating the product at department stores. Initially, Macy’s did not seem impressed with the merchandise but agreed with a prototype on the second meeting. Macy’s department store sold the first suitcases with wheels in October 1970.


Sadow applied for a patent which was granted in 1972, but competitors banded together and successfully broke the copyright which opened up the market to various types of wheeled luggage.


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



19th May


Professional handwriting analysts suggest that small handwriting indicates that the writer is very focused and is not distracted by their surroundings – they are more likely to be introverts.


Scholars, researchers, and creative thinkers tend to have small handwriting - two of the most famous are Albert Einstein and Sir Isaac Newton.


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




20th May


In May 2006, an Australian prankster put the country of New Zealand up for sale on eBay. The bidding rose from A$0.01 to A$3,000 before eBay managers pulled it from the auction site due to a violation of

eBay's policies.


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



21st May


Although there is some historical uncertainty around the fun board game known as Chinese Chequers, it is thought that it was invented in Germany around 1891/1892 and was based on an older game known as Sternhalma.


In Britain, it was known as Hoppity, and when introduced to America it was initially called Hop Ching Checkers. The name change to Chinese Checkers was a marketing ploy by J. Pressman & Co. who cashed in on America’s fascination with Asia and the Middle East after the discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922.


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


22nd May


Chutes and Ladders, also known as Snakes and Ladders, originated in India and was meant to teach young children the value of good deeds compared with the negative consequences of evil deeds – ladders

represented sound moral principles while snakes represented poor choices.


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



23rd May


Ancient Celts associated apples with the goddesses who controlled peoples’ romantic fates. On Halloween, children would race to grab an apple from a basin of water by their mouths - whoever was first to bite into the apple would supposedly be the first among the group to get married. This has subsequently turned into the Halloween game of Bobbing for Apples.


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


24th May


On the 18th April 1930, a BBC news report announced that there was not any news. Piano music was played for the remainder of the fifteen-minute segment.


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



25th May


The term cottage cheese dates back to 1831 and is believed to have originated because the product was usually made in cottages from any milk that was leftover from making butter. Cottage cheese is unprocessed or raw cheese and is produced by curdling milk and draining most of the whey or liquid from the solid product.


It takes 10 lbs of milk to produce 1.5 lb of cottage cheese.


Although it dates back to ancient Greeks and Egyptians its name is derived from the time of early American settlers. It was a staple food for Americans, and it was said that President Nixon (the 37th U.S. President 1969-1974) usually had cottage cheese and a pineapple ring for lunch. In fact, some say that it was the last meal he had as a president.


In comparison to other cheeses, cottage cheese is surprisingly healthy and is popular among athletes and bodybuilders due to the low-fat, low-calorie, low-carbohydrate, and high protein content.


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



26th May


Since 1953, the Italian bank, Credito Emiliano, based in Reggio Emilia, Italy, accepts giant wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese as collateral. The young cheese is valued at the current market price of mature cheese and can be used to obtain a loan between 70% to 80% of its value. Bank-owned warehouses offer state-of-the-art climate-controlled storage where the cheese is kept under close scrutiny by trained inspectors. During the maturation period, which is between 18 months and three years, only 1% of the cheese suffers degradation necessitating a value downgrade. From the bank’s perspective, the transaction is almost risk-free as they have the collateral in their possession the entire duration of the loan period and can sell it upon maturation if the loan defaults. From the farmers perspective, they save on operating and storage costs and have cash-at-hand to use as working capital.


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



27th May


According to ‘Rovio Entertainment Oyj’, the Finnish video game developer responsible for the creation of the addictive video game, Angry Birds, the villains are portrayed as pigs because while the game was in development, several reports concerning the outbreak of swine flu appeared in the media. The reason why all pigs are coloured green is that it makes them look diseased.


The first game officially launched on Apple’s IOS platform in December 2009 and within 2½ hours was at the top spot in the App Store charts.


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



28th May


In 1780, James Watt (1736 to 1819), the Scottish inventor of the Watt steam engine, designed what was known as the book press, or a copying press. Basically, someone would write a document with a particular ink, place a moistened sheet of paper on its surface, and use the copying press to squeeze the two sheets of paper together - ink would lift from the first sheet and copy onto the second. Usually, only one copy could be made at a time, but sometimes good luck would have it that two copies could be produced before the original document had to be rewritten.


Almost two centuries later, the Xerox Corporation presented the first office copier in 1959, known as the Haloid Xerox 914, which was the first piece of technology that was capable of making duplicate

copies on ordinary paper without the reliance of particular chemicals. It earned the reputation of being the single most successful product introduced of all time - it was able to produce a staggering 136

copies an hour. The magnificent piece of modern technology came accompanied with a fire extinguisher, known as a scorch guard, as it was notorious for bursting into flames.


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



29th May


For his 21st birthday, Prince Charles, the heir apparent to the British throne, received an Aston Martin from his mother, Queen Elizabeth II. Devoted to environmental causes, he had it converted from petrol after the engineers at Aston Martin discovered that their cars could run on white wine mixed with whey – it allegedly performs better now.


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



30th May


A second is called a second as it is the second division of the hour by 60; the first division of the hour is a minute.


The division of the hour into 60 minutes and the minute split into 60 seconds came from the Babylonians who used a sexagesimal system for astronomy and mathematics, i.e. a system that counted in sixties. Their method was based on the concept of seasonal hours, i.e. the length of an hour was governed by the season and the duration of daylight in a particular area.


The Egyptians are credited for being the first to divide days into smaller parts by the use of sundials.


Intervals between day and night were calibrated to divide into twelve – a significant number as it corresponds with the number of lunar cycles in a year and is also divisible by two, three, four, six, and twelve. When sundials were introduced, the Egyptians astronomers also first observed a set of stars that divided the sky into equal parts. Their

primary measuring system was simplified between 1550 to 1070 B.C. to use a set of 24 stars. However, not all hours were equal – the concept of fixed-length hours was only presented during the Hellenistic period (323 B.C. to 31 B.C.) when Greek astronomers began using a system for their theoretical calculations. 


There are two ways of measuring time: - dynamic, which is a method that relies on the motion of celestial bodies, and atomic which depends on the energy transition with an atom of a particular element (commonly caesium). One second is specified as the time it takes for the caesium frequency to oscillate 9,192,631,770 times.


The velocity of the Earth’s rotation around its own axis does not match atomic time exactly. Significant events have caused the rotation to slow down, e.g.the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake caused a day to shorten by three microseconds. Scientists have also confirmed that man-made structures have had an effect on time, e.g. the Three Gorges Dam has altered the length of a day by 0.06 microseconds due to the shift in mass.  To ensure that it maintains accuracy with the Coordinated Universal Time (which was introduced on 1st January 1960), a leap-second has to be applied on an ad hoc basis. This usually is inserted between 23:59:59 and 00:00:00 of the following day. Since 1970, a total of 27 leap-seconds has been added; the next is predicted to occur on 30th June 2020.


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



31st May


Assuming that there are stable fuel, heat, and oxygen levels, a typical house fire will double in size every minute.


Earth is the only place fire can burn as everywhere else does not have enough oxygen.


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

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