September

1st September

 

The discovery of the doomed passenger liner, RMS Titanic, was thought to be purely the result of scientific efforts. However, when classified information became declassified in 2018, it became apparent that there was more to the expedition than just finding the ill-fated vessel!

 

On the 1st September 1985, when Robert Ballard, a U.S. Navy Commander and Professor of Oceanography, discovered the Titanic he was actually on a secret expedition to investigate two sunken nuclear-powered submarines, the ‘USS Thresher’ and the ‘USS Scorpion’. The purpose of the mission was to establish what adverse effects the nuclear reactors were having on the environment, but a cover story was necessary to ensure that Russia remained unaware of the expedition.  The agreement was that if Ballard completed before the scheduled end-date, he could spend the remaining time searching for the Titanic - he had just twelve days to scan a vast region of the ocean bed.

 

The loss of the ‘USS Thresher’ on the 10th April 1963 was regarded as the worst submarine disaster in U.S. Naval history as 129 lives were lost. Some thought that major flooding caused the incident while others argue that the sub’s nuclear power plant shut down completely.

 

The disappearance of the ‘USS Scorpion’ and the loss of 99 lives was one of four mysterious submarine disappearances that occurred in 1968.  Although the cause remains undetermined, the submarine had been badly in need of an overhaul, and there is a high probability that an onboard torpedo malfunctioned.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

 

2nd September

 

During the 1660s London was the largest city in Britain. It had expanded quickly as the result of organic growth and an unregulated urban sprawl which consisted mainly of wooden structures.

 

As there was no official firefighting service, it was a legal requirement that the tower of every parish church had to store long ladders, buckets, axes, and fire-hooks. The fire-hooks were used for pulling down buildings close to a fire along with controlled gunpowder explosions - this created a firebreak and subsequently helped stop the fire as it had nothing more to feed on.

 

The Great Fire of London reportedly started in a bakery in Pudding Lane on Sunday 2nd September 1666. The baker, Thomas Farriner, had forgotten to put out one of the baking ovens the day before so when a spark flew out and landed upon the fire’s fuel store (i.e. sticks and straw) flames quickly engulfed the wooden framed building. The fire spread lasting for four days.

 

In 1979 archaeologists excavated the remains of a burnt-out shop on Pudding Lane. An analysis of melted pottery pieces showed that the temperature rose to 1700°C, a fact that can be explained as it was in a warehousing district where substances such as oil, pitch, coal, tallow, fats, sugar, turpentine, gunpowder, and alcohol were stored.

 

Authorities were eager to punish the person responsible for starting a fire which claimed the lives of many, so they were happy to accept the confession of a simple-minded French man, Robert Hubert. Farriner, along with his some of his family members, were signatories on the Bill against Hubert.

 

After Hubert was hanged, it became apparent that he had not arrived in London until two days after the fire started as he had been on-board a ship in the North Sea.

 

Source: Clever Knickers – facts & general knowledge

 

3rd September

 

The crown jewels, owned by Queen Elizabeth II, are comprised of over 140 items containing more than 23,000 precious stones and are estimated to be worth £3 billion.  When not in use, the jewels are locked away in a bombproof glass box in the Tower of London and protected by over twenty guards.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

4th September

 

A circle of latitude is a series of imaginary circles going parallel from east to west which connects all locations within a given latitude. They are often used as boundaries between countries or regions.

 

The five major circles of latitude are  - the Equator, The Tropic of Cancer, The Tropic of Capricorn, The Arctic Circle, and Antarctic Circle; the two others are the North Pole and the South Pole.

 

The Tropic of Capricorn, which is the farthest point south at which the sun appears overhead at noon, was named over 2,000 years ago when located in the constellation Capricorn – it is now located in the constellation Sagittarius. Although it does cross near to places such as Rio de Janeiro, Madagascar, and Australia, it mainly passes through water.

 

The Tropic of Cancer is the northernmost point where the sun’s rays are directly overhead at noon; it passes through the state of Hawaii, portions of Central America, Northern African, and near Kolkata (the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal).

Smarter Than Yesterday – facts, trivia & general knowledge

 

5th September

 

An Indian man named Shridhar Chillal (b 1937) held the world record for having the longest fingernails on a single hand.

 

After 66 years of growth, he decided to have them cut off. Donned with a facemask and wielding a power tool, a technician did the task during a nail clipping ceremony. The severed fingernails, which had a combined length of 909.6 cms, were put on display at ‘Ripley’s Believe it or Not’ in New York.

 

Although freed from the fingernails, Chillal is unable to open his left hand or flex his fingers due to the

time spent holding his hand closed to facilitate the long nails.

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

6th September

 

The foundations of the ‘Taj Mahal’, the famous ivory-white mausoleum located on the south bank of the Yamuna river, are supported by gigantic ebony slabs which are under threat of becoming brittle and disintegrating. These wooden structures need a constant flow of water to remain firm and durable, but the river is drying up. It has also become highly polluted due to a vast amount of garbage being dumped into it which has subsequently become a  breeding ground for mosquitoes and bacteria.

 

The ornate mausoleum was designed and built in such a way that should it collapse, it will fall outwards to ensure the tomb inside remains intact.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

 

7th September

 

The Mammalian Dive Response, also known as the Diving Reflex, is a series of reflexes that are activated when a person’s face is cooled down suddenly by having cold water splashed over it or by diving into water. This reflex enables the body to manage and tolerate a lower level of oxygen through three main changes that occur:-

 

  • The heart rate can slow down between 10% to 30%, which is known as Bradycardia - the colder the water, the quicker the response.

  • Blood vessels narrow, causing the blood flow rate to reduce (peripheral vasoconstriction).

  • During deep dives, there is a blood shift which allows blood plasma and water to pass through organs and circulatory walls to the chest cavity, which shields organs from the increase in pressure.

 

Activating the diving reflex before a stressful event,

e.g. sitting an exam or attending a business meeting, can help with relaxation; to achieve the best result, hold the breath while covering the face with cold water paying particular attention to the forehead and the area around the nose.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

8th September

 

Dublin is the European city with the youngest population; approximately 50% are less than 25 years old.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

 

9th September

 

A professional bullfighter is known as a torero while someone who kills a bull is called a matador.

 

A banderillero is a torero who plants banderillas (coloured sticks with a sharp point) into the top of a bull’s shoulders to help bring it down.

 

Once the fight begins, a matador has fifteen minutes to kill the bull by thrusting a sword between its shoulder blades and into its heart. Sometimes when the animal has been particularly brave and performed well, the crowd will wave their handkerchiefs signalling that it can be pardoned. The matador perceives it as a great honour to let the bull live.

 

Victor Barrio Hernanz (1987–2016) was the first bullfighter to be killed in Spain since 1985 although two banderilleros died in 1992.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

 

10th September

 

During the formation of Switzerland in 1848, officials reached the decision that every territory should hold equal importance which meant that none would receive the status of being the country’s capital. However, Bern hosts the seat of the country’s federal government and is unofficially considered the capital.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

 

11th September

 

For many years McDonald’s reigned as the world’s largest distributor of toys. However, in the summer of 2019, a petition was started on Change.org to encourage the corporation to help protect the environment by no longer using the marketing ploy of giving children plastic toys with each meal.

 

McDonald’s reacted quickly by scaling back on the number of plastic toys distributed while they sought to gauge feedback and opinions from the wider public.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

 

12th September

 

America has never had an official language!

 

In 2005, the aim of the ‘English Language Unity Act’ was to make English the country’s official language. The act was based on the ‘The Bill Emerson English Language Empowerment Act’ from 1999, which was initially agreed in the House of Representatives. Although it didn’t become law, it was probably the closest they have come to making English the official language.

 

Throughout the years, various proposals have been presented such as in 1780 when the future president, John Adams, suggested that English was declared the official language, but his request was deemed undemocratic and a threat to individual liberty.

 

Other attempts failed as ‘Title VI of the Civil Rights Act 1964’ protects the rights of taxpayers who don’t speak English fluently.

 

The ‘American Civil Liberties Union’ hold a strong argument that declaring English as the official language would violate the First Amendment.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

13th September

 

Newborn babies can not usually shed tears as their tear ducts are still in the developing stage. Most start

crying tears when they are around two weeks old, but for some, it can take longer.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

14th September

 

On average, the lifespan of an olive tree ranges between 300 to 600 years. The oldest olive trees are all located in the Mediterranean; experts guestimate that they are at least 3,000 years old.

 

Olives are a drupe, i.e. a stone fruit.

 

An olive branch is regarded as a symbol of peace and historians confirm its use as a way to declare a

ceasefire during times of conflict. It is often represented as a religious symbol to portray peace or purity during times of struggle or worry; for this reason, it is part of the United Nations flag.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

15th September

 

The entrance to Lascaux Cave, (also known as the ‘prehistoric Sistine Chapel’), a complex of caves near

the village of Montignac in southwestern France, was accidentally discovered on the 12th September 1940 by an 18-year old apprentice mechanic, Marcel Ravidat. The discovery sent a shockwave of excitement through archaeologists worldwide, and tourists began flocking to the area to gaze with bewilderment at the 600 paintings and 1,500 engravings from the Palaeolithic era (also called the Old Stone Age). Nine hundred pieces of the artwork were confirmed to be of animals.      

            

The cave complex was officially opened to the public in 1948 with an average of 1,000 visitors each day.

 

However, by 1955 fungi infested the walls and notable damage was visible on the paintings due to carbon dioxide, heat, humidity, and other contaminants produced by sightseers. As a result, the cave closed to the public in 1963.

 

Twenty years later, ‘Lascaux II’ was opened approximately two hundred metres away from the original cave; as a replica of the ‘Great Halls of the Bulls’ and the ‘Painted Gallery’, tourists were once again able to view the paintings but this time without harming the originals.

 

UNESCO declared Lascaux as a World Heritage site in 1979.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

16th September

 

Recent research by neuroscientists concluded that both rejection and physical pain have the same effect on the brain regardless that the types of pain are processed differently. Both types of pain trigger the release of a natural pain-killing chemical.

 

FMRI scans (functional magnetic resonance imaging) disclosed that those who had been deeply distressed by experiencing rejection showed the most pain-related brain activity. The researchers concluded that social rejection does trigger the same neural circuits that process physical injury. The study also found that the recalling of emotional rejection triggers more negative feelings than when reliving an experience of physical pain.

 

Just as physical pain triggers a defensive immune attack against microbial intruders so too does negative social experiences.  Although the attack can be a positive experience in physical situations, it can have a dangerous effect in emotional circumstances and may have a link to Alzheimers, arthritis, cardiovascular diseases, depression, diabetes, as well as some forms of cancer. The emotions are felt more often in this era of social media as even an unfriending on Facebook, or an unfollowing on Twitter can build up in our minds as rejection.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

 

17th September

 

Developed by Armin Heinrich, the iOS application ‘I am Rich’ was sold on the App Store in 2008 for $999.99 - the highest price Apple allowed at that time.

 

The app did not have any useful purpose but was simply a piece of software with a red gem icon that, when pressed, showed a mantra, ‘I am rich, I deserv it, I am good, healthy & successful’. (Deserve was spelt incorrectly!).

 

It was removed from the App Store the following day but not before eight unsuspecting people purchased the useless app.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

 

18th September

 

To successfully execute someone by hanging, the executioner has to take into consideration the weight of the person, the length of the rope, as well as ensuring that the trapdoor works.

 

The introduction of the upright jerker seemed appropriate as an alternative to hanging as it was supposed to provide a faster death. However, the weights and pulley system proved to be very inefficient, and many countries withdrew the execution method during the 1930s.

 

Today, Iran reportedly executes the most people per capita. One of their preferred methods is the upright jerker. The convicted is pulled up into the air from a stool by a thick noose that has between seven to nineteen knotted coils. Death by strangulation can take between ten to twenty minutes.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

 

19th September

 

There are about four hundred species of headlice; fully grown they can measure between 0.3 mm to 11 mm in length.

 

It is a myth that head lice are attracted to clean hair – the reality is they don’t mind whether it is clean or not! They transfer from head-to-head by direct contact and are becoming more tolerant of insecticide shampoos. There are alternative ways to attack the wingless insects such as the electrical device known as the V-Comb.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

 

20th September

 

Gluten is a protein found primarily in barley, rye, and wheat but it is also in non-food items such as the glue on the back of stamps and envelopes, modelling dough, mouthwash, toothpaste, and shampoos. It can cause digestive problems such as abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and gassiness. The best way to test for gluten sensitivity is with DNA.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

 

21st September

 

The success of businesses dealing with mail-order brides can be dependent on several factors such as the countries socio-economic situation, gender distribution, and whether opportunities for women are limited. The majority of the women are from southeast Asia.

 

The term ‘mail-order brides’ can be very misleading as it may suggest human trafficking. All ‘brides’ advertise voluntarily with the hope of making a better life for themselves as well as sending money back home to their families.

 

The brides have two main routes to chose from - an international dating site or an international marriage broker. The process can be very costly, particularly for men, yet there is no guarantee of a pipe organist playing Mendelssohn’s ‘Wedding March’!

 

It more recent years the service has modernised to offer husbands to busy women looking for a ready-made partner.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

22nd September

 

Henry Valentine Miller (1891 – 1980) was an American author renowned for stepping beyond acceptable boundaries in literacy work at that time. His book, entitled “Tropic of Cancer”, led to a battle in the U.S. Supreme Court as the use of the word boob, to specifically describe breasts, tested the laws on pornography. However, the Supreme Court overruled the state court findings of obscenity and declared the book a work of literature. Apparently, the novel is one of the earliest written examples where boob is used in this context.

 

 

An earlier, if not the earliest, example of the word being used for the same purpose is found in the 1932 novel “Young Lonigan” which was written by James T. Farrell.

 

Smarter Than Yesterday – facts, trivia & general knowledge

 

 

23rd September

 

In 2015, researchers calculated that people sweat up to 26 gallons per year when they are asleep.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

 

24th September

 

The lungfish is a type of freshwater fish that is best known for its ability to live on the land; they are the only living fish that have both lungs and gills. Often their home rivers dry up at which times they burrow

into the muddy river bed where they form a protective cocoon leaving only their mouths exposed for breathing.

 

There are currently eight species of lungfish – six of them are in Africa, one is in South America, and the other in Australia.

 

Some lungfish become so acclimatised to living out of the water that they lose the function of their gills which means that when back in the water, they have to come to the surface to breathe.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

 

25th September

 

Although many argue that the taste of a food item determines whether it is a fruit or vegetable, the fact is, it is determined by which part of the plant it develops on.

 

Botanically, a fruit is seed-bearing and develops from the ovary of a flowering plant whereas vegetables are all other parts of the plant such as the bark, leaves, roots, and stems.

 

From a culinary point of view, a lot of botanical fruits which are savoury are typically regarded as vegetables by chefs – this includes bell peppers, eggplants, and tomatoes.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

 

26th September

 

To ‘call shotgun’ or to ‘ride shotgun’ is a modern-day phrase with a historical origin.

 

The term originated from the American Old West when a shotgun-wielding passenger sat beside the stagecoach driver to ward off any attacks. Western movies frequently used the saying, which consequently made it popular amongst children who began using it when they wanted to travel in the front passenger seat of a vehicle.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

27th September

 

In America, to leave a party without thanking the host or letting anyone else know of your departure is called an ‘Irish Goodbye’; it hints that the individual was too intoxicated to manage a proper exit.

 

 

Since 1751, it has been known as a ‘French Goodbye’ in Britain, whereas in France it is known as an ‘English Goodbye’.

 

The vanishing act, also known as ‘ghosting’, is acceptable in some situations, especially if the host is pre-informed. If the number of guests is well over ten, then no one really minds if a person loses stamina and leaves early. However, it is expected that the host is contacted the next day, even by email, to say thank you. If the party consists of less than ten people then ghosting is viewed as extremely rude and bad-mannered; in a group of three or four, it is not a case of ghosting but rather ‘ditching’ your fellow guests.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

28th September

 

Some people purchase an ornamental fat-laughing-Buddha statue for their home or garden as a good-luck charm in the hope that it brings good fortune (particularly if they rub its tummy), wealth, and happiness. This belief is not part of any Buddhist ritual but rather a Chinese practice.

 

The popular ornament is characterised on a Zen monk called Budai who lived in China around the 10th century, approximately 1,600 years after the historical Buddha. He was nicknamed as the ‘Laughing Buddha’ because of his big smile and the happiness that he spread. He allegedly taught about the joy of giving and the philosophy that the more you give, the more you receive.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

29th September

 

There is no need for Iceland to have a public railway system due to the small population, the efficient road infrastructure, and the widespread use of cars.

 

However, railroads were used in the past for the transportation of products and materials when the harbours breakwaters were under construction between 1913 until 1917, but they were never available for public use.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts

 

 

 

30th September

 

A recent study of cats, conducted in their home environments, suggested that not only do they have a preference when it comes to using their right or left paw, but there is also a gender link. When the participating felines reached for a tasty treat or ventured down a flight of stairs, the male cats had a left paw preference while the females preferred to use their right paw.

 

Source: Smarter Every Year – 366 Random Facts