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FASCINATING FACTS: 10 FACTS THAT WILL KILL YOUR BOREDOM

You might think that there is no place for boredom in a world of Netflix and social media. But, you would be surprised by how mundane life can get when standing in a queue at the grocery store or when fighting the urge to nap after lunch. The trick is to keep your mind engaged and interested, and the best way to do that is by learning new things. Our world is amazing, and it is filled with some fascinating facts. Below is a list of 10 random fun facts that will surely wipe away your boredom!

1. Alaska has a town called “Chicken.” Authorities were originally planning to name the town “Ptarmigan,” but they couldn’t spell the word “Ptarmigan” correctly, so they decided to go with “Chicken” instead!

Image credits: Arthur Chapman/Flickr, J. Stephen Conn/Flickr

The small town of Chicken, founded in the late 1800s, is situated close to Canada’sYukon Province border. By the late 19th century, it became a hot spot for gold miners who set up shop near the Fortymile River. In fact, the gold mines are still operational today, a century after the gold rush died down and most of the other mining towns were deserted. Though the town is surrounded by black spruce forests and muskeg, it still draws visitors who want to experience a legacy of one of the “last frontiers.” Of course, the unusual name adds to the attraction and makes people curious, too!

So, how did the name “Chicken” come about? In the early 1900s, the local post office was founded, and consequentially, the community needed a name. Since there is a wide presence of ptarmigan, a medium-sized grouse, in the area, the settlers thought it would make a good name for the town. However, the problem arose when they tried to spell it out and couldn’t! So, in an effort to avoid being the laughingstock of the region, they decided to go with the name “Chicken” instead. Years later, in 1955, the willow ptarmigan was named the state bird of Alaska. (12)

2. The growling sound that your stomach makes when you are hungry is called “borborygmus.” It occurs when gas passes through the intestines.

Image credits: Pixabay

Have you ever been so hungry that your stomach started to growl? We are all familiar with it, but the stomach can make sounds even when we are not hungry. Our bodies make all kinds of noises. Snoring, burping, and joint-cracking are some common examples. Also known as “bubble gut,” “peristaltic sound,” or “bowel sound,” borborygmus is usually normal and not a cause for concern. It occurs when fluid or air passes through the large and small intestines.

You can expect your stomach to start growling two hours after it becomes empty. That is when the brain sends signals to the digestive muscles for restarting peristalsis, a process that involuntarily constricts and relaxes the intestinal muscles to push its contents forward. It occurs in a wave that is known as the “migrating motor complex.” This process causes food from your last meal to be swept up, which empties your stomach and make you feel hungry.

Production of excess gas can also cause your stomach to rumble. A high-fiber diet, food allergies and intolerances, and certain gastrointestinal diseases can cause gas to build up in the stomach. Those who talk while eating or eat too fast end up swallowing air. Such people may experience borborygmus more than others. (12)

3. UVA rays cause your skin to age, whereas UVB rays give you sunburn.

Image credits: Pixabay, Careinthesun

We all know that the Sun emits ultraviolet radiation, and that it is the major cause of skin cancer. Sunlight contains different types of rays, but those that are the most damaging to the skin and eyes are called “ultraviolet rays.” There are mainly two types of ultraviolet (UV) rays that cause damage to the skin, and they are UVA, or the long-wave ultraviolet rays, and UVB, or short-wave ultraviolet rays.

UVA rays can penetrate deep into the thickest layer of the skin also known as the “dermis.” When UVA rays hit the skin, the cells present in the dermis produce melanin in the epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin. Though this process gives you a tan, it is actually your body’s way of blocking the harmful UV rays. The same tanning process occurs due to exposure to UVB rays as well. That is how you get a sunburn.

UVA rays also damage collagen fibers which produces abnormal elastin at a rapid rate. The abnormal elastin then produces metalloproteinases, the enzyme that rebuilds the damaged collagen. However, the rebuilding process often fails and degrades the collagen which reduces the quality of the rebuilt skin. That is how unprotected and long-term exposure to UVA rays can cause premature aging and wrinkling of the skin. Moreover, damaged collagen also leads to leathery-looking skin. The process is also known as “photoaging.”

UVB rays, on the other hand, typically burn the outermost layer of the skin. It is also one of the leading causes of skin cancer. UVB rays may change in intensity depending on factors such as time of day, season, and location. Experts suggest that UVB rays are the strongest between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., and exposure can cause severe sunburn and long-term damage. So, next time you go to the beach to get a nice tan, make sure to get the necessary protection against these harmful UV rays. (12)

4. The fax machine is a much older technology than the telephone. It was invented three decades before the telephone.

Image credits: Nationaal Archief/Flickr, Biswarup Ganguly/Wikipedia

Technological advancement and innovation of the last few years have rendered the fax machine outdated. However, in most people’s minds, it is still a newer technology than the telephone. Contrary to popular belief, the fax machine is much older than the telephone. Originally thought of and invented by Scottish clockmaker and inventor, Alexander Bain, the facsimile or fax machine was patented in 1843, three decades before the telephone.

The earliest version of the fax machine was practically a written telegraph, but Bain kept trying to improve the machine over the years. Finally, he was able to create a version that could copy around 325 words per minute! Even though that was an impressive achievement, other inventors had joined the race by that time, and they were able to come up with better designs and functionalities. As a result, Bain lost all recognition and ruined his career. Bain died a poor man in 1877.

The invention of the telephone, although popularly thought to be the brainchild of Alexander Graham Bell, came about as the culmination of years of work and research done by a number of individuals. There have been numerous lawsuits associated with the patent claims. Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Gray were the top two contenders for the patent as they both independently created devices that were capable of transmitting speech electronically. They submitted the designs for their prototypes at the patent office within hours of each other. However, it was Bell who got the official United States patent in 1876. (12)

5. Without any distinguishable landmarks or surroundings, like in the woods, humans are likely to walk in circles.

(Image 1) Used for representational purpose only. (Image 2) The map of several volunteers trying to walk in a straight line on sunny and cloudy days shows how humans need the sun or a landmark to keep walking in one direction. Without the sun, people tend to walk in circles in unfamiliar terrain. Image credits: Pixabay, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Tübingen, Germany/Google via ABC News

Horror movie fans know this popular plot device – the protagonist gets lost in the woods, and despite walking for hours, ends up right where he/she started. Though it may sound like an urban myth, studies have shown that average humans do walk in circles when wandering in the wilderness, especially on cloudy days. Moreover, we don’t realize we are doing it even when we are presented with proof.

Scientists at the German Institute of Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics carried out a study to test the merits of the claim that hikers are likely to retrace their steps when not carrying a map. The study involved nine people who were set loose either in a German forest or in the Sahara Desert and were told to walk for several hours in one direction. The scientists then observed the moves of the participants through a GPS tracking device placed on them.

When walking through the desert during the daytime, two participants veered off course. A third participant maintained a straight line when walking during the night, but he took a 90-degree turn the moment the Moon moved behind some clouds. Participants who were left in the forest fared worse than those in the desert. When wandering the forest on a cloudy day, participants walked in circles repeatedly. (12)

6. Sneezes don’t actually sound like “achoo.” People learn to do it from others in their surroundings, and it differs from region to region. For example, the French say “atchoum” the Japanese say “hakashun” when sneezing, and deaf people do not say anything when sneezing.

Image credits: Tina Franklin/Flickr

For the most part, sneezing is involuntary and beyond our control. It is the way our body removes irritants from the throat and nose. Since sneezes come without warning, we are often powerless to stop it. However, the noise associated with sneezing is onomatopoetic.

For example, English speakers think sneezes sound like “ah-choo,” so they are prone to saying that word while sneezing. Similarly, deaf people sneeze without any kind of sound effects. It was first brought to light in an article, written by Charlie Swinbourne, a partially deaf journalist. He observed that saying words while sneezing is a habit that we develop through the years and it is not something we are born with (12)

7. At $265 million, Grand Theft Auto V had the largest production budget of any video game at that time. But the game turned out to be a massive hit and made $1 billion in its first 72 hours.

Image credits: Rockstargames

GTA 5, the open-world, action-adventure game, made waves when it first came out in 2013. Not only did it redefine the Grand Theft Auto franchise, but it also made history with its whopping production budget. Dubbed as one of the most expensive games in history, GTA 5 had an estimated budget of £170 million or $265 million. Favorably, for Rockstar North, the developers of the game, the huge budget only contributed to the game’s enormous success. Grand Theft Auto V sold over 11.21 million copies and generated a revenue of $815.7 million in the first 24 hours! The game even broke the Guinness World Record for being the fastest-selling entertainment property. (12)

8. A particular species of bamboo can grow at a rapid rate of 0.00002 mph and up to 35 inches every day. That equals to about 1.5 inches per hour. That makes it the fastest growing plant in the world.

Image credits: Guido612/Flickr

Those who do not know, bamboo is actually a fast-growing grass that has over 1,400 different species. The interesting thing about bamboo is that all the plants of the same species flower simultaneously regardless of which part of the world they are located in. Some scientists believe that bamboos are equipped with an evolutionary alarm clock that enables each species to flower together no matter what weather condition it is put under.

Though all species of bamboo grow fast, there is one in particular that has an exceptional growth rate. Though most bamboo plants reach maturity in 90 days, this one grows a whopping 35 inches every day! It is made possible because the plant grows all the necessary cells when it is still a little bud. In animals, cells split when growing. In bamboo, however, cells do not split. They simply stretch out and fill with water as they expand. That is the same reason grass grows so fast requiring you to mow the lawn once a week. (12)

9. The Issus coleoptratus, an insect, has gears that help it jump. These are the only naturally created gears in the animal kingdom.

Experts believe that mechanical gears were first invented by Greek mechanics around 300 BCE. Over the centuries, this concept became a cornerstone of modern technology. Cars, bicycles, and a lot of other types of machinery make use of the gear system. Funny enough, nature had already built its own version of the mechanism in the form of a planthopper called Issus coleoptratus.

Gregory Sutton and Malcolm Burrows of Cambridge University were the first ones to notice gears on the insect that is common in Britain. The duo studied jumping insects such as pygmy mole crickets, leafhoppers, and fleas for ten years before making the discovery. The study found that the insect uses a complex gearing system to lock its hind legs together. That allows both legs to rotate simultaneously which helps the small creature to jump.

When filming the baby Issus coleoptratus, the scientists discovered that its back legs move within 30 microseconds of one another. Without this extreme coordination, the insect could spin-off when jumping. However, how did this tiny insect achieve such a sophisticated mechanism? As early as the 1050s, scientists had discovered slightly bumpy trochanters in young planthoppers. It was always present on the hind legs only.

It was only after Sutton and Burrows conducted the study to find out the actual purpose of the bumps on the insect’s back legs that these “gears” were discovered. The trochanters on these insects squeeze at the same time when they jump. The bumps on their legs roll and engage against one another just as mechanical gears do. That is how the insect can control its jump. (12)

10. Australia’s tectonic plate is moving away so rapidly that GPS coordinates, which were updated last in 1994, no longer match. Authorities now need to change all coordinates by 1.8 meters to be accurate.

Image credits: Keith Koper/Sciencenewsforstudents

Much like every other continent on Earth, Australia is floating on a tectonic plate, and it is moving so fast that map co-ordinates cannot keep up. Geoscientists have revealed that the continent has moved north by a whopping 4.9 feet or 1.5 meters. The significant shift has rendered the major mapping systems inaccurate. To address this issue, the country will officially shift its local latitude and longitude lines. The reason is that contemporary satellite systems rely on static latitude and longitude lines for generating location data. The system did not consider the shift in Earth’s continents. As a result, adjusting the lines will enable better GPS tracking in smartphones and other devices. (12)

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