FASCINATING FACTS: 10 Pointless Facts You May Not Need to Know

Sometimes we do things without any reason and talk about things that are completely pointless, but those moments are the ones that we end up remembering the most. These pointless facts are great to break the ice when things get awkward or to share with your friends when you hang out. Many of these will make you go, “What?” For example, did you know “Barbie” is a nickname for Barbara Millicent Roberts and Ken’s full name is Kenneth Carson? Or that since the 1300s, Scotland’s national animal has been the mythical creature, the unicorn? Read on.

1. Snails have 14,000 teeth and are almost completely blind.

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You look at the snail in the garden and how it takes forever to crawl a foot, and then you don’t take a second look. Take one the next time because snails might be weird-looking creatures but are unique in their own way. An average garden snail has 14,000 tiny but strong teeth (thank heavens they do not have to brush or go to the dentist), and you can often hear them eating. Their teeth help them with eating things like leaves, soil, and fungi. They can also have more than 14,000 teeth arranged in 100 rows of 120 each on their radula (aka tongue). One aquatic snail’s teeth were tested for strength and it was found that their tensile strength exceeds that of Kevlar and titanium!

They are also completely blind and deaf! Probably to make up for the absence of those two senses, nature has endowed the snails have an excellent sense of smell. Despite being of such a small size. they can smell food meters away. Also, if you see a marine snail, run! They are poisonous. The sea-based cone snail is one of the most deadly creatures on the planet. Their one sting can be fatal to humans! (source)

2. A placebo will work even when you know it is a placebo.

Image credit: Pixabay

We know that placebos have worked in many cases when the patients taking them haven’t been told that they are just “sugar pills.” But a study says that even when the patient is informed about the pill being a placebo, the placebo effect happens. Dr. Ted J. Kaptchuk, director of Program in Placebo Studies and the Therapeutic Encounter (PiPS) at Harvard and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, has been studying placebos for over two decades. In one study, he told a group of people suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) that what they were taking were placebos, and he told nothing at all to another group. He observed that there was a noticeable improvement in the condition of the ones who had taken “open-label placebos.”

Dr. Kaptchuk has noted that although the “open-label placebos” will not work in conditions like cancer, it works in medical conditions that can be defined by “self-observation” symptoms like pain, nausea, and fatigue. This could help people suffering from all the conditions associated with pain and help people reduce their doses of opioid medications. (source)

3. When the creator of the Frisbee died, he was cremated and turned into a Frisbee.

Image credit: Connecticut State Library via Wikimedia

In 1955, Walter Morrison invented a flying disc that we now know as a “Frisbee.” When Morrison invented it, it was called a “Pluto Platter.” When Wham-O acquired the toy, it was renamed to “Frisbee.” Morrison, by the way, hated the new name. When he died in February 2010, at the age of 90, his family cremated him and molded his ashes into a Frisbee. This was Morrison’s last wish.

Another man who has had a significant contribution to the toy and is known as the creator of the modern Frisbee was “Steady” Ed Headrick. He was awarded the first patent for the toy. When he died, his ashes were molded into a limited number of Frisbees and were given to his friends and family per his wishes. In an interview, while talking about death and Frisbee with the Santa Cruz Sentinel, he said: “We used to say that Frisbee is really a religion—“Frisbyterians” we’d call ourselves. When we die, we don’t go to purgatory. We just land up on the roof and lay there.” (12)

4. The inventor of toilet paper had his name printed on each sheet.

Image credit: Wikimedia

Joseph Gayetty who is credited to be the inventor of modern toilet paper in the United States had his name printed on each sheet of the toilet paper as a watermark. He was very proud of his invention, and the success that it achieved was the reason why he had his name printed on them. First introduced in 1857, the toilet paper made out of aloe and hemp was available in the market for over 60-70 years. Known as “Gayetty’s Medicated Paper,” it was sold in packets of flat sheets. The advertisement read “The greatest necessity of the age! Gayetty’s medicated paper for the water-closet.” The first documented use of toilet paper was in the 6th century CE in China. They were the first ones to use paper instead of water. (source)

5. The white stuff in bird poop is not their poop; it’s their pee. The brown or green thing in the middle is their poop. They excrete both together.

Image credit: Indi Samarajiva/Flickr

Well, eww, but true. Unlike us, birds do not do it separately, they pee and poop together. Their kidneys extract nitrogenous waste from the bloodstream, but instead of releasing it as urea in urine, they release it as uric acid. It is white because of the processes it goes through in the bird’s body so minimal water is lost when they excrete. The black, green, or brown thing that is solid in the center is actually their poop. Birds do not have different openings for different purposes. They have only one opening called the “cloaca.” It is used for intestinal, urinary, and reproductive purposes. The poop and the white pee are excreted from different body systems but do not have enough time to blend.

Did you know bird poop facials are really popular? And that guano bird poop funded Peru for a really long time and is a guarded treasure there? (12)

6. The population of the town Bellagio in Italy which inspires the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas is less than the number of rooms at the hotel.

Image credit: Chensiyuan/WikimediaRaminusFalcon/Wikimedia

The town of Bellagio is located in Lombardy, Italy on a landmass that divides the famous Lake Como into two parts. It has an area of ten square miles. The town that is located on Lake Como with the Alps behind it has a population of 3,820 people as of August 31, 2013. But.the famous Bellagio Resort on the Las Vegas Strip in Paradise, Nevada, has 3,950 rooms among all the other amenities. The luxury hotel which is famous for its elegance was inspired by the Bellagio town of Italy and opened for business on October 15, 1998. The main building of the hotel has 3,015 rooms spread over 36 floors. The spa tower of the building which opened on December 23, 2004, has another 935 rooms spread over 33 floors which makes a total of 3,950 rooms—slightly more than Bellagio’s population. (12)

7. Bumblebees and solitary bees pollinate a potato.

Image credit: Alvesgaspar/Wikimedia

The potato, which is a staple food in most cuisines, is pollinated mostly by bumblebees and solitary bees. A lot of self-fertilization occurs in the crop too, but the bees are important for cross-pollination. Without the involvement of the bees, the crop yield would be lower. The potato plant that grows in tropical, temperate areas is a seed, and the pollinator impact is 1. There are four grades of pollinator impact, 1 being the lowest and 4 being the greatest.

Not all bumblebee species are effective when it comes to the cross-pollination of potatoes. In a study published in the American Potato Journal, it was found that only a particular species of bumblebee, Bombus impatiens Cresson, is effective in the cross-pollination of potatoes in the field. The other bees require a honey stimulus, and when they do not find nectar in the plant, they do not indulge in pollination. (12)

8. “Vinculum” is the name given to the line between two fractions.

We have all learned fractions in mathematics, but have you ever wondered what the line that separates the two numbers (the numerator and the denominator) is called? It is known as a “vinculum.” It is a line that can be placed over or under a number to indicate that the numbers are to be treated as a group. In the initial days of mathematics, the vinculum was used to join different items together in written mathematics, but in modern mathematics, it has been replaced by the use of parenthesis. “Vinculum” is Latin for “bond,” “chain,” or “tie.” It is also called a “fraction bar” or a “division line” more commonly. It has also been used in coding for computers. (source)

9. The “Jesus nut” is the only component holding the rotors to the body of some helicopters. If it were to fail, the rotors would separate causing an unplanned, rapid descent.

Image credit: Alan Radecki/Wikimedia

Also known as the “Jesus pin,” the Jesus nut is the main rotor-retaining nut that holds the rotors to the mast of some helicopters such as UH-1 Iroquois. It is symbolic of a single point of failure in some situations. If the nut fails to do its job, the rotors of the helicopter would detach, and the only thing the crew would then be able to do is to “pray to Jesus.”

The term “Jesus nut” is believed to have been coined by American soldiers serving in the Vietnam War. It was the first war where a large number of helicopters were used by soldiers. There are only a few examples of the Jesus nut failing, but it has happened and so the nut had to be checked before every flight. With the advent of more advanced technology, the need for the nut was done away with and a more stable apparatus was used which did not have single-point failures. Robert Mason, a pilot who served in the Vietnam War, made use of the term in his book Chickenhawk about his experiences during the war. (source)

10. The American Express card numbers start with “3,” Visa cards start with “4,” Mastercard cards start with “5,” and Discover cards (and store specialty cards) start with “6.”

Image credit: Pixabay

The numbers on your cards mean something. Almost all companies have a numbering system that keeps them organized. In case of American Express cards, they always begin with a “3”—usually “37,” while Diners Club and Carte Blanch start with “38.” The third and fourth digits are the type and the currency, the fifth to the eleventh digit are the account number. Digits 12 to 14 are the card number within the account, and digit 15 is a check digit.

In case of Visa cards that start with a “4”, digits two to six are the bank number, digits seven through 12 or 15 are the account number, and the last digit is a check digit. In the case of Mastercard cards, they begin with “5” and then have the bank number, then the account number, and the last digit, like all the other cards, is a check digit. A check digit is used for error detection. (source)

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