Select Page
  1. In the first version of Toy Story, Woody wasn’t a toy cowboy, he was a ventriloquist dummy.  And he was a creepy sadist, at one point pushing Buzz Lightyear out a window.
  2. The standard-issue female CPR training dummy, called RessuciAnne, got her face from the death mask of a young woman who drowned in the Seine in Paris.  The death mask was made so her family could hopefully later identify her, but artists started buying copies for inspiration.
  3. An expert sword-fighter once stole a corpse that they planned to leave in the bed of the lover when they sprung her from a convent, which they would burn down behind them.  This swash-buckler’s name? Julie D’Aubigny, age 19.
  4. Bunny Trails 
  5. The movie Heaven’s Gate put United Artists studio out of business after the director’s demands tripled the budget– antique trains that required a different gauge of track be laid, that 250 extras be taught to ice skate with old-timey skates, and 1200 extras taught to ride horses and drive wagons.  By day 6 of filming, they were already 5 days behind.
  6. Best-selling video game hero Mario was originally called Jump Man.  The name Mario came from the landlord of Ninetendo’s [location warehouse].  
  7. The British Navy still had daily rations of rum for Sailors until July 31st 1970. Speaking of the 70s, the US Navy issued their Sailors bell bottoms until 1999.  My husband still has his, complete with his last name stenciled on.
  8. Footnoting History
  9. The man who created flaming hot Cheetos was a custodian at FritoLay at the time.  He took unflavored Cheetos home and added street corn seasoning. He’s now an executive at Pepsi Co.
  10. There are more plastic flamingos in the world than real flamingos. There are more tigers in captivity in the US than in the rest of the world.  There are also more Juggalos, fans of the Insane Clown Posse, then there are polar bears. Now would be a good time to mention that I am not liable for your therapy bills.
  11. The precursors to roller coasters were called Russian Mountains. They were sled rides down an icy track, sometimes 200ft/62m tall.  There were naturally no safety features.
  12. Andy’s Podcaster Podcasting Podcast
  13. The Six Flags amusement park chain began with one park in Texas that was only open for 45 days its first year. The Six Flags refer to the Six Nations that at one point or another governs Texas.
  14. Between the 1mil who died as a direct result of the Irish Potato Famine and the 2mil who emigrated, the population of Ireland is still not back at pre-famine levels.
  15. Anne Frank, MLK, and Barbara Walters were all born in the same year, 1929.  I know it’s a meme but it’s remarkable.
  16. Strange Animals
  17. American Samoa was one of the only places not to see a single Spanish flu death, because the governor took the reports he was hearing seriously and blocked all incoming ships from making port.
  18. For the last hundred years, many people in South Korea have believed that leaving a fan on overnight will kill you in your sleep, either by suffocating you or freezing you.  While the exact origin of the belief is unclear, suspicion has fallen on the SK government starting the rumor during the 70’s energy crisis to get people to use less electricity.
  19. Only 2 of the 195 countries in the world have a flag that does not have the colors red, white, or blue–Jamaica and Mauritania–and only one, Nepal, has a flag that is not a quadrilateral. 
  20. Bring On The Weird
  21. The founder of the Lindt chocolate company was killed in 1918, not in the Great War, but when one of his fondant boilers exploded.
  22. There is a car race called the 24 Hours of Lemons.  Not LeMans. The cars have to be purchased and repaired for under $500, not including the cost of the mandatory roll cage, kill switch and fire suppression system.  Unsportsmanlike behavior receives creative punishments, like having to walk a lap, carrying a sign that says “I am a big jerk.”
  23. Pretend
  24. The Australian aboriginal language of Guguyimidjir has no words for left and right.  Instead, speakers refer to things based on the four cardinal directions. So you might be holding your pen in your east hand, unless you turn around, then it’s your west hand.
  25. Orange the color is named for orange the fruit.  Before the word was adopted, the color orange was called yellow-red.
  26. In ancient Egypt, women who thought they might be pregnant peed on wheat and barley seeds.  The hormones of pregnancy would help the grain sprout, and which grain sprouted would tell you the gender of the baby.  Unbelievably, it was 70% accurate.
  27. Ignorance Was Bliss
  28. In 1847, a showboating surgeon performed a leg amputation in 25 seconds.  The patient died. The surgeon had cut two fingers off of his assistant, who got an infection and died.  And a spectator died of a suspected heart attack. It is the only known surgery with a 300% mortality rate.
  29. Queen Amidala’s formal costume in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace is very similar to that of the last queen of Mongolia, who was executed by the Soviet Union in an attempt to destroy Mongolian culture.
  30. To study how our words for colors affect our perception of color, one researcher raised his daughter without identifying the color blue to her.  When she was asked what color the sky was, she said white.
  31. Self Shoots the S***
  32. Pineapples don’t grow on palm trees, but rather on three foot high shrubs, which take 18-36 months to grow one fruit apiece.
  33. According to estimates from the US Geological Survey, the US used 4.5 gigatons of cement between 1901 and 2000.  Compare that with the 6.6 gigatons of cement China used between 2011 and 2013.
  34. Due to the structure of their larynx and whether they have an ephygial bone or a ligament, cats that can purr, like house cats and lynxes, can’t roar, and cats that can roar, like lions and jaguars, can’t purr.
  35. Where Does It Go?
  36. Violet “Miss Unsinkable” Jessop was a stewardess and nurse aboard White Star Line passenger ships.  She survived the sinking of the Titanic, which hit an iceberg, the Britannic, which hit a sea mine, and the Olympic, which collided with a British warship.
  37. Archaeopteris, the earliest species that scientists can classify as “tree,” lived about 350 million years ago.  Sharks, however, can be traced back 50 million years earlier, so sharks are older than trees.
  38. The first public artificial ice rink, London’s Glaciarium, which opened in 1841, had no ice; you skated on a layer of pig fat, salts, and copper sulfate.  It fell out of favor due to the smell. A mechanically frozen rink was still 36 years away, when inventor John Gamgee repurposed a device he’d made to freeze meat for trans-oceanic shipment.  
  39. Human Circus
  40. Jet ski, jacuzzi, kleenex, and thermos are all brand names, as are cellophane, escalator, trampoline, dry ice, velco, chapstick, laundromat, kerosene, zipper, hovercraft, video tape, dumpster, and yo-yo.  The process of a brand name coming to stand for all similar products is genericization. Aspirin is still a trademarked brand name in 80 countries, but not in the US or UK. 
  41. There is a unit of length called a smoot, equal to 5’7”/1.70m, that is named for one Oliver Smoot.  In 1958, some students in an MIT fraternity had Smoot lay down on the Harvard bridge, get up, move the length of his body, and lay down again, as part of a pledge prank.  The bridge, for those who care to know, is 364.4 smoots long, plus or minus one ear.
  42. Soviet premier Josef Stalin once received an 11 minute standing ovation at a Communist Party conference.  Everyone in the room was terrified of being the first one to stop. The man who did sit down first was arrested the next day and spent ten years in prison.
  43. Varmints
  44. Classic cartoon antagonists Tom and Jerry premiered on Feb 10, 1940 in a short called Puss Gets The Boot.  They were originally named Jasper and Jinx.
  45. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams once worked as a bodyguard for a family of oil tycoons in Qatar and appeared on Monty Python’s Flying Circus, *twice.
  46. Jumping Frenchmen of Maine is a bizarre rare condition characterized by an unusually extreme startle response, including repeating the words or actions of others.  Not only will sufferers react with exaggerated movements to surprising stimuli, they also become powerless to refuse commands for a brief time. It was first observed in French-Canadian loggers in New England, hence the name.
  47. Obscura
  48. In 1980, Troy Leon Greg and three other convicted murderers escaped death row in Georgia.  The escape wasn’t discovered until Greg called a newspaper to brag about it. He was killed the same night in a bar fight as he got aggressive with a waitress.  He actually would have lived slightly longer if he’d stayed in jail.
  49. The longest medical word in English is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.  The longest non-medical word in the dictionary is antidisestablishmentarianism, but one letter longer than that is the recently coined word is floccinaucinihilipilification – the act of judging something as worthless.
  50. British comedians love to joke on the US for being a young country, but the US is the oldest country in the western hemisphere and older than a lot of European countries, like Italy and Germany.  In Africa, only Ethiopia and Morocco are older. South Sudan is the youngest country in the world at 9 years old. [[[PATREON CTA]]]
  51. You are much more likely to be killed by a vending machine, a cow, or a coconut than by a shark.  10 times more people are bitten by other people in New York, about 1600 annually, than are bitten by sharks.
  52. A TI-83 graphing calculator has six times as much processing power as the computers that put Apollo 11 on the moon.  
  53. Exploress
  54. On the fifth floor of the US Supreme court building is a basketball court referred to as the highest court in the land.  Originally a store room, it was converted to a gym sometime in the 1940’s. Only court employees are allowed to use it and there is a sign warning people not to play basketball if court is in session and not to assume court isn’t in session, since the courtroom is directly below.
  55. Marlboro cigarettes were first marketed to women with the slogan “mild as may,” but they didn’t really sell.  They were rebranded as hallmarks of rugged masculinity with the introduction of the Marlboro Man in the 50’s. The first Marlboro Man didn’t actually smoke, but at least 4 actors since then have died of smoking-related diseases.
  56. Lexitecture
  57. Iron Eyes Cody, the Native American seen shedding a single tear in the famous anti-littering PSA from the 70’s was, actually a Sicillian man born Oscar di Corti.  He was cast to play Native American characters over 100 times and stuck to the fake story of his life even after a reporter talked to his family. In his defense, he did push directors to portray Native characters in a better light.
  58. If the Earth were to stop spinning instantly, you wouldn’t have time to worry about gravity or the lack of centrifugal force, because the atmosphere would still be moving, and the 1100 mph/1770kmph winds would scour the Earth right down to the bedrock. 
  59. Irrationally Exuberant
  60. One month before the Berlin Brandenburg Airport was set to open in 2011, the date got pushed back.  About a dozen times. The fire suppression system was a hazard in and of itself, 4,000 doors were mislabeled, and there was fear the roof would collapse.  It’s still not open and now it needs more money for things like burned-out arrival/departure screens.
  61. When Jewish ballerina Franceska Mannwas taken to Auschwitz concentration camp, she distracted an SS guard by doing a strip-tease, brained him with a high heel, stole his gun and killed him.  
  62. You might know Prince wrote Sinead O’Connor’s Nothing Compares to You, but he also wrote Chaka Khan’s I Feel For You, Manic Monday by The Bangles, Jungle Love by The Time, Sheila E’s The Glamorous Life, Alicia Keys’ How Come You Don’t Call Me, and a whole lot more.
  63. Interrupted Tales
  64. In a year, an average person’s email adds 300lbs/136kg of CO2 to their carbon footprint, equivalent to 199mi/320km driven in a car.  The world’s email usage generates as much CO2 as having an extra seven million cars on the roads.
  65. There is no such thing as the color brown.  There is no brown light. What we see as brown is reflected red and green light.  
  66. If you don’t want an expensive casket or a fossil-fuel-burning cremation, look for aquamation or alkaline hydrolisis, wherein your earthly remains are dissolved in a lye solution, provided you live in one of 18 states that allow it.
  67. Presidencies Of The Unites States
  68. Archeologists in Tenochtitlán, Mexico have found a dozen 15th century masks made from the fronts of human skulls, with big fake eyes.  The skulls probably came from elite warriors.    
  69. Did your toddler just chomp into the sticker on their apple?  Have no fear. Both the paper and the adhesive are edible.
  70. Thanks to a shell company and some clever accounting, Warner Brothers has never paid any royalties to the cast of Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix, despite the film grossing around $1B.  This practice is almost standard in the industry. David Prowse, the actor inside the Darth Vadar costume, *still hasn’t gotten any royalties.
  71. Short Stories of Augie Peterson
  72. There are wild hippos in Columbia, which originally belongs to cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar, and wild camels in Texas that were part of a failed plan by the US Army camel corps.  President Teddy Roosevelt had wanted to import hippos to be raised in the bayou for meat.
  73. The Last Unicorn was animated at Topcraft studio in Japan.  When it closed a few years later, it was rebuilt and reopened as Studio Ghibli, makers of Spirited Away Howl’s Moving Castle.
  74. A message in a bottle that was thrown off the Titanic as it was sinking was found one year later washed up on the shore in Ireland, only a few miles from the home of the man who threw it.
  75. Stories of Yore and Yours
  76. The skeleton of famed body snatcher, or resurrectionist, and murderer William Burke, is on display at the Anatomical Museum at the University of Edinburgh and a calling card case made of Burke’s skin is on display at the Police Museum in Edinburgh.  His name was also immortalized as the act of suffocating someone by compressing their chest, which did less damage to the bodies.
  77. Banana flavored things don’t taste like bananas because the bananas you eat today are Cavendish bananas, but banana flavoring is based on the gros michel banana, which was almost wiped off the face of the earth by a pathogen called Panama disease.
  78. When you cross corgis with other breeds of dogs, the puppies will always have little corgi legs because corgis have achondroplastic dwarfism.  That would surprise you if you spoke Welsh, since corgi literally means dwarf dog.
  79. A Podcast About Something
  80. The Swedish word for turtle translates to shell toad and their word for bat translates as flappy mouse, the Portugese word for calf means potato of the leg, the German for helicopter translates to lifting screwdriver, the Icleandic for computer is number witch, the Japanese for hedgehog is needle mouse, the Irish for jellyfish translates to seal snot, and the Croatian word for speedbump is lying policeman.
  81. More people visit France than any other country, with Paris being a particularly strong draw for people from Japan and other parts of Asia.  Some Japanese people are so enamored with the idea of Paris that they become depressed after visiting and finding out it’s a modern city with modern city problems like traffic and garbage.  This depressing disillusionment is called Paris Syndrome.
  82. You know how I love to say the Welsh town name of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, but it’s not the longest place name in the world.  That honor goes to Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu, New Zealand.
  83. As overcrowded as the world seems, if all 7.5 billion people on earth were to stand shoulder to shoulder, we would only an area the same size as the city of Los Angeles.  In fact, the current world population is only 7% of the homo sapiens who have ever lived.
  84. Anytown USA
  85. The most popular boy’s name in the world is Muhammed, but it doesn’t usually show up in baby name lists or popularity tracking because of all the different possible spellings.  The popularity is thanks to a Muslim tradition of naming each first-born son after the Islamic prophet.
  86. According to a study developed for National Geographic in 2011, the world’s “most typical” person is right-handed, makes less than $12,000 per year, has a mobile phone, and doesn’t have a bank account.
  87. Talk The Talk
  88.  Regardless of where you are in the world, if you see a panda in the zoo, it doesn’t belong to that zoo.  All giant pandas are on loan from China and the government can take them back at any time.
  89. Facebook has more users than the population of the U.S., China, and Brazil combined.  In about 50 years, the number of accounts belonging to people who have died will outnumber accounts of those who are still living.
  90. There are 10 quadrillion (10,000,000,000,000,000) individual ants crawling around on earth.  To put it another way, for every human being there exists that person’s weight in ants (yes, even accounting for the obesity epidemic).
  91. Fresh Hell
  92. Every second of every day, two people die and four are born, give or take.
  93. Andre the Giant was in Japan wrestling under the name Monster Rousimoff (his actual last name) when he learned that his size was caused by a pituitary condition called acromegaly.  He was offered surgery to stop his growth, but turned it down, despite near-constant pain, because it gave him an advantage in the ring.
  94. There are more possible iterations of chess games than there are atoms in the observable universe. This value, known as the Shannon Number,is estimated to be between 10^111 and 10^123, or 1 with 123 zeroes.
  95. Conspiracy Theoryology
  96. The chance of an atom in your glass of water having once been a dinosaur is almost 100%.
  97. Cambridge University is older than the Aztec empire, Cleopatra lived closer to the first iPhone than the building of the last pyramid, and France used the guillotine for the last time the year Star Wars came out.
  98. Before settling on the Seven Dwarfs we know today, Disney considered Chesty, Tubby, Burpy, Deafy, Hickey, Wheezy, and Awful.
  99. Stephen Hawking once threw a party for time-travelers on June 28, 2009 but he only announced the party the next day. No one showed up.  Next time you’re about to do something crazy, pause a moment. If no one comes back from the future to stop you, could it really be that bad of an idea.
  100. And the #100 fact, you are awesome and I’m so glad that you’ve enjoyed the show.  Here’s to another 100 episodes of Your Brain On Facts.