Volvo opened up the patent for three-point seatbelt because “it had more value as a free life-saving tool than something to profit from.”
2. Pencils are yellow because, in the 19th century, the best graphite came from China. Because yellow was a royal color in China, pencil companies began to color their pencils yellow to show both high quality and an association with China.
3. Asphalt pavements are America's most recycled product. Reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) can be recycled into the pavement that is as high, or even higher, in quality as pavements made of all-virgin materials. And, the same material can be recycled again and again; it never loses its value.
4. After becoming the first white man to run 100 meters in under 10 seconds, French sprinter Christophe Lemaitre received a formal letter of invitation from the Ku Klux Klan. He did not respond.
5. Johnny Cash fought for the rights of Native Americans and dedicated an entire album to them. Radio stations refused to play the album. In retaliation, Cash bought an ad on Billboard asking: “Where are your guts?”
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7. King Frederick II used reverse psychology on his peasants who refused to eat potatoes because they tasted horrible. To stop the food famine he sent his guards to guard fields of potatoes and the peasants started stealing them and growing their own.
8. During World War 1, cotton was in high demand for the manufacture of uniforms and explosives. For bandages, doctors turned to use sphagnum moss. It can hold up to 22 times its own weight in liquid and is twice as absorptive as cotton. The moss is also antiseptic, making the surrounding environment acidic.
9. Farmers sometimes put goldfish in a horses water trough to control mosquito and other insect larvae from producing.
10. To help prostitute's business in 16th century Venice, the authorities designated a bridge where they could stand and show their breasts to potential clients. The bridge still stands to this day and is called "Ponte delle Tette" or the bridge of tits.
Sleep deprivation has opposite effects in healthy people and those with depression. If you’re healthy and you don’t sleep, you’ll be in a bad mood. But if you’re depressed, it can prompt an immediate improvement in mood, and in cognitive abilities. This is the basis of Wake Therapy.
12. During the filming of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the crew held an Easter egg hunt on set. Some of the eggs that weren't found can actually be seen in the film. This is suggested as the origin of the term.
13. Maria Von Trapp, whose memoir inspired “The Sound of Music” and who made a cameo appearance in the film, was not invited to the premiere. Von Trapp later inquired why and producers told her, “There were no seats left,” without apology.
14. The oldest living human-planted tree in the world with a known planting date is the sacred fig tree "Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi", which was planted in 288 B.C.
15. Pad Thai, the national dish of Thailand, is actually not a traditional dish, but was invented, standardized and promoted by the Thai government, and imposed upon the people, as part of a broad cultural effort to establish a sense of national identity.
Many Jews fought back against the Nazis. Eta Wrobel escaped transport to a concentration camp and helped organize a resistance group. Refusing to just cook and clean, she carried a weapon on patrols and set mines to destroy German vehicles. Once, she dug a bullet out of her own leg with a knife.
17. In Singapore, some elevators are equipped with Urine Detection Devices that detect the scent of urine, setting off an alarm and closing the doors until the police arrive to arrest the offender.
18. Before he died in 1998, Chinese President Yang Shangkun told his army doctor that the Tiananmen crackdown on June 4 had been the most serious mistake committed by the Communist Party in its history.
19. Tea used to be consumed only as medicine in England, but when people saw the Portuguese queen drinking tea regularly, it became popular there too.
20. The American Prairie Reserve is a project initiative that is privately purchasing large swaths of land out in the Great Plains of America and converting it into what will hopefully be the largest nature reserve in the continental U.S.
In 2003, the Chi-Chi's restaurant chain was hit with the largest hepatitis A outbreak in U.S. history, with at least 4 deaths and 660 other victims a month after filing for bankruptcy.
22. Jakarta is sinking 25cm (10 inches) per year, in part due to excessive use of groundwater and lack of piped water. It is expected that the city will be completely submerged in the next 30 years.
23. A pregnant American black bear can give birth without ever emerging from hibernation. She doesn’t even need to rouse herself to care for her young. Instead, she can nurse her cubs for months by drawing from her reserves of stored fat.
24. Sir George Everest, after whom Mount Everest was named, objected to the honor, as he had nothing to do with the mountain's discovery and he had the impression his name was not easily written or pronounced in Hindi.
25. The Supersonic airliner Concorde could burn up to 2 tonnes of fuel just to taxi to the runway, however, once at Mach 2 it was the most fuel efficient engine ever built.