Some facts from history, science and geography can be so crazy that they sound bogus. Despite their compelling nature, they are in fact true. For instance, did you know that the entire state of Wyoming only has two escalators, or that you can see Africa from Spain? Like these, we have gathered a number of compelling facts, that are both true and very hard to believe. Below are some of our (verified) favorites, complete with explanations and references.
1. In 2012, a ‘missing’ woman in Iceland unwittingly joined a search party that was busy looking for her. According to the woman, she did not realize that she herself was the person they were looking for, and decided to tag along.
In 2012, a Japanese woman who was touring the Eldgja volcanic region in south Iceland, was with a group when she decided to take a quick trip to the restroom and change her clothes. Upon returning with new clothes, her fellow travelers failed to recognize her, listing her as having gone missing. Soon the search began for the woman and when the details of the missing person were issued, the woman reportedly didn’t recognize her own description. Instead, she joined the search party on a night-long operation. After several hours, the ‘missing woman’ finally realized that she was searching for herself and informed police officers about the mishap; upon which the search was called off. (source)
2. A banyan tree near Kolkata, India, is bigger than the average Walmart.
In Kolkata, India, there’s a gigantic tree that spreads over 14,400 square meters, which is bigger than the average size of a Walmart in the United States. The Great Banyan Tree is the widest tree in the world and has more than 2,800 aerial prop roots descending down into the earth. Upon entering the shade of the tree, it might appear as if they are individual trees but it is in fact a single tree. While the exact origin of the tree is unknown, the tree is over 250 years old. The tree still stands long and wide today. (source)
3. You can see Africa from Spain.
If you visit the Strait of Gibraltar, you can easily view Africa from Spain. The Strait of Gibraltar, Latin Fretum Herculeum, connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean, and lies between southernmost Spain and northwesternmost Africa. It is 36 miles (58 km) long and narrows to 8 miles (13 km) in width. (source)
4. The apples we buy from grocery stores are harvested between 5 and 12 months before they get to the supermarket.
The apples we buy from grocery stores can appear shiny and fresh but the truth is that they are harvested 5 to 10 months prior to being displayed for purchase. In the US, apples are harvested from August to November. So, apples that are sold by December are placed in normal refrigeration, where as apples that will be sold later would go into a controlled atmosphere storage. In the normal refrigeration units, the temperature is kept at 34-38 degrees, where as the controlled atmosphere storage has lower temperatures and oxygen levels. While the normal oxygen levels are around 21%, the controlled unit only has around 2% oxygen. Thus, apples can be stored for up to a year without losing its nutritional content. (source)
5. There are only two escalators in the entire state of Wyoming.
In the entire state of Wyoming, there are only two sets of escalators, each with an ascending and descending set of stairs and both escalators are located in banks. One set is located in the city’s First National Bank building, and the other in the Hilltop National Bank. (source)
6. Frogs eat with the help of their eyes to push the food down their throat.
Unlike humans and most animals, frogs eat with the help of their eyes. Scientists studying the amphibians discovered that when they swallow, they tend to close their eyes. Upon closer study, scientists found that the eyes play a huge role to ensure their survival. When they swallow, their eyes sink back to push the food down their throat. Scientists conducted an X-Ray study of a frog during meal time, which confirmed the fact that their eyes did move into the mouth and forced the food source into the pharynx. (source)
7. Brown eyes are actually blue but with a brown pigment.
All brown eyes are blue underneath and the reason they appear brown is due to the presence of a pigment called melanin. Dr. Gregg Homer from Stroma Medical in California spent more than 10 years developing a procedure that changes the eye color from brown to blue with the help of laser technology. According to DailyMail, the procedure costs more than $3,500 and only takes about 20 seconds to change the color of one’s eyes from brown to blue. However, the procedure is irreversible, which means that once the color is changed to blue, the eyes could never regenerate the brown tissue. (source)
8. A Japanese koi fish named Hanako lived for 226 years.
Hanako, which is translated as “flower girl” in Japanese, was the longest living freshwater fish ever recorded. At 226 years old, koi Hanako was born in 1751 in Japan. In order to verify her age, scientists analyzed her scales, much like how dendrologists determine the age of a tree by counting the number of rings of growth on the wood. While the exact reason for her long lifespan is unknown, Hanako lived up to the age of 226, and passed away on July 7, 1977. For reference, the average life expectancy of the common carp in the wild is approximately 30 – 40 years. (source)
9. Albert Einstein could have become the president of Israel, but he turned it down.
The “Father of Relativity” could have been Israel’s second president, but he turned it down. Despite having the qualifications to be a great leader, Einstein generously declined. The offer was sent by letter to Einstein when he was 73 years old. Einstein replied and informed them that even though the whole world considers him a “genius”, the term is not sufficient enough to be a leader. He also cited old age, inexperience, and insufficient people skills as reasons for being a bad choice. (source)
10. There are no rats in Alberta, Canada.
Like mosquitoes, rats are an invasive species. However, Alberta, a Canadian province, calls itself rat-free. For more than 70 years, the residents have worked hard to keep the rodent population down. In order to keep the rodents away, there are rat patrols, who make rounds looking for any signs of the rodents or their nests. Also, residents are forbidden from keeping them as pets, with fines ranging in the thousands of dollars for those who are caught breaking the no rats policy. Alberta also has a special hotline that allows citizens to call and report a rat sighting. According to the National Post, if a rat is discovered, it makes it to the news and gets coverage for days or even weeks. (source)