History is an important part of our lives. It allows us to better understand this world and everything within it. History also has the ability to alter our decisions in the present, by making us wiser. Today however, we are not digging up the past to simply learn, but also to find out about tales that sound totally unreal, yet are true. While some of them might make you question their authenticity, we assure you that they are verified to be true and accurate. Here are 10 odd and bizarre historical events that sound totally unreal.
1. China used more cement in three years than the US did in the entire 20th century.
China produces, as well as consumes, about 60% of the world’s cement. Bill Gates did the math and according to his blog, between 2011 and 2013, China consumed 6.6 gigatons of concrete, which is more than the U.S. used in the entire 20th century. With all of the skyscrapers, interstates, and even the Hoover Dam, the US only used 4.5 gigatons of cement between 1901 and 2000. The data from the International Cement Review backs up Bill Gates’ claim. (source)
2. Abraham Lincoln was a wrestling champion before he became president.
Before Lincoln turned towards the political arena, he was a wrestler on the American frontier. Standing at an impressive 6 feet, 4 inches tall, his long arms allowed him to easily grab on to his opponents and take them down. According to MentalFloss, he has had one loss among his 300 (or so) contests, and in 1992, he was inducted into the Outstanding American wing of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. He’s joined there by three other presidents: George Washington, Teddy Roosevelt, and William Howard Taft. (source)
3. Nikola Tesla was terrified of pearls.
For more than half a century, we have been obsessed with the fascinating and enigmatic figure. Tesla’s contributions to science went under-appreciated for years, and his accomplishments are only just now being recognized. As intelligent and inventive as he was, Tesla hated pearls or even the sight of them. In fact, he refused to talk to women who wore jewelry embedded with pearls. According to PBS, when his secretary wore pearl jewelry to work, he sent her back home. No one knows exactly why Tesla disliked pearls but according to historians, he had a very particular sense of style and aesthetics. Tesla also believed that in order to be successful, you have to look successful. (source)
4. Before becoming the 40th president of the United States from 1981 to 1989, Ronald Reagan was a Hollywood actor and before that, a lifeguard.
Way before becoming the president of the United States, Ronald Reagan worked as a Hollywood actor. Before even pursuing an acting career, he was a lifeguard in Lowell Park in Dixon. According to newspaper reports of the time and later research, he is credited with saving 77 people while serving as a lifeguard. (source)
5. In Ancient Greece, a man throwing an apple to a woman was a symbolic way to declare his love. To catch it was to symbolically show one’s acceptance of that love.
Today, many people express their love for someone through text or social media. In ancient Greece, the technique was simple. You just throw an apple at someone. According to historians, the apple was considered sacred to Aphrodite (the goddess of love) and throwing it at someone meant you were declaring your love to them. If the other person caught it, it was a way of symbolically showing one’s acceptance of that love. An epigram claiming authorship by Plato states:
“I throw the apple at you, and if you are willing to love me, take it and share your life with me; but if your thoughts are what I pray they are not, even then take it, and consider how short-lived is beauty.”
So, if someone throws an apple at you, don’t be mad. Maybe they are just trying to be romantic by bringing old traditions back to life. (source)
6. Harriet the tortoise met Charles Darwin.
In fact, Harriet didn’t just meet Charles Darwin – she was one of his beloved pets! The scientist and theorist had collected Harriet from the Galápagos Islands almost 50 years before he passed away in 1882. While visiting Australia, he dropped her off, where she lived to a staggering 176 years old. Another interesting fact is that Harriet lived in the Queensland-based Australia Zoo, which was owned by “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin and his wife Terri. Irwin loved Harriet so much that he even considered her to be a part of his family. (source)
7. Queen Elizabeth II and Marilyn Monroe were born in the same year.
The Queen, 93, is now the longest reigning monarch in the world. Queen Elizabeth II was born on April 21, 1926, and Marilyn Monroe was born on June 1, 1926. Although we tragically lost one of the most iconic figures of all time, the Queen is still going strong. Another interesting fact about the two is that when they were both 30, they met at a movie premier in London in October 1956. (source)
8. Today’s oldest living tree (a bristlecone pine) was already 1,000 years old when the last wooly mammoth roamed Earth.
Until 2013, Methuselah, a Great Basin bristlecone pine located in White Mountains, California, which dated at 4,852 years old, remained as the world’s oldest tree. In Inyo National Forest, another bristlecone pine in the area was discovered to be over 5,000 years old. In order to protect these rare trees, both their locations are kept as well-guarded secrets. Only a handful of scientists know the exact locations of both the trees. (source)
9. Eiffel tower was inaugurated in 1889 for the World’s Fair, which was the same year Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’ was painted.
The Starry Night is regarded as among Van Gogh’s finest works, and is also one of the most recognized paintings in the world. Van Gogh painted his masterpiece in 1889, which was the same year that one of the most recognized buildings, the Eiffel Tower, was completed. The tower was only supposed to serve as the entrance for the ‘World Fair’ in Paris, but became a permanent and much-loved fixture of the Paris skyline. (source)
10. NASA was exploring space by the time scientists could agree on plate tectonics.
Back in 1912, Alfred Wegener was the first person to propose the idea of plate tectonics. His ideas however, were brushed off, since no one clearly understood how the dense oceanic crust could move within Earth. It wasn’t until 1967 that the community of science finally accepted plate tectonics. However, by this time both the Soviet Union and NASA were up in space exploring the idea of new planets. On April 12, 1961, aboard the spacecraft Vostok 1, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin became the first human being to travel into space. On July 20, 1969, aboard the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle, Neil Armstrong became the first person to step onto the lunar surface. (source)