If you’re a trainer and you want to know why you should keep a collection of unbelievable facts in your training toolkit, here’s why…
…you sometimes need to catch people’s attention in any way you can!
I remember once running a course with a truly difficult young man. In fact, he was quite impossible. He sat in the group wearing a woollen hat which he refused to remove and his expression was sullen. He took no part in any of the discussions except to say they were a waste of time and simply refused to participate in the group exercises.
By chance, shortly after the first morning break… when I was wondering just what to do with my young man… someone mentioned a news story about a child being born on its way to hospital in the front seat of a car.
This triggered one of those long-lost facts deep in my memory to come to the surface and I added a “Did-you-know…?” which was…
“Did you know that Winston Churchill was born in a ladies room at a dance?”
At that moment everyone was intrigued by this fact. The greatest Briton of all time… a wartime hero… Prime Minister several times… born in a ladies’ loo. And guess what? For the first time in the course, my awkward young man was interested too. In fact, he couldn’t help himself.
You see, much as some people hate to be taught and trained, there are few of us who can resist learning something interesting. It’s in our blood. The need to know.
As a way to keep my young man’s interest alive, I spent the rest of that course trawling up as many interesting and credibility-busting facts as I could. Even if I had to stretch their relevance to the subject of my course.
And it’s a trick you can keep up your sleeve too. Just make a file on your computer called “Strange Facts” and put in it any fascinating facts that you come across while surfing or training.
Here are 100 good ones to start you off…
1. If you are struck by lightning, your skin will be heated to 28,000 degrees Centigrade, hotter than the surface of the Sun.
2. If you trace your family tree back 25 generations, you will have 33,554,432 direct ancestors – assuming no incest was involved.
3. The average distance between the stars in the sky is 20 million miles.
4. It would take a modern spaceship 70,000 years to get to the nearest star to earth.
5. An asteroid wiped out every single dinosaur in the world, but not a single species of toad or salamander was affected. No one knows why, nor why the crocodiles and tortoises survived.
6. If you dug a well to the centre of the Earth, and dropped a brick in it, it would take 45 minutes to get to the bottom – 4,000 miles down.
7. Your body sheds 10 billion flakes of skin every day.
8. The Earth weighs 6,500 million million million tons.
9. Honey is the only food consumed by humans that doesn’t go off.
10. The Hawaiian alphabet has only 12 letters.
11. A donkey can sink into quicksand but a mule can’t.
12. Every time you sneeze your heart stops a second.
13. There are 22 miles more canals in Birmingham UK than in Venice.
14. Potato crisps were invented by a Mr Crumm.
15. Facetious and abstemious contain all the vowels in their correct order.
16. Eskimoes have hundreds of words for snow but none for hello.
17. The word “set” has the most definitions in the English language.
18. The only 15 letter word that can be spelled without repeating its letters is uncopyrightable.
19. Windmills always turn counter-clockwise.
20. The “Sixth Sick Sheik’s Sixth Sheep’s Sick” is the hardest tongue-twister.
21. The longest English word without a vowel is twyndyllyngs which means “twins”.
22. 1 x 8 + 1 = 9; 12 x 8 + 2 = 98; 123 x 8 + 3 = 987; 1234 x 8 + 4 = 9876; 12345 x 8 + 5 = 98765; 123456 x 8 + 6 = 987654; 1234567 x 8 + 7 = 9876543; 12345678 x 8 + 8 = 98765432; 123456789 x 8 + 9 = 987654321
23. The word “dreamt” is the only common word in the English language that ends in “mt”.
24. Albert Einstein never wore any socks.
25. The average human will eat 8 spiders while asleep in their lifetime.
26. In space, astronauts cannot cry because there is no gravity.
27. Hummingbirds are the only creatures that can fly backwards.
28. An ostrich’s eye is bigger than its brain.
29. Cockroaches can live 9 days without their heads before they starve to death.
30. A flamingo can eat only when its head is upside down.
31. The lighter was invented before the match.
32. The average left-handed person lives 7 years LESS than a right-handed person.
33. The average person has over 1,460 dreams a year!
34. Scientists with high-speed cameras have discovered that rain drops are not tear shaped but rather look like hamburger buns.
35. The first Internet domain name ever registered was Symbolics.com on March 15, 1985.
36. When Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone back in 1876, only six phones were sold in the first month.
37. Approximately 7.5% of all office documents get lost.
38. Business.com is currently the most expensive domain name sold: for $7.5 million.
39. In 2001, the five most valuable brand names in order were Coca-Cola, Microsoft, IBM, GE, and Nokia.
40. In Canada, the most productive day of the working week is Tuesday.
41. In a study by the University of Chicago in 1907, it was concluded that the easiest colour to spot is yellow. This is why John Hertz, who is the founder of the Yellow Cab Company picked cabs to be yellow.
42. It takes about 63,000 trees to make the newsprint for the average Sunday edition of The New York Times.
43. On average a business document is copied 19 times.
44. The largest employer in the world is the Indian railway system in India, employing over 1.6 million people.
45. Warner Chappel Music owns the copyright to the song “Happy Birthday.” They make over $1 million in royalties every year from the commercial use of the song.
46. All babies are colour-blind when they are born.
47. Children grow faster in the springtime than any other season during the year.
48. Each nostril of a human being registers smells in a different way. Smells that are made from the right nostril are more pleasant than the left. However, smells can be detected more accurately when made by the left nostril.
49. Humans are born with 350 bones in their body, however when a person reaches adulthood they only have 206 bones. This occurs because many of them join together to make a single bone.
50. May babies are on average 200 grams heavier than babies born in other months.
51. Leonardo da Vinci was dyslexic, and he often wrote backwards.
52. Nazi leader Adolf Hitler had only one testicle.
53. Queen Lydia Liliuokalani was the last reigning monarch of the Hawaiian Islands. She was also the only Queen the United States ever had.
54. Rolling Stones band member Bill Wyman married a 19 year-old model Mandy Smith in 1988. At the same time Wyman’s son was engaged to Mandy Smith’s mother. If his son had married Smith’s mother, Wyman would have been the step grandfather to his own wife.
55. There are 158 verses in the Greek National Anthem.
56. There are about 6,800 languages in the world.
57. There was no punctuation until the 15th century.
58. Children laugh about 400 times a day, while adults laugh on average only 15 times a day.
59. The coconut is the largest seed in the world.
60. There is cyanide in apple pips.
61. If you were to take 1 lb. of spiders web and stretch it out it would circle the whole way around the world!
62. If every person in China stood on a chair and jumped off at the same time…it would knock the earth off its axis!
63. A mole can dig a tunnel 300 feet long in just one night!
64. The shortest war on record, between Britain and Zanzibar in 1896, lasted just 38 minutes.
65. The Shell Oil Company originally began as a novelty shop in London that sold seashells.
66. The symbols + (addition) and – (subtraction) came into general use in 1489.
67. If you save one penny and double it every successive day, (day two you have 2 pennies and day three you have 4 pennies, and so on), by the end of 30 days you’ll have $5,368,708! (or £’s or whatever currency).
68. It is not possible to tickle yourself. The cerebellum, a part of the brain, warns the rest of the brain that you are about to tickle yourself. Since your brain knows this, it ignores the resulting sensation.
69. The best time for a person to buy shoes is in the afternoon. This is because the foot tends to swell a bit around this time.
70. The typical lead pencil can draw a line that is thirty-five miles long.
71. Due to precipitation, for a few weeks, K2 is taller than Mt. Everest.
72. Astronauts get taller when they are in space.
73. There are over one hundred billion galaxies with each galaxy having billions of stars.
74. The surface area of the lungs is roughly the same size as a tennis court.
75. A dog can hear sounds that are 100 times fainter than the faintest sounds that a person can hear. If a person can just hear a noise that is coming from 10 feet away, a dog could hear that same noise from 100 feet away.
76. If a sole (a type of fish) lays upon a chessboard it can change the colouring of its body to match the pattern of the chess board. The sole takes about 4 minutes to make the change.
77. Of all the animals on earth the mosquito has contributed to the deaths of more people than any other animal.
78. In the courts of the Roman Empire, instead of swearing an oath on a bible, men swore to the truth on their statements while holding their genitals. Hence the word ‘testify’, from ‘testicles’.
79. The first soap powder, produced in 1907, was made with Perborate and Silicate – hence its brand name, Persil.
80. If we could shrink the earth’s population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, there would be 57 Asians, 21 Europeans, 14 from the Americas and 8 Africans. Only 1 would own a computer.
81. All elephants walk on tiptoe, because the back portion of their foot is made up of all fat and no bone.
82. Our eyes are always the same size from birth, but our nose and ears never stop growing.
83. Hawaii has the only royal palace in the United States.
84. Chicken liver can be used to change A type blood to O type blood.
85. It takes only 8 minutes for sunlight to travel from the sun to the earth, which also means, if you see the sun go out, it actually went out 8 minutes ago.
86. The strongest muscle in the body is the tongue.
87. An octopus has 3 hearts.
88. If the population of China walked past you in single file, the line would never end because of the rate of reproduction.
89. The hair on a polar bear is not white, but clear. They reflect light, so they appear white.
90. Right-handed people live, on average, nine years longer than left-handed people do.
91. The combination “ough” can be pronounced in 9 different ways; Read this: “A rough-coated, dough-faced, thoughtful ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough; after falling into a slough, he coughed and hiccoughed.”
92. The blue whale has a heart the size of a small car and its blood vessel is so broad, that a person could swim through it.
93. A left-handed person finds it easier to open a jar than a right-handed person because they can supply a stronger anticlockwise turning force than a right-handed person. However a right-handed person will find it easier to tighten the jar up afterwards.
94. The orbit of the Moon about the Earth would fit easily inside the Sun.
95. A chameleon can move its eyes in two directions at the same time.
96. Typewriter is the longest word that can be made only using one row on the keyboard.
97. Because of the rotation of earth you can throw a ball farther to the west than to the east.
98. The name of all the continents ends with the same letter that they start with.
99. Rubber bands last longer when refrigerated.
100. There are 293 ways to make change for a dollar (euro, pound).