1 | The inventor of the tricycle personally delivered two to Queen Victoria
In 1881, Queen Victoria was touring the Isle of Wight when her horse and carriage could not keep up with a woman riding a tricycle. Intrigued by the bike, the Queen ordered two. She also asked inventor James Starley to come with delivery. While you may associate tricycles with toddlers, Queen Victoria made them cool among the elite of the day.
2 | Your brain synapses shrink while you sleep
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Sleep and Consciousness studied mice to observe what happens to their brains while they sleep. Dr. Chiara Cirelli and Dr.Giulio Tononi found an 18 percent reduction in synapse size after just a few hours of sleep. Don’t worry though – this nocturnal brain contraction actually helps your cognitive abilities.
3 | The first commercial passenger flight lasted only 23 minutes
In 1914, Abram Pheil paid $400 (which would be $8,500 today) for a 23-minute plane ride. The flight from Florida flew between St. Petersburg and Tampa, where the cities are separated by only 21 miles of water. The only passengers were Phil, the former mayor of St. Petersburg, and pilot Tony Jannus. This landmark flight paved the way for air travel as we know it.
4 | A woman called the police when her ice cream ran out of toppings
The West Midlands Police in England released footage of a woman calling 999 (the British version of 911) because “they were beaten on one side and nothing on the other,” she says in the footage. She was even more upset when the ice cream seller did not want to return her money.
5 | Uncle Ben’s rice was air-dropped to World War II troops
The German chemist Erich Husenlaub invented the rice steaming process to retain more of the nutrients in the rice and reduce the cooking time. The “Husenlaub process” had another unexpected benefit: it stopped beetle infestations. Bug-free instant rice was a big asset during World War II, and processed rice (as it was then called) was air-dropped to American and British troops. After the war, the company rebranded to become Uncle Ben’s Original Converted Brand Rice, named after one of the company’s top rice suppliers. The product appeared on the shelves of grocery stores in 1947.
6 | The British Empire was the largest empire in world history
The British Empire was at its most powerful in the 1920s, when it controlled 23 percent of the world’s population and approximately 13.7 million square miles of territory, or almost a quarter of the earth’s land area, according to a Statista report.
7 | South American river turtles talk in their eggs
Turtles do not have vocal cords, and their ears are internal, so scientists believed that turtles are deaf and do not communicate with sounds. But studies have shown that turtles actually communicate at an extremely low frequency, which sounds like “clicks, clucks, and hoots” that can only be heard through a hydrophone (a microphone used underwater). These sounds even come from the egg before the turtle hatches. The researchers suggest that this helps all the turtle siblings hatch at once.
8 | Penicillin was first called “mold juice”
In 1928, bacteriologist Alexander Fleming left a petri dish in his laboratory while on vacation, only to return to find that some liquid around the mold had killed the bacteria in the dish. It became the world’s first antibiotic, but before calling it penicillin, he called it “mold juice”.
9 | May 20, 1873, is the “birthday” of blue jeans
According to Levi Strauss, it was on this day that Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis, inventors of the durable blue jeans we all love so much, received a patent for the process of adding metal rivets to men’s denim work pants. Pants were called rompers until 1960 when baby boomers started calling them jeans. And, For Your Information, this is why blue is the most popular denim color.
10 | The MGM lion roar is trademarked
At the beginning of every film made by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the legendary lion roars at the audience. While MGM has gone through several iterations of lion mascots, the sound of the roar is always the same. In the 1980s, the company registered a “sound mark” with the US Patent and Trademark Office.