If you browse Reddit, the chances are you will end up on its powerhouse called Today I Learned. And it’s not a powerhouse for no reason, trust me.
TIL is home to 27.3 million members who enjoy pumping their trivia muscle and coming to the subreddit to recharge their memory banks.
Created back in December 28, 2008, the community has become a destination for daily tidbits of knowledge and interesting facts. The best part, TIL is basically a never-ending stream of wisdom goodness, so if you ever have a spare moment to kill or simply need some cool things nobody knows to impress your date, TIL facts make for lightyears of scrolling. So in case you feel adventurous, more Today I Learned facts await here, here and here.
TIL in 1818, the US began building a fort near the New York-Quebec border to defend against invasions from Canada. After two years of construction, they realized the fort was actually on the Canadian side. They abandoned it and named it Fort Blunder.
TIL that in 1950 in Beatrice, NE, a church exploded five minutes after choir practice started. No one was hurt because every single member of the choir was late for completely separate reasons, so the church was empty.
TIL during a financial crisis in 1720, the British parliament debated a resolution for bankers to be sewn into sacks with snakes and dumped into the Thames river.
TIL Keeping cats on ships has been a long held seafaring tradition due to their efficiency as a form of pest control and the supposed luck they brought to vessels. It is thought that cats were spread around the world by groups such as the Ancient Egyptians, Vikings, and Age of Discovery explorers.
TIL that Charles Darwin often gave his old papers to his children for them to doodle on. Thus, much of what survives of his original Origin of Species manuscript represents the best of his children’s writing and drawings, rather than the best of his work.
TIL in 1952, a bus driver (Albert Gunter) was driving over Tower Bridge, when to his surprise, the bridge started opening. The double – decker bus was at the edge of the south bascule when it started rising. He made a split decision and accelerated clearing the 6ft drop. Later receiving a £10 bonus.
TIL that (former) Dutch footballer Dennis Bergkamp is afraid of flying to the point that he would take car/ferry/train to away games, or not travel at all. His Aviophobia gave him the nickname of the “Non-Flying Dutchman”.
TIL that Stan Lee had a younger brother, Larry, who co-created Thor, Iron Man, and Ant-Man. Larry Lieber is currently 90 years old and only retired from pencilling comics in 2018.
TIL in Egypt, around 17000 divorce cases in 2018 cited “Candy Crush” as the cause of divorce.
TIL that two 16-year-olds got lost in the Canadian wilderness while snowboarding, but were able to stay warm by burning their homework. The two boys were rescued the following day and managed to avoid frostbite, sustaining only minor injuries.
TIL there are 13 remaining secret apartments on the top floors of New York City’s branch libraries.
TIL cheetahs were at one point so close to extinction, their genetic diversity has become too low for their immune system to recognize a “nonself”. Skin grafts exchanged between unrelated cheetahs are accepted as if they were clones or identical twins.
TIL John von Neumann regularly recalled complete novels and pages of the phone directory. He could divide two 8-digit numbers in his head and converse in Ancient Greek at age 6, and was proficient in calculus at age 8. When he enrolled in university at 16, he had already written a research paper.
TIL that the Eurasian magpie is one of the most intelligent birds, and one of the most intelligent of all non-human animals. The expansion of its nidopallium is approx. the same in its relative size as the brain of humans. It is the only bird known to pass the mirror test.
TIL Aurora Rodríguez Carballeira wanted to have a perfect daughter. Her daughter Hildegart read at 2, spoke 4 languages at 8, joined law school at 13, becoming professor there at 18, writing on socialism and sexuality, writing to figures. On 1933 her mother shot her.
TIL that the “lower bar” on women’s bikes is antiquated and was created to accommodate the heavy dresses women wore in the late 1800s.
TIL that a 4-year-old was arrested for witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials. Little Dorothy Good spent 10 months chained in a prison cell after confessing to a local judge that she had a pet snake that could talk.
TIL the hit version of “Tom’s Diner” was remixed by the group DNA and circulated to clubs without the permission of the artist Suzanne Vega or her label. When Vega heard the remix, she advised the label to buy it and officially release it rather than sue the group for copyright infringement.
TIL In 1924, the federal government funded enormous concrete arrows to be built every 10 miles or so along established airmail routes to help the pilots trace their way across America in bad weather conditions and particularly at night, which was a more efficient time to fly.
TIL, that Lieutenant Elmo Zumwalt III contracted cancer and died at 42, after getting exposed to Agent Orange while deployed in Vietnam. It was his father, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt who ordered the use of Agent Orange in Vietnam.
TIL Cancun was founded by the Mexican government using computer models to find a nice spot for tourists.
TIL that in the 4th century CE, Roman bishop Acacius of Amida sold the all church’s treasures to free 7000 Persian prisoners captured by the Romans during war. The Persian emperor was so impressed by the act that he ordered an end to Christian persecution throughout his empire.
TIL F1 driver Kimi Raikkonen nearly bankrupted his Lotus team. They put a €50k bonus per point in his contract thinking they wouldn’t score many, Kimi scored 390 in two years including 15 podiums and 2 race wins.
TIL that the crust of the Earth is so thin, that it makes up 1% of the earth’s volume that contains all known life in the universe and can be compared with a peel of an apple.
TIL English is not an official language of New Zealand despite it being spoken by 90% of the population. The two official languages are Te reo Māori and NZ sign language.
TIL the IRS still operates largely on mainframe computers running 60 year old code.
TIL of the “Boring Billion”. From roughly 1.8 billion BC to 0.8 billion BC, relatively nothing happened on earth. There was tectonic stability, a static climate, and hardly any biological evolution. It has been termed “The Dullest Time in Earth’s History”
TIL Philadelphia Cream Cheese was invented in New York and has never been made in Philadelphia. Its name was part of a clever marketing strategy, because at the time (1880s) Philadelphia was known for its high quality dairy.
TIL that Sesame Street was initially banned in several states, such as Mississippi, for casting black and hispanic actors.
TIL Scooby Doo was designed by Iwao Takamoto, who first learned illustration from fellow prisoners in the Manzanar concentration camp for Japanese-Americans.
TIL of ‘Truck Wages’ or ‘Company Scrip, where an employer will pay employees in company minted money that is only redeemable in company owned stores. It is referenced in the sea shanty ‘Wellerman’ and the last company to get sued for using it was Walmart Mexico.
TIL of the Octomom case of 2009, where a single mom was implanted with 12 embryos and gave birth to 8 babies (octuplets). They are currently the longest surviving octuplets ever. Ultimately her fertility doctor had his license revoked.
TIL that since 2004 at least 18 have people died from contracting rabies after receiving organs from infected donors. Transplanted organs are not typically screened for rabies virus, which can incubate for up to a year or more before symptoms manifest, after which time it is nearly 100% fatal.
TIL that there is a strong positive correlation between how fast someone walks and the population of the city that they’re from. If a city is 10x larger than another, people will walk 24% faster on average.
TIL that while impressed by his book “Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica”, the UK’s science academy couldn’t publish Isaac Newton’s book due to being nearly bankrupt from spending all of its money printing the “History of Fish”. Thankfully, scientist Edmond Halley’s funded the printing.
TIL that Aluminum was once more expensive than gold. It was a status symbol that emperor Napoleon III reserved a prized set of aluminum cutlery for special guests at banquets. Less favored guests used gold knives and forks.
TIL that in the years preceding the French Revolution, the price of bread went from costing about 50% of a laborer’s daily wages to about 88% of their income.
IL of Audie Murphy, an American soldier from World War II that earned every military combat med offered by the U.S Army, including the Medal of Honor at age 19. He also won medals from France and Belgium.
TIL that NASA was inspired by Fritz Lang’s film, ‘Frau im Mond’, to use a countdown for rocket launches. NASA used the countdown to not only help technicians synchronise, but also found that announcing the countdown would build suspense for those watching at home.
TIL in 1993, college basketball coach Bob Knight invented a fictitious player named Ivan Renko to expose disreputable basketball recruiting experts. Sure enough, the “experts” began listing Renko as a prospect and some even claimed to have footage of the nonexistent player.
TIL screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (A Few Good Men, The Social Network) takes six to eight showers a day to get over writer’s block. If writing isn’t going well, he takes a shower, puts on different clothes, and tries again.
TIL In Space there’s only 9 to 12 seconds to be conscious outside airlock and humans are totally rescuable for at least 30 seconds.
TIL in 1323, the Mexica, founders of the Aztec Empire, asked the King of Culhuacan for his daughter, to which the King of Culhuacan agreed. The Mexica then sacrificed her and flayed her skin, and invited the King of Culhuacan to a feast, during which a Mexica priest came out wearing her flayed skin.
TIL of Shi Pei Pu, a Chinese opera singer turned spy who obtained secrets from a French embassy worker for twenty years by masquerading as a woman. He even took a child and pretended it was theirs.
TIL Before 2012, Pizza Hut was the largest purchaser of kale in the US, but they only used it as garnish for their salad bars.
TIL that tapeworm can live inside humans for up to 30 years and grow to 80ft in size.
TIL the most destructive single air attack in human history was the napalm bombing of Tokyo on the night of 10 March 1945 that killed around 100,000 civilians in about 3 hours.
TIL only white cars are allowed in Boracay island, Philippines. It is a municipal ordinance that was signed in 2001.
TIL that a California court ruled that a man was not entitled to the $3 billion market value of his cells, which his doctor had secretly commercialized after removing his spleen.
TIL cry rooms were an amenity movie theaters had starting in the 1940s. These were small areas at the back of a theater where those with unruly kids could continue to watch the film. The presence of these rooms declined greatly by the 1970s due to the rise of multiplex theaters.
Note: this post originally had 82 images. It’s been shortened to the top 50 images based on user votes.