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21 Things I Learned This Week That Completely Altered My Understanding Of The World

An April Fools' Day prank that made people evacuate their homes, and much, much more.

WARNING: Number 11 on this list features a gross photo of a tarantula that some readers found disturbing. If you don't like spiders, or gross photos in general, I recommend you scroll past it.

1. H.H. Holmes has been labeled America's first serial killer. Holmes's hotel, which has been informally referred to as his "Murder Castle," was in operation during the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, which drew 27 million visitors, many of whom were out-of-towners looking for a cheap place to stay. For this reason, it's difficult to determine precisely how many people might've perished within the Murder Castle's walls:

The murder hotel in Chicago from ThatsInsane

2. This is the hat worn by Abraham Lincoln to Ford's Theatre on the night he was shot on April 14, 1865. The silk band was added to honor his son Willie, who died of typhoid in 1862 and whose death had a profound and devastating effect on the Lincolns:

Top hat worn by Abraham Lincoln the night he was shot. Now on display at the National Museum of American History [1024x1010] from ArtefactPorn

3. This 75-pound (34-kilogram) monster is the "Pearl of Puerto Princesa," the largest pearl ever discovered:

Filipino fisherman got stuck on a rock and he decided to bring it home as a good luck charm. And then he kept it under his bed for 10 years until one day his house burned down. Then he found out this "rock" was actually the biggest pearl ever found and is valued at $100.000.000. from interestingasfuck

4. One of the most legendary pranks in the history of April Fools' Day was played by a man named Oliver Bickar, affectionally known as "Porky," who managed to convince the city of Sitka, Alaska, that this dormant volcano was about to erupt:

April 1, 74. Oliver Bickar ignited 100 old tires in a crater, convincing nearby residents of Sitka, Alaska that the volcano was erupting. Round the rim of the volcano someone had spraypainted "April Fool" in 50 ft letters. He had been planning the prank for four years. from RedditDayOf

5. LANSA Flight 508 was flying over the Amazon rainforest on Christmas Eve in 1971 when it was struck by lightning and destroyed instantly. Of the 92 people on board, only Juliane Koepcke survived. In an interview with BBC she recalled, "Suddenly the noise stopped and I was outside the plane. I was in a freefall, strapped to my seat bench and hanging head-over-heels. The whispering of the wind was the only noise I could hear." Aside from a broken collarbone, a torn ligament, and some cuts and bruises, she escaped the crash — and fall — without any major injuries...and then went on to survive in the wilderness for 10 days:

17 year-old Juliane Koepcke was sucked out of an airplane in 1971 after it was struck by a bolt of lightning. She fell 2 miles to the ground, strapped to her seat and survived after she endured 10 days in the Amazon Jungle. from Damnthatsinteresting

6. This is what the Burning Man festival looks like from above:

Burning Man is cosmically beautiful. from Damnthatsinteresting

7. When someone from the Northern Hemisphere visits the Southern Hemisphere — and vice versa — they might notice that the moon appears to be upside down. Turns out, it's not just their imagination, as illustrated by this helpful diagram:

People in Australia see moon upside down from Damnthatsinteresting

8. It's not at all uncommon for giraffes (and other herbivores) to chew on bones they find lying around their environment. In fact, it's their primary source of calcium and phosphorous:

Giraffe eating a skull- osteophagy is the practice in which animals, usually herbivores, consume bones. from natureismetal

9. Located in Utah, Pando is widely considered to be the largest living organism on the planet. It occupies 106 acres, consists of over 40,000 individual "trees," and is believed to weigh about 13 million pounds (5,896,701 kilograms):

Pando, the tree God from Bossfight

10. Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda was a Japanese soldier who was stationed at a remote outpost in the Philippines during WWII and who remained there until 1974 under the belief that the war was ongoing. He and a few men (the last of which would die in 1972, leaving Lt. Onoda alone) remained on high alert for all those years, hiding from search parties and even killing locals who they believed posed a threat:

Hiroo Onoda from ThatsInsane

11. In order to grow, tarantulas engage in a process called molting, during which they shed their old exoskeletons. This is what they leave behind:

The exoskeleton shed by a Brachypelma emilia or Red legged tarantula. Spider was not harmed, it simply replaced its old armor. from interestingasfuck

12. The Great Pyramid of Giza is huge:

True Size of The Great Pyramid of Giza from HumanForScale

13. Nikola Tesla is believed to be responsible for the very first X-ray images produced in the United States:

Nikola Tesla's foot on an X-ray image taken by himself on a device of his own design, 1896. from interestingasfuck

14. It might sound fake but this photo actually does depict Abraham Lincoln's funeral procession passing in front of the New York City home of Cornelius Van Schaack Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt's grandfather. The two figures in that window are believed to be Teddy and his brother Elliott:

6 year old Teddy Roosevelt (in the red circle) at Abraham Lincoln’s funeral, 1865 from interestingasfuck

15. This massive 2010 traffic jam on the north-south Beijing-Tibet expressway stretched for 74.5 miles and lasted for 11 days. It was caused, in part, by road work:

The China Highway 110 Traffic Jam lasted more than 10 days. Most cars moved at an estimated pace of 1 km per DAY from ThatsInsane

16. This is the unbroken seal of the third inner shrine of King Tut's tomb. It was notable because, over the centuries, most tombs were raided by grave robbers and stripped of all their riches. Tutankhamun's tomb was relatively untouched because it was unintentionally buried during the creation of Ramesses VI's tomb, and it remained hidden until Howard Carter rediscovered it in 1922:

The seal securing the entrance to the tomb of king Tutankhamun. When this photo was taken in 1923 the seal had remained intact for more than 3200 years [1600x1200] from ArtefactPorn

17. This is the Centennial Light, the longest-lasting lightbulb on earth. It burns 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in Firestation #6 in Livermore, California, which means it serves a purpose beyond just record-setting. Its longevity is allegedly due, in part, to the fact that it's never turned off, as the constant heating and cooling of the filament is what causes most bulbs to burn out:

In 1901, an eternal light bulb was connected in California. It still hasn't gone out today, 120 years later. It is cited as strong evidence of how products are purposely made not to last in modern technology. from interestingasfuck

18. Sultan Kösen is a 38-year-old farmer from Turkey and the world's tallest living person. Here is Sultan's hand holding an average can of Pepsi:

The world's tallest man, Sultan Kosen, holding a regular sized can of soda. from interestingasfuck

19. You can still find pieces of the original Star Wars set, which is located in the Sahara Desert just outside the Tunisian city of Tataouine. Yes, George Lucas named the planet Tatooine after the city:

The abandoned Star Wars movie set in Tunisian Desert from interestingasfuck

20. Also known as the platypus frog, the gastric brooding frog was notable for converting its stomach into a womb as the eggs it swallowed would turn to tadpoles, which would ultimately grow into fully formed frogs. Eventually, after not eating for six weeks straight, it'd "vomit" its little bundles of joy into the world. Scientists have been attempting to bring the now-extinct species back through cloning:

When breeding, Australian gastric-brooding frogs (Rheobatrachus) would stop producing gastric acid, swallow their eggs, and carry them in their stomachs past metamorphosis. Extinct since 1985. from Naturewasmetal

21. And last but certainly not least, this species of frog looks like poo:

This poopy boy is called Theloderma moloch! It has a very interesting way of camouflaging itself. The texture and color of its skin make it look like bird droppings! This deters predators, cause who in their right mind would eat bird poo from AIDKE

Want to see what I learned last week? Click here to find out. And click HERE to see what I learned in March.

Correction: Whoopsie-daisy! An earlier version of this post identified Cornelius Van Schaack Roosevelt as Theodore Roosevelt's father, which he isn't. He's actually Teddy's grandfather. I learn something new every single day. Isn't life glorious?

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