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    23 Things I Learned This Week That Sent Me Down A Rabbit Hole

    FYI: Baby koalas eat their mothers' poop.

    1. This is the structure — aka the "sarcophagus" — that was built to contain Chernobyl's highly radioactive reactor 4. Despite the (limited) protection it provides, the surrounding area won't be habitable for an estimated 20,000 years.

    A large dome-like structure looming large in a semi-industrial and semi-residential landscape

    2. Garfield phones have been washing up on the beaches of Brittany, France, since the 1980s. The source of these phones has long been a mystery until, in 2019, a lost shipping container was located tucked inside a sea cave — the very same shipping container that was carrying the phones three decades earlier. The sad news is that the container was empty, which means every phone has been washed out to sea.

    A phone shaped like Garfield the cat sitting in the tides and sea foam on a beach

    3. More than 300 people have died trying to climb Mount Everest since it became popularized almost exactly a century ago, and a large portion of those bodies remain on the mountain.

    Mount Everest from a distance

    4. On October 24, 1926, 52-year-old Harry Houdini was rushed to the hospital after complaining about stomach pains. He died a week later on Halloween. The official cause of death would be attributed to appendicitis and peritonitis — but some, including his grandnephew, believe he was murdered by mystics and spiritualists.

    An older looking Harry Houdini posing with chains on his wrists

    5. George W. Bush was head cheerleader during his senior year in high school at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts.

    George W. Bush in his yearbook posing with other cheerleaders

    6. It takes 248 Earth-years for Pluto to complete a single orbit around the Sun, which means not even half a Plutonian year has passed since it was discovered in 1930.

    A close-up of Pluto

    7. During a 1986 exploration of the Titanic wreckage, these dishes were spotted sitting on the ocean floor in this eerily organized arrangement:

    A dimly lit shot of stacks of dishes on the ocean floor

    8. Some of those dishes were recovered and put on display at Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition in 2010. Here are those same dishes looking almost brand new:

    Sparkling dishes arranged for viewing in a musuem

    9. An Egyptian vulture was just spotted in the UK for the first time since 1868, and before that it was last spotted in 1825 — the only two documented sightings of this bird in the region until this year.

    An Egyptian vutlure

    10. At the young age of 24, Poon Lim would find himself stranded in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, alone, for *133 days*. Against all odds, and with limited seafaring experience, he would somehow manage to survive the ordeal. Poon Lim holds the Guinness World Record for most days stranded at sea on a raft.

    Poon Lim posing for a photo on his trip to London

    11. "Steady" Ed Headrick, who perfected the design of the frisbee and invented the game of frisbee golf, requested that, after his death, his ashes be used to make a set of limited-edition frisbees — and, just after he died in 2002, his wish was granted. Some of the frisbees were distributed to family and friends, while others were sold to help fund the Headrick Memorial Museum.

    Ed Headrick posing with his dogs

    12. No, this isn't a photo of Mars — it's Death Valley National Park in California. The hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth was in Death Valley on July 10, 1913. It was 134°F (57°C) that day, and just this week that record came close to being broken: Temperatures hit 128°F (53°C).

    Dry, cracked desert ground

    13. The origin of the word "dashboard" — now a commonplace term for the panels in front of drivers and pilots, and more recently for a navigational interface for data management tools and computer programs — comes from a forward-facing piece of wood or leather that would serve as a barrier for when the horses' hooves would dash mud up at the driver and/or the occupants of a carriage or buggy.

    A carriage with the dashboard pointed out

    14. There's a very remote area in the Pacific Ocean called the "oceanic pole of inaccessibility" — more commonly called "Point Nemo" — and it's the farthest you can get from land in any direction. If you ever find yourself at Point Nemo, the next closest humans might be right above your head on the International Space Station.

    A vast oceanscape with no land in sight

    15. Every Froot Loop is the same flavor.

    A pile of Froot Loops

    16. The largest star ever measured is a red hypergiant called VY Canis Majoris. Over 600 million miles wide and more than 300,000 times brighter than our own sun, if it were plopped down in the middle of our solar system, it would extend past Jupiter's orbit.

    An artist's rendering of VY Canis Majoris

    And here's a visual representation in case you're having trouble imagining that:

    A diagram depicting our solar system with a large line drawn between Jupiter and Mercury to illustrate the size of the star

    Still having trouble imagining how big that star is? Well here's what a sunset on Mars looks like:

    A small dot in the sky over Mars slinking behind a darkened landscape

    And here's what a "sunset" on Mars would look like if VY Canis Majoris were our sun — Mars would literally be inside of it.

    An up close shot of the surface of the sun

    17. So little is known about the mating habits — both the "how" and the "where" — of great white sharks that observing it has come to be considered the "Holy Grail" of marine biology and shark ecology. Only two eyewitness accounts of the act have ever been documented, one of which was reported just last year.

    A great white swimming

    18. Because eucalyptus leaves are loaded with toxins that only adult koalas can withstand, baby koalas have to eat their mothers' poop for a more...diluted eucalyptus diet.

    A baby and mama koala

    19. There are many more trees on Earth (an estimated 3 trillion of them) than there are stars in the Milky Way Galaxy (somewhere between 100 and 400 billion of those).

    20. Jacanas have really long, spider-like toes, which make it easier for them to walk on lily pads.

    21. This is what a lavender field looks like:

    Rolling fields of lavender

    22. Pictured below is a life-sized replica of a Titanoboa, which was a prehistoric snake that was almost 40 feet long (12 meters) and more than 2,000 pounds (907 kilograms), making it far and away the largest snake that's ever lived (as far as we know).

    A Titanoboa replica in a muesum being arranged by a group of people

    And what would a list of facts be without a good old-fashioned frog:

    23. This weird guy is called a Proceratophrys boiei, or a Boie's frog, and when these frogs feel threatened, they're able to flatten themselves out on the rainforest floor to look even more like a leaf than they already do.

    A frog with what looks like horns above each eye looking very leaf-like

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