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26 Things I Learned This Week That Are Mind-Blowing, Incredible, And 100% True

Today I learned that people can actually have themselves cryogenically frozen.

1. John Wayne Gacy, the infamous serial killer — who was nicknamed the "Killer Clown" because he would perform at charity events and children's hospital under the personas "Patches the Clown" or "Pogo the Clown" and who would prey on children — once posed for a photo with First Lady Rosalynn Carter. She reportedly also signed the photo, "To John Gacy, best wishes, Rosalynn Carter." He was arrested a year later and convicted of murdering 33 young men and boys, though there's speculation that there may have been even more victims:

2. A whale's spinal column is so massive that it looks prehistoric — almost mythical, even:

3. And this is how big a grizzly bear's foot is:

4. Here's what Times Square looked like before all the screens, Coca-Cola billboards, Elmo mascots, M&M stores, Bubba Gump Shrimp, etc.:

5. When Bill Clinton was just 16 years old, he got to travel to the White House and shake hands with then-president John F. Kennedy. This was in late July 1963, just four months before Kennedy's assassination:

6. This is what a bottle of Coca-Cola looked like back in 1894; and yes, it did actually contain cocaine. In fact, though cocaine was eventually removed from the formula, the Coca-Cola you drink today still contains coca leaves (the plant that's used to manufacture cocaine) but the cocaine part of it is of course left out. They refer to the ingredient as "Merchandise No. 5," which is supplied to them by the Stepan Company, the only company in the US that's licensed to import and process coca plants:

7. Cryonics is the act of freezing the dead in the hopes that science will someday become advanced enough to resurrect them. In Scottsdale, Arizona, there's a place called Alcor Life Extension Foundation and they're the self-proclaimed "world leader in cryonics, cryonics research, and cryonics technology." According to their website, they currently have 181 "patients." One of them is baseball legend Ted Williams and a former employee accused Alcor of mishandling Williams's corpse and also preserving his decapitated head separately from the rest of his body:

8. The purussaurus was a prehistoric crocodile that is believed to be the largest croc to ever live. They would reportedly grow as large as 41 feet long (12.5 meters) and weigh 8.4 tons. It's also believed they had a stronger bite than the tyrannosaurus rex, with a pressure of seven tons:

9. Machu Picchu was abandoned by the Incans shortly after being conquered by the Spanish in the 16th century and for centuries after it lay hidden high in the mountains. It was finally rediscovered in 1911. Here's what it looked like in 1915 before excavations began versus what it looks like today:

10. Earlier this week, the Ingenuity Helicopter became the first aircraft to fly on Mars. One of the reasons this is such a huge deal is because there was no guarantee it would work. Mars has 1/3 of Earth's gravity and a *very* thin atmosphere (helicopters need air to fly and there's not a lot of that on the Red Planet).

Ingenuity hovering above the surface on Mars

11. Even so, NASA was confident they would succeed. So sure were they that Ingenuity would make history by being the first aircraft to fly on Mars that under its solar panel they fastened a small piece of fabric from one of the wings of the Wright brothers' historic plane, the Flyer, which flew the first controlled and sustained flight on Earth.

12. Here's what one of the Titanic's propellers looks like today as it sits on the ocean floor:

13. This white stork with a Central African spear through its neck isn't a recreation; it's the real deal, and it's on display in a German museum. There was a time when no one really knew where birds went during the winter months and in 1822, this hapless stork survived being speared in Africa only to make the long journey back to Germany to get shot by a hunter:

Until a few centuries ago, many European zoologists were perplexed about where migratory birds went during the winter. The mystery was solved in the early 1800s when a stork returned to Germany with a spear from Central Africa through its neck.

Twitter: @IFLScience

14. The 588th Night Bomber Regiment was an all-woman bomber squadron that flew roughly 30,000 night raids against the Nazis during WWII. Since the planes they flew were extremely rudimentary — made of little more than wood and canvas, and therefore very flammable — they needed to rely on stealth if they were to succeed (and survive), so they took to shutting off their engines as they approached a target. The only warning that an attack was imminent was a faint "whooshing" sound in the night sky, so the Germans took to calling them "Nachthexen," which translates to "Night Witches," a name that the women of the 588th would come to embrace:

15. Pangolins are very unique animals for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons is that they're covered in scales — the only mammals to possess this added layer of protection. What's really surprising about them, and what would really make you do a double take if you ever saw one out in the wild, is that, like humans, they walk on two feet:

16. Some American honey contains low levels of radioactivity left over from nuclear bomb tests conducted in the 1950s and 1960s. How did it end up in honey? Long story short, the bombs sent a radioactive element into the atmosphere, wind and rain sprinkled it across the United States, some plants absorbed it, and bees pollinated those plants. Researchers say the amounts are very small and therefore harmless, but that "they may have been much higher in the 1970s and 1980s."

17. This gorgeous volcanic eruption in Ethiopia was captured by photographer Olivier Grunewald. When burning sulfuric gas comes into contact with air, it turns blue. But beware, those very same gases can be deadly if you breathe them:

18. This 5,500-year-old leather shoe was discovered in an Armenian cave in 2008 and it's the oldest shoe ever discovered. In a brief interview with National Geographic, famed luxury shoe designer Manolo Blahnik was blown away by "how much this shoes resembles a modern shoe." He called it "astonishing." In case you're wondering — like I was — it's a woman's size 7:

19. This is what can happen to your skin if you survive being struck by lightning. The man pictured below felt soreness in his arm before noticing the marks and the following day the skin began to blister. In an interview with ABC News, Dr. Mathew Avram explained, "The feathering marks are formed by the transmission of static electricity along the superficial blood vessels that nourish the skin":

20. In an ancient quarry in Egypt lies the Unfinished Obelisk. It's estimated to weigh about 1,168 tons and, had it been raised, would've stood 137 feet tall — the tallest obelisk to ever exist at the time:

21. These are the Pyramids of Meroë, which were once part of a wealthy ancient city in the Kingdom of Kush in what is now Sudan. If you're wondering what happened to the tops of the pyramids, which were once beautifully ornate, they were literally blown up in 1834 by an Italian treasure hunter named Giuseppe Ferlini, who then looted them and sold the artifacts to museums in Munich and Berlin.

Pyramids in Sudan with the tops missing

22. And this sketch depicts what some of them looked like prior to being destroyed:

23. This terrifying muppet is a Nereis sandersi, a species of microscopic deep-sea worm that survives at extremely high temperatures as they live next to volcanic vents at the bottom of the ocean:

24. 100,000-year-old fossilized neanderthal footprints were recently discovered in Spain. Researchers determined that they were left by a group of 36 individuals and that some of the prints were left by a young child who was “jumping irregularly as though dancing”:

25. And these fossilized footprints, which stretch for a mile and are the longest continuous set ever discovered, were left by a woman and a small child who were in a great hurry. For some stretches, the woman carried the child and at times the child walked on its own. Other prints in the area suggest she may have been trying to avoid saber-toothed tigers and that she likely crossed paths with a mammoth and a giant sloth:

12,000-Year-Old Human Footprints Found in New Mexico

Twitter: @BetoReitenbach

And last but not least...

26. Horses played a much-more critical role in World War I than you might think. Many battles were fought on rough and unforgiving terrains, ranging from arid deserts to steep mountains. In addition to being used in battle, horses were responsible for hauling gear, pulling artillery, and transporting the wounded — all in the midst of explosions, tank and gunfire, and tear gas attacks. Some estimate that as many as 8 million horses were killed during the Great War. Here's how some veterans paid tribute to their bravery and sacrifice:

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