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13 Weird Facts That Will Make You Say "Huh, Interesting"

Trust us, one day these are going to come in handy.

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1. In 1991, there were 60,000 jellyfish orbiting Earth.

Alexander Vasenin / CC BY-SA 3.0 / Via commons.wikimedia.org

In June 1991 the Space Shuttle Columbia lifted off with seven human crew members and 2,478 jellyfish polyps. The polyps – an early stage of the jellyfish life cycle – were held in flasks and bags filled with artificial seawater, and were part of an experiment designed to figure out how living things are affected by the microgravity in orbit around Earth. By the end of the mission, they'd reproduced and there were 60,000 jellyfish orbiting Earth.

2. There are five species of flying snake.

Suttisak Olari / Getty Images

Ok, so it's more like controlled falling than true flying. These snakes can't really gain altitude. But they can glide through the air between trees, so you'd forgive someone on the ground who sees that for saying "holy shit that's a flying snake". These snakes live in forests in South and Southeast Asia and hop between trees by wiggling their body to stay in the air, to save themselves the trouble of slithering all the way down and back up again.

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3. Time passes faster for your face than your feet.

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"Time dilation" is a side effect of Einstein's relativity. You might have heard about it in relation to something called the "twin paradox" – a thought experiment that involves one twin being sent up to space while the other remains on Earth. Einstein's theory says that the twin on the spaceship, traveling at high speed around the universe, ages more slowly, and when she returns is younger than her Earth-bound sibling.

This has been proved true by sending clocks up in planes. And in 2010 scientists published research showing that this can in fact be seen on smaller scales too – with height differences of less than a metre. The difference is much too small for humans to perceive, but, technically, time passes faster at your face than your feet, because the pull of Earth's gravitational field is ever so slightly stronger at your feet than at your head.

4. In March 1989 the northern lights were visible as far south as Florida and Cuba during a powerful solar storm.

University of Alaska / Via nasa.gov

The storm also knocked out the entire electrical grid in the Canadian province of Quebec, causing a nine-hour outage.

5. There's a gas cloud in the constellation of Aquila that holds enough alcohol to make 400 trillion trillion pints of beer.

Till Credner, Allthesky.com / CC / Via en.wikipedia.org

It's a thousand times the diameter of our solar system, and it contains enough ethyl alcohol to keep every single person on Earth very, very drunk for several billion years. Sadly, it's 10,000 light years away, and the alcohol is mixed in with some other chemicals that wouldn't taste so good, like hydrogen cyanide.

6. Bees can sense a flower’s electric field and use it to find pollen.

Youngryand / Getty Images

Yup, flowers have electric fields around them. And bees, which become positively charged as they flap their wings, use those electric fields as cues to work out where the nectar is.

7. After his death, Albert Einstein's brain was stolen by a pathologist and cut up into 240 pieces.

Dr Thomas Harvey / Via en.wikipedia.org

Thomas Harvey was the pathologist on call at Princeton Hospital when Einstein died there in April 1955. Einstein wanted all of his remains to be cremated and scattered, but Harvey had other ideas. He took the brain without permission, and eventually it was carved up into 240 pieces, preserved, and stored in Harvey's basement.

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8. The last woolly mammoth died after most of the major pyramids were built.

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Most woolly mammoths died out 10,000 years ago, but a small population persisted on Wrangel Island in the Arctic Ocean until about 1700 BCE. By this point, the pyramids in Giza had been around for several hundred years – they were constructed in 2550 to 2490 BCE.

9. There's an insect that has actual gears.

cam.ac.uk

In 2013 scientists found the interlocking gears in a plant-hopping insect called an Issus, and published the results in the journal Science. Only the nymphs, and not the adults, had them.

10. You have a unique tongue print.

Patrisyu / Getty Images

In a paper published in 2013, two scientists proposed using tongues as a method of identification, by looking at both their shape and texture. They said: "The tongue is a unique organ in that it can be stuck out of [the] mouth for inspection, in this act offering a proof of life, and yet it is otherwise well protected in the mouth and is difficult to forge."

11. Dung beetles navigate using the Milky Way.

Vendys / Getty Images

Dung beetles can roll their dung balls in a straight line when they can see the night sky, but not when it's overcast – leading scientists to conclude that they are using the stars, and the Milky Way, to navigate.

13. If you go back far enough in time, almost everyone is your direct ancestor.

en.wikipedia.org, en.wikipedia.org

Here's the maths:

You have two biological parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, and so on. The number doubles every generation – after six generations, for example, you have 2⁶, or 64, ancestors. This number grows so quickly that it hits roughly a billion ancestors by the time you get 30 generations down the line. But world population didn't reach a billion until the 1800s, and that is far fewer than 30 generations back in time.

Essentially, as you go back in time, you rapidly reach a point at which everyone who was alive at a given point is the ancestor of either everybody (if they had children, and their children had children, etc) or nobody (if their line died out).

Kelly Oakes is science editor for BuzzFeed and is based in London.

Contact Kelly Oakes at kelly.oakes@buzzfeed.com.

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