There are plenty of stories about how painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel was quite literally a pain for Michelangelo—the artist had to be in an incredibly awkward position to complete the work of art. He supposedly hated the task so much that he wrote a poem about it.
The sonnet, which was originally written in his native Italian in 1509, has been translated by American poet Gail Mazur. Here’s a sample: “My stomach’s squashed under my chin, my beard’s pointing at heaven, my brain’s crushed in a casket, my breast twists like a harpy’s.”
Some areas of the planet experience extreme weather more often than others. But at any given time there are an estimated 2,000 thunderstorms happening in different locations on Earth, according to the National Severe Storms Laboratory.
Annually, there are about 16 million thunderstorms across the globe and around 100,000 of them occur somewhere in the United States.
Inventor Richard James, a naval engineer, was trying to create a spring that could help stabilize equipment on boats in choppy waters. However, his spring’s ability to move seemingly on its own proved more interesting and became the prototype for the Slinky in 1943.
Quidi Vidi Brewery in Newfoundland and Labrador harvests water directly from icebergs that are up to 20,000 years old and float down the area’s Iceberg Alley. According to NPR, “The ice formed tens of thousands of years ago from compacted snow which means there are no minerals and lots of tiny bubbles trapped inside. It gives the golden beer a special, very light taste.”
Those tiny tuxedo birds we know and love today used to be the size of a high school linebacker. According to a 2017 report published in Nature Communications, there’s evidence that extinct Kumimanu biceae penguins once stood close to 6 feet tall and weighed more than 200 pounds.
In the original 1900 Wonderful Wizard of Oz novel, written by author L. Frank Baum, the titular magic man revealed that his full name was actually much longer: Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkel Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs.
In the story, Oz, as he calls himself, explains, “It was a dreadfully long name to weigh down a poor innocent child, and one of the hardest lessons I ever learned was to remember my own name. When I grew up I just called myself O.Z., because the other initials were P-I-N-H-E-A-D; and that spelled ‘pinhead,’ which was a reflection on my intelligence.”
The ashes of Fredric Baur, who created the iconic Pringles can in 1966, found his eternal resting place in one when he died in 2008. And FYI, his remains are in an original flavor can.
While “tragedy” is the word we use for a terrible event or a sad outcome, it has roots from the Middle English word “tragedie,” which can be traced back to Medieval Latin’s “tragēdia” and the Latin “tragoedia.” That word originates from the ancient Greek word “tragōidía,” meaning “goat song,” according to Oxford Dictionaries.
A commonly accepted theory for the etymology is that Greek tragedies were known as goat-songs because the prize in Athenian play competitions was a live goat.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, if you pick an apple off a tree, it’ll last a few weeks before it starts to soften and rot. But if you store an entire harvest under “controlled-atmosphere conditions,” it’ll last up to 10 months.
So, when you buy fruit at the grocery store, the produce may not be as fresh as you expect. “Apples are harvested once a year in the U.S.,” says Alisha Albinder, a fourth-generation fruit grower. “If you’re eating a New York apple not in the fall, then it’s safe to say that it’s been in storage.”
Take that, Olympians! Fleas use their toes and shins to jump, according to researchers at the University of Cambridge. They can spring up to seven vertical inches, more than 80 times their height.