Did you know that the human brain has around one billion neurons? And a single neuron is capable of forming about 1,000 connections to other neurons. So, if you do the maths, you will know that neurons are making up more than a trillion connections.
Wondering why are we giving you this information? Well, imagine if each neuron could only help store a single memory, you might have only a few gigabytes of storage space. But the interesting thing is that neurons combine so that each one helps with many memories at a time, exponentially increasing the brain’s memory storage capacity to something close to 2.5 petabytes (or a million gigabytes).
It’s like your brain is a digital TV recorder. 2.5 petabytes, which can hold three million hours of TV shows — you could leave the TV running continuously for more than 300 years.
So, when our brain could store this much information, we should not waste it? That’s why today we have featured Today I Learned, often shortened as TIL. It’s a Reddit community that has 25.9 million members. It constantly shares interesting trivia like the location of the clearest lake in the world or the reason why Nas listed his then 7-year-old daughter as an executive producer on his fifth album.
To put some of your 2.5 petabytes to good use, we rounded up some of the best posts we could find on the subreddit.
TIL that March 12th, 1990, over 60 disability rights activists abandoned their mobility aids and climbed, crawled, and edged up the 83 stone steps of the U.S Capitol, demanding the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which had been stalled in Congress. It was called the ‘Capitol Crawl’.
Nas listed his then 7-year-old daughter, Destiny Jones, as an executive producer on his fifth studio album Stillmatic to ensure she would always receive royalty checks from the album.
TIL the medals in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are made from metals recovered from recycled cell phones collected since 2017.
TIL: In 400BC, the Persians invented a way to make ice in the desert using evaporation cooling
TIL the clearest lake in the world is the Blue Lake located in Nelson, New Zealand. Visibility in the lake is up to 80 metres meaning the water is considered almost as optically clear as distilled water.
TIL the US provided Laos with funds and concrete to expand an airport which could serve as a base for US fighter jets during the Vietnam War. But as the funds and concrete arrived before any contract was signed, Laos decided instead to build a memorial to soldiers who died in World War II.
TIL Octopuses are one of the most intelligent creatures on the planet, capable of solving complex puzzles, using tools, escaping captivity, and planning ahead in the future.
TIL of Eric Moussambani, who had never seen an olympic sized swimming pool before the 2000 olympics. He recorded the slowest time in 100m freestyle history at 1:52.72, however won his heat as all other competitors false started. He is now a national hero the head swimming coach of Equatorial Guinea
TIL of Charlie Walker, the first non-government individual to fly into space. After NASA deemed him unqualified and rejected his 1978 application for astronaut, he co-developed a space bound device which required him to accompany it. Walker flew into space three times with the device he co-patented.
TIL Drowning people almost never shout, thrash or wave for help. 10% of children who drown are supervised by adults who don’t recognise the signs.
TIL Crowing first at dawn is a privilege reserved for the highest ranking rooster.
TIL Sony sold its waterproof Walkman in a bottle of water to prove it was really waterproof.
TIL Salvador Dali once conned Yoko Ono into paying $10,000 for a single blade of grass. Yoko had offered to pay that amount for one of his mustache hairs. He substituted the blade of grass because he thought that Yoko Ono was a witch and might use his hair in a spell.
TIL In the 1930’s a selling point for TP started by Northern Tissue company was that their toilet paper was “splinter free”
TIL Bruce Lee was the winner of the 1958 Hong Kong Cha-Cha Dancing Championship. He kept a card with 108 different cha-cha dance steps in his wallet and developed new moves which he wrote down in a personal notebook labeled “Cha-Cha Fancy Steps.”
TIL beavers build their dams as an instinct to stop the sounds of water leaks. If a speaker is playing just the sound of running water, a beaver will build a dam over it. This is even if it’s over concrete with no visible water, or if an actual nearby leaky water source is quieter than the speaker.
TIL astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell, who as a student discovered pulsars, credits her discovery to impostor syndrome and a fear of being kicked out of college; “I’m a bit of a fighter, so I decided until they threw me out I would work my very hardest”. That discovery earned the 1974 Nobel Prize.
TIL that when his father died of a heart attack, Ronald Mallett resolved to discover time travel to see him again. He went on to earn a PhD in physics and become a professor, and has been working on plans for a time machine ever since.
TIL In 1908, the Russian shooting team arrived at the London Olympics twelve days late. The Russian team had made sure to arrive a few days before the event was scheduled, but Russia still used the Julian calendar. The UK had switched to the Gregorian calendar 150 years earlier
TIL dying coral reefs lack the sound attract new fish. Speakers playing healthy reef noises at dying coral reefs increases species diversity and doubles fish abundance.
TIL that hippo sweat contains a chemical that has an SPF factor to prevent them from getting sunburned.
TIL – Raccoons and skunks will literally sniff out a yellow jacket nest at night and dig it up to eat the yellow jackets.
TIL the X’s often seen on moonshine bottles in old cartoons, etc. represent the amount of runnings, or how many times it was distilled.
TIL that female dogs can get pregnant by multiple male dogs within the same heat cycle, then give birth to X amount of puppies per father.
TIL comedy legend Mel Brooks was an uncredited producer of The Elephant Man, released in 1980. He was left off the credits for fear that fans would believe the movie was a comedy.
TIL of Research during 1950s all-male combat aircraft assignments revealed that a woman’s voice was more likely to gain the attention of young men in distracting situations. Joan Elms voice was used for the automated voice warnings for Convair B-58 and was named “Sexy Sally” by the pilots.
TIL of Vasili Mitrokhin, a KGB archivist who kept a vast collection of handwritten notes on top secret files. When he defected to British Intelligence in 1992, he brought six trunks of notes with him that exposed most KGB activities in the West during the Cold War
TIL that the reticular activating system is the part of the brain that sorts through all the billions of pieces of information our senses take in and then allows through the important stuff. It is why after you a buy a red sedan, you now see red sedans everywhere when you didn’t notice them before.
TIL that the “Monopoly Man”, the guy in jail and the policeman on the Monopoly Board all have names: Milburn Pennybags, Jake the Jailbird and Officer Mallory
TIL that the Red Bull energy drink was originally invented by a duck farmer from Thailand as a hangover cure (called Krathing Daeng in Thai) before being bought over by Austrian businessman Dietrich Mateschitz who discovered it on a business trip in 1987.