We post three daily fun facts 365 days a year! Our facts of the day are random, interesting, and fun facts that we have sourced from all over the internet with a link to all the details and further reading if the fact whets your apatite to learn more on the subject. We invite you to head to our homepage to see our 11,000+ facts in the order they’ve been posted, or if you are just looking for random fun facts then head to our random fact generator page.
Without further ado, today’s facts:
- WTF Fun Fact 12674 – The Man Who (Maybe) Died Laughing
Whoever said laughter is the best medicine probably never read about the death of the ancient Greek Stoic philosopher Chrysippus of Soli.
At the age of 73, the master of Stoic ethics and logic and leader of the Stoic School attended the 143rd Olympiad, which took place from 208 to 204 BC. At some point, a donkey came along and ate some of the figs he had with him. He found this hilarious, saying “Now give the donkey a pure wine to wash down the figs!” (Ancient humor doesn’t really translate well to the present, in case you haven’t noticed.)
The story is that Chrysippus laughed so hard as his own joke that he eventually fell to the ground and started foaming at the mouth. The people around him tried to help, but he died.
(Note that another story of his death is that he became dizzy and died after drinking undiluted wine at a feast.)
But the real question is, could the first story really have happened?
Technically, yes. You can die laughing.
Uncontrollable laughter can cause a heart attack, asphyxiation (which leads to a lack of oxygen), and can lead to a loss of muscle control causing you to collapse and fatally injure yourself. But it’s extremely rare.
However, there have been other stories of people laughing themselves to death. King Martin of Aragon is said to have laughed to death upon hearing a joke by his favorite court jester in 1410 (though indigestion seems to have played a role). Pietro Aretino apparently died by suffocation while laughing in 1556. And reports say that in 1660 a Scottish aristocrat, Thomas Urquhart, laughed so hard at hearing that Charles II was king, that he died laughing. And there are more modern cases too.
Do we believe them all? No. But it’s not impossible. – WTF fun fact
- WTF Fun Fact 12673 – What’s In A (Cat’s) Name?
In unsurprising news, there’s more evidence that cats don’t care about something.
Japanese researchers did a small study (which is really all you can do when cats get involved) and found that cats seem to recognize the names of their feline housemates. However, they still don’t give any indication of recognizing their own. Whether it’s because they just don’t care is something we’ve yet to figure out.
Why should we even care what words cats recognize? Well, IFL Science put it in context the best: “Birds with vocal cords that can imitate our own can learn a variety of human words, and it’s argued some know the meaning, rather than merely mimicking. Apes taught sign language also understand the meaning of words, and more recently dogs have been found to be able to learn up to 12 toys’ names in a week – but what about cats?”
In other words, we do all of this behavioral research on animals and find these fascinating signs that, in some sense, they can organize the world in ways similar to our own. So why not take a look at these abilities in some of the most common pets?
The research was conducted by Saho Takagi, a PhD student at Kyoto University who published the results in the journal Scientific Reports. The research team tried an experiment with domestic cats living in a 3+ cat home as well as residents of Japan’s famous cat cafes.
The study does rely on one important assumption (but if you know anything about science, you know that this is often the case since that’s where we start in order to help prove things). The assumption is that like other animals, cats stare longer than normal when they are surprised by something. In this case, hearing a name they recognize.
So the team spoke to the cats and said the names of their fellow resident cats to see if they would get a reaction. And they did, at least when the cats didn’t just run off in the middle of the experiment (and one did).
But what’s interesting is that this only happened in households, not in cat cafes. And in cat cafes there tends to be a lot of turnover from adoptions (and a lot more names to remember). So it may be that the cats in those cafes never hear a name enough time to have it ring a bell.
Apparently, the cats only reacted to the spoken names. Seeing their feline roomies’ photos on a laptop didn’t have any effect. Also, hearing their own names had no effect.
There were only 19 cats involved in the study, so it’s right to be skeptical. But that’s where we often start in science. The study still showed there was statistical significance to the results, and that’s typically a sign that further research can continue until there’s enough evidence to constitute some kind of “proof.”
In the meantime, just take it as a sign that your cat ignoring its name is not necessarily them blowing you off. They may just not be able to recognize that a name belongs to them. Or they just don’t care.
IFL Science explains this is not Takagi’s first cat study: “Last year she was first author on a paper exploring the feline capacity to map the spatial location of their person or a familiar cat. Takagi and co-authors reported the cats showed surprise when speakers broadcast the voice of the person who feeds them, despite that person’s absence. The same reaction did not apply to recordings of familiar cats’ vocalizations or unrelated sounds. Previously she studied cats’ understanding of the law of physics.” – WTF fun fact
- WTF Fun Fact 12672 – Beware the “Sharkcano”
Your mother probably warned you not to swim around acidic shark-infested volcanoes, but in case she didn’t, we’re telling you now not to try it!
Only once have scientists been able to explore the Kavachi volcano in the Solomon Islands. It’s a submarine (aka underwater) volcano and it actually erupts almost constantly. But in 2015, it took a break, giving researchers the chance to check it out.
And boy did they find some stuff! It’s no surprise that they found high levels of sulfur (because it is a volcano, after all), but they were surprised to see that despite extremely acidic conditions, some creatures have managed to thrive in the craters.
There are microbial species that are common in sulfuric environments. There are also “gelatinous animals and small fish.” Oh, and a whole bunch of angry sharks.
According to IFL Science, oceanographic researchers said this is “raising new questions about the ecology of active submarine volcanoes and the extreme environments in which large marine animals can exist.”
And while that’s really cool, we’re more interested in the phenomenon they dubbed “sharkcano.” The researchers wrote: “Two species of shark, the scalloped hammerhead Sphyrna lewini and the silky shark Carcharhinus falciformis, approached the baited camera multiple times in an aggressive pattern; in some cases, sharks appeared to be swimming from greater depths inside the crater.”
Now, before you picture thousands of sharks spewing out from the depths of the ocean floor (which is the first thing we pictured), it’s definitely not going to be that wild if this volcano has a major eruption. It will, however, be a really bad time to go swimming in that area.
NASA images showed a plume developing in late May, so we may be in for a sharkcano eruption sometime soon and we’ll be able to see precisely what that entails. – WTF fun fact
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