WTF • Fun • Fact    ( /dʌb(ə)lˌju/  /ti/   /ef/ • /fʌn/ • /fækt/ )

     1. noun  A random, interesting, and overall fun fact that makes you scratch your head and think what the...

WTF Fun Fact 13389 – Single Presidents

Overall, nine single presidents in U.S. history. But some were widowers to begin with or became widowers in office. Grover Cleveland and James Buchanan were the only true bachelors to be elected president.

A singular occasion

On June 2, 1886, something remarkable occurred in American history when Cleveland, the 22nd and 24th President of the United States, broke tradition by becoming the first U.S. president to marry while in office.

In a private ceremony held at the White House, Cleveland exchanged vows with Frances Folsom, a woman 27 years younger than him. This event captivated the public’s attention and set a new precedent for presidential marriages.

Single presidents are rare

Before Cleveland, James Buchanan held the distinction of being the only unmarried president. Throughout his tenure as the 15th president from 1857 to 1861, Buchanan remained a lifelong bachelor, a unique status that fascinated many. His unmarried status stood out amidst the expectations of the time and became an intriguing aspect of his presidential legacy.

Cleveland’s marriage to Frances Folsom became a source of great interest and fascination for both the public and the media. The significant age difference between the two further fueled curiosity. Cleveland, aged 49 at the time, married Frances, who was a mere 21, making her the youngest first lady in U.S. history. Their wedding, held in the Blue Room of the White House, attracted attention nationwide and garnered extensive media coverage.

Even more eyebrow-raising was the fact that Cleveland was expected to marry Frances’ mother when she became a widower!

A rare presidential wedding

Cleveland’s decision to marry while serving as president challenged the traditional perception of the presidency. It showcased a more personal and relatable side of the president, emphasizing his capacity for love, companionship, and family life. The public’s reception of their union reflected evolving societal norms, recognizing the president as an individual capable of forming personal connections and balancing personal and public responsibilities.

Frances Folsom Cleveland’s presence as the first lady injected youthfulness and charm into the White House. She quickly became a popular figure, admired for her grace and elegance. Her involvement in social and public activities added a touch of glamour to the political arena. The Cleveland marriage symbolized unity and hope, bridging generational and social gaps within the country.

While Grover Cleveland’s marriage broke new ground, it is essential to highlight the contrasting story of James Buchanan. Buchanan’s lifelong bachelorhood remains a topic of intrigue in presidential history. His personal choice to remain unmarried added an air of mystery to his presidency, setting him apart from his contemporaries.

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Source: “Has There Ever Been An Unmarried U.S. President?” — Bustle

WTF Fun Fact 13388 – Ancient Olympics vs. Modern Olympics

The ancient Olympics ran ten times longer than the modern Olympics. The Games were held at least 293 times from 776 BC to 393 AD. That means the ancient version had a consecutive run of 1,169 years vs. the modern Olympics, which began in 1896.

Olympic origins

The ancient Olympics, originating in ancient Greece, were deeply rooted in religious and cultural traditions. They were held in honor of the Greek god Zeus and took place in the sacred city of Olympia. The games were a testament to the physical prowess and competitive spirit of the ancient Greek civilization. Participants from various city-states would gather to showcase their athletic abilities and engage in friendly competition.

The ancient Olympics were much different from their modern counterpart in terms of events, rules, and significance. The ancient games featured a limited number of sports disciplines, primarily focused on athletics, combat sports, and equestrian events. The most prestigious event was the stadion race, a sprint of approximately 200 meters. Other events included wrestling, boxing, chariot racing, and the pentathlon, which consisted of running, long jump, discus throw, javelin throw, and wrestling.

The ancient Olympics held a unique place in the hearts and minds of ancient Greeks. They served as a unifying force, bringing together people from various regions and fostering a sense of shared identity.

The games were not merely a display of athletic prowess but were deeply intertwined with religious rituals and cultural celebrations. The Olympic truce, known as the ekecheiria, ensured a cessation of hostilities during the games, allowing safe passage for athletes and spectators alike.

Ancient Olympics vs. the modern Olympics

As the centuries passed, the ancient Olympics faced various challenges and disruptions. The rise of the Roman Empire and subsequent spread of Christianity gradually diminished the significance of the games. Emperor Theodosius I, in 393 AD, officially banned the Olympics, considering them a pagan practice. The ancient Olympics came to an end, leaving behind a rich legacy and a symbol of human achievement.

In contrast, the modern Olympic Games started up in the late 19th century. Organizers were driven by a vision to promote international unity through sports. The inaugural modern Olympics took place in Athens, Greece, in 1896, with athletes from 14 nations participating in nine sports disciplines.

Since then, the modern Olympics have grown exponentially. But the longevity of the ancient Olympics, with their uninterrupted run for over a millennium, stands as a testament to the enduring power of sports and human endeavor.

While the modern Olympics have not yet matched the remarkable duration of their ancient counterpart, they have evolved into a global celebration of athletic excellence, cultural exchange, and unity among nations.

When comparing the ancient Olympics vs. modern Olympics’ running time, the old record is going to be hard to beat.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Ancient Olympic Games” — World History Encyclopedia

WTF Fun Fact 13387 – Earth’s Core May Be Hotter Than The Sun

Scientists believe that the Earth’s core, consisting primarily of iron and nickel, may be hotter than the surface of the sun, with temperatures reaching up to 5,500 degrees Celsius (9,932 degrees Fahrenheit).

Why do scientists think the Earth’s core is hotter than the sun’s surface?

The Earth’s core, located approximately 2,900 kilometers (1,800 miles) beneath the Earth’s surface, remains an elusive and challenging realm for direct exploration. Despite the inability to physically access the core, scientists have employed a combination of sophisticated techniques, including theoretical modeling and seismic studies, to gain insights into its temperature.

Scientists use the analysis of seismic waves generated by earthquakes to study the temperature of the planet’s core. By studying the behavior of these waves as they travel through different layers of the Earth, scientists can infer valuable information about the planet’s internal structure and temperature distribution.

Through seismic studies, scientists have determined that the core’s temperature increases significantly as one ventures deeper into the Earth. The most scorching temperatures are found at the boundary between the outer and inner core, approximately 3,200 miles beneath the Earth’s surface. Here, researchers estimate that the temperature reaches nearly 6,000 degrees Celsius (10,800 degrees Fahrenheit). So, if that’s the case, then the earth’s core is hotter than the sun.

Where’d that heat come from?

Interestingly, the heat in the Earth’s core does not come from the sun. The core’s exceptional temperatures are sustained by two primary heat sources. The first source of heat originates from the residual energy trapped within the Earth since its formation around 4.5 billion years ago. During the Earth’s early stages, countless collisions and mergers between rock fragments produced an immense amount of heat, some of which remains within the core to this day.

The second source of heat within the core arises from the radioactive decay of isotopes present throughout the Earth. Radioactive elements such as potassium-40, thorium-232, uranium-235, and uranium-238 release energy as they undergo decay, contributing to the overall heat budget of the core.

While the core’s temperatures may exceed those of the sun’s surface, it is important to note that the conditions in the core are drastically different. The core’s high pressures prevent its iron-nickel composition from vaporizing into gas despite the extreme temperatures.

This unique combination of heat and pressure creates an environment that sustains the core in a liquid or solid state.

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Source: “How has Earth’s core stayed as hot as the sun’s surface for billions of years?” —

WTF Fun Fact 13386 – Wearing White Before Memorial Day

Wearing white between Memorial Day and Labor Day has long been a fashion tradition in the United States. We often associate it with the summer season. In some places, Americans still consider this custom a style guideline, and people may still follow it in more formal or traditional settings.

The origins of wearing white between Memorial Day and Labor Day

The late 19th and early 20th centuries witnessed the emergence of a fashion rule that linked wearing white to staying cool in hot weather. People then deemed it appropriate for summer attire. This rule predominantly gained popularity among the upper classes. They often spent summers at vacation resorts or country estates. Wearing white garments, particularly lightweight fabrics, allowed them to reflect sunlight and remain cool. It also became a symbol of fashion and social status.

Over time, the tradition of wearing white between Memorial Day and Labor Day became deeply ingrained in American culture. Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer in late May. Labor Day in early September, signifies its end. These holidays, therefore, served as bookends for this period of traditional white attire.

Violating fashion norms

Wearing white after Labor Day was generally discouraged as it was seen as a violation of established fashion norms. This was eventually the case among all social classes. The belief was that white was more suitable for warm-weather occasions, and transitioning to darker, autumnal colors was considered appropriate as the season changed.

Middle and lower class people also adopted the custom. This is in part because dressing is a way of socially conforming or trying to project one’s class. Wearing white was an aspirational mimicking of what the wealthy class was doing.

Breaking rules

However, fashion rules have evolved, and the strict adherence to the “no white after Labor Day” rule has waned in modern times. Many individuals now choose to wear white throughout the year, and fashion trends have become more individualistic, breaking away from traditional guidelines.

While the significance of the “no white after Labor Day” rule has diminished, some people and social circles may still choose to adhere to it as a personal preference or a nod to traditional fashion etiquette. Ultimately, the decision to wear white or any other color during a specific time of the year is a matter of personal style and choice.

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Source: “Why can’t you wear white after Labor Day? Fashion’s perennial rule, explained.” — USA Today

WTF Fun Fact 13385 – Flag Protocol on Memorial Day

There is a special flag protocol on Memorial Day in the United States. The country follows a tradition where it raises the flag to the top of the staff in the morning. Then, the country solemnly lowers it to half-staff until noon. After noon, the country raises the flag back to full staff.

Why is there a special flag protocol on Memorial Day?

The practice of flying the flag at half-staff is a gesture of remembrance and honor for the soldiers who gave their lives in service to their country. Lowering the flag to half-staff is a solemn and poignant way to pay tribute to their memory. It serves as a visible reminder of their sacrifice.

People have long associated the half-staff position with mourning, and it reflects a sense of national tribute on Memorial Day.

During this time, from sunrise until noon, the nation collectively pauses to remember and reflect on the sacrifices of fallen service members.

Re-raising the flag at noon

While you may not have noticed, Americans customarily raise the flag back to full staff at noon on Memorial Day. This signifies the transition from a period of remembrance for the deceased to a focus on honoring the living who continue to safeguard the nation’s freedom. It represents the resilience, courage, and dedication of the men and women who serve in the armed forces.

Raising the flag to full staff after noon, it is a symbolic way of recognizing the ongoing commitment and sacrifices made by active-duty military personnel, veterans, and all those who contribute to the defense of the country. It serves as a reminder that the spirit of those who have fallen lives on through the determination and dedication of those who continue to serve.

Flag decorum

It is important to note that the practice of lowering the flag to half-staff is not exclusive to Memorial Day. People also observe it on other occasions of national mourning. For example, when they remember fallen public officials, national tragedies, or the death of a prominent figure.

However, on Memorial Day, the symbolism takes on added significance. The as nation comes together to honor the fallen heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

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Source: “Flying the American Flag at Half Staff” — U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs

WTF Fun Fact 13384 – Centralia Mine Fire

In Pennsylvania, a fire has been burning underground since May 1962. This coal-seam fire, known as the Centralia mine fire, has defied all attempts to extinguish it and continues to smolder to this day.

The origins of the Centralia mine fire

The exact cause and start date of the Centralia mine fire remains a matter of debate. Some suggest that it was ignited deliberately on May 27, 1962. That’s when the town council set a fire to clean up the landfill in an abandoned strip mine. However, others argue that the fire had already been burning before that fateful day. They think it may have originated from the Bast Colliery coal fire of 1932.

Regardless of its precise origin, the fire quickly spread into the labyrinth of abandoned coal mines beneath Centralia. This helped perpetuate its unstoppable grip on the town.

The extent of the destruction

The Centralia mine fire is estimated to have the potential to burn for more than 250 years. It stretches over an area of 3,700 acres and reaches depths of up to 300 feet. This is a result of the abundance of coal and network of underground tunnels providing a fuel source.

Efforts to extinguish the fire have been futile, with multiple excavation projects failing to snuff out the flames.

The impact of the Centralia mine fire on the town and its residents has been catastrophic. Over time, the hazardous levels of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and low oxygen levels caused health concerns, leading to the evacuation and relocation of most residents.

By 2017, the population dwindled to just five residents. That’s a stark contrast to the 1,500 inhabitants at the time the fire began. Abandoned buildings, crumbling infrastructure, and eerie streets shrouded in smoke have transformed Centralia into an unlikely tourist attraction.

The ongoing legacy of the fire

As the fire persisted, legal battles and controversies emerged. In 1992, Pennsylvania Governor Bob Casey invoked eminent domain, condemning all the buildings in Centralia. The government offered the residents buyouts, and most accepted, leaving only a handful determined to remain in their homes.

Despite appeals, the remaining residents were eventually ordered to leave. However, the town reached an agreement in 2013 to allow some holdouts live out their lives before the properties would be taken through eminent domain.

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Source: “This Mine Fire Has Been Burning For Over 50 Years” — History Channel

WTF Fun Fact 13383 – The Longest Sneezing Fit

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, “The longest sneezing fit ever recorded is that of Donna Griffiths (UK, b. 1969) who started sneezing on 13 January 1981 and surpassed the previous duration record of 194 days on 26 July 1981. She sneezed an estimated million times in the first 365 days and achieved her first sneeze-free day on 16 September 1983 – the 977th day.”

The longest sneezing fit in the world

Donna Griffiths holds the record for the longest sneezing fit ever recorded. Her ordeal began on January 13, 1981, and continued until September 16, 1983.

The uncontrollable sneezing started when Donna was just 12 years old. Initially, it began with an isolated sneeze, but soon escalated into an unending series of sneezes that persisted day and night. Doctors diagnosed her with “hay fever,” or allergic rhinitis. They hypothesized that it was triggered by an allergic reaction to environmental factors such as dust, pollen, or pet dander.

Throughout her marathon sneezing fit, Donna’s life was severely impacted. She found it challenging to carry out even the simplest daily tasks. The constant sneezing disrupted her sleep, hindered her ability to eat, and made it nearly impossible to concentrate. The physical strain on her body was immense, resulting in extreme exhaustion and weight loss.

The quest for a cure

Seeking relief, Donna consulted numerous medical professionals who struggled to find a solution. Doctors attempted to use antihistamines, steroids, and other allergy medications. But unfortunately, none provided any lasting respite. Specialists were baffled by the persistence of her condition and the lack of response to conventional treatments.

As news of Donna’s extraordinary sneezing fit spread, her case drew attention from the media and medical community alike. Reporters followed her story closely, documenting her struggles and attempts to find a cure. Her condition became a medical curiosity, and experts across the globe weighed in on potential causes and treatments for her unique case.

The end of the ordeal

Eventually, after enduring nearly three years of relentless sneezing, Donna’s condition began to subside. The sneezing fits gradually became less frequent and less intense until they eventually ceased altogether. The relief she experienced was indescribable, bringing an end to her remarkable and exhausting ordeal.

Donna’s case remains one of the most extraordinary medical mysteries in history. The exact reason behind her prolonged sneezing fit is still not fully understood, and her recovery has left doctors and researchers intrigued but perplexed. While her condition was undoubtedly a harrowing experience, Donna’s story serves as a testament to human resilience and the capacity to endure unimaginable challenges.

Today, Donna Griffiths lives a relatively normal life, free from the constant sneezing that once plagued her existence. Her remarkable journey continues to fascinate and inspire, reminding us of the remarkable complexities of the human body and the enduring spirit of those who face extraordinary circumstances.

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Source: “Sneezing myths and facts” — BBC News

WTF Fun Fact 13382 – Herbs That Repel Insects

You might consider planting some herbs that repel insects if you’re trying to enjoy the great outdoors but are being chased back inside by pesky mosquitos or other flying pests. Of course, insects are an integral part of the food chain. But you can take steps to avoid being a mosquito (or other biting insects) buffet.

Natural repellants

Nature already has the tools to help you keep many bugs at bay. And while we all know it’s not going to be 100% effective or work immediately, some careful planning can help you create a relatively bug-free sanctuary zone. It can even give you some simultaneous culinary inspiration.

One of the advantages of using these natural insect-repelling plants is that they not only serve a functional purpose but also contribute to the overall aesthetics of your garden. Their foliage, flowers, and delightful scents are easily incorporated into existing flower beds, herb gardens, or even container gardens, providing both practicality and visual appeal.

Herbs that repel insects naturally

The first thing you might consider planting is basil. While we find its aroma delightful, it’s unappealing to insects like mosquitoes. The active compounds in basil, such as linalool and eugenol, act as natural repellents. No bug smooshing necessary!

Not a big basil fan? Well, lavender is another good choice. Its purple blooms and calming fragrance are loved by humans but disliked by mosquitoes, flies, and moths. Planting lavender around your garden borders or near seating areas can provide a fragrant barrier that keeps these unwanted visitors away. But just so you know, the flowers attract pollinators like bees and butterflies. This makes it a double win for some people – unless you don’t like bees.

Finally, mint is a great choice as an insect repellant. Its strong scent, derived from menthol, is highly effective at repelling both mosquitoes and ants. Planting mint strategically around your garden or near outdoor seating areas can be a great bug barrier. However, it’s important to note that mint can be invasive, so you may want to contain it in pots or planters to prevent it from taking over your garden.

Nothing is perfect

Gardening with these insect-repelling plants offers an eco-friendly alternative to chemical insecticides. By opting for natural repellents, you avoid exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.

To make the most of these insect-repelling plants, consider their placement within your garden. Plant them strategically near entrances, seating areas, or any place where you want to deter insects. Harvesting their leaves and flowers can also release more of their repellent properties. Crush a few leaves of basil or mint and rub them on your skin as a natural insect repellent when spending time outdoors.

Of course, herbs that repel insects may not provide complete protection against all types of pests. Therefore, it’s advisable to employ additional measures such as wearing long sleeves, using mosquito nets, or employing non-toxic insect repellents when necessary.

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Source: “10 Insect-Repelling Plants That Are Known To Keep The Bugs Away” — Farmer’s Almanac

WTF Fun Fact 13381 – Ruby Slippers Theft

For those unaware, the ruby red slippers worn by Judy Garland in “The Wizard of Oz” were actually stolen in 2005. These iconic shoes, synonymous with the film’s magic and Dorothy’s journey, were on display at the Judy Garland Museum in Minnesota when they were taken. The ruby slippers theft garnered significant attention and led to a lengthy search for their whereabouts.

The conclusion of the ruby slippers theft saga

In 2023, a grand jury in North Dakota indicted a man on charges of stealing a pair of iconic ruby red slippers worn by Judy Garland in the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz.”

The theft occurred in 2005, but the slippers were recovered in a 2018 FBI sting operation. However, no arrests were made at the time. Terry Martin, a 76-year-old resident living near the Judy Garland Museum in Minnesota, was indicted. He was charged with one count of theft of a major artwork.

The indictment did not provide further details about Martin. When approached by the press, Martin declined to comment, only stating, “I gotta go on trial. I don’t want to talk to you.”

Janie Heitz, the executive director of the museum, expressed surprise. The subject lived nearby, and yet none of the staff had ever seen him.

Multiple pairs

During the production of “The Wizard of Oz,” Garland wore several pairs of ruby slippers. However, only four authentic pairs are known to exist today. At the time of the theft, the slippers were insured for $1 million, but their current market value is estimated to be around $3.5 million, according to federal prosecutors.

The stolen slippers were on loan to the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, the late actor’s hometown, when they were taken. Prosecutors reported that someone climbed through a window and broke the display case to steal the slippers.

The recovery of the stolen slippers followed years of searching and enticing rewards. Early in the case, law enforcement offered a $250,000 reward, and in 2015, an anonymous donor from Arizona pledged $1 million.

In 2017, a man contacted the shoes’ insurer, claiming he could help retrieve them. After an almost year-long investigation, the FBI seized the slippers in Minneapolis in July 2018. At that time, the bureau stated that no arrests had been made or charges filed in connection with the case.

Getting caught

A summons has been issued for Terry Martin, and an initial court appearance is scheduled for June 1 via video. The U.S. Justice Department in North Dakota provided limited information beyond the details included in the indictment.

The ruby red slippers are famously linked to the iconic line in “The Wizard of Oz,” where Garland’s character, Dorothy, clicks her heels together while repeating the phrase, “There’s no place like home.” The slippers are made from various materials, including wood pulp, silk thread, gelatin, plastic, and glass. The ruby color predominantly comes from sequins, while the bows feature red glass beads.

The other three pairs of slippers worn by Garland in the film are held by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Smithsonian, and a private collector.

Once the legal case concludes, the museum staff hopes that the slippers will return to Garland’s hometown, providing a fitting tribute to the legendary actress.

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Source: “Man indicted in theft of ‘Wizard of Oz’ ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland” — AP News