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 12639 – Prosecuting Space Crime

Pretty soon, it may be illegal for Canadian astronauts to go on crime sprees in space.

Now, we’re pretty sure that’s not why Canadians become astronauts in the first place, but apparently, you can never be too careful.

So, what’s this all about? Well, Canada just proposed an amendment to the country’s Criminal Code in their no-doubt riveting 443-page Budget Implementation Act in the House of Commons. It basically states that any crime committed in space by Canadians will be considered to have been committed on Canadian territory and punished accordingly. In other words, if you commit moon murder as a Canadian, you better not come back.

Interestingly, Canada has been preparing for space crime for a while now. Their Criminal Code already lays out prohibitions on crimes Canadian astronauts may commit during space flight to the International Space Station. accounts for astronauts who may commit crimes during space flights to the International Space Station.

Canada is part of the Lunar Gateway Project, a NASA-backed orbiting space platform. Part of that plan includes a trip to the moon, and apparently, the government wants to make sure Canadians maintain their reputation for being polite even among extraterrestrials.

The proposed code change reads:

“A Canadian crew member who, during a space flight, commits an act or omission outside Canada that if committed in Canada would constitute an indictable offense is deemed to have committed that act or omission in Canada.”

There are two interesting questions at play here – 1) who controls space justice, and 2) what gives a country the right to say space in their territory for prosecutorial purposes?

If you think space crime is absurd, there have already been accusations that have raised questions (however, no crime actually occurred). In 2019, astronaut Anne McClain was accused by her estranged spouse, Summer Worden, of improperly accessing bank records from the International Space Station. But McClain was later cleared after her spouse admitted to lying.

Still, it made people wonder how we might prosecute crimes in space, where no one technically owns territory (yet) and no one has jurisdiction.

Now, we already have some guidelines for international space law, believe it or not. According to CBC News:

“‘There are five international treaties governing activities in space but the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, ratified by Canada and more than 100 other countries, is the most relevant when it comes to dealing with alleged crimes in space, wrote Danielle Ireland-Piper, an associate professor of constitutional and international law at Australia’s Bond University. ‘As for the question of who prosecutes space crimes, the short answer is that a spacefaring criminal would generally be subject to the law of the country of which they are a citizen, or the country aboard whose registered spacecraft the crime was committed.'”

But things might be different if the astronaut-on-astronaut crime occurs between two different nations. In that case, there might be some disagreement about which country is able to prosecute the space offender. – WTF fun facts

Source: “Crimes on the moon could soon be added to Canada’s Criminal Code” — CBC News


WTF Fun Fact 12638 – Drinking Gold To Stay Young

Humans have always been obsessed with living forever. And, as you may have guessed, we’ve continued to fail.

The practice of drinking cold goes all the way back to ancient China and Egypt but came back into high fashion in the 16th-century in France. Members of the court of King Henry II tried different tonics with gold to reduce wrinkles and stave off death, but, of course, it killed many of them.

De Poitiers was very influential, and despite her choice of cocktail ingredients, she did live to be 66. According to Atlas Obscura: “Brantôme, the French historian, once wrote about meeting de Poitiers six months before she passed away at the age of 66. Though he admitted to not knowing much about the ‘potable gold and other drugs’ she took daily, which contributed to her ‘fine appearance,’ he quickly added: ‘I believe that if this lady had lived another hundred years she would not have aged … in her face, so well-composed it was.'”

Gold drinking was perhaps even more popular in the medieval period after an alchemist devised a method for dissolving solid gold into a liquid. The drinkable gold was called aurum potabile (or aurum potable), and it was advertised as a medicinal drink that could cure everything from epilepsy to manic episodes.

One of the oddest recipes comes from Pope John XXI, who, in In 1578, wrote a recipe for an elixir of youth that included “taking gold, silver, iron, copper, iron, steel, and lead filings, then placing that mixture ‘in the urine of a virgin child on the first day,’ then white wine, fennel juice, egg whites, in a nursing woman’s milk, in red wine, then again in egg whites, in that order, for the following six days,” according to Atlas Obscura.

Bottoms up! – WTF fun facts

Source: “Drinking Gold Was a Grisly Anti-Aging Trend of 16th-Century France” — Atlas Obscura


WTF Fun Facts12637 – Cow Burps Seen From Space

While it may be kind of funny, it’s really not a good thing that the methane emissions from cow burps can be viewed from space. That methane actually gets trapped in the earth’s atmosphere and contributes to climate change.

These emissions were detected by an environmental data company called GHGSat. Their high-resolution satellites saw the emissions in February, but it took until April to confirm their suspicions.

The burping cattle reside on a feedlot in California’s Joaquin Valley. According to CNN: “If these emissions were sustained for just one year, enough gas would be released ‘to power 15,402 homes,’ the company said.”

Farm cattle contribute to 10% of the greenhouse gas emissions generated by human activity around the world. In California alone, there are 650,000 beef cows.

This marks the first time that scientists have been able to use satellite imagery to pinpoint methane emissions from cattle farming.

CNN explained the process:

“The company has three high-resolution satellites in orbit, which it has previously used to measure emissions from open-pit coal mines. Each satellite is just the size of a microwave oven, says GHGSat. “This is really pushing the envelope of our capabilities,” said Wight. “What’s unique about us is we can really kind of get to the source” of emissions, focusing in on specific feedlots. Each satellite flies over a designated location for just about 20 seconds, taking a quick “snapshot” of emissions, Wight said. Over time, regular monitoring with these satellites could create a “temporal picture” showing the change in emissions over time, allowing farmers to, for instance, test out the impact of different diets on cows’ methane emissions.” – WTF fun facts

Source: “Planet-warming emissions from cow burps have been seen from space” — CNN


WTF Fun Fact 12636 – A Medical Device That’ll Make You Squirm

Sure, it sounds gross. It is gross. But so is a lot of the creative stuff doctors do to keep us alive.

As it turns out, the resurgence of therapies that use maggots and leeches has saved thousands of lives. Doctors can use them because they are FDA-approved as medical devices, despite being living creatures.

Now, no one heads to the local community garden or dumpster to get medicinal leeches and maggots. They are created in labs within very specific parameters.

So, let’s start with maggots. How can they possibly be medicinal?

The maggots used in medicine are the larvae of bottle-green blowflies. Because maggots only eat dead skin and not living skin, they’re actually perfect for cleaning infected wounds. Instead of having some first-year resident scrubbing out your open wound, maggots are even more gentle by comparison. In fact, since they’re eating dead tissue that’s already numb, you don’t feel the chomping at all. And they do a darn thorough job!

Leeches, on the other hand, are known as blood drinkers. Both of these creatures have been used in medicine for thousands of years, but are just making a comeback. However, leeches weren’t always applied in helpful ways in the past. Now, they’re used to clean up pooled blood in the body.

According to Discover Magazine: “When blood starts pooling instead of circulating, the area swells, and the lack of fresh, oxygenated blood causes skin tissues to die. Leeches can prevent that from happening.”

In the 1980s, as more wounds became resistant to antibiotics, a few doctors wanted to try maggots again and got some men at the VA hospital to agree. After the trials worked, the doctor in charge realized that in order to share the maggots with colleagues, he had to file paperwork with the FDA, and they turned out to be hard to regulate. But it was possible and in 2003, the FDA approved maggots as a medical device. Six months later, leeches were approved as well.

Obviously, not all hospitals are keen to use them (and patients aren’t generally big fans of the idea either). – WTF fun facts

Source: “Leeches and Maggots Are FDA-Approved and Still Used in Modern Medicine” — Discover Magazine


WTF Fun Fact 12635 – A Pre-Raphaelite “Supermodel”

Elizabeth “Lizzie” SiddaI wasn’t beautiful by conventional 19th-century standards. Tall, thin, and red-headed, she worked in a hat factory, making her pale skin and gauntness even more striking. She wouldn’t have been noticed as beautiful at the time except that she caught the eye of Walter Howell Deverell in the winter of 1849. He was a member of The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, a group of painters trying to bring back Renaissance traditions.

It turns out all of the painters all found her to be a perfect muse. Siddal eventually became a member of the Pre-Raphaelite movement herself as an artist and poet.

Being an artist’s model was a scandalous profession at the time, but it was Deverell’s wealthy mother who arrived to ask Siddal’s mother for permission for her son to paint her. Apparently agreeing that it was a safer profession, she was allowed to model part-time.

Deverell painted her as Viola in Twelfth Night, Holman Hunt painted her for A Converted British Family Sheltering a Christian Priest from the Persecution of the Druids (1850), and Dante Gabriel Rossetti painted her for the first time in 1850 in Rossovestita. Siddal and Rossetti eventually got engaged, and he painted her thousands of times, even becoming jealous and refusing to let others paint her after a while.

According to Siddal’s biographer Lucinda Hawksley:

“Although today Lizzie Siddal’s willowy build, gaunt features and lustrous copper-coloured hair are considered signs of beauty, in the 1850s being very thin was not considered sexually attractive, and red hair was described by one female journalist as “social suicide”. Through her modelling work and the success of the paintings she appeared in, Lizzie helped change the public opinion of beauty.”

Siddal became most famous as the muse for Millais’s Ophelia. – WTF fun facts

Source: “The tragedy of art’s greatest supermodel” — BBC Culture


WTF Fun Fact 12634 – Gnomesville, Australia

The story goes that it all started with one gnome. People were impressed when more showed up. After hundreds more were added, it became a bit of a tourist attraction. At 3000 gnomes, it became a destination. Now, by some estimates, there are 5 – 10,000.

They are collected in tiny villages, and on logs. All seemingly having a great time next to their cute gnome-y signs and other garden paraphernalia.

Gnomesville is in Australia, and the nearest big city is Perth. Its address is a lot number, so you have to follow the signs.

As one visitor put it:

At Gnomesville you will see a massive community of garden gnomes.  Current counts are apparently over 10,000 but I am sure that no one really knows.  All that I do know is that when you arrive (and you will know you are arriving by the appearance of a few Gnomes on the side of the road) that you are overwhelmed by the numbers of gnomes all around you.

Gnomesville Western Australia is not a place to rush around.  I mean you could walk around in 15 minutes and say “oh cool that’s a LOT of gnomes”.  The joy is in stopping and looking at the gnomes.  Literally every gnome tells a story.  They are doing all sorts of things (sometimes a little bit rude) and its very interesting.

A pretty creek runs through Gnomesville and the gnomes have set up homes up there, underneath some beautiful trees.

Also interesting are the stories of the people that left the gnomes.  You can see that people have visited from all around the world.  There are some sad stories and some celebrations.  I feel like Gnomesville Perth provides insight to travelers – and locals from around the world about what it means to be alive.”

The good news is that there’s no entry fee! – WTF fun facts

Source: “Gnomesville is Real! A Quirky Spot in Ferguson Valley, Australia” — Albom Adventures


WTF Fun Fact 12632 – The Oldest Tattoo Artist

Buscalan Village, Kalinga, is in the north of the Philippines, and despite having no cell or internet service, it’s an incredibly popular tourist destination. That’s because people make pilgrimages of a sort to see a 105-year-old tattoo artist named Fang-od Oggay. She’s been practicing her native province’s tribal tattooing method.

According to Atlas Obscura, “She is known worldwide as a living legend and the last tribal tattoo artist to hold the title of Mambabatok—the name given to traditional tattooists by the Kalinga ethnic group for thousands of years.”

Oggay is the master of the technique, an art that used to belong only to men. But seeing her talent at an early age, her father taught her the technique at age 15, and she’s been tattooing ever since. She’s at the head of a movement to keep the Butbut tribe’s tradition of hand-tap tattooing alive. And all of her apprentices are females.

Oggay uses citrus thorned to prick the skin. They come from either calamansi or a pomelo tree branch and get threaded into a bamboo reed. The ink is made of charcoal and water and wiped onto the thorn, which is tapped into the skin using a 12-inch bamboo hammer.

That’s pretty hardcore.

But the tattoos used to be for Butbut tribal head-hunters and male warriors as a symbol of their bravery. The more tattoos, the more heads you had taken in war, so a warrior’s goal would often be to have their entire bodies tattooed. The last warrior to get such a tattoo got his in 2002. Times have changed.

But Oggay is still tattooing. Head-hunting might not be a socially acceptable behavior anymore, but that doesn’t mean the tattoo art should fade away. But the tradition will be carried on by women.

Atlas Obscura says: “Oggay was the first female tattoo artist in Kalinga. But she may not be the last Mambabatok. Over time there has been a shift, with young women taking up the ancient tradition. Through tattooing, they are economically supporting the whole village.”

– WTF fun facts

Source: “A 105-Year-Old Tattoo Artist Is Teaching Girls to Ink for Independence” — Atlas Obscura


WTF Fun Fact 12632 – The Penal Treadmill

If spending time on the treadmill feels like cruel and unusual punishment, that’s because it was designed to be. Prisoners were supposed to learn from their sweat, and the machines would typically power a mill or a water pump of some sort.

The “treadwheel” was invented by engineer William Cubitt and was first installed in London’s Brixton Prison. Prisoners would press down their feet on steps (sounds more like an elliptical!) that would cause a wheel to turn and ground corn.

Now, maybe you think it wasn’t so bad if you choose to walk on a treadmill today, but not only were there partitions between the (up to 24!) prisoners on the treadmill, but they were put on the machine for hours—ten hours in the summer and 7 in the winter.

When the British began to “reform” their prisons, they were concerned that the poor would use them to get free meals and a place to sleep, so they felt like they needed to deter them. Hence the punishment.

Eventually, the treadmills were no longer used to power machines and were merely an instrument of punishment…or some would (and did) say torture.

By 1842, 109 out of 200 prisons in the UK were making prisoners “work the treadmill.” But eventually, people began to see them for what they were, and by 1901, only 13 remained. Of course, they also exported the idea to America, which had four prison treadmills.

Eventually, prisons converted their work to a factory model, ostensibly to teach prisoners practical skills while incarcerated in the name of rehabilitation.

According to JSTOR Daily:

“It resurfaced in 1913 with a U.S. patent for a “training-machine.” In the 1960s, the American mechanical engineer William Staub created a home fitness machine called the PaceMaster 600. He began manufacturing home treadmills in New Jersey. (He used it often himself, right up until the months before his death at the age of 96.) Now, it’s the top selling piece of exercise equipment in the U.S.” – WTF fun facts

Source: “Treadmills Were Meant to Be Atonement Machines” — JSTOR Daily


WTF Fun Fact 12631 – Killer Friendships

It’s not so easy to monitor giant sea creatures like killer whales close enough to know about their social lives. But thanks to drone footage, we’ve recently learned that killer whales are a lot more social than most people give them credit for.

By tracking a pod of 22 killer whales for ten days, marine researchers noticed patterns in behavior that resembled complex relationships among some pod members that they think relate to the species in general.

While killer whales live their entire lives in the same pod, they’re not equally close to all members. Just like a group of humans, they let relationships come and go over time, getting close to some members, but then growing into other relationships over time.

More specifically, researchers noticed that the whales showed a preference for another specific group member. They would surface together and touch each other more often than they would other pod members.

These behaviors signal a desire to cooperate and be social with one other whale – a “best friend,” if you will. Adding to the hypothesis is the observation that these “besties” tended to be of the same sex and age.

According to an interview by ScienceAlert with behavioral ecologist Darren Croft from the University of Exeter:

“In many species, including humans, physical contact tends to be a soothing, stress-relieving activity that reinforces social connection. We also examined occasions when whales surfaced together – as acting in unison is a sign of social ties in many species.”

Apparently, the older the whale, the more anti-social they tend to be. That’s a behavior mirrored in humans as well. – WTF fun facts

Source: “Drone Footage Shows Even Killer Whales Have Close ‘Friends'” — Science Alert