## WTF Fun Fact 13731 – The Weight of the Internet

Have you ever stopped to consider the weight of the internet? Ok, probably not.

But despite its intangible nature, the internet has a physical weight. The internet operates on electricity, which consists of electrons that have mass. University of California professor John D. Kubiatowicz explained this concept in a 2011 New York Times article. He discussed how electrons, despite their minuscule mass of 9.11 x 10^-31 kilograms, contribute to the internet’s weight.

To understand the internet’s weight, consider an e-reader loaded with books. E-readers use flash memory, which involves trapping electrons in a higher energy state to store data.

Though the number of electrons remains constant, their higher energy state increases the e-reader’s weight by a minuscule amount. For example, loading a 4-gigabyte e-reader with books changes its energy by 1.7 x 10^-5 joules, translating to a weight increase of 10^-18 grams.

While this difference is extremely small, it demonstrates the principle that data storage impacts physical weight.

## Calculating the Weight of the Internet

Expanding this concept to the entire internet involves considering the global network of servers. Approximately 75 to 100 million servers worldwide support the internet. These servers collectively generate about 40 billion watts of electricity. Given that an ampere, the unit of electric current, involves the movement of 10^18 electrons per second, we can estimate the internet’s weight.

By calculating the total number of electrons in motion and their individual mass, scientists estimate the internet’s weight to be about 50 grams.

This weight is equivalent to a medium-sized strawberry. Every email, website, online game, and digital interaction contributes to this overall mass.

## Implications and Fascination

Understanding the internet’s weight highlights the physical realities of our digital world. While we perceive the internet as intangible, it relies on physical components and energy. The electrons powering data transfer and storage have a measurable mass, illustrating the connection between digital information and physical science.

This knowledge emphasizes the importance of efficient data management and energy use in maintaining the internet. As the internet continues to expand, optimizing server efficiency and reducing energy consumption becomes crucial.

These efforts not only lower operational costs but also minimize the environmental impact of our digital infrastructure.

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## WTF Fun Fact 13707 – The Biro

Why do some people call ballpoint pens a biro?

The ballpoint pen was introduced in 1945, by a man named László Bíró, a Hungarian journalist. In 1945, his simple yet revolutionary writing instrument was introduced to the world.

This innovation dramatically transformed the act of writing, making it more accessible and practical than ever before.

## Rise of the biro

Biró found fountain pens impractical, so he sought an alternative. His quest was also inspired by the quick-drying ink used in newspapers.

Partnering with his brother György, Bíró embarked on refining the ballpoint pen to use a paste-like ink that didn’t evaporate, mitigating the common frustrations associated with fountain pens. Bíró created a pen that revolutionized writing by introducing a rolling ball mechanism that evenly distributed ink as it moved across the paper.

Despite its initial luxury status, the pen’s practicality soon became undeniable. Its ability to write on various surfaces without leaking or smudging was a significant advancement over traditional ink and quill or fountain pens.

The Biro’s journey was not without its challenges. Navigating through financial difficulties, patent disputes, and wartime turmoil, Bíró’s invention found a lifeline in Argentina. Later, the British Ministries of Supply and Aircraft Production recognized the Biro’s utility for RAF pilots, propelling it into mass production. The post-war period saw further innovations, with entrepreneurs like Marcel Bich refining the design to manufacture the Bic Cristal, an affordable and ubiquitous model that cemented the ballpoint pen’s place in society.

Despite initial challenges, including fleeing war-torn Europe for Argentina, Bíró’s invention gained recognition for its practicality. The British Royal Air Force saw the pen’s potential. They ordered thousands for their pilots, who needed reliable writing instruments at high altitudes. This marked the beginning of the Biro pen’s global journey.

That’s why the name “Biro” is more than just a brand; it’s an homage to the inventor himself. In many parts of the world, the term “Biro” is synonymous with “ballpoint pen.” This is a testament to László Bíró’s lasting impact. The pen’s name varies globally, reflecting its widespread adoption and the universal need it addressed. In English-speaking countries, particularly the UK, the pen is often called a “Biro” in recognition of its creator’s ingenuity.

## Transforming Writing Practices

The Biro’s simplicity belies the complexity of its impact. This shift facilitated a more dynamic and accessible form of communication, democratizing writing across different strata of society.

The story of Biro’s influence on writing practices invites us to appreciate the seemingly mundane objects that harbor rich histories.

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## WTF Fun Fact 13688 – Chess’ Infinite Possibilities

Diving into the world of chess, we hit upon a fact that’s as mind-boggling as it is true: there are infinite possibilities in chess games. In fact, more than there are atoms in the observable universe.

Let’s break this down into manageable pieces.

## Chess: A Game of Infinite Possibilities

Chess, with its 64 squares and 32 pieces, might seem finite at first glance. However, the potential moves and strategies unfold into a vast, almost limitless landscape. The number of possible game variations exceeds the number of atoms in the observable universe, which is about 10^80. In contrast, the number of possible chess games is estimated to be around 10^120. This staggering difference showcases chess’s complexity and depth.

## Calculating the Infinite

The calculation of chess’s possible iterations involves a dizzying array of potential moves each piece can make, compounded with each turn. From the initial move of a pawn or knight to the intricate dances of queens and rooks in the endgame, every decision branches into a new set of possibilities, expanding the game’s potential universe exponentially.

## The Impact on Strategy

What does this mean for players? It ensures that no two chess games are ever the same. Players must constantly adapt, think ahead, and strategize in novel ways. This infinite complexity makes chess a perennial challenge, one that can never be fully mastered, always offering new puzzles to solve and strategies to explore.

## Beyond Human Comprehension

The vast number of iterations in chess goes beyond what the human mind can fully comprehend or explore. It’s a humbling reminder of the game’s depth and the limits of human cognition. Even with the advent of powerful chess computers and algorithms, we’re still uncovering the mysteries and beauties of this ancient game.

## Infinite Possibilities on a Chessboard

This fact about chess serves as a metaphor for the infinite possibilities within seemingly finite boundaries. It reminds us that within the constraints of a chessboard lies a universe of potential, echoing the endless capacity for innovation and creativity in the human spirit.

In essence, the idea that chess offers more game possibilities than there are atoms in the universe is a testament to the game’s enduring intrigue and complexity. It’s a fascinating aspect that draws players in, offering a lifetime of discovery and challenge on just 64 squares.

WTF fun facts

## WTF Fun Fact 13677 – A Day on Venus

A day on Venus is longer than a year on Venus. Yes, you read that right. But before your brain does a somersault trying to wrap itself around this fact, let’s break it down into bite-sized chunks.

## A Long Day on Venus

First off, let’s talk about planetary rotation. A rotation is how long it takes for a planet to spin once around its axis. For Earth, that’s what gives us a 24-hour day. Venus, on the other hand, takes its sweet time. It rotates once every 243 Earth days.

That’s right. If you were standing on Venus (ignoring the fact that you’d be crushed, suffocated, and cooked), you’d experience sunlight for about 116.75 Earth days before switching to an equal length of pitch-black night. That’s one slow spin, making its day extraordinarily long.

## Orbiting on the Fast Track: Venus’s Year

Now, flip the script and consider how long it takes Venus to orbit the Sun, which is what we call a year. Venus zips around the Sun in just about 225 Earth days. This is where things get really interesting. Venus’s year (its orbit around the Sun) is shorter than its day (one complete rotation on its axis).

Imagine celebrating your birthday and then waiting just a bit longer to witness a single sunrise and sunset.

## The Why Behind the Sky: Understanding the Peculiar Pace

So, why does Venus have such an unusual relationship with time? It all comes down to its rotation direction and speed. It’s is a bit of a rebel in our solar system; it rotates clockwise, while most planets, including Earth, rotate counterclockwise. This is known as retrograde rotation.

Scientists have a few theories about why Venus rotates so slowly and in the opposite direction. One popular theory is that a massive collision early in the planet’s history could have flipped its rotation or altered it significantly. Another theory suggests gravitational interactions with the Sun and other planets over billions of years have gradually changed its rotation speed and direction.

Regardless of the cause, Venus’s leisurely pace and quirky orbit give it the unique distinction of having days longer than its years. This fact not only makes Venus an interesting topic of study for astronomers but also serves as a fascinating reminder of the diversity and complexity of planetary systems.

WTF fun facts

## WTF Fun Fact 13674 – Sloth Facts

Everybody loves weird animal facts, but we were surprised at how much fun we had learning about these sloth facts.

Sloths, those slow-moving creatures often seen hanging from the trees of Central and South America, captivate many with their laid-back lifestyle and seemingly permanent smiles. But there’s more to these creatures than meets the eye.

### Masters of the Slow Lane

First and foremost, sloths are known for their exceptionally slow movement. This deliberate pace is not just a quirk; it’s a survival strategy. By moving slowly, sloths become difficult to detect by predators such as eagles and jaguars. Their slow metabolism, suited to digesting leaves with low nutritional value, necessitates this leisurely pace.

One cool sloth fact: A sloth can take up to a month to digest a single meal!

### Aquatic Sloth Facts

One of the most surprising sloth facts is their proficiency in water. Despite their arboreal lifestyle, sloths are excellent swimmers. They can hold their breath underwater for up to 40 minutes, an ability that surpasses that of many aquatic animals.

This skill is facilitated by their ability to slow their heart rates, conserving oxygen while submerged. Swimming is also the only time sloths move swiftly, using their long arms to propel themselves through water.

### Furry Sloth Facts

Sloth fur is a mini-ecosystem. The greenish tint of their coats comes from algae that grow in their fur. This symbiotic relationship benefits both parties: the algae gain a place to live, and the sloths receive camouflage, blending in with the greenery of the forest.

Furthermore, the fur hosts a variety of insects and microorganisms, some of which are found nowhere else.

### Sky-High Bathroom Breaks

Sloths descend from their tree-top homes about once a week to relieve themselves on the forest floor. This behavior puzzles scientists since it puts the sloth at risk of predation. One theory suggests this ritual helps maintain the ecosystem in their fur, fertilizing the algae they host. Another idea is that it aids in reproduction, allowing sloths to leave their scent on the ground for potential mates.

### Built-in Umbrella

Sloths have adapted to their rainy environment in remarkable ways. Their fur grows in the opposite direction of most mammals, from their stomach to their back. This unique growth pattern allows water to run off more efficiently during rainstorms, essentially providing a built-in umbrella. This adaptation ensures sloths stay as dry as possible in their damp forest habitats.

### Solitary Sloth Facts

Sloths are solitary creatures. They spend the majority of their lives alone, coming together only to mate. Even then, interactions are brief. Their solitary nature is reflected in their territorial behavior, with individual sloths having their own preferred trees and branches. Despite their isolation, sloths are not completely antisocial. Mothers are nurturing, caring for their young for months, teaching them which leaves are best to eat and how to navigate the treetops.

### Night Owls of the Forest

Contrary to what one might expect, sloths are not always sleeping. Though they can sleep up to 20 hours a day, sloths are primarily nocturnal and become more active at night.

During the day, they rest in the safety of the treetops, conserving energy for their nightly activities. This nocturnal lifestyle helps sloths avoid diurnal predators and find food with less competition.

Pretty cool, right? Who knew?!

WTF fun facts

## WTF Fun Fact 13668 – Chimpanzees Go Through Menopause

Chimpanzees go through menopause? Well, it makes sense considering all our similarities, right?

Menopause has been a phenomenon largely associated with human existence. However, recent findings have expanded our understanding, revealing that wild female chimpanzees undergo a similar process. This groundbreaking discovery challenges our previous beliefs and opens a new chapter in evolutionary biology.

## Finding Out That Chimpanzees Go Through Menopause

Over two decades of meticulous research in Uganda’s Kibale National Park have provided us with invaluable insights. Scientists monitored 185 female chimpanzees, observing their reproductive patterns and hormonal changes. The study’s longevity and depth offer a rare glimpse into the lives of these fascinating creatures.

The study found a clear decline in fertility as the chimpanzees aged, particularly after the age of 30. Notably, none of the observed females gave birth beyond the age of 50, marking a distinct phase akin to human menopause. This shift is not merely a reproductive halt but a complex biological transition.

Mirroring human menopause, older female chimpanzees exhibited significant hormonal changes. An increase in follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone, coupled with a decrease in estrogens and progestins, paints a picture strikingly similar to the human experience.

These hormonal fluctuations are more than mere numbers; they signify a profound shift in the chimpanzee’s life stage.

## Implications for Evolutionary Biology

The discovery of menopause in wild chimpanzees raises intriguing questions about the evolutionary roots of this phenomenon. If our closest living relatives also experience menopause, it suggests a shared evolutionary path. This revelation compels us to reconsider the “grandmother hypothesis” and other theories explaining why certain species live significantly beyond their reproductive years.

Is the occurrence of menopause in the Ngogo chimpanzee community an anomaly or a common trait among other communities? Factors such as abundant food supply and fewer predators in Ngogo might contribute to their longer lifespans and the occurrence of menopause. To understand this better, comparative studies across various chimpanzee habitats are essential.

## The Grandmother Hypothesis and Kin Competition

The “grandmother hypothesis,” suggesting older individuals assist in raising their grandchildren, doesn’t quite fit the chimpanzee social structure. An alternative theory is the “kin competition” hypothesis, where ceasing reproduction might reduce competition for resources among related individuals. Understanding the social dynamics of these primates is key to unraveling the purpose and evolution of menopause.

Expanding research to include bonobos, another close relative to humans, could provide further insights into the evolution of menopause. Do these primates also experience a similar phase, and if so, what can it tell us about our ancestral lineage?

WTF fun facts

## WTF Fun Fact 13665 – US Time Zones

In the early days of American history, the concept of time was not as unified as it is today. With over a hundred separate time zones, the United States’ approach to timekeeping was a complex and often confusing system. This fascinating period in the nation’s history reveals much about the evolution of time standardization and its impact on society and commerce.

## The Era of Numerous Time Zones

Before the adoption of standardized time zones, the United States operated on a surprisingly intricate system of over 144 separate time zones. Each city or town was free to determine its own local time, usually based on the position of the sun. This meant that when it was noon in one town, it could be 12:15 in a neighboring city just a few miles away.

This system was manageable when communities were isolated, but as the country expanded and the railway system connected distant cities, the multitude of local times became problematic. Train schedules were particularly affected, as rail companies struggled to create timetables that made sense across various local times.

## The Push for Standardization of Time Zones

The turning point came with the advent of the railroad industry. The need for standardized time became evident as train travel made the flaws of multiple local times apparent. Railroads operated on their own time systems, creating a confusing and sometimes dangerous situation for travelers and operators alike.

The solution emerged in the form of four main time zones proposed by the railroad companies. On November 18, 1883, known as “The Day of Two Noons,” railroads across the country synchronized their clocks to these new standard time zones. This was not an official law but rather a practice adopted by the railroads and the communities they served.

## Government Intervention and the Standard Time Act

It wasn’t until March 19, 1918, that the United States government officially adopted the standard time zone system with the Standard Time Act. This act also established daylight saving time, a contentious and ongoing debate to this day. The act was a response to the confusion and inefficiency of having multiple time standards and was also influenced by the needs of World War I.

The transition was not immediate or smooth. People were accustomed to their local times and resisted change. However, over time, the benefits of a standardized system became clear, especially for scheduling trains, conducting business, and broadcasting.

## The Impact of Standardization

The move to a standardized time system revolutionized many aspects of American life. It facilitated better communication and coordination across the country, essential for a growing nation. Economic activities, especially those related to transportation and communication, became more efficient and reliable.

Moreover, the concept of time zones influenced the world. Today, time zones are an integral part of global coordination, affecting everything from international flights to the stock market.

WTF fun facts

## WTF Fun Fact 13600 – Italian Mother Evicts Sons

You know things have to be bad at home when you read a headline that says “mother evicts sons from home.”

In the scenic city of Pavia, Italy, a landmark case highlights the sometimes strained dynamics between parents and their adult children. A 75-year-old mother, frustrated and worn out, took her two sons to court to have them evicted from her home. The central bone of contention? The mother, who is retired, alleges her two adult sons have lived off her pension, not contributing financially or assisting with household chores, despite both being gainfully employed.

## The Sons’ Defense: Cultural and Legal Ties

The sons, aged 40 and 42, labeled as “bamboccioni” (big babies) in court, didn’t take the eviction lightly. Resorting to legal representation, they countered that Italian law compels parents to support their children indefinitely. This argument alludes to a cultural phenomenon in Italy, where many adults live with their parents into their late twenties and beyond. The term “mammoni” (mama’s boys) is often used to describe such men who are heavily reliant on their mothers, even in adulthood.

In the court ruling, Judge Simona Caterbi upheld the mother’s plea. She emphasized that adult children don’t have an inherent right to inhabit a property owned solely by their parents. Particularly when that goes against the parents’ wishes. Caterbi acknowledged the law’s provision for parents to maintain their offspring. But she deemed it unreasonable for men over 40 to continue exploiting this provision.

Judge Caterbi’s verdict: the sons have until December 18 to pack up and leave.

## What Lies Ahead After Mother Evicts Sons?

Italy is no stranger to such cases. In 2020, the nation’s Supreme Court ruled against a 35-year-old part-time music teacher who sought financial backing from his parents. He claimed his 20,000 euros annual income was insufficient. It seems Italy grapples with a unique cultural challenge – a significant number of adults delay their departure from the parental nest.

According to Eurostat 2022, Italians, on average, venture out of their parents’ homes around age 30. This trend is relatively high when juxtaposed with northern European countries like Finland, Sweden, and Denmark. In these countries, young adults commence their independent journey at roughly 21.

As the sons ponder an appeal, this case underscores the evolving dynamics between Italian parents and their adult children. With the court’s ruling, other parents might be empowered to establish boundaries, especially with adult children who can support themselves. Furthermore, it’s an essential commentary on cultural shifts and the legal system’s role in mediating familial disputes.

WTF fun facts

## WTF Fun Fact 13531 – Gef, The Talking Mongoose

Have you ever heard a talking mongoose? Of course not. But you may have heard of one. His name is Gef.

In the annals of strange occurrences and unsolved mysteries, few tales captivate the imagination quite like that of Gef the Talking Mongoose, a mysterious entity that reportedly haunted a farmhouse on the Isle of Man in the 1930s.

Some called it a spook-weasel, others a poltergeist—Gef was unlike anything anyone had ever encountered. This story combines elements of folklore, psychology, and the paranormal, and despite investigations, it has resisted a definitive explanation for nearly a century.

## A Farmhouse Stirred by Strange Sounds

The story begins in 1931 when the Irving family—James, Margaret, and their daughter Voirrey—began hearing eerie sounds in their isolated home, Doarlish Cashen, near the village of Dalby. The noises included scratching, rustling, and even what could only be described as vocalizations.

Convinced they had a rodent problem, they set up traps, to no avail.

## The Mongoose Appears

But then, the situation escalated. The entity—whatever it was—began to mimic the family’s speech patterns, imitating a child learning to talk. Before long, it was speaking in full sentences.

Named “Gef,” the entity claimed to be a mongoose born in New Delhi in 1852, who had survived a life fraught with danger, including being “shot at by Indians.”

Soon, Gef was having full conversations, especially with Voirrey. Incredibly, he claimed to speak multiple languages, including Russian, Manx, Hebrew, Welsh, Hindustani, Flemish, Italian, and Arabic.

## Gef, The Talking Mongoose

Only Voirrey claimed to have seen the critter, describing him as the size of a small rat with a bushy tail and yellow fur. Gef was reportedly so camera-shy that he avoided being photographed. He soon became a part of the Irving family’s life, allegedly visiting neighbors and even relaying gossip back to the family, further perplexing the community.

According to the family, Gef could shape-shift and turn invisible, attributes that helped him go unnoticed on his adventures. Convenient!

As Gef’s fame spread, journalists and paranormal investigators sought to witness this phenomenon firsthand. Harry Price, a noted psychic investigator, and R.S. Lambert, the then editor of BBC magazine ‘The Listener,’ visited the Irvings to study Gef.

Upon their arrival, however, Gef became “invisible.” Harry Price examined samples of fur and paw prints provided by the family but was skeptical about their authenticity, finding them more likely to be from the family dog than any known mongoose or weasel.

## The Disappearance of Gef The Talking Mongoose

Eventually, as the 1930s wore on, Gef vanished from the public eye as interest waned. Some speculate that Voirrey, who was known for her ventriloquism skills, was behind the elaborate hoax, despite her denials.

The general consensus was that Gef was either a family joke that went too far or a deliberate hoax. However, there are still those who believe the tale points to unexplained phenomena or poltergeist activity.

Despite the skepticism and the lack of definitive evidence, Gef has earned a permanent spot in the annals of British folklore and paranormal history. Whether a product of human psychology, an elaborate joke, or an actual paranormal entity, the story continues to fascinate and puzzle talking mongoose enthusiasts.

What do you think? Was he a figment of a lonely girl’s imagination, a hoax perpetuated by a family for reasons unknown, or something more unexplainable?

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