WTF Fun Fact 13237 – A Vibrating Pill for Constipation

Constipation is common, but one company has come up with an uncommon solution for it – a vibrating pill for constipation. The pill is called Vibrant.

Vibrant – the vibrating pill for constipation

Don’t like the thought of taking pharmaceuticals for your constipation? No worries – there are no active ingredients in this little pill.

The vibrating pill is designed to stimulate the muscles in the digestive tract to help move stool through the intestines, promoting regular bowel movements and relieving constipation symptoms. The product is marketed by Vibrant Gastro and the information is available on their press releases and news section of their website.

According to HealthNews (cited below), the pill was announced on February 8, 2022. It was cleared by the FDA (which is different from approval, which means the pill is similar to an already-marketed device.

How does it work?

According to Vibrant’s press release:

“The idea behind the treatment is that a single vibrant pill is taken around bedtime every day. It then travels the same route as food does, through the stomach and small intestine, finally reaching the large intestine about 14 hours later. Then, it goes to work.

The pills stimulate specialized nerve cells in the gut called mechanosensory cells. These help trigger peristalsis, the undulating muscle contractions that help squeeze food through the gut.

The vibrations run for three seconds, then stop for three seconds. Before swallowing the pill, it must be activated in a small pod. The pill is then active for two hours, then off for six hours before activating again for two hours.

The idea is that you will eventually poop them out and they will clean out and loosen stool along the way. They are not considered a cure, but a maintenance treatment that people with constipation would take regularly. Each pill gets flushed, so treatment requires a new pill each time (thankfully!).

Constipation is generally defined as having fewer than three bowel movements in a week and affects 10 to 20% of Americans.

In the clinical trial, only a small number of participants could feel the pill vibrating. 40% of those taking Vibrant reported having at least one extra bowel movement a week and felt they were able to more completely empty their bowels. Only 23% of those in the placebo group reported an extra bowel movement.

23% of the participants given Vibrant reported two or more additional bowel movements a week.

That’s progress!  WTF fun facts

Source: “Drug-Free Vibrating Pill for Constipation Now Available by Prescription” — HealthNews


WTF Fun Fact 13228 – The Lupercalia

Each year the ancient Romans celebrated Lupercalia on February 15th. The Romans originally called the festival Februa, and it acted as a purification ritual for the city.

Why did Romans celebrate Lupercalia?

The Romans associated Lupercalia with fertility, renewal, and revelry. But they also conducted it under the eye of a group of priests called Luperci.

The origins of the Lupercalia festival aren’t entirely clear. But they may have something to do with the myth of the she-wolf that nursed the abandoned brothers Romulus and Remus (the founders of Rome). The Romans also associated the festival with the god of fertility, Faunus.

In Rome, March was the start of the New Year

According to Encyclopedia Britannica (cited below):

“Each Lupercalia began with the sacrifice by the Luperci of goats and a dog, after which two of the Luperci were led to the altar, their foreheads were touched with a bloody knife, and the blood was wiped off with wool dipped in milk; the ritual required that the two young men laugh.

The sacrificial feast followed, after which the Luperci cut thongs from the skins of the sacrificial animals and ran in two bands around the Palatine hill, striking with the thongs at any woman who came near them. A blow from the thong was supposed to render a woman fertile.”

The Romans performed the sacrifice at the cave where the she-wolf supposedly suckled the founders Romulus and Remus.

The end of the festival

In 494 CE, Pope Gelasius I banned the Lupercalia because it was a pagan festival.

Some believe he tried to replace it with the Church’s Feast of the Purification (Candlemas), on February 2nd. But that holiday was likely established earlier.

Many people try to make the connection between Lupercalia and St. Valentine’s Day on February 14th. And while the holiday may have picked up some minor influences from the Lupercalia, the creation of that holiday came much later.

Regardless, Romans likely celebrated the Lupercalia for close to 1200 years. (However, academic Agnes Kirsopp Michaels has made the case that the festival only goes back to the 5th century B.C.)  WTF fun facts

Source: “Lupercalia” — Encyclopedia Britannica


WTF Fun Fact 13210 – “Fight For Your Right to Party” Was Satire

The Beastie Boys’ hit “Fight For Your Right to Party” was actually a parody of frat culture. In fact, the group hated that the song became an anthem for the kind of partiers they were trying to mock.

The controversial history of Fight for Your Right to Party

The Beastie Boys released “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party!)” as a single in 1987. The song is on Licensed to Ill, their debut album.

The group wrote the tune as a satire of party culture and the excesses of youth. Their whole point was to mock the very idea of “fighting for your right to party,” not celebrate it. But with lyrics full of irony and sarcasm, many listeners took the song at face value, and it became an anthem for partying and rebellion.

Of course, Fight for Your Right… was a commercial success. It reached number 7 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and number 2 on the Hot Dance Club Songs chart.

There was always a hint

Watching the video should have given most people a clue about the song’s real goal. In fact, if you go back and look at it, you’ll see the video contained many comedic and absurdist elements. It features the band members playing themselves as irresponsible party animals

MTV put the video for Fight For Your Right… on its list of the 100 Greatest Music Videos Ever Made.

The Boys said it themselves

According to Far Out Magazine (cited below), Mike D himself revealed the song was a big joke:

“It was summer 1986. We wrote it in about five minutes,” Mike D recalled in 1987. “We were in the Palladium with Rick Rubin, drinking vodka and grapefruit juice, and ‘Fight for Your Right’ was written in the Michael Todd Room on napkins on top of those shitty lacy tables...

Although, Mike D has fond memories of creating the track — how people interpreted the song was an entirely different story, “The only thing that upsets me is that we might have reinforced certain values of some people in our audience when our own values were actually totally different,” he lamented. “There were tons of guys singing along to [Fight for Your Right] who were oblivious to the fact it was a total goof on them. Irony is often missed.”

Frankly, we’re having a hard time wrapping our heads around the fact that we’ve been partying to an anti-partying anthem our whole lives. But people who didn’t get the joke are the ones who ensured it made millions.  WTF fun facts

Source: “The reason why The Beastie Boys hated one of their biggest tracks” — Far Out Magazine


WTF Fun Fact 13208 – A Flamboyance of Flamingos

A group of flamingos is called a flamboyance. It is also called a “colony” or a “stand,” but as you can imagine, flamboyance is far more popular.

How did it get named a flamboyance of flamingos?

The word “flamboyance” is derived from the French word “flamboyant,” which means “flaming” or “blazing.” It was originally used to describe the flamelike shapes found in the tracery of Gothic architecture, particularly in the late Middle Ages. The term was later used to describe a style of architecture characterized by elaborate and ornate decoration, as well as a flamelike appearance.

In the 19th century, the word began to be used to describe people and things that were showy, flashy, or ostentatious.

What makes flamingos so “fiery”?

Flamingos are social birds, and they tend to live in large groups (or colonies). Their bright pink or orange plumage is caused by pigments in the algae and crustaceans they eat.

The term “flamboyance” was first used to describe groups of flamingos in the 1930s, likely because of the birds’ striking coloration and the way they move in large, coordinated groups.

Their colonies can range in size from a few hundred to several thousand birds. Flamingos also establish a hierarchical social structure. Dominant birds are at the top and are typically larger and stronger. They get the best access to food and breeding sites.

Flamingos are also known for their synchronized behavior. They take off and land together and perform group displays such as head-flagging or wing-saluting during the breeding season. This synchronized behavior is thought to be used for communication and for predator detection.

While the term “flamboyance” has come to refer to any group of flamingos, it can also be used to describe any large, brightly colored group of birds or other animals that move and behave in a coordinated, showy manner.  WTF fun facts

Source: “What is a Group of Flamingos Called? (Complete Guide)” — Birdfact


WTF Fun Fact 13178 – The FBI and “Louie Louie”

Did you know there’s a connection between the FBI and the song “Louie Louie”? The FBI launched a criminal investigation into the Kingsmen’s song back in the mid-1960s to determine whether the lyrics were obscene. In fact, that investigation lasted two years!

The strange story of the FBI and “Louie Louie”

A letter from a concerned parent in 1964 asking to “stamp out this menace” of obscenity in music is one of many interesting pieces of the available-but-redacted FBI document on the song.

Of course, if you listen to the song, you’re likely to not understand any of the lyrics at all. They’re muddled at best and nonsensical even if you can make them out. But like so many musical conspiracy theorists, a handful of people thought they heard pornographic lyrics if they slowed the record down. The lyrics the complainants came up with said a lot more about the complainers than the artists!

For the record, here are the actual lyrics to “Louie Louie”:

Louie, Louie,
me gotta go.
Louie, Louie,
me gotta go

A fine little girl, she wait for me;
me catch a ship across the sea.
I sailed the ship all alone;
I never think I’ll make it home

Three nights and days we sailed the sea;
me think of girl constantly.
On the ship, I dream she there;
I smell the rose, in her hair.

Louie, Louie,
me gotta go.
Louie, Louie,
me gotta go

A fine little girl, she wait for me;
me catch a ship across the sea.
I sailed the ship all alone;
I never think I’ll make it home

Three nights and days we sailed the sea;
me think of girl constantly.
On the ship, I dream she there;
I smell the rose, in her hair.

Nothing obscene there!

Closing the investigation

The FBI never contacted singer Jack Ely during the two years of the FBI investigation. In fact, they closed the case saying: “, the man who sang the words of the song in the first place. At the end of the two years, the FBI didn’t even exonerate “Louie Louie,” they simply said that “the lyrics of the song on this record was not definitely determined by this Laboratory examination, it was not possible to determine whether this recording is obscene.”  WTF fun facts

Source: “The FBI Investigated the Song ‘Louie Louie’ for Two Years” — Smithsonian Magazine


WTF Fun Fact 13177 – Nostrils Take Turns

Did you know your nostrils take turns breathing in air? Well, at least they take turns breathing in the most air, meaning one always takes in a bit more than the other. This also helps explain why nostrils tend to trade off on getting stuffy as well.

How we breathe

According to Dr. Michael Benninger, a head-and-neck doctor at the Cleveland Clinic via Live Science (cited below), “At any given time, people do about 75% of their breathing from one nostril and 25% from the other, said The dominant nostril switches throughout the day. This is called the nasal cycle.”

We even have preferred nostrils. Some of us tend to take in more air through the right and others through the left (this corresponds to your dominant hand). But for the most part, our nostrils trade off about 2 hours.

Why do nostrils take turns?

We typically don’t notice one nostril being stronger than the other during the day. We also don’t really notice the trade-off unless we’re stuffy. But, in general, the nasal cycle continues throughout the day, even at our healthier, with one nostril becoming slightly more congested (and therefore taking in less air) than the other.

Why does this occur? No one knows for sure. However, Benninger told Live Science there’s one popular theory: “Some people have speculated that it has to do with allowing moisture to build up on one side so that it doesn’t get too dry.”

You may notice your nasal cycle more when you sleep, especially if you’re a side sleeper. When sleeping on your side, gravity will cause the lower nostril to become less congested. But this plays into the nasal cycle as well. If it’s your right nostril’s “turn” to be less congested, laying on your right side will simply even things out. But if you lay on the side of your more congested nostril, you may experience extra congestion.

Things aren’t quite the same when you have a cold that stuffs up both nostrils. In that case, your nasal cycle will have little influence over congestion.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Why don’t we breathe equally out of both nostrils?” — Live Science


WTF Fun Fact 13161 – Bats Give Birth Upside Down

Female bats give birth upside down and catch the baby in their wings.

Interesting facts about bats

We know bats sleep upside down, but we weren’t aware they did much else that way. And you can chalk that up to our clear lack of knowledge about anything bat-related. But thanks to Montana’s Public Radio station (cited below) and their show “Field Notes,” which is produced by the Montana Natural History Center, we now know a lot more!

For example, did you know bats only breed when it’s rainy? Or share the responsibility for nursing baby bats among colony members? Or that the “colony” is actually called a “harem”?!

It turns out that female bats are only fertile during the wet seasons. That’s January or February in the Southern Hemisphere, or March or April in the Northern Hemisphere.

They divide themselves up into harems, territorial groups with one central male bat. However, that bat doesn’t father all the bat babies. Female bats in the harem may mate with other male “harem leaders.” Interestingly, the bat experts note that “it’s very unlikely that they will mate with a non-harem male.” So any lone bats out there are out of luck.

Apparently, the smaller the bat is, the more likely he is to be successful in reproducing. That’s because the males don’t simply go around and mate with harem members at will – they have to work for it. Males have to attract females with a display of flying and hovering prowess. Big bats can’t hover as well.

According to Field Notes, “Smaller males are more successful fathers because they can maneuver more nimbly in the air. Not only can they hover well and display themselves to females, they can maneuver well during actual mating, which happens – you guessed it – upside down.”

How do bats give birth upside down?

Ok, so that’s already more upside-down time than we had imagined.

But what about birth?

Females have only one baby per pregnancy, and those babies gestate for three months. When they are ready to give birth, the mother bat hangs upside down by her feet (occasionally grasping a ceiling or branch with her hands as well). This might sound like a lot of work, but when a bat’s feet grasp something, they are actually at rest (unlike ours). So it would take more energy to be in any other position.

Eventually, the baby bat emerges feet-first and they can even grasp their mother’s fur to pull themselves out. That’s helpful!

The mother then uses her wings to ensure the baby doesn’t fall from whatever she’s hanging from.

Not only do mothers nurse babies upside down, but they even take them on hunting trips when they’re not in baby bat daycare (or small groups of young called “creches”).

The mother bats nurse their young until two weeks before they’re weaned. At this point, they may let other mother bats nurse their babies.

And a final interesting fact – female bats are favored by mothers and more likely to survive.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Bat Moms Do A Lot Of Hanging About” — Montana Public Radio


WTF Fun Fact 13160 – The Niels Bohr Beer Supply

After winning the Nobel Prize, Danish physicist Niels Bohr received a lifetime supply of kegs, bottles, and crates of beer from Carlsberg Brewery from 1932 until his death in 1962.

Niels Bohr Beer Supply (and the myth of the pipes)

You may have actually heard something about Niels Bohr’s beer prize. But that’s likely because you’ve heard an oft-repeated myth that the beer company had the beer piped right into his house.

For some reason, enough of us don’t know enough about pipes to realize that such a story would be both gross and impossible. But it’s ok – most of us aren’t plumbers.

So, first, let’s do away with the myth that Bohr had some magic beer sink or tap right inside his home. That would be cool, but it’s not true.

Instead, the physicist (who worked on the Manhattan Project) was gifted the beer in the form of bottles and kegs. We’re guessing he was also treated to a pint wherever he went. People were pretty excited about his Nobel Prize. And at the time they were both horrified and grateful for the Manhattan Project’s development of the atomic bomb.

Beer prize

Dr. Christian Joas, the director of the Niels Bohr Archives confirmed that “…it is true that Niels Bohr received a life annuity from Carlsberg Brewery in the form of kegs, bottles and crates of beer, which were delivered to him from 1932 until his death in 1962.”

The blog Beerena (cited below) has a great account of the myth and the real story.

They note that “the origin of the story of the beer pipeline at Bohr’s house” is likely due in part to chemistry professor and YouTuber Martyn Poliakoff (of the Periodic Videos channel).

“In 2011, he published a video in which he discusses the origin of the element bohrium, named after Niels Bohr, and mentions the urban legend of beer. When asked where he got it from, he replied that he believed he had read it in Richard Rhodes ’book Creating an Atomic Bomb.”

Trust us, there’s no such story in the book. But the book is long and full of detail, so we can see why he might assume the anecdote originated there. Sadly, that leaves us without the origin of the story. But it hardly matters – these types of things often spiral out of control. It’s interesting enough that Bohr had a beer connection to Carlsberg, we don’t really need to believe he had an underground beer pipe installed in his home.  WTF fun facts

Source: “The Myth of Niels Bohr’s Beer Pipeline” — Beerena


WTF Fun Fact 13158 – Baby Puffins

Baby puffins are called pufflings. How adorable is that?

A stranger fact about baby puffins

Ok, now that you know pufflings exist, did you know that on Iceland’s Westman Islands (aka Vestmannaeyjar), puffling season means throwing the animals off cliffs? We promise it’s not what it sounds like.

People do it to save their lives.

According to NPR:

“The chicks of Atlantic puffins, or pufflings, hatch in burrows on high sea cliffs. When they’re ready to fledge, they fly from their colony and spend several years at sea until they return to land to breed, according to Audubon Project Puffin. Pufflings have historically found the ocean by following the light of the moon… Now, city lights lead the birds astray.”

Now, some of the residents of Vestmannaeyjar “spend a few weeks in August and September collecting wayward pufflings that have crashed into town after mistaking human lights for the moon. Releasing the fledglings at the cliffs the following day sets them on the correct path.”

So they don’t chuck them off cliffs (although some may toss them less gently than need be) – they just lead them back to where they belong (or have a better chance of surviving). It’s amazing how light pollution can disrupt an ecosystem!

Puffling lives

Since a pair of puffins mates for life but only raise one egg per season, the loss of a whole generation could be devastating to their populations.

You could even get a chance to help save the pufflings if there’s a colony around you. Their seasons will depend on food supplies and light conditions.

If you decide to go on Puffin Patrol, it’s best to search for them at night with a flashlight in places where they might find food. It sounds like a great reason to go on vacation from August through September!  WTF fun facts

Source: “Puffin Chicks” — Audobon Project