WTF Fun Fact 13559 – Fun Fact About Football Jersey Numbers

Did you know that some players pick their football jersey numbers based on how slim the number itself might make them look?!

Numbers on a football jersey are more than just identifiers; they may influence our perception of a player’s physique. Recent research from UCLA delves into this intriguing aspect, suggesting that lower jersey numbers might make players appear slimmer.

The Tradition of Football Jersey Numbers

Traditionally, NFL mandated wide receivers to wear numbers between 80 and 89. However, a policy shift in 2004 offered players more flexibility in their choices. Fast forward to 2019, and a significant 80% of wide receivers favored numbers between 10 and 19. Why such a strong shift?

Ladan Shams, a celebrated professor at UCLA in psychology and neuroscience, spearheaded a study to understand this perceptual phenomenon. Published in the PLOS ONE journal, the research comprised two experiments. Observers consistently perceived players donning jerseys numbered 10-19 as slimmer than those in jerseys numbered 80-89, even when the players’ body sizes were identical.

Shams explained, “Numbers written on objects in our daily lives usually represent their magnitude. The higher the number, the bigger the object. Our brains detect and store these statistical associations, which can shape future perception.”

Addressing Skepticism

Considering potential criticisms, the research team conducted a second experiment. There might be a perception that the numeral 8, being wider than 1, could make players appear broader. To counteract this, they used number pairs like 17 and 71, 18 and 81, 19 and 91. The results? Players with higher numbers still appeared huskier, though the effect was slightly muted.

While these perceptions may not directly affect a player’s on-field performance, such biases have wider implications. These biases, often unnoticeable, influence judgments and decisions in everyday life. For instance, implicit biases, rooted in frequently associated negative qualities with a group, can dictate how individuals within that group are treated.

Shams emphasizes the power of representation, “We need to see all kinds of people doing a diverse range of activities. Harnessing the statistical learning ability of our brains can help counteract implicit bias.”

Football, often seen as just a sport, provides a mirror to deeper societal perceptions and biases. While the choice of a jersey number might seem trivial, it offers profound insights into human psychology and perception. As the saying goes, sometimes the details tell the broader story.

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Source: “Lower jersey numbers make football players look thinner” — Science Daily

WTF Fun Fact 13553 – The Old Roman Senate

Apparently, a great many men these days have the Roman Empire on their minds a lot – but how often do they think about the Roman Senate, more specifically? Maybe more often after they read this.

The term “senate” comes directly from the Latin word “senex,” which translates to “old man.” In Rome’s vast political landscape, the Senate was a beacon of experienced governance and thoughtful deliberation. Also, a bunch of old men.

The Roman Senate Old In More Ways than One

Ancient civilizations, including Rome, frequently turned to their older members for guidance. Age brought with it a wealth of experience, and societies believed that elders, having lived through diverse challenges and changes, offered wisdom essential for leadership.

The Roman Senate, as a council of these respected elders, embodied this sentiment. It wasn’t just a political entity; it was meant to symbolize the gathering of Rome’s most esteemed minds and the cumulative knowledge of generations. Hence the word “senex” – because, of course, there were no women. (Roman women couldn’t vote, hold office, or serve in the military.)

Now, you can translate senex in a few ways. We like “Board of Old Men,” but you can go with “Council of Elders” if you like. And since the age of senators in the U.S. has been in the news quite a bit lately, it seems all the more…relevant.

The reverence for age and wisdom didn’t stop with Rome. The structure and function of the Roman Senate inspired many modern governments. Numerous countries now have their version of the Senate, acting as an upper house in their legislative frameworks.

Although the specific roles and requirements differ, the foundational principle often remains the same: a place for those with experience and knowledge to guide national decisions.

The Legacy of “Senate”

Modern senates, in many ways, still reflect the Roman tradition of valuing age and experience. In the United States, for instance, while individuals can serve in the House of Representatives at 25, they must wait until 30 to join the Senate. This age distinction, albeit subtle, underscores the continuing respect for experience in governance.

However, modern societies also grapple with the dynamics of age and wisdom. Questions arise:

Does age always equate to wisdom?

Should there be more representation from younger demographics?

While the term “senate” anchors us to a traditional reverence for age, contemporary debates challenge us to redefine the association between age and effective leadership.

The word “senate” serves as more than just a title for a legislative body. It connects us to centuries-old traditions, reminding us of the connection between age and wisdom that has shaped governance structures worldwide.

But today, we’re often looking for ways to balance that respect for experience with the need for diverse perspectives in leadership.

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Source: “Roman Senate” — World History Encyclopedia

WTF Fun Fact 13545 – Stanford Taylor Swift Course

A Stanford Taylor Swift Course is on the books at Stanford. The aim? To explore the storytelling prowess of Taylor Swift, an artist who has, over a decade, deftly blended musicality with intricate narratives.

A Literary Dive: The Stanford Taylor Swift Course

Every week, students in this course will deep dive into one of Swift’s 10 albums. They’ll not just listen but dissect, focusing keenly on lyricism, storytelling, and oblique literary references.

Ava Jeffs, a sophomore at Stanford, championed this course offering. Her vision? “Situate it in the English department,” she emphasized to SFGATE. Jeffs believes in drawing parallels between Swift’s lyrical content and classic literature. For her, this course is a journey, one that maps the intricate lanes of literature onto the vast avenues of Swift’s music.

Swift’s musical repertoire often nods to literary giants. A striking example is the track “Ivy,” which echoes a phrase from Miller Williams’ poem “Compassion.” Even the album title, “Evermore,” has fans drawing connections to an Emily Dickinson poem.

These literary tie-ins signify the depth and breadth of Swift’s artistic canvas, and this course intends to highlight and celebrate these connections.

The Making of the Course

This new course is part of Stanford’s Student-Initiated Courses, a unique initiative where students pitch activity courses on a credit/no credit basis. Every SIC requires the backing of a faculty member, and for Jeffs, that support comes from Mark McGurl.

While Swift released her debut album in 2006, Jeffs’ admiration for the singer spans almost her entire life, creating a personal resonance and passion for this academic endeavor.

While Stanford’s course might sound avant-garde, it isn’t the first academic foray into Swift’s art.

In 2022, both New York University and the University of Texas at Austin explored Swift’s artistry in their courses. Stanford, however, aims to go a step further. Jeffs sees her course as a challenge to higher education norms, urging institutions to place popular music on the same pedestal as classical literary works.

For Jeffs, Swift’s narrative style holds immense academic value. She believes that Swift’s focus on storytelling mirrors the intricacies found in classic literature.

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Source: “Stanford’s Taylor Swift course will explore the singer’s folklore” — SF Gate

WTF Fun Fact 13533 – The Matrix Code is Sushi

Nearly two decades ago, the Wachowskis unveiled the first film in their iconic trilogy, captivating fans worldwide with its intricate storyline and rich mythos – but do you know the secret of The Matrix code? The iconic green code that rains down the screen in the film has a deliciously surprising backstory.

Simon Whiteley: The Man Behind The Matrix Code

Simon Whiteley, a British production designer, deserves the credit for this innovative visual. During an interview with CNET, he spilled the beans: the Matrix code has its roots in a Japanese cookbook owned by his wife. He scanned the characters from the pages and then digitally transformed them into the green symbols we’ve come to associate with this cinematic universe.

From Sushi to Cyberspace

“I like telling everyone that the Matrix code comes from Japanese sushi recipes,” Whiteley divulged. Yes, you read that right—sushi recipes. He took mundane elements from his domestic life and manipulated them into something extraordinary. The phrase “Without that code, the Matrix doesn’t exist,” could never ring truer.

The Wachowskis effectively used the green code to hint at the nature of the Matrix from the film’s very beginning. While this digital aesthetic sets up the film’s narrative, its origin remains a delightful secret. With its new-found connection to a cookbook, the green code is not just mysterious but also relatable and even comical.

A Recipe Hidden in Plain Sight?

Given its culinary origins, one can’t help but speculate: Is there a complete sushi recipe encrypted within that green text? While Whiteley’s revelation is a fun nugget of information, it opens up amusing avenues of speculation. What if this distraction is precisely what the Matrix wants, to keep us from questioning our own reality?

The green code has captivated millions, inspired parodies, and sparked numerous discussions about virtual reality and existence. But its roots in a simple sushi cookbook serve as a humorous reminder that even complex systems can have unexpectedly mundane beginnings.

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Source: “The Matrix Code Is Actually a Sushi Recipe” — Nerdist

WTF Fun Fact 13520 – Fish Cut Off Power

A fish cut off power to a New Jersey community. But how?

In Sayreville, Fish Cuts Off Power

On a seemingly ordinary day in Sayreville, New Jersey, a power outage caught residents off guard. The culprits behind this surprising event? An osprey and its slippery prey—a fish. The osprey’s catch fell onto a transformer’s coils, causing misalignment and, consequently, a power disruption for around 2,000 residents.

While this isn’t the first time an animal has triggered a power disruption, a fish isn’t typically a culprit. Or, in this case, we might be better off blaming the osprey for accidentally losing its meal.

Jersey Central Power & Light’s spokesperson added a touch of humor to the situation, remarking, “If you’ve ever dropped your ice-cream cone at the fair, you know the feeling,” empathizing with the osprey’s unexpected plight.

The Feathered Fiasco

Evidence pointing to an osprey’s involvement came from the puncture marks on the fish, suggesting it had been caught by the bird’s talons. It’s worth noting that ospreys, once endangered in New Jersey, have been on the rebound. Recent counts indicate 733 nesting pairs in the state. This resurgence has led utility companies, like Jersey Central Power & Light, to routinely inspect equipment for osprey nests, relocating when necessary.

The Sayreville police added a humorous touch to the incident, sketching the osprey as the “suspect” on Facebook. Alongside, they depicted the fish, now named Gilligan, behind a “police line do not cross” tape.

The playful post described Gilligan as a “hardworking family man” and urged residents not to approach the osprey, highlighting its potential “danger.”

This event underscores the need for proactive infrastructure management, considering the unforeseen challenges wildlife can present. For Sayreville residents, this story serves as a quirky tale of the day a fish cut off power and cast their town into darkness.

 WTF fun facts

Source: “New Jersey community loses electricity after bird drops fish on to power lines” — The Guardian

WTF Fun Fact 13463 – Dog Poop DNA Test

If you live near a dog owner who doesn’t clean up after their pup, you can now get a dog poop DNA test to track them down.

A company named PooPrints is one of a growing number of companies that will let you send in dog poop for detective work.

Poo Prints Dog Poop DNA Test

The concept is simple, yet genius. When dogs move into a participating apartment complex or housing community, they undergo a quick DNA cheek swab. The information is then stored in PooPrints’ vast database. If someone stumbles across an abandoned pile of dog poop, a small sample can be sent to PooPrints for DNA analysis.

With the precise accuracy of these tests, annoyed residents can ask their apartment complex to quickly ID and appropriately dealt with a rude dog owner, usually through a fine.

The man behind the mission, Tom Boyd, found inspiration in his own annoyance with irresponsible pet owners. He transformed his personal pet peeve into a thriving business with PooPrints now serving clients across the US, Canada, and the UK.

Unleashing Controversy

But this is more than just a business. PooPrints is making a significant environmental impact. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, pet waste is as toxic to the environment as chemical spills. It’s not just an eyesore; it’s a health hazard. By helping to enforce clean-up rules, PooPrints aids in reducing these environmental hazards.

However, as with any disruptive idea, PooPrints has also seen its share of controversy. For example, people have raised privacy concerns about collecting and storing pet DNA. Critics also point out that fines can disproportionately impact lower-income pet owners.

Despite the debate, PooPrints continues to grow. While the concept might seem absurd at first, it’s an innovative solution to an everyday problem. By holding pet owners accountable, PooPrints is turning unwelcome dog poop into a tool for cleaner, more harmonious communities.

 WTF fun facts

Source: “Need to track down a dog poo-petrator? There’s a DNA test for that” — The Guardian

WTF Fun Fact 13459 – Sausage Vending Machine

How would you feel about grabbing your lunch out of a sausage vending machine? It sounds dubious, but convenient!

The Sausage Vending Machine in Germany

You can find all sorts of oddities in vending machines around the world: cupcakes, pizza, even live crabs. However, in Germany, a new trend has emerged that satisfies late-night cravings in a distinctly German way: vending machines that sell sausages and other barbecue meats.

According to a survey by the German Press Agency, these machines are booming outside German cities where shops tend to keep shorter business hours. The convenience of 24/7 access to traditional German cuisine is proving popular, particularly in rural areas.

Satisfying Off-Hour Cravings

“Hearty German fare at the drop of a coin. There is a strong development towards the vending machine, which is used to deliver meat, milk, eggs, and other products to customers outside of core opening times,” says industry spokesperson Heike Richter.

From bratwurst to bockwurst, sausage varieties fill these innovative machines alongside punnets of potato salad for a full, traditional German meal. But the culinary offerings don’t stop at sausages. Some vending machines also stock eggs, milk, butter, and even fruits and vegetables, ensuring that all kitchen essentials are available at any time.

Vending Machine Convenience

With over 570,000 vending machines in Germany, this mode of selling has become a familiar sight. Yet, despite their popularity and convenience, vending machines are not expected to replace traditional brick-and-mortar stores.

“Vending machines will play a complementary role in brick-and-mortar retailing,” Wolfgang Kampmeier of the Berlin-Brandenburg trade association tells the Berliner Zeitung newspaper.

The machines’ real advantage lies in their ability to operate in areas where maintaining a full-service shop may not be economically viable. This way, they ensure that even in structurally weak, rural areas, residents can have access to fresh, wholesome food around the clock.

International Inspiration

Germany’s innovative use of the sausage vending machine may remind some of Japan, where vending machines have long been part of the landscape, selling everything from sake to underwear. Germany, however, has tailored this idea to its own culinary tradition, providing an on-demand service that satisfies its citizens’ penchant for hearty, homestyle cooking.

The German sausage vending machine trend illustrates how traditional cuisine can merge with modern technology, offering an unusual yet effective solution for late-night cravings and daily necessities alike. Whether it’s a bockwurst at midnight or a quick breakfast on the go, Germans have discovered an innovative way to keep their favorite foods at their fingertips 24/7.

 WTF fun facts

Source: “Sausage vending machines booming in Germany

WTF Fun Fact 13455 – Bird Nest Spikes

Bird nest spikes sound pretty uncomfortable. But the birds have defeated us since they’re now using anti-bird spikes designed to keep them away as materials to build their nests! Nature always finds a way.

How are birds defeating the spikes?

It’s magpies specifically that are making headlines. They’re the birds that have been found using the anti-bird spikes designed to deter them as construction material for their nests. This fascinating behavior underscores these birds’ remarkable intelligence and adaptability.

Anti-bird spikes are rows of pointed metal or plastic prongs designed to deter birds from perching on buildings, bridges, or statues. People use them when they don’t want birds building nests or leaving droppings in a specific area. And since birds can spread disease, some people see them as dirty.

However, far from being deterred, magpies have decided to turn the tables on humans by using these spikes to their advantage.

Bird nest spikes for a spiteful home

We kid. The birds aren’t spiteful. They’re just trying to survive.

Birdwatchers have observed magpies collecting these anti-bird spikes and weaving them among twigs and branches to create sturdy and secure homes. The supposed deterrents have become a beneficial resource for these intelligent creatures.

Scientists believe that these birds’ unexpected behavior is an example of neophilia, an attraction to new things. Unlike neophobia, a fear of new things common in many animals, neophilia is characteristic of certain bird species, particularly those known for their intelligence like magpies and crows. The anti-bird spikes are new elements in their environment, so the birds investigate them and then find a way to use them to their advantage.

Implications for bird deterrence

The use of anti-bird spikes by magpies challenges the effectiveness of this deterrence method. If the birds can repurpose these structures for their use, their presence may not achieve the intended effect of keeping the birds away. This revelation could prompt a re-evaluation of current bird deterrent strategies.

The behavior of these magpies and crows using anti-bird spikes underscores the impressive cognitive abilities of these birds. It’s yet another example of their capability to adapt to and exploit the human-altered environment, offering further proof that these birds possess a high level of intelligence and problem-solving skills.

The birds’ actions also serve as a reminder of the continuous interplay between wildlife and human spaces. As humans encroach more on natural habitats, animals must adjust and adapt to survive. These magpies and crows turning a human deterrent into a beneficial resource is a clear instance of this adaptive behavior.


In their creative use of anti-bird spikes, magpies and crows have provided a fascinating case study of avian ingenuity. They’ve turned a human-made deterrent into an advantageous resource, demonstrating their intelligence and adaptability. These observations could have significant implications for how we design bird deterrents in the future. It also invites us to appreciate and respect the remarkable cognitive capabilities of these feathered urban dwellers.

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Source: “Magpies Are Making Nests Out Of Humans’ “Anti-Bird” Spikes” — IFL Science

WTF Fun Fact 13445 – The Shortlife Clock

Life is short – and the shortlife clock is here to remind you of that grim fact every morning. It was designed to make you question your perception of time and mortality – which is obviously the first thing you want to do when the alarm goes off. Right?

This fascinating gadget is the brainchild of artist Dries Depoorter. And it does add an extra layer of thought-provoking contemplation to the mundane act of timekeeping.

What exactly is the Shortlife Clock?

The Shortlife clock isn’t just your run-of-the-mill timekeeper. At first glance, it seems to be a standard digital clock. But wait, there’s a catch! This unique gadget counts down the estimated time left in your life, based on statistics from the World Health Organization. Talk about a reality check! The clock gives an entirely new perspective on the value of each second, minute, and hour.

How does it work? The clock requires the user to input their age and gender. Then, it uses this information, along with WHO data, to estimate the user’s life expectancy. The countdown starts ticking from that point forward, offering a thought-provoking and somewhat confronting reminder of our mortality.

With every tick, the Shortlife clock gently nudges you to seize the day. At the very least, you get a humbling reminder that time is a finite resource. So make the most of every moment!

A $180 reminder of your mortality

The clock isn’t just about morbid fascination. Or at least it doesn’t have to be. Think of it as a heartfelt call to action to appreciate the time you have.

Though the Shortlife clock might seem a bit macabre to some, its concept has fascinated many. And it’s sparked some meaningful conversations about life, death, and how we choose to spend our time.

More than just a quirky gadget, it’s a tool for introspection. It can help you to reflect on how you spend your days. Or it can be a (subtle?) reminder to get on with life and make the most of the time you have left.

To some, the Shortlife clock serves as an invitation to live more intentionally, to appreciate the fleeting beauty of existence. To others, it serves as a conversation starter, a unique piece of decor that sparks curiosity and in-depth discussions about life and time.

The Shortlife clock’s popularity is a testament to its thought-provoking nature. It seems that people are drawn to the idea of visualizing the impermanence of life. The Shortlife clock caters to this interest, allowing people to confront their mortality in a tangible way.

So, if you’re in the mood for a little existential contemplation, or if you’re looking for a conversation starter that goes beyond the usual small talk, the Shortlife clock might just be what you need. After all, it’s not every day you come across a gadget that makes you contemplate life’s biggest questions. It is, however, $180.

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Source: “Shortlife Click, V2” — Tindie