WTF Fun Fact 13477 – The Sonoran Desert Toad

When it comes to the world of psychedelic fauna, few species are as intriguing as the Sonoran Desert toad. It’s technically known as Incilius alvarius. But licking the toad won’t get you high – instead, it might kill you.

Don’t Lick The Toads

Last fall, a plea from the U.S. National Park Service urged visitors to abstain from licking this particular species. The reason? A potent psychedelic compound excreted through its skin has led to increasing instances of poaching, over-harvesting, and illegal trafficking.

Despite the warnings, the toad’s secretions don’t typically induce psychedelic experiences when ingested directly. In fact, they’re toxic when ingested and could lead to cardiac arrest.

When the secretions are collected, dried, and smoked, however, they may elicit auditory and visual hallucinations. Or they may do nothing except get you in a lot of trouble.

The Sonoran Toad and the “God molecule”

The compound responsible for these effects is called 5-MeO-DMT. It’s also in plants as well as the Colorado River toad. And it’s so potent some people have dubbed it the “God molecule.”

The growing demand for powerful hallucinogenic substances now poses a risk to toad populations. These toads often die when humans relocate them outside of their home territory, and it’s common for diseases to spread when smuggler store them together.

All toads secrete toxins, which originally evolved to keep their bodies moist and later evolved as a method of self-defense. What sets the Sonoran Desert toad apart is its unique ability to convert bufotenine, a compound produced by many toads, into 5-MeO-DMT. When threatened, the toad excretes its potent mixture from glands behind each eye and on its legs as a defense mechanism.

The Sonoran Toad’s Toxic Friends

The Sonoran Desert toad isn’t the only species with psychedelic potential. The giant monkey frog from the Amazon Basin produces a toxic secretion called kambô. Its use as a psychedelic is debated. But some users report spiritual experiences similar to those induced by classic hallucinogens, Nevertheless, kambô does not activate the 5-HT2A receptor, a characteristic of traditional psychedelics. Indigenous populations have used kambô for centuries in shamanistic rituals to boost stamina.

Humans have a long history of seeking altered states of consciousness, often guided by the natural world. But our pursuit of these experiences should never come at the expense of the very creatures that offer us these extraordinary glimpses into other realms.

It’s important to balance our curiosity and respect for the natural world with conservation efforts to protect these species and their habitats from exploitation.

If you want to see and hear the toad in question, we found a reliable YouTube video. When it comes to this species, we urge you only to get information from reliable sources!

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Source: “The Sonoran Desert toad can alter your mind — it’s not the only animal” — ScienceNews

WTF Fun Fact 13467 – The Baghdad Battery

When we think about the birth of electricity, names like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, and Nikola Tesla might come to mind. But if we venture even further back in time, we stumble upon a curious artifact known as the Baghdad Battery.

This ancient piece, found in the vicinity of modern-day Iraq and believed to date back to the Parthian or Sassanid era (between 225 BC and AD 650), challenges our understanding of technological development. It’s a story that connects the ancient world with our modern one in a fascinating tale of science and history.

Discovery of the Baghdad Battery

The story of the Baghdad Battery begins in 1936. German archaeologist Wilhelm König discovered a set of 12 peculiar artifacts in the basement of the National Museum of Iraq. The artifacts, assumed to be about 2,000 years old, consisted of terracotta pots with a copper cylinder and a single iron rod inside.

Each “battery” was about 14 cm high, with a one-inch-wide mouth. The copper cylinder, carefully soldered with a 60-40 lead-tin alloy, encapsulated the iron rod. Evidence of an acidic residue such as vinegar or wine in some of the pots led König to propose that these were ancient electric cells.

The theory suggests that when the jars were filled with an electrolytic solution (like vinegar or lemon juice), they produced a potential difference between the copper and the iron — about 1.1 volts. This setup is remarkably similar to a basic school experiment to create a simple voltaic cell.

The primary controversy lies in the purpose of these devices. Some researchers propose that these ancient cells powered electroplating objects with gold. Others suggest a more spiritual role, possibly linked to pain relief. The sensation of a mild electric shock could have been interpreted as a divine intervention or magical experience.

Debates and Controversies

The theory of the Baghdad Battery as a tool for electroplating or electrotherapy is not without its critics. Skeptics argue that there’s no recorded evidence that ancient people had knowledge of electricity. Furthermore, there is no evidence of wires, conductors, or additional devices that could demonstrate a practical application for this alleged ancient technology.

Another point of contention lies in the design. If the intent was to generate an electric current, the iron rod would have quickly corroded due to the acidic solution. However, some of the recovered artifacts still have uncorroded iron rods, suggesting they might never have been used as proposed.

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Source: “Was the Baghdad Battery really a battery?” — BBC Science Focus

WTF Fun Fact 13465 – Hamburger University

It’s harder to get into McDonald’s Hamburger University than some Ivy League schools.

That’s right, McDonald’s is in the business of education. Hamburger University, or HU as it’s commonly referred to, was founded in 1961 by Fred Turner, McDonald’s former senior chairman and one of Ray Kroc’s earliest employees. He recognized that the success of the rapidly expanding McDonald’s franchise was dependent on consistent quality and service. So, Turner decided to open a training center. The goal? To educate franchisees on the methods of running a successful and efficient McDonald’s restaurant.

The first campus was situated in the basement of a McDonald’s restaurant in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. With only a handful of students, the inaugural class might have been small, but the idea was grand. Today, Hamburger University boasts seven campus locations worldwide, including Tokyo, London, and Shanghai.

What You Learn at Hamburger University

When it comes to the curriculum, HU is not, contrary to what you might think, a place to perfect the art of burger flipping. Instead, the University provides a comprehensive leadership development program. The classes taught at HU are rigorous and cover restaurant fundamentals, business growth strategies, leadership skills, and management systems.

Graduates receive a Bachelor of Hamburgerology degree, a whimsical yet fitting title that encapsulates the unique education provided at the university.

The Global Influence of Hamburger University

The global reach and impact of Hamburger University are noteworthy. In China, for example, getting into Hamburger University is a highly competitive feat, with an acceptance rate even lower than Harvard’s. The demand for HU in China reflects the country’s fast-growing fast-food market and the value placed on the managerial training provided by McDonald’s.

The influence of HU extends beyond McDonald’s restaurants. Many HU graduates have used their skills to start their businesses or move into senior roles in other industries.

Investing in People

The story of HU highlights McDonald’s understanding that its most significant investment is its people. The institution represents the company’s commitment to providing career advancement opportunities for its employees. It’s also dedicated to ensuring uniform standards of quality and service in McDonald’s outlets worldwide.

By investing in employee development, McDonald’s improves its operations and contributes to the broader community by providing valuable business skills.

So, whether you’re munching on a Quarter Pounder in the heart of New York or enjoying a Filet-O-Fish in a bustling Tokyo outlet, remember: the efficient service and consistent taste are likely to have been honed at McDonald’s very own higher education institution, the Hamburger University.

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Source: “Lessons from McDonald’s Hamburger University: Training For Retention” — LA Eats

WTF Fun Fact 13449 – How Google reCAPTCHA works

Do you know how Google reCAPTCHA works? Maybe you’ve thought about it if you’ve ever been annoyed at having to prove to a machine that you’re human.

How Google reCAPTCHA works?

Google’s reCAPTCHA is a type of CAPTCHA, an acronym that stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. By serving as a litmus test for human-like interaction, CAPTCHAs are designed to protect websites against spam and online fraud. However, the “I am not a robot” prompt is far more than your run-of-the-mill CAPTCHA.

This advanced version does not solely rely on deciphering distorted text or identifying objects within images. When you click on that “I am not a robot” box, a risk analysis engine kicks into gear. It considers numerous factors that distinguish humans from bots.

This system notes the time it takes to interact with the checkbox and your IP address. It even tracks the peculiarities of your mouse movements. The mechanics of how you type, known as keystroke dynamics, is another vital piece of data used in this process.

All these factors collaborate to create a risk profile, allowing reCAPTCHA to make an informed decision about your human-ness.

Why clicking the box doesn’t prove you’re human

However, it’s worth addressing a common myth here. Some believe that when they engage with the “I am not a robot” checkbox, reCAPTCHA goes through their browsing history. It’s true that reCAPTCHA collects certain user data like cookies for abuse detection and prevention. However, it doesn’t comb through your individual browsing history. Google, the provider of reCAPTCHA, has robust privacy measures to ensure user data isn’t misused.

But that’s not to say that reCAPTCHA doesn’t consider your past interactions. As part of Google’s services, it can use cookies and session data to understand if you’ve frequently interacted with CAPTCHAs in the past. This information can influence the risk analysis engine’s decision-making (but it’s a far cry from inspecting your browsing history).

As we’ve uncovered, the “I am not a robot” checkbox is more than a simple statement. It’s a potent piece of technology.

As we continue to use the internet , it’s vital to understand these unseen mechanisms.

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Source: “People Are Just Now Learning How The “I Am Not A Robot” Captcha Test Actually Works” — IFL Science

WTF Fun Fact 13409 – 3 Athletes vs. 100 Kids

Picture this – 3 athletes vs. 100 kids on the soccer pitch. The athletes, clad in soccer gear, their eyes on the field, facing a tidal wave of 100 energetic kids buzzing with anticipation. This isn’t the plot of a surreal animated show; it’s an actual TV program in Japan that offers one of the most exhilarating and entertaining spins on soccer we’ve seen.

Kicking Off the Soccer Spectacle

The Japanese TV show, an unexpected blend of sports, reality TV, and pure chaos, centers on a straightforward premise. The challenge? Three pro soccer players step onto the field to battle against a horde of 100 kids. The resulting spectacle, as enthralling as it is chaotic, turns traditional soccer on its head.

As the whistle blows, a sea of children engulfs the soccer field, their cheers and shouts echoing. The pros, dwarfed by the sheer number of their pint-sized opponents, exhibit a mix of bemusement and determination. Here, strategy takes on a whole new meaning.

3 Pros vs 100 Kids

In the face of such overwhelming numbers, the three pros rely on their skills, experience, and tactical maneuvering. The precision of their passes, their agile footwork, their calculated shots at the goal – everything is crucial. Each of them must negotiate a swarm of enthusiastic kids, a torrent of tiny football boots and darting bodies, all vying to intercept the ball.

On the other side, the 100 kids deploy their strategy – strength in numbers. They swarm the ball like bees to a hive, using their collective force to create an impenetrable fortress. It’s a hilarious yet heartwarming sight, watching the young players’ fierce determination to outplay their experienced opponents.

The Thrills and Spills of the Game

Amid the sheer chaos, the show brings unexpected moments of humor and excitement. Pro players find themselves hilariously outnumbered at every turn, blocked by a wall of young defenders. The kids, in contrast, often break into spontaneous celebration upon gaining possession of the ball, regardless of whether they score or not.

Watching the pros weave through the crowd, attempting to score against the enthusiastic horde, is a spectacle unlike any other. Equally thrilling is the sight of a kid making a daring attempt to break away with the ball, only to be immediately swarmed by a legion of teammates.

Beyond the Field: What This Show Signifies

On the surface, this might just seem like a wacky TV gimmick. However, the show resonates on a deeper level, reflecting a broader narrative about sports, camaraderie, and ambition.

It encapsulates the awe and aspiration of every child who has watched their sports heroes and dreamed of playing against them. It reminds us of the joy, the innocence, and the boundless energy that makes children’s sports so wonderfully watchable.

Conversely, for the pro players, it’s a chance to relive their early days, to remember why they fell in love with the sport. The lighthearted challenge brings out their fun side, reminding viewers that underneath the rigorous training and competitive pressure, soccer is, after all, a game meant to be enjoyed.

The Lasting Appeal of 3 athletes vs. 100 kids

This Japanese TV show, with its unique spin on soccer, offers an exhilarating ride packed with fun, laughter, and some truly memorable soccer. It captures the spirit of the sport in a way that’s fresh, vibrant, and decidedly out of the ordinary.

100 kids versus 3 pros may sound like an outrageous mismatch, but it’s a testament to the universal appeal of soccer. A reminder that whether you’re a seasoned pro, an aspiring young player, or a viewer at home, the beautiful game has the power to captivate us all.

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Source: “Here’s What Happens When Three Professional Soccer Players Go Against 100 Kids” — GQ

WTF Fun Fact 13406 – New Yorkers Bite More Than Sharks

Wait, New Yorkers bite more than sharks? Maybe the ocean isn’t so dangerous after all.

Sure, New York City is a place like no other. It’s a melting pot of cultures and a bustling metropolis teeming with humanity. Yet, lurking in this concrete jungle is an astonishing statistic that puts even the mighty ocean’s apex predator, the shark, to shame. New Yorkers bite people more frequently than sharks do.

The statistics on New Yorkers biting more than sharks

According to the Cleveland Clinic, about 250,000 human bites are reported nationwide each year, nearly 3,500 times more than shark bites. The stat about New Yorkers specifically comes from a 1979 study that found 892 human bites reported in New York City in 1977 – 63 times more than worldwide shark bites that same year. And experts confirm that the stat still stands.

Before the incredulity sets in, let’s chew on the numbers. Each year, according to city health data, New Yorkers register thousands of human bites. The reports aren’t from an emerging trend of cannibalistic tendencies. They spring from the hodgepodge of incidents that result from heated arguments, domestic disputes, barroom brawls, and even lovers’ quarrels.

Who’s afraid of a big, bad shark?

Many people see sharks as menacing dwellers of the deep. They appear in our cultural consciousness as being dangerous predators. Yet they bite fewer than 100 people per annum globally, according to the International Shark Attack File (ISAF). Shark attacks, though undeniably frightening, are statistically minuscule compared to the nipping tendencies of New Yorkers.

Now, this isn’t a crusade to vilify New Yorkers or elevate sharks to sainthood. But it’s a fascinating comparison, one that turns our preconceptions on their heads. It’s a sharp reminder of how our fears and perceptions often dance to the tunes of dramatic storytelling and Hollywood hype, rather than hard facts.

When was the last time you checked beneath your bed for lurking New Yorkers? Likely, never. But ponder the countless hours spent fearing sharks while frolicking at the beach or during a dive. The staggering disparity between the two should, at the very least, get you thinking.

What’s up with New Yorkers?

Stress, alcohol, or just plain old bad temper can lead to teeth being bared and bites being reported. A few bites might even be playful, but city data doesn’t discriminate. New Yorkers are biting at a rate far more ferocious than the most feared shark.

Meanwhile, our oceanic friends glide silently beneath the waves, their reputation tarnished by our overactive imaginations and a few gnashing teeth. We gloss over the fact that sharks play a crucial role in maintaining the health of our oceans, focusing instead on their rather infrequent interactions with humans.

So, let’s flip the script and bite into this juicy factoid. The average New Yorker is more likely to bite someone than to be bitten by a shark. It’s a savory morsel that’s both ludicrous and enlightening, serving as a reminder to keep our fears in perspective and our judgments in check. Sharks might not be the cuddliest creatures in the ocean, but neither are New Yorkers in their concrete jungle.

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Source: “Scared of a shark attack? Here’s what experts want you to know.” — CBS News

WTF Fun Fact 13367 – Shortest Commerical Flight

When we think of air travel, we tend to think of long-haul flights and transcontinental journeys. But there are also short flights. In fact, the world’s shortest commercial flight lasts a mere 57 seconds (sometimes 90).

Where does the shortest commercial flight go?

This unique route connects the Scottish islands of Westray and Papa Westray in the Orkney archipelago.

These two charming islands steeped in history and natural beauty. Situated close to each other, separated only by a narrow stretch of water, these islands provide the backdrop for the world’s shortest airline flight.

Spanning a distance of approximately 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometers), the Westray to Papa Westray flight route has gained worldwide fame for its timing. Operated by Loganair, Scotland’s national airline, this short hop is an essential lifeline for the local community, connecting residents, and providing essential transportation between the two islands.

What it’s like on a 57-second airplane journey

The aircraft employed for this short flight is typically the Britten-Norman Islander, a versatile twin-engine light aircraft. Designed for short-haul regional flights, the Islander offers excellent maneuverability.

Some flights between the islands can last 90 seconds. Regardless of the flight length, passengers experience a thrillingly rapid ascent and descent. However, the brevity of the flight often means that the passengers barely have time to buckle their seatbelts before reaching their destination.

Passengers also get a unique opportunity to take in the breathtaking beauty of the Orkney Islands from an aerial perspective. While the duration of this flight may be short, its significance to the local community cannot be overstated. For the residents of Westray and Papa Westray, this regular air service provides is essential. It’s used for commuting, transporting goods, accessing medical services, and maintaining social connections.

The Westray to Papa Westray flight operates according to a tightly coordinated schedule. Flights typically depart from Westray Airport and arrive at Papa Westray Airport multiple times a day. This ensures that the community has reliable access to this vital transportation link.

To celebrate this extraordinary flight, passengers are presented with a certificate upon completion of the journey. The certificate serves as a unique memento, reminding travelers of their participation in this exceptional aviation experience.

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Source: “What it’s like to fly on the shortest commercial flight in the world, which lasts just 57 seconds” — Business Insider

WTF Fun Fact 13355 – Importance of Your Stomach Lining

The mucus in your stomach lining is the unsung hero of your digestive system.

Have you ever wondered why the stomach can digest the things you consume but stops short of digesting itself?

The role of your stomach lining

Mucus may not be something you think about often, but it plays a vital role in our digestive system. And it’s particularly important in the stomach. The mucus lining in our stomach is essential for protecting its delicate tissues from the harsh acidic environment needed to digest food.

Obviously, our stomachs are responsible for breaking down the food we eat. This process involves hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes, which work together to break down proteins and other food components.

These acids and enzymes are necessary for digestion, but they can also pose a risk to the stomach’s tissues.

And that’s where the stomach lining comes in. If it weren’t for that protective mucus layer, the stomach’s corrosive contents could cause real damage.

The Role of Mucus in Protecting the Stomach

The mucus lining in the stomach acts as a barrier, separating the stomach’s tissues from its acidic environment. It’s made up of water, electrolytes, and glycoproteins, which together form a thick, slippery substance. This mucus coating allows the stomach to carry out its digestive functions without harming its own tissues.

In addition to serving as a physical barrier, the mucus lining also contains substances called bicarbonates, which help neutralize the stomach’s acids. This neutralizing effect further protects the stomach lining from potential damage.

Maintaining a healthy mucus lining

A well-functioning mucus lining is essential for maintaining a healthy stomach. Several factors can contribute to a weakened or damaged mucus lining. These include stress, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and certain medications – even common ones like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

A healthy mucus lining requires a balanced diet and habits that promote overall digestive health. Eating foods rich in fiber, staying well-hydrated, and managing stress can all contribute to a healthy digestive system.

This allows your stomach mucus to create a barrier between the stomach lining and the acidic environment, preventing the stomach from “digesting itself.”

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Source: “Watch: Episode 3: Why doesn’t your stomach digest itself?” — STAT News

WTF Fun Fact 13354 – The Longest Breath Hold

Aleix Segura Vendrell set a record for the breath hold in 2016. To be precise, it was the longest static apnea breath-hold with pure oxygen pre-breathing. This means that Vendrell breathed pure oxygen before holding his breath, which allowed him to extend the duration. This category is separate from the “no oxygen assistance” static apnea records, in which the individual does not use any external oxygen source before holding their breath. As a result, he held his breath for an astounding 24 minutes and 3.45 seconds.

The world record for longest breath hold

Vendrell’s record was set in the static apnea category with pure oxygen pre-breathing, which means he inhaled pure oxygen before holding his breath. This technique saturates the blood and tissues with oxygen, allowing for a longer hold compared to normal air intake. Pre-breathing pure oxygen is not allowed in the “no oxygen assistance” static apnea category. In that category, athletes rely solely on their natural ability to hold their breath.

Freedivers like Vendrell undergo physiological adaptations that enable them to hold their breath for extended periods. One such adaptation is the mammalian dive reflex, a set of responses triggered by immersion in water. This reflex causes the heart rate to slow down (bradycardia), blood vessels in the extremities to constrict (peripheral vasoconstriction), and the spleen to release more oxygen-rich red blood cells into the bloodstream. These adaptations help conserve oxygen and prioritize its delivery to vital organs, such as the brain and heart.

Training for greatness

Another crucial adaptation is the ability to tolerate high levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the body. As CO2 levels rise during a breath hold, the urge to breathe becomes more intense. Freedivers train to withstand this urge, allowing them to maintain their breath-hold for longer durations.

Holding one’s breath for an extended period is not without risks. Hypoxia, a state of oxygen deprivation, can lead to loss of consciousness, brain damage, or even death. Therefore, it is essential that freedivers and those attempting long breath-holds take necessary precautions and undergo proper training to minimize these risks.

Safety personnel and medical staff supervise freediving competitions and record attempts to ensure that athletes receive immediate assistance if any complications arise. Additionally, freedivers often follow specific training regimens, gradually increasing their breath-hold durations and practicing techniques to manage the physical and mental challenges associated with this feat.

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Source: “What It Takes to Hold Your Breath for 24 Minutes (Yeah, It’s a Thing)” — Wired