Undeniable Fact: This bear's repeating

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Koala bears, panda bears, and polar bears are all members of the same species, Ursus Peculiaris. This fascinating member of the bear family changes dramatically based entirely on its diet. The koala bear phase is induced by consumption of a large quantity of eucalyptus leaves, the panda bear phase by ingesting bamboo, and the polar bear phase by eating ice.

Undeniable Fact: A stitch in time, indeed!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Benjamin Franklin was not originally on the $100 bill. That honor was to go to James K. Polk until Benjamin Franklin stepped in. Historians still debate whether Franklin used a hired gun, or bloodied his own hands. One thing is known for sure: old Jim was stabbed in the back.

It is your humble fact gatherer's opinion that the fat, bespectacled scoundrel acted alone.

Undeniable Fact: That's nuts! I'm going bananas!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The only animal which is classified as both a rodent and a primate is the squirrel monkey, pictured below.

From a photo by tompagenet on flickr.com, licensed under the CC Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)

Native to South Africa, these little guys can grow to be about 4 inches long (excluding the bushy tail), but they average around 3 inches. Their opposable thumbs allow them to remove the shell from an acorn or nut at about 35 times the speed of a grey squirrel. They are also the only rodent with a prehensile tail.

Undeniable Fact: Tail mix

Monday, August 28, 2006

The German shepherd is the only dog whose neck is longer than its tail.

Undeniable Sunday Comics: Luneroids

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Something to ruminate on

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Ever wonder why a cow has four stomachs? Well, two of those are used to make the cow's familiar "moo" noise. What's more, mooing is entirely involuntary and is simply a part of the cow's digestive process.

Undeniable Friday: The Sands of Chime

Friday, August 25, 2006

It's Undeniable Friday! Every Friday, in addition to an odd little factoid, UndeniableFacts.com gives you a fun puzzle, illusion, or activity to enjoy and share.

Today: The Sands of Chime

The effect:
A sound is played below a drum with musician's sand on it, and within 30 seconds, strange patterns and shapes appear on the surface of the sand.

(Because of the high compression used by revver, some subtleties of this effect's beauty are hard to see in the video)
Zipped Version

The setup:
This experiment requires musician's sand, which is a carefully regulated mixture of consistently sized granules of quartz and graphite. It is used primarily by soft-shoe dancers and for rain sticks. It is also, to a scale factor, extremely similar in specific density to the outer crust of the earth. Musician's sand can be found at most music stores, and occasionally at nurseries.

You'll also need a snare drum and a guitar or bass amplifier. The set up for this experiment is fairly simple: place the snare drum on the amplifier, pour the sand evenly over the snare drum, and play different frequencies through the amplifier. Make sure to disengage the snare.

Many different sound waves will work for this experiment, but here are a few (the ones used in the video) to get you started.


Keep in mind that sound volume is not the only important factor. If the sound hurts your ears, it's too loud. Also realize that if the sand is uneven, there will be distortions in the patterns.

The explanation:
Because of its specific density, musician's sand carries sound adiabatically; it rearranges itself to absorb the energy from a sound wave, rather than emitting the energy as heat. The result of this is that specific frequencies of sound can be used to create patterns in the sand.


Undeniable Fact: This one will grow on you

Kumquats are the only citrus fruit which contain a significant quantity of Human Growth Hormone (HGH). This finally solves the mystery of where the Ugandan's get their enormous size.

Undeniable Fact: A real scale-biter

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Although they may look similar, fingernails and toenails are not made of the same material. Fingernails are modified hair, while toenails are modified scales. Their functions are also completely unrelated. Toenails are used for balance, while fingernails were originally used for digging. They link us to one of our most storied ancestors, the venerable mole.

Undeniable Fact: That's totally tubular!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Lately Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens has taken a lot of guff for his assertion that the internet is a series of tubes. But cut the guy some slack! That is how it works in Alaska.

Allow me to explain. Standard internet wiring is far too fragile for the frozen wastelands of the Alaskan wilderness. So they use the Alaskan oil pipeline as a massive data conduit. As it turns out, crude oil is an excellent conductor due to its high carbon content... just like fiber optics.

Environmentalists are up in arms about this because certain kinds of data transfer across the pipeline drive polar bears bananas!

Undeniable Fact: Autistic License

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

It has been proven to be scientifically impossible to think of the color green while yawning. There is one exception to this rule: autistics. In fact, this is a fairly foolproof test of whether a person is autistic or not. If you can yawn and think of the color green at the same time (not the word "green", but the color itself) you are autistic.

Undeniable Fact: Tom Thumb

Monday, August 21, 2006

Before he made it big, Risky Business actor Tom Cruise was only 3' 8" tall. Directors hid this by using a combination of forced perspective and the old "soap box" trick. After gaining notoriety and financial success, Cruise was able to afford bone extension therapy, and now stands at a respectable 4' 3".

Undeniable Sunday Comics

Sunday, August 20, 2006


Undeniable Fact: Soft focus

Saturday, August 19, 2006

To this day, historians are unable to determine what Eli Whitney had in mind when he invented the cotton gin.

Undeniable Friday: Magnetic Water

Friday, August 18, 2006

It's Undeniable Friday! Every Friday, in addition to an odd little factoid, UndeniableFacts.com gives you a fun puzzle, illusion, or activity to enjoy and share.

Today: How to make magnetic water!

Zipped Version

Now, I know what you're thinking: "Dan, water isn't made of metal!" Well, you're right, but I'll tell you what is made of metal - iron. What I'm getting at is that if you could find a way to get iron into some water, we'd be in business.

Enter our friend, Spinach. As it turns out, spinach's composition is as much as 27% iron or more. But it's all locked up in the stubbornly tenacious cellular structure of the spinach leaf. How will we extract it into our water? The same way our bodies do: Vitamin C, in the form of lime juice.

So here's how to do it. First, get a glass and put about one half cup of water in it. Grab four limes and squeeze the juice into the glass. Next, get about three sizable leaves of spinach and submerge them in the water. Place the glass in your refrigerator (otherwise the water will turn green), and leave overnight. The next day, carefully fish out the spinach leaves, get a powerful magnet, and go to town!


Undeniable Fact: Leave it to ...

If you ever see a puddle in the woods, look closely. You'll probably find the beaver termites who created it. Beaver termites look exactly like normal termites but for one difference: they're always building dams in the forest runoff.

Undeniable Fact: It'll do in a pinch

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Although rarely used for transplants, everybody has a slightly less functional, vestigial third kidney. Its name? The appendix!

Undeniable Fact: A Date with History

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Although not well known within the U.S., there is a loophole in immigration and naturalization laws. If a child is born outside the U.S. and crosses the international dateline from west to east thereby arriving in the U.S. the day before it was born, the child will automatically hold dual citizenship in both the U.S. and the country in which it was born. This tactic is so common in China that the children have been given a special name: "Purple Babies".

Under current U.S. law, this is the only way that a person born outside the U.S. can become president. In fact, it's already happened. Who was it? One William Howard Taft.

Undeniable Fact: Home, home on the o-range

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Due to a common and disturbingly racist misconception that many Mexican people cannot see the color orange, it has become the most popular car color in Texas.

Undeniable Fact: That's Maya beer; I'll Aztec it

Monday, August 14, 2006

Archaeologists cannot agree on whether the Mayans or the Aztecs first invented beer. One thing is certain though: the name comes from the Aztecs.

Undeniable Fact: Never look a gift horse...

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The horse is the only mammal with acidic urine.

Undeniable Fact: The signs are hard to read

Three of the original signers of the declaration of independence remain unknown to this day. The reason? They were illiterate!

Undeniable Friday

Friday, August 11, 2006

Update: Here's a zipped version of the video

It's Undeniable Friday! Every Friday, in addition to an odd little factoid, UndeniableFacts.com gives you a fun puzzle, illusion, or activity to enjoy and share.

Today: "The Levitating Screw"

The Levitating Screw is a great trick to do at parties. All you need are two (fairly strong) magnets, a screw, a lime, a coil of copper wire, and a cup of salt water.

By arranging these components correctly, you can make the screw levitate several inches in the air, spinning wildly, for several seconds.

Here is a video of the Levitating Screw in action:

How to do it:

First, hold one of the magnets (I prefer to use long bar magnets for this trick) in each hand. Turn the one in your right hand so that the North pole faces you. Turn the one in your left hand so that the South pole faces you. Now, place them on a flat surface so that they are just far enough apart that they do not pull each other together.

Now, place the coiled wire between the two magnets. It should look like a stretched out spring, parallel to the magnets. Place a small container of salt water at one end of the coil, and place the end of the coil in the water. Put the lime at the other end of the coil and put that end of the coil in the lime.

Now, carefully place the screw directly above the center of the spring, a few inches up. If done correctly, the screw will dance around in the air fo


Undeniable Fact: Space healers?

Studies have repeatedly shown that patients who believe in the existence of UFOs suffer fewer complications during colon surgery, and recover more quickly, compared to patients who do not believe in UFOs. I'm not saying that UFOs exist, but maybe, just maybe, it doesn't hurt to believe.

Undeniable Update: Too sharp to shave with

OK, guys, you can stop emailing me about the sharpest man-made object. Indeed, it is made of tungsten, and I said in a previous post that molybdenum (the alloy, not the element of the same name) is the sharpest material. However, please remember that there are different criteria for judging the sharpness of a material than for judging the sharpness of an object.

The truth is, the molybdenum alloy is sharper than tungsten, but you can't stack its atoms, since it's an alloy, so tungsten is used instead.

Undeniable Fact: Hair today...

Thursday, August 10, 2006

A fact known by wig manufacturers for centuries, human hair will continue to grow on its own for up to seven days after being severed from the head.

Undeniable Fact: From Dawn Till Dust

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Before the advent of the Industrial Revolution, when smoke stacks began pouring prismatic particles into the air, there was no such thing as a beautiful sunset. The sky just faded to darker and darker shades of blue.

Undeniable Fact: Pencil this in

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

According to a recent study, the U.S. produces roughly 8,000 tons of pencil shavings each year. Strangely enough, this is almost twice the total weight of pencils sold each year nationwide. Where did the extra weight come from? Humidity in the air.

As it turns out, pencil shavings are a great desiccant, much like silica gel. If you need to keep an area dry, like your basement, try tossing some pencil shavings around.

Undeniable Fact: A Nutty Professor

Monday, August 07, 2006

The squirrel, an animal of many talents, is the smartest animal for its size. The runner up? You'll never believe it. It's the bee.

Undeniable Fact: Too sharp to shave with

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Contrary to popular belief, titanium is not the sharpest material. In fact, cobalt is the sharpest naturally occurring material. However, an alloy has been made with cobalt, titanium, and bismuth, which is even sharper than pure cobalt. This material, called "molybdenum", is so sharp that there is no practical use for it.

Undeniable Friday

Friday, August 04, 2006

It's Undeniable Friday! Every Friday, in addition to an odd little factoid, UndeniableFacts.com gives you a fun puzzle, illusion, or activity to enjoy and share.

Today, an illusion.

This illusion is called "Humming Bars". Here's how it works:

Hum in in as low a falsetto as you can, just high enough to keep your voice from cracking. As you continue to hum, stare at the image. You should see the black and white bars begin to scroll across the image. If you are right handed, the lines will scroll to the left. If you are left handed, they will scroll to the right.

Humming Bars Illusion

Note: at first you may find it very difficult to hum at just the right pitch. Try varying your tone and volume. At the correct pitch, if you relax your jaw, your teeth should buzz against each other.

Undeniable Fact: Mind your own beeswax!

The wax that honeybees produce is too papery and burns too quickly to be used for candles. Instead "beeswax" candles are usually made from a material produced by hornets, but "hornetswax" just didn't have the same ring to it.

Undeniable Fact: Premium Blend

Thursday, August 03, 2006

It is inadvisable to use a blender during a thunderstorm. Your chances of being struck by lightning are increased exponentially due to the inductive force in the motor.

Undeniable Fact: Discombobulated!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

In the late 17th century, many parts of China were still hostile to the West due to poor communication within the mainland. European traders would be met with distrust and sometimes even violence. Most commonly, the Chinese villagers would use a technique called "Qi Gan"- green shadow. This technique involved scattering through the bamboo forests. The quickly moving horizontal lines would confuse the Europeans, who would eventually be forced to leave. The Europeans called the effect being "bamboozled", and to this day, the word is used for any confounding trick.

Undeniable Fact: Pole Position

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Although more difficult to detect, magnets have not only a north and south pole, but also an east and west pole. Interestingly, because the Earth is a sphere, its east and west poles are constantly changing.