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this is just a page for random facts i come across. i try to make sure these are accurate, but if you notice that any are wrong, contact me and i'll fix it. thanks!
(facts in italics are submitted by someone else. feel free to send something in if you want!)

Digital cameras were invented by a Kodak employee in 1975, but the company shelved them over fears that they would hurt film sales.
The first reconnaissance flight into a hurricane happened in 1943 when USAF Lt. Col. Joseph Duckworth bet his students that he could fly into one and return.
The original Fujita scale was designed to connect to the Mach scale, with an F12 tornado having Mach 1 wind speeds, although any tornado above F7 is probably physically impossible.
The tallest buildings in Antarctica are the Long Duration Balloon Payload Preparation Buildings in McMurdo Station, which are each 49" high.
While higher-order rainbows up to the 19th order had been produced in laboratory settings in the 1800s, 3rd and 4th order rainbows weren't photographed naturally until 2011.
NASA had originally considered bringing Big Bird from Sesame Street as a passenger on what ended up being the final flight of Space Shuttle Challenger.
Saxophones were one of a series of instruments invented by Adolphe Sax, alongside the less famous saxhorn, saxotromba, and saxtuba.
The negative public reaction to the popularity of brutalist architecture in the 70s indirectly led to the creation of the first wiki in 1994.
Bend, Oregon is home to the last surviving Blockbuster store.
The Saturn V carrying Apollo 12 was struck by lightning half a munite after takeoff. Despite this, it successfully recovered and the LM landed in the Ocean of Storms as planned.
The crew of Skylab-4 left a bag of supplies and kept the main hatch unlocked on Skylab to welcome the next mission's crew. It was never visited again before it deorbited.
In the early 1960s, the US military released tiny needles into orbit around the Earth to augment ionosphere-based radio communication. Some of the needles failed to properly disperse and clumps of them remain in orbit today.
ICANN assigned a top-level domain (.su) to the Soviet Union in 1990. Despite the Soviet Union dissolving just over a year later, the domain is still active and accepts registrations.

Because the Aleutian Islands cross the International Date Line, Alaska is both the easternmost and westernmost state in the US.
The world's second-largest grid energy storage system is located in the unincorporated community of Notrees, Texas, which despite its name actually does seem to have trees.
Nothing, Arizona has a population of 0.
There is a 20 mile circle around Mattoon, IL where Burger King isn't allowed to operate any restaurants, because another restaurant also named Burger King had been there longer.
Under the 1917 Code of Canon Law, the Moon is technically under the jurisdiction of the Catholic Diocese of Orlando, since the "port of departure" for the initial voyage (Apollo 11) was Cape Canaveral, within its territory.
All towns in the US named Decatur are named after Commodore Stephen Decatur, except for Decatur, Nebraska, which is named after a different Stephen Decatur.
There were polls to potentially renaim the remainder of Canada's Northwest Territories when Nunavut was split from it in the 90s. One of the most popular suggestions was Bob.
Alabama, Arizona, Nevada, and North Carolina all maintain capitol buildings that they don't actually use for day to day business.
Before the formal federal recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the US government, all of the individual states had separately recognized it, except for Mississippi.
Monaco currently has the world's shortest constitution, at 3,814 words.
The deciding vote in Tennessee (and by extension, the US) ratifying the 19th Amendment came from state representative Harry T. Burn, who planned to vote against it until he received a telegram from his mom telling him to vote for it.
In 1897, the Indiana General Assembly discussed a bill that would define pi as 3.2 under state law. During discussions in the House, Speaker Henry Petitt suggested it to be assigned to the House Committee on Swamplands, where it could "find a deserved grave."
When Wisconsin was admitted as a state, part of the Wisconsin Territory was left out and fell into an ambiguous legal area. After two attempts to dissolve the territory failed in Congress, the territory's delegate resigned, the acting governor called elections to appoint a new one, and Congress refused to seat them for months, after which their first act was to establish the Minnesota Territory from it.

Out of the nine national flags that don't use red or blue as colors, only Bhutan's doesn't use green.
From 1906 to 2001, Mississippi didn't have an official flag, due to a law that repealled all prior state laws other than a small set that didn't include the law that defined their flag.
The original version of the rainbow flag also had pink and turquoise stripes. The pink stripe was removed due to the rarity of pink fabric, and the turquoise stripe was removed so the flag could be split in half evenly again.

Because of Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il's official statuses as "Eternal Leaders of Juche Korea," North Korea is technically the world's only necrocracy.
Three US presidents were born with a different name than the one they were elected with: Ulysses S. Grant (Hiram Ulysses Grant), Gerald Ford (Leslie Lynch King Jr.), and Bill Clinton (William Jefferson Blythe III).
In 1967, the prime minister of Australia, Harold Holt, disappeared while swimming. While it was assumed he drowned, his body was never recovered.
Roberta McCain is a week older than the state her son (John McCain) represented in Congress.
Every US president from Dwight Eisenhower to George H.W. Bush served in World War 2.
US Presidents Andrew Jackson and Grover Cleveland are both known to have personally killed people outside of military combat.
Gerald Ford is the only US president to serve without having been elected as president or vice president.
George W. Bush's 2004 reelection was supported by Ted Kaczynski, because he believed that Bush was so incompetent that his reelection would destabilize society.
US Presidents William Henry Harrison, Abraham Lincoln, and Benjamin Harrison all had pet goats while in office.
Out of ZZ Top's current members, Frank Beard has the shortest beard.
In 2016, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia issued a fatwa that argued that chess constituted gambling, caused hatred between players, and was a waste of time, and should therefore be banned.
William Henry Harrison is the only US president to have never issued an executive order.
The US Bureau of Engraving and Printing sells bags of shredded currency.

The Esperanto word for female, "virino," is derived from the word for male, "viro," and literally translates to "female male."
"Dust" is its own antonym, referring both to the act of removing dust from something, and to the act of adding dust to something.
Out of the world's language isolates, Korean has more speakers than all the others combined.
Nachos are named after their inventor, Ignacio "Nacho" Anaya, who improvised them after being asked to make something new for a regular ata restaurant.

Around 4% of annual methane emissions are from termites.
Penguins have a set of glands that filter salt out of seawater. When they "sneeze" and shake their heads, they're expelling the salt.
Lichenometry, a method of dating exposed rock by measuring the growth of lichens growing on it, was first employed in 1933.
While bismuth is slightly radioactive, it's considered stable for most purposes because its half-life is over a billion times longer than the age of the universe.
Despite being naturally occurring, a pure macroscopic sample of astatine has never been produced, since it would immediately vaporize itself.
Only two chemical elements have been named after people who were alive at the time they were named: Seaborgium (106, after Glenn T. Seaborg), and Oganesson (118, after Yuri Oganessian).
Sunflowers were used to remove caesium and strontium from water after the Chernobyl and Fukushima incidents.
The closest living relatives of cetaceans (whales and dolphins) are hippos.
The ant species Colobopsis saundersi has a massive mandibular gland that produces a glue-like substance, which it uses to attach itself to enemies before exploding as a colonial defense mechanism.
The difference in air pressure on a plane can reduce the efficiency of sweet and salty taste buds by around 30%, and the low humidity can reduce taste even further.
Pears are unable to balance on the stem. If you place a pear upside-down on its stem, it will probably fall over.