Completely Useless Facts of the Week – Issue 9

October 26, 2014

uselessfacts header9Issue 9 of the Completely Useless Facts of the Week includes facts about Greenland, Banana Skins, Mercury, the New York Marathon, and Reno. Indulge in the facts behind the facts.

277px Greenland CIA WFB Map

Greenland is the largest island in the world.  Australia by definition could be considered an island since it is land surrounded by water and would be the largest, but of course it is classified as a continent since it is tectonically independent from other continents.  Greenland in its own right is huge, and not very green.  Greenland covers 836,300 square miles, while the next largest island, New Guinea, only covers 303,381 square miles.  Most of the island is covered by an ice sheet of 677,855 square miles.  It is thought that three large islands sit under all that ice.  The population is tiny.  Only 56,840 people live in Greenland as of 2012, making it the least densely populated country in the world.  Greenland’s population is roughly the size of Pittsburgh City, California.  Ever heard of it?  Neither had we.

800px Banane A 05 cropped
Who knew bananas could be so dangerous.  The dangers of slipping on the skins of bananas has been known since the 1880’s, and turned into a Vaudevillian comedy routine in the early 1900’s.  Unfortunately, Great Britain didn’t get the memo on the inherent danger of a banana skin.  There were more than 300 banana-related accidents in Britain in 2001.  Most of the accidents involved people slipping on skins.  There have been no current statistics to know if this has become an epidemic.

553px Pouring liquid mercury bionerd
Bionerd/wikimedia

Mercury, commonly known as quicksilver, is the only metallic element that is liquid at room temperature.  Mercury is a rare element and not commonly found in the earth’s crust, but it is extremely concentrated when found.  It is and was commonly used in  thermometers and sphygmomanometers, the fancy term for blood pressure cuff, but these items are being phased out due to mercury’s high toxicity.  Mercury has been used throughout history.  Mercury was discovered in Egyptian tombs dating from the 1500’s B.C. and was known to the Greeks, Chinese, Romans, and Hindus, and each were complete with their own legends.  The term “mad as a hatter,” was thought to originate from the use of mercury salts in hat making which supposedly produced a finer felt.  The workers that were exposed did develop twitches and trembles, but it can’t be determined if this is the true etiology of the term and that these workers were indeed going “mad”.

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The New York Marathon is the largest marathon in the world.  In 1970, 127 runners ran the NY Marathon. In 2013, 50,304 did.  The initial course ran around Central Park only.  Now the course meanders through all five boroughs of New York City.  2.5 million spectators watch the race, and a prize of $130,000 goes to the first place male and female runners.  The marathon has only been cancelled once, in 2012, due to the damage left by Hurricane Sandy a week before the race was scheduled to be run

RENOThis last fact takes the prize for information that will get you nowhere.  Reno, Nevada is west of Los Angeles, California. You can’t much more of a useless fact than that.

That’s it for this week’s edition.  I hope you will check back for more next time.  Remember to annoy those around you with your new found knowledge.  They’ll love you for it.

About the author 

Daniel Ganninger - The writer, editor, and chief lackey of Knowledge Stew, the author of the Knowledge Stew line of great trivia books, and editor of Fact World and the Knowledge Stew sister site on Medium. I hope you find things here to annoy those around you with your new found knowledge.

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