u/TikiTC asked on r/askreddit: "What’s a little-known but obvious fact that will immediately make all of us feel stupid?" Many of the 20,000+ replies are funny, useful, and fascinating. Here are a few:
With majority support in 44 states, and more in favor than opposed in 4 others, same-sex marriage is a done deal for most Americans. Besides, it's legal nationwide after a Supreme Court ruling in 2015. But Americans in two states are holding out when it comes to moral approval: Missisippi, where more are opposed to same-sex marriage than in favor of it, and in Alabama, the last state where an outright majority oppose it.
Support rose above 50% for the first time in 2011 and has not gone below that mark since then. Support rose to 60% for the first time in 2015 and has not gone below that mark since then. Support continues to rise while opposition continues to fall each year, driven in large part by a significant generational gap.
From 1988 to 2009, support for same-sex marriage increased between 1% to 1.5% per year, but thereafter support began to rise at an accelerated pace.
As of 2016, 83% of Americans aged 18 to 29 support same-sex marriage.
As of 2018, for the first time in Pew's research, more Americans over 65 favor same-sex marriage than oppose it. To find a broad national demographic opposed, you have to filter your way down to categories like "Republican Boomers" or "Weekly Church Attendees." Read the rest
The uploader of this video doesn't know much about it — "probably it's Tokyu Ikegami Line" — but they know it's the world's shortest train. In honor of the widespread "reporting" of president-elect Donald Trump saving a Ford factory from being moved to Mexico (he didn't), I hereby honor, in search engines and Facebook, the obviously factual fact that this is the world's shortest train. Read the rest
Children's book illustrator Mike Lowery has an Instagram feed worth following. Each image is an illustrated, Ripley's Believe It or Not style cartoon with an interesting fact. Check out a few samples below.
Diplodocus is a sauropod — one of those dinosaurs whose shape you probably associate with the name "brontosaurus". Except that Diplodocus was long. Really long. At an average length of 90 feet, it's longest dinosaur ever found. Also: It might have had spines up and down its neck. Check out this LiveScience piece by Kim Ann Zimmermann for more fun Diplodocus facts. Read the rest
Every now and then, I get a glorious reminder of just how much the Internet has enriched my life. Fifteen years ago, if I had arrived at a conference center—as I did yesterday for my stint in the Marine Biological Laboratory Science Journalism Fellowship program—and seen a sign in the lobby announcing the presence of a "Xenopus Workshop" I could have, eventually, found out that a Xenopus was a frog frequently used as a model animal in medical research.
Thanks to the Internet, though, I was able to learn the following things in a remarkably short period of time:
Xenopus Fact: Xenopuses (Xenopodes? Xenopi? Freshman Latin was a really long time ago, you guys) were used in one of the earliest reliable pregnancy tests. That's because exposure even a tiny amount of the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin will cause a female Xenopus to lay eggs. Inject a female Xenopus with urine from a human female and, if the Xenopus lays eggs, it means the female human is knocked up.
Xenopus Fact: You know how some lizards can grow a new tail if you cut the old one off? Xenopuses can do that with the lenses of their eyes.
Xenopus Fact: Because Xenopuses are so widely used in laboratories, there's a whole industry of suppliers of Xenopuses and Xenopus accessories. Case in point, the "Xenopus enrichment tube" in the photo above—apparently, they like to have something to hide out in. Also, you can buy synthetic slime to replace your Xenopus' natural protective coating that is often lost through frequent handling. Read the rest
In nine years of filming, the show Myth Busters has burned through 33,500 yards of duct tape. (Via Katherine Nelson) Read the rest
Last week, Maggie went to the largest science conference in the Western Hemisphere for four days of wall-to-wall awesomeness. Every day, she learned amazing things, watching scientists from all over the world talk about their work. Check the bottom of each post to find links to earlier posts in this series!
One of my favorite parts of the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference happens at the end of each day, after the panel discussions are over and the convention floor has been locked down. That's when the parties start.
Now, obviously, everybody likes parties. But these are better than most. The AAAS parties are where a delightful mixture of scientists, journalists, academic journal editors, and university public relations officers gather to compare notes, talk shop, and tell each other about the awesome science they learned during the day.
I already mentioned how hard it is to decide which panels to see and which lectures to attend. At any given time there will be three-to-five different things you'd like to watch, all happening simultaneously. During the day, you're forced to choose. But at night, the parties are where you get the chance to learn about all the things you didn't get to see for yourself. You arrive, are handed a glass of wine, and all your friends run up to find out what you learned that day. It is a wonderful, nerd-tastic experience, and I want to share it with you.
On Sunday, February 19th, I took a small video recorder to a AAAS wine and cheese party. Read the rest