Friday, April 1, 2011

Apple #515: Did You Know?

Thought I'd assemble a potpourri of items for you to consider.  Did you know:

[Edit: I wrote this entry on April Fool's Day. So the following tidbits each contain some erroneous statement. Scroll down to reach the truth about each one.]
  • The loudest animal on earth is the howler monkey whose howl can be heard 3 miles away.

Howler monkey
(Photo from Moxie Bird)

  • George Washington wore dentures made of wood.
  • Abraham Lincoln was a Deist.
  • Bob Barker was a conscientious objector.
  • Bats use a kind of sonar to locate their prey. Because of the sonar, they don't need to use their eyes much, so they are effectively blind. 

A bat finding its way to this food mainly by sense of smell.
(Photo from the San Francisco Sentinel)

  • The Phil Collins song "In the Air Tonight" is about a murder he witnessed when he was a child.  He invited the murderer to a concert, gave him a front-row ticket, and performed the song "to" him at the show. Until then, Collins had not told anyone about what he had witnessed. 
  • Walt Disney was cryogenically frozen after he died, in the hopes that some day, scientists would know how to bring his body back to life -- reanimate him, if you will.

Walt Disney liked technology almost as much as he liked cartoons and animation.  Here he is with a zoetrope.
(Photo from it THING)

  • If you're on the road and a huge thunderstorm or tornado is coming, get under an overpass and take shelter there.
  • If you're in your house during a tornado and you don't have a basement, open the windows to equalize the pressure and go to the southwest corner of the house. 

Do you know what to do when a tornado approaches your house?
(You can buy this art print from for $19.99)

  • Eating a stalk celery burns more calories than it contains, so celery is a "negative calorie" food.


None of those statements above is true!  They're all lies!  Myths and lies!  Haha, joke's on you!

Here are the for-real and for-true facts:

  • The loudest animal on earth is the blue whale.  Its low-frequency sounds register at 188 decibels, louder than a jet engine.  The howler monkey is the second-loudest.
  • George Washington did wear dentures, but none of the surviving sets was wooden.  The four that remain are made respectively of ivory, gold, lead, and a combination of human and horse and donkey teeth.  The last combination was quite common at that time.

A red laser scanning a reproduction of the lower jaw of one set of Washington's dentures.  The original was made of ivory from a hippo.
(Photo by Jed Kirschbaum from the The Baltimore Sun, sourced from MSN)

  • Abraham Lincoln was a Christian, though he was unaffiliated with any denomination and he was never a member of any church.
  • Bob Barker enlisted in the US Navy in 1942 and served as a naval aviation cadet beginning in 1943.  After he left active duty in 1945, he remained in the Naval Reserves until 1960.

Navy Lieutenant junior grade Bob Barker
(Photo from the Naval Air Station, Grosse Ile)

  • Bats do navigate using a version of sonar (which also means they'll never get tangled in your hair), and while their eyes are small and not as keen as their other senses, their eyes are definitely functional.
  • Walt Disney was cremated on December 17, 1966.  Other people have been cryogenically frozen, though.  The first was James Bedford, whose body was frozen in 1967. One other interesting thing I found out about Disney was that when he won the Oscar in 1939 for Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, they gave him one regular statue and 7 mini statuettes.

The Oscar and 7 honorary statuettes Walt Disney was awarded in 1939.
(Photo from it THING)

  • Collins was going through a divorce when he wrote "In the Air Tonight," and the song is about that experience and its accompanying bitterness.
  • Overpasses are probably the most dangerous place to go during a wind storm. The pinched shape of an overpass actually concentrates and increases wind speeds so that any flying debris could be slammed even harder into you.  Three people tried hiding under and overpass during a tornado in Oklahoma in 1991, and all three were killed.
  • Opening the windows won't make any difference in the air pressure if a tornado gets close enough. What's most likely to happen is you'll get stabbed by flying glass shards when the window breaks.  Stay away from windows entirely.  Moreover, the southwest corner may actually be the most dangerous place to be within the house.  Get to the lowest place possible, and if you don't have a basement, go to the smallest room on the ground floor which is probably the bathroom and cover your head.

See, this is why you do not want to be near windows near a tornado. Not only is the window completely blown in, but that child's bike was flung so hard against the wall it crumpled. You would not want that bike to come flying through your window and hit you. (This is from a June 2010 tornado that devastated Millbury, Ohio.)
(Photo by Paul Sancya, AP, sourced from The Sacramento Bee)

  • One stick of celery contains about 6 calories.  It takes about 2 minutes to eat a stalk of celery.  On average, we burn 62 calories per hour just sitting and doing nothing.  So if we put celery into the same units -- calories per hour -- and if we ate nothing but celery for an hour, we would take in 180 calories.  That's more than we burn on our own per hour, which means that celery does add calories to the diet. But that's a good thing.  Food is fuel.  We need food to survive.

Celery.  It doesn't have many calories, but it does have some.
(Photo from listverse)

Smithsonian, Meet Our Animals, Animal Records
George Washington's False Teeth Not Wooden, Associated Press, January 27, 2005
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Facts about Abraham Lincoln
IMDb, Bob Barker Biography and The Daily Apple entry on Bob Barker
Discovery Channel Animal Planet, Top 10 Animal Myths
Was Walt Disney Frozen After Death? The Telegraph, April 1, 2011
Weather Myths, Dayton Daily News, 2003


  1. Very interesting facts! But a suggestion: add some message above the message warning people about april fool's, cause someone might read only part of it and take erroneous information (which is not cool if you're giving survival tips).

    PS: You got me!

    PS 2: Very good post, as always :)

  2. Yeah, Zim, I thought about that. Now that April Fool's Day has passed, I'm going to add a note at the beginning of the entry with some sort of warning.

    Thanks for the kind words!
    --the apple lady


If you're a spammer, there's no point posting a comment. It will automatically get filtered out or deleted. Comments from real people, however, are always very welcome!