22. In 1993, San Francisco held a referendum over whether a police officer called Bob Geary was allowed to patrol while carrying a ventriloquist’s dummy called Brendan O’Smarty. He was.
23. Sigurd the Mighty, a ninth-century Norse earl of Orkney, was killed by an enemy he had beheaded several hours earlier. He’d tied the man’s head to his horse’s saddle, but while riding home one of its protruding teeth grazed his leg. He died from the infection.
24. The Dutch village of Giethoorn has no roads; its buildings are connected entirely by canals and footbridges.
25. A family of people with blue skin lived in Kentucky for many generations. The Fulgates of Troublesome Creek are thought to have gained their blue skin through combination of inbreeding and a rare genetic condition known as methemoglobinemia.
26. Powerful earthquakes can permanently shorten the length of Earth’s day, by moving the spin of the Earth’s axis. The 2011 Japan earthquake knocked 1.8 microseconds off our days. The 2004 Sumatra quake cost us around 6.8 microseconds.
27. The first American film to show a toilet being flushed on screen was Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.
29. There is a glacier called “Blood Falls” in Antarctica that regularly pours out red liquid, making it look like the ice is bleeding. (It’s actually oxidised salty water.)
30. In 2008 scientists discovered a new species of bacteria that lives in hairspray.
31. The top of the Eiffel Tower leans away from the sun, as the metal facing the sun heats up and expands. It can move as much as 7 inches.
32. Lt. Col. “Mad” Jack Churchill was only British soldier in WWII known to have killed an enemy soldier with a longbow. “Mad Jack” insisted on going into battle armed with both a medieval bow and a claymore sword.
33. A U.S. park ranger named Roy C. Sullivan held the record for being struck by lightning the most times, having been struck — and surviving — seven times between 1942 and 1977. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot in 1983.
34. The longest musical performance in history is currently taking place in the church of St. Burchardi in Halberstadt, Germany. The performance of John Cage’s “Organ²/ASLSP (As Slow As Possible)” started on Sept. 5, 2001, and is set to finish in 2640. The last time the note changed was October 2013; the next change isn’t due until 2020.
35. There’s an opera house on the U.S.–Canada border where the stage is in one country and half the audience is in another.
36. The tiny parasite Toxoplasma gondii can only breed sexually when in the guts of a cat. To this end, when it infects rats, it changes their behaviour to make them less scared of cats.
37. The katzenklavier (“cat piano”) was a musical instrument made out of cats. Designed by 17th-century German scholar Athanasius Kircher, it consisted of a row of caged cats with different voice pitches, who could be “played” by a keyboardist driving nails into their tails.
38. There is a single mega-colony of ants that spans three continents, covering much of Europe, the west coast of the U.S., and the west coast of Japan.
39. The largest snowflake ever recorded reportedly measured 15 inches across.
40. An epidemic of laughing that lasted almost a year broke out in Tanganyika (now Tanzania) in 1962. Several thousand people were affected, across several villages. It forced a school to close. It wasn’t fun, though — other symptoms included crying, fainting, rashes, and pain.
41. The Romans used to clean and whiten their teeth with urine. Apparently it works. Please don’t do it, though.
42. There are around 60,000 miles of blood vessels in the human body. If you took them all out and laid them end to end, they’d stretch around the world more than twice. But, seriously, don’t do that either.