7 bizarre Guinness World Records

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIVIA GENIUS)

 

7 bizarre Guinness World Records

Since 1955, Guinness World Records has been celebrating the best and most fascinating people among us. The fastest runners, the fastest eaters, the person with the longest fingernails… they all have a place in history thanks to Guinness World Records. While many records are very impressive, though, some are just downright strange. Here are seven bizarre Guinness World Records that you would probably rather read about than try to break.

Most people at a virtual funeral

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In 2005, a Chinese gamer named Snowly played “World of Warcraft” for three days straight (which almost seems like it could be a record in and of itself). This proved to be too much for his body to take, though, and he died of fatigue. To celebrate his life, more than 100 other gamers filed into a virtual cathedral inside the same game and held a virtual funeral service for him. After this incident, the makers of “World of Warcraft” and other Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs) have changed the set-up of their games to include breaks to prevent obsessive gaming.

Farthest marshmallow nose-blow

This one is a bit gross, but the farthest a marshmallow has flown after being blown out of one person’s nostril and into the mouth of another person is 17 feet, 11 inches. The nose-blower was Paul Prado and the catcher (who must have had a lot of faith in Paul) was Sophia Rojas, who carried out this feat on the set of “Guinness World Records Gone Wild,” which is taped in Los Angeles, California.

Wealthiest cat

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The wealthiest cat in history is Blackie from the United Kingdom. When Blackie’s owner, Ben Rea, died in 1988, he left his $12.5 million fortune to the cat, which was the last living member of the 15-cat family he had lived with. Rea was a reclusive antiques dealer who wanted nothing to do with his family, so when he died, he split his fortune between three cat charities, with the understanding that they would look after his beloved Blackie.

Longest eyelash

You Jianxia of China holds them Guinness World Record for longest eyelash, with one of her lashes measuring 4.88 inches long. It is possible that this lash is even longer now, as the last official measurement was conducted on June 28, 2016. It is not clear why this woman’s eyelashes are so long, but she probably goes through a lot of mascara!

First implanted antenna

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The first implanted antenna was implanted in the head of a British man named Neil Harbisson in 2004. The antenna, which makes him look as if he was part-robot or perhaps an alien (which many people would enjoy here in 2019, as well), allows him to receive phone calls and use the internet, but it also does something much more incredible: it allows him to “hear” colors. The antenna “converts light waves into sound waves and transmits this to Neil’s inner ear,” making him one of the only people on Earth who can simultaneously see, smell, and hear a red rose at the same time.

Most toilet seats broken by the head in one minute

Kevin Shelley of the United States broke a record 46 wooden toilet seats over his head in one minute on September 1, 2007. This was accomplished on the set of a Guinness World Records television show taped in Cologne, Germany, so it is possible that America now owes this country some new toilet seats!

Most beer bottles opened by a chainsaw in one minute

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Who wants to use a regular old bottle opener when you could use a chainsaw to open a beer bottle? This was Ashrita Furman’s idea when he broke the record for “most beer bottles opened by a chainsaw in one minute” in May 2016 in New York, New York. He opened a whopping 24 bottles in sixty seconds, beating his own previous record.

6 Largest Churches in the U.S.

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

6 Largest Churches in the U.S.

Many people travel for an important reason: to savor new experiences that delight all of the senses. If you’re an experienced traveler, you often appreciate destinations of social, cultural, and historical significance. That said, a visit to a religious venue can be one way to explore your fascination with culture and history. Whether you love churches for their stunning stained-glass windows or historical artifacts, you’ll want to check out these churches below. Why? They are the six largest churches in the U.S.

Cathedral of St. Paul (St. Paul, Minnesota)

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The skyline of St. Paul, Minnesota, hasn’t been the same since the Cathedral of St. Paul held its first mass in 1915. On the exterior, you’ll marvel at the cathedral’s impressive dome, which measures a whopping 120 feet in diameter. The dome is made of steel beams, which are overlaid with clay tile and copper. Meanwhile, a 30-foot lantern sits at the apex of the dome. In all, the cathedral spans 306 feet in height, from its base to the top of the lantern.

The interior is no less impressive. The spacious sanctuary is the focal point of the cathedral and boasts a seating capacity of 3,000. Meanwhile, the marble altar is surrounded by an ornamental canopy called a baldachin. This majestic structure is supported by six columns of black and gold marble, each extending 24 feet high.

The building of the church was commissioned by Archbishop John Ireland in 1904. Emmanuel Louis Masqueray, a French architect trained in Paris, was chosen to design the Cathedral of St. Paul. Although the structure was usable in 1915, renovations weren’t fully completed until 1941.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral (New York City, New York)

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St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City is the largest Gothic-style cathedral in the United States. The cathedral is approximately 405 feet long and 274 wide, and it seats around 2,200 parishioners. Its stunning spires rise 330 feet above the street.

Construction on St. Patrick’s began in 1858 under the direction of Archbishop John Hughes, who commissioned American architect James Renwick to design the structure. However, the cathedral didn’t open its doors until May 1879 due to a pause in construction during the Civil War.

Throughout the years, additional elements such as the West Front towers, the Lady Chapel, and the great organ were added to make St. Patrick’s the awe-inspiring vision it is today. St. Patrick’s is also known for its Pieta statue of the Virgin Mary and Christ, which is three times larger than the Pieta in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Each year, more than three million people visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral to light a candle, attend mass, or simply gaze in wonder at its impressive edifice.

Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels (Los Angeles, California)

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Of the largest churches in the U.S., Our Lady of the Angels is the newest. Work began on the modern 11-story cathedral in May 1999 and was completed in early 2002.

Our Lady of the Angels is not only famous for its size but also its contemporary design, which was conceptualized by Spanish architect José Rafael Moneo. Our Lady of the Angels is also famous for its 300-foot nave and largest single use of alabaster windows in the U.S., which admits around 33,500 square feet of natural light on any given day.

Washington National Cathedral (Washington, District of Columbia)

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It took more than two centuries to complete the Washington National Cathedral. However, the result is a majestic Gothic structure. Nestled atop Mount Saint Albans, the cathedral sits 400 feet above sea level, making the top of its tower the highest point in Washington, D.C.

In 1792, George Washington set aside a plot of land for a national church in Washington, D.C. However, nothing happened for 100 years. Construction on the church, designed by Frederick Bodley (a British architect for the Anglican church), finally began in 1907 after President Theodore Roosevelt presided over its dedication ceremony. Although major construction work was completed and the first chapel opened for service in 1912, Washington National Cathedral didn’t come into its full glory until 1990.

Throughout the decades, the cathedral has hosted numerous funerals for U.S. presidents, such as Woodrow Wilson, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush. Washington National Cathedral also hosts prayer services when new Presidents are inaugurated.

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (Washington, District of Columbia)

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The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is the largest Catholic church in the United States. It’s 459 feet long, 240 feet wide, and reaches a height of 329 feet. Construction on the church began in 1920, but reports in Massachusetts newspapers suggest that the idea for constructing this massive church was conceived in the 1840’s.

The church held its first public mass on Easter Sunday in 1924. Today, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception serves as a gathering place for Catholics from all over the world. Mother Teresa frequently visited the shrine, and many Popes have made trips when in the U.S.

Cathedral of St. John the Divine (New York City, New York)

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St. John the Divine is an Episcopal church and the largest cathedral in the world. It stands at an impressive 601 feet and is 232 feet wide; the church also boasts a spectacular 120,000 square feet of floor space. Today, the cathedral houses the third largest rose window in the world; The Great Rose Window in the Cathedral’s western wall is constructed from 10,000 pieces of glass.

Construction of the cathedral began in 1892, after multiple bishops broached the idea for construction in the late 1820’s. Although the cathedral is more than 120 years old, it remains unfinished. Despite that, St. John the Divine held its first services in 1899 and continues to be an active place of worship today.

The Cathedral of St. John the Divine also holds a special place in history for hosting ecumenical services during the Civil Rights era of the 1950s and 1960s. In fact, Martin Luther King preached at the church in 1956, and more than 6,000 people attended a service in 1964 to call for an end to racial segregation.

The 7 Most Densely Populated States

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

7 Most Densely Populated States

The U.S. Census Bureau puts the current population of the United States at just under 330 million people. It estimates that a new person joins the country (either through birth or immigration) about every 13 seconds. And while the country may have 3,783,801 square miles of space to share, according to the CIA World Fact Book, some areas are more populated than others. For example, Wyoming may be a large state in terms of size, but more people live in the smaller state of New York.

So, what are the most densely populated states? If you broaden your question to include districts, then the most densely populated area of the United States is Washington, D.C. The nation’s capital has a population of just over 700,000 people, with 11,490 people per square mile, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s about ten times the population density of any of the 50 states. These are the most densely populated states.

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New York

New York

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Population Density: 414 people per square mile

New York City may have the highest population density of any city in the United States, but the rest of the state isn’t quite so crowded. According to NYC.gov, the population density of New York City is 27,000 people per square mile.

However, the state itself only ranks as the seventh-most densely populated, with just 414 people per square mile, according to the World Population Review. If you take the population of NYC out of the equation, New York would drop way down this list.

Delaware

Delaware

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Population Density: 500 people per square mile

Delaware comes in next with a population density of 500 people per square mile, according to the World Atlas. The state ranks a surprising number six on this list. Why surprising? That’s because Delaware’s population hasn’t even reached the one million mark yet, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

However, it’s densely populated because of its size. The state is smaller than Anchorage, Alaska, according to World Atlas, and is only 35 miles across at its widest point. So, it’s packing just under a million people into a state the size of a small city.

Maryland

Maryland

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Population Density: 625 people per square mile

Maryland packs a lot into 10,000 square miles, especially people. The state comes in fifth in population density in the United States, with 625 people per square mile, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

While Maryland may be one of the smallest states in the union, big cities such as Baltimore contribute quite a bit to its high population density. Baltimore itself has a population density of 7,657 people per square mile, according to Open Data Network.

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Connecticut

Connecticut

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Population Density: 737 people per square mile

This scenic state is the home of Yale, which counts Bill Clinton, Gerald Ford, and George W. Bush as graduates. It’s known officially as the Constitution State and unofficially as the Nutmeg State.

Connecticut is also home to about 737 people per square mile, according to the World Population Review. That puts it fourth in the nation for population density. The state packs about 3.5 million people into under 5,000 square miles, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Most people in Connecticut live in New Haven, Hartford, Stamford, and Bridgeport, four of the largest cities in the state. Bridgeport, the largest city, has around 144,229 inhabitants and is New England’s fifth most populous city. It’s also the home of Beardsley Zoo, which has been Connecticut’s only zoo for 90 years.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts

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Population Density: 890 people per square mile

Massachusetts is home to nearly 7 million people spread out over almost 8,000 square miles of space, according to the U.S. Census BureauWorld Atlas puts the population density of the state at 890 people per square mile, more than twice that of New York. It’s also the home of Martha’s Vineyard, the Boston Pops, and the third-largest Chinatown in the U.S.

Additionally, Massachusetts is one of only four states to have the word “commonwealth” in its official name (the other three being Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Virginia). As the location for many Revolutionary War conflicts, it will always hold a special place in the nation’s history.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island

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Population Density: 1022 people per square mile

There are about 1022 people per square mile in Rhode Island, according to States 101. The total population is just over one million people.

Rhode Island is actually the smallest state in the union. It’s also one of the least populated. Yet, because of its size, it ranks at an impressive number two on our list of the most densely populated U.S. states. According to Rhode Island’s official government website, the distance from north to south is just 48 miles. If you want to travel from east to west, you’ll only need to drive about 37 miles at the widest point.

The total area of the state is about 1,500 square miles, but an astonishing 66% of that consists of bodies of water. So, those million or so Rhode Island residents are crammed into a region spanning 34% of inhabitable land.

New Jersey

New Jersey

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Population Density: 1211 people per square mile

The Garden State has plenty to offer, including amazing beaches. There’s one area, however, where the state outshines its neighbor New York, and that’s in population density. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, New Jersey has 1,211 people per square mile. The state has a population of 8.9 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, but packs them into an area that’s a little smaller than Maryland.

The Garden State is also home to some of the most densely populated cities in the world. According to NJ.com, Guttenberg, Union City, and West New York are three of the most densely populated cities on earth. Also, New Jersey isn’t just famous for having the highest population in the U.S. Turns out that the state also has more horses than any other state in the Union. According to NJ.com, there are about 4 horses per square mile.

5 U.S. Cities Stuck in Time

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5 U.S. Cities Stuck in Time

Some cities are immune to change. These places make time travel feel possible, offering glimpses back into different eras. From historic cities with cobblestone streets to ghost towns that can’t seem to move forward, here are five U.S. cities stuck in time.

New Bedford, Massachusetts

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In 1765, a Quaker merchant named Joseph Rotch identified New Bedford, Massachusetts, as a prime location for his business. Located along the Atlantic Coast, with a deep harbor and easy access to Boston and New York, he believed New Bedford to be the perfect candidate for a top-notch whaling port. Rotch was correct in his assertion — during the 19th century, this Massachusetts city became the whaling capital of the world. New Bedford is still known today as The Whaling City and its identity is entwined with the million-dollar industry that once profited from its shores.  From the mansions built by the captains of industry on County Street to the flagged bluestone sidewalks, much of the city is unchanged from when it was first built.

Inquisitive visitors should stop at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. And although whaling is no longer permitted, the citizens of New Bedford still make their living on the water, with commercial fishing as one of the top sources of income.

Pacifica, California

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Pacifica, California, is a mere 10 miles from San Francisco, yet it feels a world away. A beachside haven that has changed little since its incorporation, this foggy surf town is surrounded by two sections of Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Pacifica was originally formed in 1957 when officials merged nine different communities to create one larger city. Although city planners envisioned growing Pacifica to 100,000 residents, these lofty plans never came to fruition. Much of the surrounding area became preserved land during the 1970s, which protected it from the rampant development happening elsewhere in the state. The result? Pacifica remains much the same as it was when it was incorporated, with stunning beaches perfect for surfing and acres of pristine public lands.

Some change, however, has found its way into this picturesque beach side community. In the past couple of years, new plans have been passed to turn Palmetto Avenue into a downtown area, making it more appealing to visitors and residents alike.

St. Augustine, Florida

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The oldest continually occupied city in the U.S., St. Augustine, Florida, was first established by Spanish settlers in 1565. Today, remnants of Spanish culture remain untouched in this historical gem of a city. From Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, a 330-year old fortress built by the Spanish, to the well-preserved Plaza de Constitucion, visiting St. Augustine is like stepping back into the well of history. The Colonial Quarter harkens back to the days when Spanish was spoken on the cobblestone streets, including live black smith and musket demonstrations.

St. Augustine’s most famous piece of architecture, however, is the Lightner Museum. Originally built as the Alcazar Hotel in 1888, the establishment closed during the Depression; it was later bought and renovated by Otto Lightner in 1948. Today, the restored museum includes memorabilia from the Gilded Age, in addition to rotating art exhibits.

Galena, Illinois

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Although it is commonly referred to as “The City That Time Forgot,” considering Galena a “city” is a bit of a stretch. For all intents and purposes, however, this well-preserved gem has rightfully earned its place on this list. Once the busiest port on the Mississippi River, Galena became a mining town in the mid-1800s when a lead ore mineral called “galena” was found in the surrounding area. The newly born city, named for the mineral that put it on the map, eventually became a political, industrial and cultural hub. Abraham Lincoln gave a speech from the second-floor balcony of a Galena hotel and even Ulysses S. Grant called it home for a spell.

Today, the town holds the magic of yesteryear, with its immaculate Victorian homes and brick architecture on Main Street. The city also draws scores of tourists looking to grasp onto the charms of days gone by, and with its working blacksmith shop and many historical sites, this feat is easily achieved.

Detroit, Michigan

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Detroit, Michigan, truly looks like a city frozen in time — but which time exactly? When Michigan Central Station opened in 1913, the train station was a shining example of Beaux-Arts Classical architecture and the tallest train station in the world. But when the station closed in 1988, it stood vacant for 30 years, a sad reminder of Motor City’s former glory. In an effort to move Detroit forward, Ford bought the train station last year, with plans to revitalize the building and bring the workforce back to the area. Still, the city is often referred to as a ghost town, with its fleeing population, abandoned homes and empty skyscrapers. In this sense, Detroit seems to be stuck in the early aughts, as it certainly hasn’t made any large strides since the collapse of the auto industry. With dreams of Detroit’s revival on the horizon, this is one city we hope isn’t stuck in time forever.

5 most bizarre Greek myths about animals

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIVIA GENIUS)

 

5 most bizarre Greek myths about animals

There are numerous myths, legends, and folk stories surrounding the history of Ancient Greece. Greek mythology is renowned for its bizarre creatures, powerful Gods, and epic battles—though some of these tales are stranger than others. While most of us are familiar with the stories of the “classic” monsters — the Hydra, the Minotaur, the snake-haired Medusa — there are plenty of other bizarre beasts populating these Greek stories.

The Nemean Lion

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One of the mythological creatures on this list, the Nemean Lion was a gigantic beast, armed with razor-sharp claws and adorned in golden fur said to be impervious to mortal weapons.

This seeming-immortality was put to the test when Greek hero Heracles was ordered to slay the Nemean Lion as the first of his 12 famous Labors. As the story goes, Heracles attempted to shoot the lion with arrows before realizing that its fur was impenetrable. When this didn’t work, Heracles took a different approach. Different versions of the tale offer two possible outcomes:

  • Heracles shot an arrow into the lion’s unprotected mouth, killing it instantly.
  • Heracles used rocks to trap the lion in its den and proceeded to grapple with it by hand, eventually using his godlike strength to strangle the beast to death.

The Stymphalian Birds

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Denizens of the ancient Greek city of Stymphalia, these monstrous birds were pets of Artemis, the Greek Goddess of the hunt. According to the story, the Stymphalian Birds had beaks made of bronze that were strong enough to pierce the iron plate of Greek armor. Their feathers were supposedly made of metal, used as projectile weapons that could be launched at victims, and their dung was toxic to mortals.

Again, Heracles was set to the task of eradicating these creatures as the sixth of his 12 Labors. However, Heracles didn’t do it alone. With the help of Greek Gods Athena and Hephaestus, and using the poisonous blood of the already-slain Hydra, Heracles was able to rustle the birds from their nest and shoot them down with his toxic arrows. And though many of the birds escaped the purge (later to encounter Jason and the Argonauts), Heracles was able to accomplish his task.

Pegasus

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We’ve all heard of Pegasus: The majestic winged stallion that Poseidon created from the magical blood of the slain Medusa.

In texts, Pegasus was a valuable ally to Poseidon’s son, Bellerophon, in his epic battle against the Chimaera, and later, the Amazons. Bellerophon shortly thereafter met his end (he fell off Pegasus while trying to ascend to Mt. Olympus), and Pegasus would join the pantheon of the immortals in service to Zeus, who charged the stallion with carrying his thunderbolts into battle. Eventually, Pegasus would be immortalized as the constellation that shares his name.

Pegasus is one of the most popular icons for in Greek Mythology, with frequent depiction on coins, in sculpture, pottery, and other artistic works. More than many other Greek creatures, Pegasus has become ingrained in Western culture, so much so that the word “Pegasus” now refers to both the mythological figure and the entire species of winged horses that we often see in fantasy stories.

The Mares of Diomedes

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Marking another of Heracles’ legendary Labors, (most of which involved mythic animals in some way), his eighth task was to recapture the lost Mares of King Diomedes.

The only problem? The horses were consumed by madness, trained to eat human flesh instead of regular feed and even thought to breathe fire. Though the story differs amongst versions, it’s generally accepted that Heracles was able to calm the horses enough to be tamed and kill the mad king Diomedes of Thrace, leaving Heracles free to rescue the horses and complete his task.

Carcinus

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Carcinus played an important role in Heracles’ battle against the Hydra. Not in favor of Heracles, of course — Carcinus is yet another mythical creature sent by the Gods to kill Heracles. And while the Hydra is certainly the headliner in that battle, the crab Carcinus fought bravely against the Greek hero, despite the fact that Carcinus had no impenetrable fur, fire breath, or toxic dung. So says the text:

“Then a giant crab (karkinos) came along to help the Hydra, and bit Herakles on the foot. For this he killed the crab.”

Yes, brave Carcinus did not last long. However, the Goddess Hera (who hated Heracles, incidentally) was moved by the crab’s bravery, and immortalized him as the constellation Cancer (pictured above).

Bizarre Greek Animals

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Yes, Greek mythology is full of strange tales and bizarre creatures. But that’s what makes the stories so much fun. The fantastical elements, epic poetry, and otherworldly monsters have captured the imaginations of cultures across the world. And given that these are just a few examples of the strange and bizarre Greek creatures that exist, it’s not hard to see why.

3 Facts About the 3 Biggest Islands in the Caribbean

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

3 Facts About the 3 Biggest Islands in the Caribbean

Did you know that there are more than 7,000 islands in the Caribbean? While many of these islands are quite small, plenty of them are large enough to be home to millions of residents.

Take, for instance, three of the biggest islands in the Caribbean: Cuba, Hispaniola and Jamaica. While they all call the Caribbean home, each of these islands has a unique character and culture. Ready to be amazed? Read on to learn three fascinating facts about the Caribbean’s biggest islands.

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Cuba Isn’t Just A Single Island

Map of Cuba and surrounding islands
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Cuba, or as it is properly called, the Republic of Cuba, is the largest island in the Caribbean, with a landmass of over 42,000 square miles. It has the largest population of a single country in the Caribbean, too. Cuba is home to over 11 million people.

But what you may not know is that Cuba isn’t just one island. While most people recognize the alligator-like shape of Cuba’s mainland, the country actually includes more than 4,000 small islands and cays.

Many of these islands are quite tiny. Some are home to all-inclusive resorts and others are uninhabited, but some of them are quite respectable in size. For instance, Isla de la Juventud, Cuba’s second-largest island, measures a little over 900 square miles, and has a population of about 100,000.

Hispaniola: Two Countries, One Island

Map of the island of Hispaniola split between Haiti and the Dominican Republic
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Hispaniola is the second-largest island in the Caribbean. It has a landmass of over 29,000 square miles and a population of more than 20 million.

But if it’s so big, why is it that so many people have never heard of it? That’s because the island of Hispaniola actually includes two countries: Haiti and the Dominican Republic. While most people are familiar with these names, it’s not as well known that the island spanning both of them is called Hispaniola.

While these two countries are locked together by land, they are very different. The Dominican Republic is far wealthier, with a robust tourism economy and several world-renowned resorts. Haiti, on the other hand, has significant poverty issues and is not as popular for tourists.

Sugarcane Is Not Indigenous to Jamaica

Photo of a sugarcane field at sunset
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Jamaica is the third-largest island in the Caribbean by landmass, spanning over 4,200 square miles. This makes it slightly larger than the next-biggest island, Puerto Rico, which measures in at about 3,500 square miles. However, in terms of population density, Puerto Rico is slightly larger, with a population of about 3.25 million as opposed to Jamaica’s at about 2.9 million.

When you think of Jamaica’s most significant crops, you probably think of sugarcane, which is key to making the country’s famous rum. But did you know that sugarcane is not indigenous to Jamaica?

The original residents of Jamaica, the Arawak Indians, grew things like cassava, corn and yams. But when Spanish settlers came through in 1510, they brought sugarcane with them.

Along with the sugarcane, they also brought the custom of slavery. Thousands of Africans were imported to the island to work on sugarcane and tobacco plantations. When the British took over Jamaica, agriculture became the island’s main economy.

While slavery was later abolished, the tradition of agriculture has remained strong in Jamaica. Agriculture is one of the main economies on the island, with the sugar industry being the oldest continuously-run operation on the island.

How’s That For Some Tropical Trivia?

Photo of a beautiful orange sunset behind two palm trees
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The Caribbean may be one large tropical region, but the area’s biggest islands are all quite different from one another. While they may share similar climates and geography, there’s still plenty of economic and cultural diversity among these tropical destinations.

Is quicksand actually a real thing?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIVIA GENIUS)

 

Is quicksand actually a real thing?

You’ve watched cartoon characters sink into it, seen depictions of it on the Silver Screen, and may have even heard a tale or two about it, but is quicksand even real? Maybe it’s not something you’ve ever considered, but there is a real possibility that the notion of quicksand was a fictional creation. Even if you’ve heard stories about run-ins with it, have you ever met somebody who’s actually come face to face with quicksand?

Since it’s likely a question that’s been burning a hole in your mind, it seems appropriate to answer the question once and for all: Is quicksand a real thing?

Does quicksand exist?

Park ranger waist deep in quicksand
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The short answer is: yes. While it may sound like the creation of a science-fiction writer, quicksand is absolutely real. Just as depicted in the movies, quicksand appears to have a solid state, but when touched, turns into a gelatinous liquid that can trap a person. Though it has the word “sand” in its name, quicksand is not just an unstable patch of solid granules. It’s a non-Newtonian liquid, meaning it doesn’t follow the characteristics of Newton’s Law of Viscosity.

While composed of sand, quicksand’s qualities are due to the 30% to 70% of air found between each grain. There is another component to the unusual formation, however, that helps give it that thick consistency.

It’s more than just sand

Water running through a landscape of sand
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Along with the air-filled space, quicksand is comprised of a third component — water. Since there is such a space between the grains of sand, when there is a vibration or added weight, they become unstable. With these disturbances, water separates from the grains, causing the liquid-like consistency. As it loses viscosity, the patch of quicksand becomes unable to hold up any weight. Anything that crosses it, from a small animal to a human, will start to sink.

Quicksand is often depicted as a death trap, but with the proper reaction, getting caught in it is not a dooming scenario.

Escaping quicksand

Photo of three people hiking in a desert and river landscape
Credit: Pierce Martin/ Flickr/ CC BY 2.0

When a living organism gets caught in quicksand, its gut reaction is panic. Even humans, who can more readily process what’s happening to them, will struggle against the downward force of sinking.

Rather than struggle, a victim of quicksand should stick to calm movements. The slower they move, the less viscous the quicksand will get. With the sinking slowed, rather than try to pull themselves out, the individual should spread their arms and legs to increase surface area. An increased surface area will cause them to float.

Where does quicksand form?

Image of water collecting on sand
Credit: Wendy Love/ iStock

Though it may sound scary, quicksand isn’t commonplace all over the world. Patches of quicksand are found near springs and riverbanks, where the motion of the water causes additional space between the grains of sand.

Desert environments can also experience quicksand, though these instances aren’t caused by water. Instead, it’s the downward motion of the wind near sand dunes that create space, leading to the viscous terrain.

A rare occurrence in nature

Young kid playing in quicksand at the beach
Credit: pio3/ Shutterstock

While not quite the same as it’s depicted in fictional stories, quicksand does exist, though your chances of coming across a patch are incredibly low. For now, you can marvel at the oddities of quicksand from afar, popping on the occasional TV series or movie that depicts the phenomenon. At least now you can quell that lingering worry in the back of your mind that a random patch of sand may swallow you into the Earth.

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4 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About North Carolina

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

4 Things You Didn’t Know About North Carolina

When you think of the great state of North Carolina, chances are you think of its beautiful coastline, bustling cities, and the majestic Blue Ridge mountains.

But there’s even more to discover in this welcoming southern state, from iconic regional foods to incredible mansions and chilling historical mysteries.

Want to learn more? Here are four things you didn’t know about North Carolina.

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The Birthplace Of Both Pepsi And Krispy Kreme

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Did somebody say sugar rush? North Carolina is the birthplace of not one but two internationally beloved sugary treats: Pepsi-Cola and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.

Pepsi-Cola: In 1893, a drugstore owner named Caleb Davis Bradham created what he called “Brad’s Drink,” a mixture of sugar, water, caramel, lemon oil, nutmeg, and other flavorings. It became a local favorite. The drink was later rebranded “Pepsi-Cola” and went on to become an international sensation.

Krispy Kreme: In 1933, an entrepreneur named Vernon Rudolph purchased a top-secret doughnut recipe from a New Orleans chef and set out to make some dough (pun intended). He took his recipe on the road and opened the first Krispy Kreme in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in 1937.

The business grew, and automating processes allowed for greater production. The business expanded, first through the Carolinas, then throughout the United States. Today, they operate locations in a variety of different countries.

America’s Biggest Mansion

Photo of a large, elaborate mansion
Credit: ZakZeinert/ Shutterstock.com

Did you know that the largest home in the U.S. is located in North Carolina? Nestled in the green, mountainous region of Asheville, the regal Biltmore Estate was built in the 1800’s by George Vanderbilt II, an heir of the famous Vanderbilt railroad family.

The incredible estate boasts a gorgeous house with 255 rooms, grounds designed by Frederick Law Olmstead (who also co-designed New York’s Central Park along with Calvert Vaux), and today, it even has a winery.

Today, the Biltmore Estate is no longer a private residence. It’s operated as a popular attraction, with guided tours, walking paths, restaurants, and regular events.

Its First Settlers Disappeared Mysteriously

Photo of hills leading to a beach next to the ocean
Credit: Hakan Ozturk/ Shutterstock.com

In 1587, the first English colony, Roanoke Island, was established just off the coast of what is today North Carolina. The original settlers included a group of 117 individuals, including men, women, and children.

Soon after it was established, the colony’s leader took a trip back to Britain for supplies. But what was supposed to be a short trip became extended when war broke out, and he didn’t return for three years.

When he did get back in August of 1590, things had taken a very creepy turn. All of the settlers were gone. There were no traces of the colony, its inhabitants, or what might have happened.

The only clue? The seemingly meaningless word “croatan” carved into a wooden post. To this day, this mystery has historians stumped.

The Tallest Brick Lighthouse in the United States

Photo of a black and white striped lighthouse
Credit: Stephen B. Goodwin/ Shutterstock.com

While North Carolina isn’t typically associated with tall structures, it is, in fact, home to America’s tallest brick lighthouse. Completed in the early 1800’s, the black and white Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is an iconic figure for the state and often appears on the cover of trip guides and on postcards.

What you can’t tell from photos, though, is just how massive the lighthouse is: It’s 210 feet (about 19 stories) tall and offers a range of 24 nautical miles.

Sweet Carolina!

Photo of a busy big city at night
Credit: ESB Professional/ Shutterstock.com

North Carolina is home to plenty of beautiful nature, interesting history, and a lot of cool areas to visit. With its iconic architecture, legendary snack foods, and even some historical mystery and intrigue, it’s well worth your time to visit the Tar Heel State to explore!

A brief history of the California Gold Rush

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIVIA GENIUS)

 

A brief history of the California Gold Rush

The California Gold Rush was a defining moment for 19th century America. Most of us learned the basics of this watershed event back in school, but few of us are really familiar with the fateful events that led to one of the biggest gold rushes in world history.

How did it start?

Credit: ilbusca / iStock

The California Gold Rush unofficially started in January 1848 near the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. A carpenter, James Marshall, was working on building a water-powered sawmill in the area when he happened upon a few flakes of gold trailing down the American River.

“It made my heart thump, for I was certain it was gold.” –James Marshall

This would be the first gold harvested in the Gold Rush, but it wouldn’t be long before Marshall’s discovery went public.

Within weeks of the discovery, word got out that there was gold in the hills. And while Marshall’s initial claims were met with disbelief, there were plenty of locals interested in investigating the story for themselves.

The mass migration begins

Credit: raclro / iStock

It didn’t take long for other Californians to realize that Marshall’s claims weren’t just bluster. There was gold in the area just waiting to be claimed—and for those who got their hands on it, it offered an instant path out of poverty into the world of wealth and fortune. Naturally, this was an appealing prospect for plenty of impoverished workers.

According to reports, nearly 75 percent of male San Franciscans had left for the gold mines by June 1848, and by August, there were over 4,000 miners in the area. (Unfortunately, John Sutter—the owner of the property where Marshall initially discovered the gold—was one of the first victims of the Gold Rush. By 1852, his property had been overrun, destroyed and vandalized by so many transients that he eventually went bankrupt.)

The initial tides of fortune-seekers were from California and the surrounding areas, but once word got out, the excitement couldn’t be contained to Union borders. Miners traveled from across the world to find their fortune in California, with prospectors coming from Oregon, Mexico, Chile, Peru, and China.

It’s hard to overstate the massive population boom that occurred in the area. The non-native population of California was only 800 in early 1848; throughout the following year, the population skyrocketed to 20,000. And by the end of the following year, it reached 100,000—over 100 times as many inhabitants!

The end of the rush

Credit: NeilLockhart / iStock

The biggest boom of prospectors came in 1849, after word of the rush had spread across the world. These so-called “forty-niners” raised the population of the region significantly, creating tough situations where small towns were overwhelmed with too many people. Crime, violence, and theft were common throughout the area, and many suffered as a result.

To make matters worse, the gold had already started to dry up by 1850. By then, most of the easily-accessible surface gold had been picked clean by the earliest prospectors, and miners were forced to work hard and dig deep to uncover even the smallest bits of gold.

Of course, this didn’t stop people from flocking to the area. Miners continued to come to California over the years, its population swelling to 300,000 by 1855. Thanks to this nonstop influx of people, and the rise of hydraulic mining equipment used by businesses to tear through the region, the Gold Rush proper was over by the end of the decade.

How much gold WAS there?

Credit: optimarc / Shutterstock.com

Reports on actual gold totals vary, but historians believe that nearly $2 billion in gold was mined during the Gold Rush. At its peak in 1852, around $81 million in gold was being pulled up annually, with this total decreasing each year as the rush went on.

It sounds like a lot, but very few prospectors actually struck it rich. Most miners were poor, working-class individuals who spent what little savings they had traveling to the area, paying for lodging and buying equipment—and the majority never recouped their investment. A select few were able to achieve their dreams of striking it rich, but many more were left worse off than they were before.

Long-term impacts of the gold rush

Credit: ilbusca / iStock

The California Gold Rush represented an opportunity that few could pass up: the chance to become a millionaire overnight. And while most didn’t make it, this push had some drastic long-term impacts for the region and for the Union as a whole.

The crazy economic boom caused by the Gold Rush is believed to be responsible for speeding up California’s admission to the Union in 1850. And several of its cities, such as San Francisco, became busy metropolitan areas that would remain vibrant and strong over the coming years.

Of course, it all came at a cost. Countless miners died on their journeys to California and in the dangerous gold mines. The local Native American population also suffered greatly; California’s Native population numbered around 300,000 before the rush, but within the next 20 years, over 100,000 of these people were dead due to displacement, disease, and mining-related accidents.

Like all watershed moments throughout history, the California Gold Rush brought equal parts prosperity and hardship. Its impacts can still be felt today—both in the local regions where it took place and as a cultural artifact of American history that’s fascinating to look back upon.

3 Amazing Facts About Rome You Never Knew

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

3 Amazing Facts About Rome You Never Knew

Rome is a city of romance and ancient ruins coexisting in the cosmopolitan chaos of a modern national capital. Vestiges of the Roman Empire’s power and building prowess, the Forum and the Colosseum, are iconic landmarks and tourism magnets. And as the acknowledged world seat of the Catholic Church, Rome’s monuments to religious wealth over the centuries, such as the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica, are important religious tourism sites and shrines. With a history dating back more than 3,000 years, and the art and architecture from along the way, Rome is a museum in itself. Within all of that exist hidden and obscure bits of culture and history.

The First and Largest European University is in Rome

Credit: rarrarorro/Shutterstock

Sapienza University of Rome — often also referred to as Sapienza or the University of Rome — is the city’s, and Europe’s, oldest college, established in 1303 A.D. It is the largest university in Europe, and the second largest higher-education system in the world. Specializing in aerospace engineering and scientific research, among many other disciplines, the university with more than 700 years of history today is also known for its international studies programs. Sapienza serves 112,000 students with a faculty and staff of 4,000 professors and 2,000 officials, technicians, and librarians.

Typical for ancient Roman times, the genesis of Sapienza is dramatic and controversial. It seems an early Roman with powerful ambitions, Benedetto Caetan, convinced Pope Celestino V to abdicate the papacy, then took his spot. Calling himself Pope Boniface VIII, in 1303 he promptly excommunicated King Philip IV of France in the aftermath of a religious-political power struggle. The same year, he opened Stadium Urbis, the University of Rome, outside the walls of the Vatican. Given the tumultuous times, the move didn’t alleviate all tensions, of course, but it did help set a tone for future cooperation between secular and religious scholarship.

Trevi Fountain Coins Fund the Needy

Credit: Luciano Mortula – LGM/Shutterstock

Nearly $800,000 worth of coins are tossed into Rome’s Trevi Fountain each year. The proceeds are donated to Caritas to help those in need. Located in the Quirinale district of the city, the enormous and intricately carved fountain is made mostly of travertine. It ended up being designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi, and was subsequently completed by Giuseppe Pannini and several others. At roughly 86 meters in height and 160 feet wide, the ancient fountain is the largest Baroque fountain in the city of Rome and, arguably, the most famous public fountain in the world.

Salvi wasn’t the original architect involved with the project. Architect Alessandro Galilei, a relative of famous ancient astronomer Galileo, originally was given the commission for the fountain’s design by Pope Clemens XII in 1730. However, the announcement elicited outrage from citizens, because another top architect in contention — Salvi — was a native Roman, while Galilei was Florentine. The project was given to Salvi in part to quell the uprising.

St. Peter’s is the Biggest Church Ever

Credit: Thoom/Shutterstock

Viewed from afar, the scale of the buildings surrounding St. Peter’s Basilica gives you an idea of its immense size, as the otherwise sizable structures are dwarfed by the gigantic church in their midst. The Italian Renaissance behemoth is one of the pre-eminent Catholic holy shrines in the world. As such, it is visited by thousands of pilgrims and tourists on a monthly basis.

You don’t have to be devout in order to be awed by the basilica’s grandeur. At 610 feet long and 150 feet high, the huge church is actually the second version. The first, which received basilica status due to its site above St. Peter’s tomb, was completed around 350 A.D. It stood for more than 1,000 years, but concerns over deterioration caused Pope Julias II to call for its demolition. Construction of the new basilica, which began in the early 1500s, took 120 years to complete. Its massive dome, some 140 feet in diameter, reaches a height of nearly 450 feet. After taking an elevator or hiking up the stairs, visitors to the dome level enjoy spectacular view of Rome and Vatican City.

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