10 Unbelievable Facts that Sound Completely Fake

We come across statements that sound completely fake but are actually 100% true. The world is full of such weird facts that sound incredibly fake. For example, if someone says that your head ages faster than your feet, you wouldn’t actually believe them as it sounds impossible. But in reality, it’s true! Even though the age difference is negligible, it’s actually true. Read on to find some of the most unbelievable facts that sound completely fake.

1. Heroin was once used to treat children’s coughs.

Heroin as Cough Medicine
Advertisement for Heroin, around 1900/ Bayer heroin bottle, originally containing 5 grams of Heroin substance. Image Credit: Wikipedia, Mpv_51 via Wikipedia

A now illegal drug being used as a medicine sounds incorrect, but this is how heroin began its life. Heroin was used in cough medicines for decades. The advertisements used to go like this: “The sum of clinical experience designates glyco-heroin as a respiratory sedative superior in all respects to the preparations of opium, morphine, codeine and other narcotics.” The advertisements would even go on to add that heroin has the capacity to “suit the palate of the most exacting adult or the most capricious child.”

The company to develop this cough medicine was Bayer. They marketed it as being “more powerful than aspirin” and a potent cough suppressant. It was considered a safer alternative to morphine which was earlier present in cough medications. But soon it was discovered that addiction to heroin was way worse than that of morphine. Bayer pulled the cough syrup from the market in 1910. Soon, the Heroin Act of 1924 made the substance illegal.(source)

2. The Guinness Book of World Records was created to settle bar arguments.

Guinness Book of World Records
Hugh Beaver, the first Guinness World Records book. Image credit: guinnessworldrecords.com

Sir Hugh Beaver, the managing director of the Guinness Brewery, was part of a hunting party in 1951. There, all the hunters had an argument regarding the fastest game bird in Europe. Everybody had a different answer and they were unable to find the correct answer in any reference book.

In 1954, Sir Hugh Beaver recalled this argument and embarked on a journey to create a book that would help settle similar pub arguments. He invited twin brothers, Norris and Ross McWhirter, to compile the book of facts and figures. The McWhirter brothers were fabulously fanatical fact-finding researchers. After an initial phase of research, the brothers sat down to compile the book. Little did they know that they were creating one of the most famous books in the history of mankind.

It has been over 60 years and the Guinness Book of World Records continues to be the best seller every year.(source)

3. The city of Chicago was raised by over a foot during the 1850s and ’60s without disrupting daily life.

Chicago in the 19th century
Chicago in the 19th century. Image Credit: Rand, McNally & Co. via Wikipedia

It the middle of the 19th century, Chicago was going through the problem of water not being able to flow out of the city. The streets were filled with mud. When the entire city started to look like a swamp, a solution was developed. The solution was to raise the entire city by a few feet!

A brick hotel aised
Image credit: Wikimedia

This particular solution was devised by the Chicago Board of Sewerage Commissioners. Over the next 20 years, the city gradually grew taller. New foundations were laid underneath existing buildings and the streets were filled with dirt to elevate them. All this work had no effect on normal life in the city. An entire half block of a street was lifted in an amazing engineering feat. The engineer behind this was George Pullman who went on to become famous for his train Pullman sleeping car. In some cases, entire buildings were dug out, put on wooden logs, and rolled to new locations.(1,2)

4. The first recorded use of the abbreviation “OMG” was in a 1917 letter to Winston Churchill.

OMG
Letter from Lord Fisher to Winston Churchill/ Winston Churchill. Image Credit: Lord Fisher via Wikipedia, United Nations Information Office, New York via Wikipedia

Yes, the first time “OMG” was used to represent “Oh My God” was in a letter that Lord Fisher wrote to Winston Churchill in 1917. Before this, there has not been any written documentation of the use of the abbreviation.

Lord Fisher’s letter went unnoticed for almost 100 years. It was unearthed by Oxford English Dictionary lexicographers when they were trying to make an entry for “OMG” in March 2011. Their job is to track down the earliest known usage of every word or phrase. Before they found Lord Fisher’s letter, their initial research revealed that “OMG” was first used in an online forum for soap-opera fans in 1994.(source)

5. The number of bacteria living in or on our body is almost equal to the number of cells we have in our entire body.

Microbes on human body
The depiction of the human body and bacteria that predominate; there are both tremendous similarities and differences among the bacterial species found at different sites. Image Credit: Darryl Leja, NHGRI via Wikipedia

Earlier there existed a myth that the number of bacteria inside or outside on our body was almost 10 times the number of cells. But in 2016, some researchers in Israel and Canada busted the myth. According to their calculations, the ratio between the microbes residing in and on our body and cells in our body is approximately one-to-one. The researchers further added that an average man contains around 30 trillion human cells and 39 trillion microbes. These numbers are almost equal. Hence, the 1:1 ratio seems more logical than the earlier assumed 10:1.(source)

6. There is a fence in Australia that is longer than the distance from Seattle to Miami.

The Dingo Fence
The Dingo Fence. Image Credit: Tim Evanson via Flickr, Poyt448 Peter Woodard via Wikipedia

The Dingo Fence in Australia stretches across 5,614 kilometers. It has earned the reputation of being the longest fence in the world. The work to build the fence started in the 1880s and completed in 1885. The objective was to keep dingoes out of the fertile southeast part of the continent. The fence stretches from eastern Queensland all the way to the South Australian coastline.

In the 1860s and 1870s, exclusion fences came to be erected across Australia to keep marsupials out of the croplands. Then came rabbit-proof fences in 1884 followed by dingo-proof fences. In 1930, an estimated 32,000 km of dog netting was being used on top of the rabbit fences, and that too in Queensland alone.(source)

7. Cheetahs can’t roar. They can only meow, purr, and chirp like domestic house cats and birds.

Cheetahs are the fastest and one of the grandest animals on Earth. But there’s one thing they cannot do—roar. They purr, bleat, bark, growl, hiss, and chirp. They make adorable sounds as opposed to the fearful roars that you would expect them to make.

To get into the science behind this, we need to know about the hyoid bone. The hyoid bone is located near the larynx and is responsible for causing roars or purrs. Animals who can roar have a flexible hyoid bone which, coupled with a specialized ligament, helps to bring out the deep roaring sounds. Moreover, in roaring animals, the vocal cords are flat and square-shaped rather than the typical triangle shape. In the case of the purring animals, the hyoid bone is completely hardened with special vocal folds that enable air vibrations while both exhaling and inhaling.(1,2)

8. A very large percentage of modern Thoroughbred racehorses can trace their lineage back to a single horse, Eclipse. He was so successful that he retired from competition after no one would bet on any rival horse.

Thoroughbreds
Thoroughbreds at a horse racing. Image Credit: Wikipedia

Thoroughbred horses are a horse breed that is primarily used in horse racing. All modern Thoroughbred horses today are descendants of three primary stallions imported to England from the Middle East in the 17th and the 18th centuries. They were the Byerley Turk (1680s), the Darley Arabian (1704), and the Godolphin Arabian (1729). In all, there were around 160 stallions who made some contribution to the creation of the thoroughbred horses that we known today.

Eclipse was the great-great-grandson of the Darley Arabian. He was the dominant racehorse champion of his day and was never defeated. A genetic study discovered that 95% of all male Thoroughbreds trace their direct male line (via the Y chromosome) to Eclipse.(1,2)

9. Tiffany was a common name in the 12th century. Since it sounds too modern, authors and historians tend to avoid it. This is known as “the Tiffany Problem.”

The Tiffany Problem
Tiffany was a medieval name/ Jo Walton was the author who coined the term “the Tiffany Problem.” Image Credit: Wikipedia, Damdamdidilolo via Wikipedia

“The Tiffany Problem” is a term coined by the fantasy and science fiction author Jo Walton. Walton described how this name was a paradox in historical perception. Believe it or not, Tiffany is actually a very old historical name, as old as the Middle Ages. In short, it is a Medieval name.

In an interview with the Internet Review Of Science Fiction, Walton said, “Tiffany is a real attested Medieval name. It’s a variant of Theophania. It appears in 12th-century documents from Britain and France, and you cannot give it as a name to a character in a historical or fantasy setting because it looks too horribly modern.”(source)

10. Our head ages faster than our feet.

Our heads age faster than our feet!
Our heads age faster than our feet! Image Credit: MaxPixel, Evan-Amos via Wikipedia

Sounds impossible but it is true! Time moves more quickly up top than down below. But how does one’s head age faster than their feet? The answer lies in the effect known as gravitational-time dilation. Gravity stretches time. The more the gravitational pull, the slower the time. A person on a plane at 30,000 feet feels less gravitational pull than a person walking on land. Hence, time moves faster in the sky.

Similarly, since our feet are closer to the ground than our head, the gravitational pull on our feet is higher than on our head. So, going by the gravitational-time-dilation theory, time moves faster near our head than our feet. According to research by scientists, over a span of 79 years, our head will be 90 billionths of a second older than our feet!

It is only recently that scientists were able to figure out the exact difference in age between our head and feet. The strontium atomic clock was invented that has the ability to measure time through the tiny oscillations of the strontium atom. The machine can measure the time difference between distances as short as one foot.(1,2)

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