7. On January 15th, 1919, a wave of molasses rushed through the streets of Boston at 35 mph killing 12 people. According to locals, they could smell the molasses on a hot summer day even after decades from the incident.
The Great Molasses Flood, also known as the Boston Molasses Disaster, occurred at the Purity Distilling Company on January 15th, 1919. Molasses was used in the production of ethanol through the process of fermentation. The company stored fresh molasses in a commercial tank which was 15 meters tall, 27 meters in diameter, and about 8.7 million liters in volume.
A day prior to the incident, a fresh load of molasses had been transferred to the tank. To reduce its viscosity for transfer, the load molasses was warmed. This resulted in thermal expansion of cold molasses, possibly due to which the tank burst open at approximately 12:30 p.m.
The explosion was loud and created 8-meter-tall waves of molasses. The waves were so strong they wrecked nearby buildings and structures. Twenty-one people lost their lives in the accident, and 150 others were injured. (source)
8. NASA was sued for trespassing on Mars by three Yemeni men who claimed that the planet belonged to them. Their argument was based on mythologies around two ancient civilizations, the Himyarites and the Sabaeans.
NASA launched the Mars Pathfinder mission in December 1996. Six months later on July 4th, 1997, the spacecraft landed on the surface of the planet. Within a span of a few weeks, the rover transmitted vital information about the Red Planet including images, nature of the atmosphere, and other data back to Earth. While everyone was truly excited to discover new things about Mars, three men in Yemen were not happy with the space mission.
Ismail, Al-umair and Khalil, citizens of Yemen, threatened to sue NASA for trespassing on their property. Their claims were based on mythologies around two ancient civilizations, the Himyarites and the Sabaeans.
According to them, they inherited the Red Planet that belonged to their ancestors. They even tried selling land on Mars for as low as $2 per square meter. It’s not surprising that their petition was rejected. (source)
9. Glenn K. Tripp, a D.B Cooper copycat, hijacked an airplane and demanded $600,000 in ransom. A flight attendant on-board spiked his drink with Valium, and after a 10-hour-long standoff, he lowered his ransom down to three cheeseburgers and a headstart on a getaway.
The infamous D.B. Cooper hijacking took place on November 24, 1971. D.B Cooper, the pseudonym of the unidentified man, hijacked a Boeing 727, demanded a $200,000 ransom, and parachuted away to an unknown location with the money. Inspired by him, 15 other people attempted similar hijackings in the following year. One of them was Glenn K. Tripp.
On July 11, 1980, Glenn K. Tripp took over Northwest flight 608 at the Seattle-Tacoma Airport. His demands included $600,000, the assassination of his boss, and two parachutes. During a 10-hour-long standoff, one flight attendant spiked his drink with valium, which led him to reduce his demands down to three cheeseburgers and a headstart on a getaway.
Glenn K. Tripp was eventually caught and put behind bars. However, on January 21, 1983, he hijacked the same flight again and demanded to be flown to Afghanistan. Unfortunately for him, the flight landed in Portland and he was shot dead by the FBI. (source)
10. Banana is both a fruit and a herb.
According to the definition of a fruit, a banana is considered one as it contains its own seeds. Although the black seeds are less visible in commercially grown bananas, they do exist and can be clearly seen in wild bananas.
Bananas can also be classified as a herb. While the banana plant is referred to as a “banana tree,” its stem does not have a woody tissue like other trees. Because of this, a banana belongs to the herb family and is closely related to ginger. (source)
11. The Earth’s atmosphere extends about twice as far as the moon’s orbit or about 50 times the Earth’s own diameter.
On February 20th, 2019, the ESA published an interesting fact about the Earth’s atmosphere. The outermost region of the Earth’s atmosphere, also referred to as “Geocorona,” extended twice as far as the moon’s orbit. Igor Baliukin, of Russia’s Space Research Institute and the lead author of the paper, commented that “The moon flies through the Earth’s atmosphere.”
A geocorona is basically a gaseous cloud mainly consisting of hydrogen atoms. This gaseous corona is visible because of far-ultraviolet light scattered by the Sun. After analyzing data from the SWAN instrument of the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), ESA/NASA deduced that the Earth’s atmosphere reached 630,000 kilometers into space. (source)
12. Bats aren’t really blind. In fact, they have very strong eyesight and can even see ultraviolet light.
It is commonly believed that bats are blind and the only way they are able to fly around and hunt is echolocation. Echolocation is a technique in which bats send out sound waves through their mouth and nose to figure out the location of an object.
This helps bats navigate and find their prey.
Although it is true that bats use echolocation, researchers have found that bats, in fact, have better eyesight than human beings. They combine echolocation with their vision to hunt and move around.
Glossophoga soricina, a color-blind species of bat found in South and Central America, is sensitive to ultraviolet light readings down to 310 nanometers. (source)