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Photo by Sean Benesh on Unsplash

Some facts are only useful for trivia contests.

Ah, useless facts. Random knowledge that serves no purpose other than to take up space in our brains, and maybe, just maybe, win a trivia game (yeah right) or kill time at a party (I’ve forgotten, what’s a party?).

Leave it to Ask Reddit to resurface all things odd and amusing, though. People shared their own useless facts that live rent free in their heads. And though they might be pointless, they are certainly entertaining.

Without further do:


  Mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell.

Yep, this useless fact has stayed with us since elementary school On the bright side, it’s been the source of many a fun meme.

Vending machines are more deadly than sharks.

animation domination lol GIF by gifnews Giphy

Think about this next time you go to retrieve a Snickers bar: Between 2002 and 2015, the National Electronic Surveillance System reported that vending machines caused four deaths per year in the U.S. Mostly due to people tipping the machines onto themselves.

Compare that to the shark-related deaths averaging out to just 0.6 deaths per year. Not sure how only about half of a person is considered dead, but math was never my strength.

This statistic might need to be taken with a grain of sea salt however, given that those in landlocked states have next-to-zero chances of experiencing a shark attack. But there you have it, a useless fact to use when you’re at the beach.

Snails have teeth.

horror finger GIF by absurdnoise Giphy

“They’re not big enough teeth to hurt humans. That’s what makes it a useless fact to know. & it won’t leave my head because it’s juuuuuust disturbing enough to make me rethink my entire opinion on snails.” – ghosts-go-boo

But cows do not.

At least, no upper front teeth. Makes chewing—and dentist visits—easier I suppose.

The Sun is about 400 times bigger than the Moon but also about 400 times farther away from Earth. So they look to be about the same size.

File:Solar eclipse 1999 4.jpg - Wikimedia Commons commons.wikimedia.org

This explains how the sun can be completely blocked in an eclipse.

Pigeons and doves are in the same bird family.

Happy Animation GIF by sahlooter Giphy

Columbidae is a subspecies of birds that are stout bodied, with short necks, and primarily feed on seeds, fruits and plants. Though one lives on as a symbol of peace and love, and the other is often considered a flying rat, the names are practically interchangeable.

However, thinking about Stevie Nicks singing, “just like a white-winged pigeon” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.

The length of a jiffy…

back to the future great scott GIF Giphy

According to ScienceFocus.com, physicists use a “jiffy” to define how long light takes to travel one femtometer (which is a tiny fraction of a millimeter). In layman’s terms, one jiffy equals one-fiftieth of a second.

So next time you say, “be back in a jiffy,” know that you better return really, really, really fast.

Most corn is inedible for humans.

corn on teal surface Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

1% of the corn grown in the USA is sweet corn (the corn you eat as corn). The other 99% is field corn (or dent corn), which is fairly inedible raw and needs to be processed before human consumption. This field corn is also what they use for non-edible corn products, like ethanol, paint, cosmetics, etc. Yes, most corn goes to livestock feed. Ethanol and High Fructose Corn Syrup are up there as well. Yes, if you're driving on a highway and are passing fields of corn, you very likely cannot eat it.” – Kat_lbltko1pl

Infants have flexible bones.

stretching GIF by AFV Babies Giphy

Ever wonder why toddlers seem so much more flexible? This is because a baby’s skeleton if very different from an adult's. Babies are born with about 300 bones (94 more than adults) that are joined together with pliable cartilage to make that whole birth thing possible. As they get older, the bones will fuse together. And suddenly that toe touch is nothing but a distant dream of the past.

Numbers from 1-999 don't have the letter "a" in word form.

white printing paper with numbers Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

Some vowels just don’t get the respect they deserve.

John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald are both known by three names. And each full name is composed of 15 letters.

surprised season 4 GIF Giphy

Actually, this is not entirely correct. Oswald’s full name was not used until after Kennedy’s assassination, due to his habit of adopting false names.

Cockroaches molt.

Unlike a reptile shedding it’s skin, cockroaches molt out of their entire exoskeleton. Out crawls a soft, fleshy, ghostly-white creature that will turn brown over a few hours. You’re welcome for the nightmare fuel.

There you have it. Gems of wisdom no one asked for. They say knowledge is power. But in this case, I’d say knowledge is unnecessary. But still fun!

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
True

When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

Freya from Maya Higa's YouTube video.

Ever wonder what an ideal date for a lemur would be? Or a lizard’s favorite Disney princess?

Thanks to one YouTube poster with a passion for animals and an endearing sense of humor, all questions shall be answered. Well, maybe not all questions. But at the very least, you’ll have eight minutes of insanely cute footage.

In a series titled “Tiny Mic Interviews,” Maya Higa approaches little beasties with a microphone so small she has to hold it with just her thumb and forefinger. And yes, 99% of the animals try to eat it.

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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
True

The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

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That's right, Betty White left us a message of gratitude shortly before her passing. It's brief, but how lovely to see and hear her speak to her millions of fans one last time. Few celebrities are as universally beloved as Betty White was, and though we knew she couldn't live forever, it would have been fun to see her celebrate her 100th birthday. Now, at least, we get to experience her joy and warmth with a few last words.

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