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36 Things I Learned in 2022

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 29, 2022

Inspired by Tom Whitwell’s annual list (here is 2022’s), I kept a list of interesting things I learned this year. There are supposed to be 52 things but I took much of the year off so you’ll have to manage with only 36. Enjoy!

  1. For the first time in history in 2020, the weight of things produced by humans (concrete, metals, plastic) was greater than the weight of the global living biomass.
  2. “It is physically impossible to exceed the 70-pound domestic weight limit for a USPS small flat rate box.”
  3. There is a species of fish called “boops boops”.
  4. In a recent experiment by a Turkish farmer, outfitting his cows with VR goggles that simulate being in a pasture upped milk production by 2 gallons per cow per day.
  5. It’s “just deserts”, not “just desserts”.
  6. The Sun has only rotated approximately 20 times around the galactic center.
  7. Of the estimated 1,300,000 to 1,750,000 people sent to the death camps of Sobibór, Bełżec, and Treblinka by the Nazis, “perhaps not more than 150” of them ended up surviving the war. 150. Not 150,000. 150. (From The Holocaust: A New History by Laurence Rees)
  8. A new streaming version of Fight Club released in China changed the ending from Tyler successfully bombing a large city to him being caught by the authorities.
  9. An astounding statistic: approximately 1 out of every 70 Americans 65 years and older has died of Covid-19 in the past three years.
  10. You might be surprised to learn that the crossword puzzle wasn’t invented until 1913. I was even more shocked to learn that the word search puzzle first appeared in 1968.
  11. The burpee exercise was invented by Royal Huddleston Burpee Sr.
  12. The Mediterranean Sea mostly dried up for over 600,000 years but took less than 2 years to completely refill, often at rates of 30 feet per day, by a river moving 1000 times more water per day than the Amazon.
  13. “15% of the searches we see every day have never been Googled before.”
  14. The word “bear” is actually derived from a euphemism for the animal…we don’t know what the original name was.
  15. QR codes “sprang from a lunchtime game of Go more than a quarter of a century ago”.
  16. Abraham Lincoln is the only US president to hold a patent.
  17. Due to the chaotic nature of weather, accurate forecasts of more than 2 weeks are impossible.
  18. Cosmic latte is the average color of the universe.
  19. The silk of Darwin’s bark spiders is ten times stronger than kevlar.
  20. Because of the climate crisis (melting glaciers). Switzerland’s cartographers are having to redraw the country’s topological maps. “Only three cartographers at the agency [are] allowed to tinker with the Swiss Alps.”
  21. Warmlines are telephone/chat hotlines for people who aren’t in crisis but just need to vent or talk to someone.
  22. “Planning the Holocaust took all of 90 minutes.”
  23. “With the exception of a few native species that live in rotting logs and around wetlands, there are not supposed to be any earthworms east of the Great Plains and north of the Mason-Dixon Line.”
  24. A final score never seen before in NFL history is called a scorigami. There were 6 scorigamis in the 2021 season and a total of 1047 unique scores ever.
  25. Actually, it’s “E.E. Cummings” and not “e.e. cummings”.
  26. In a small 5-year study of basic income in Hudson, NY, “employment among the participants went from 29% to 63%” and they reported better health and personal relationships with others.
  27. In the 90s, Meat Loaf coached a JV girls softball team in a small Connecticut town. “To the scrappy group of girls he was trying to mold into softball players, he was Coach Meat.”
  28. The world’s coldest marathon is held in Yakutia, Siberia. 2022’s winner ran it in 3h 22m; the temperature was -53°C.
  29. In January 2022 in Norway, about 84% of new cars sold were EVs. That compares to 53% in Jan 2021.
  30. A 70s board game called The Campaign for North Africa takes around 1500 hours (~62 days) to complete.
  31. Saturn’s rings are disappearing. We only have another 300 million years to enjoy them.
  32. Wisconsin is home to a local delicacy called the cannibal sandwich (raw ground beef and raw onions, sandwiched between two pieces of bread).
  33. There are now 8 billion people in the world.
  34. Due to the lull in human activity, some birds changed their birdsong during the pandemic.
  35. The Pointer Sisters sang Sesame Street’s “Pinball Countdown” song. “One two three four five…six seven eight nine ten…eleven twelve.”
  36. Gun violence recently surpassed car accidents as the leading cause of death for American children. We’re now living in the era of the gun.”

You can check out last year’s list here.