What did you learn last year?
I know I learned a lot – maybe that’s the topic for another blog – but today here’s a list of some of the most interesting things readers of the New York Times learned in 2016:
- The world’s most-used natural resource (apart from water and air) is sand — and it’s disappearing.
- Farc rebels in Colombia were not allowed to marry because they were married to the revolution.
- One minute of all-out exercise may provide the benefits of 45 minutes of moderate exertion.
- In 1838, Georgetown University sold 272 slaves — for a sum of about $3.3 million, adjusted for inflation — to help fund the struggling college.
- Deep in our solar system’s outer reaches, there could be a hidden planet. If it’s there, it could explain why our solar system is tilted.
- About 70 percent of Americans think granola bars are healthy. Less than 30 percent of nutritionists agree.
- People in small counties are 50 percent more likely to go to prison than people in populous counties. (That’s new in the last 10 years.)
- Urban environments can speed up the process of evolution.
- Plants can “learn” long-lasting behaviors, sort of like memories.
- A team’s success (at work) isn’t driven by the IQ or talent of its individuals, but its culture and interpersonal relationships.
- It’s a myth that closing unused apps on your smartphone will prolong battery life. And turning off Wi-Fi doesn’t always help, either.
- Death from gun homicide in the United States is as common as dying a car accident. In Japan, it’s as rare as a fatal lightning strike.
- Long-distance running may be the best exercise for your brain.
- American men in the top 1 percent in income live 15 years longer than the poorest 1 percent; for women, the gap is 10 years.
- Deaths from overdoses are reaching levels similar to the H.I.V. epidemic at its peak.
- Thousands of dogs are slaughtered and served in restaurants in Yulin, China, for the annual dog meat festival.
- Giraffes have been keeping a secret from us for a long time: They’re really four different species, not one.
- The Greenland shark lives at least 272 years and it could live as long as 512 years. That makes it the oldest living thing with a backbone on Earth.
- Earth is old. The sun is old. But do you know what may be even older than both? The water we drink.
- In 1940, a child born into the average American household had a 92 percent chance of making more money than his or her parents. For Americans born in 1980 – today’s 36-year-olds – that figure dropped to 50 percent.
- There were more than 700,000 Google searches looking into self-induced abortions in 2015.
- Terrorism deaths have increased in the West. But, worldwide, they’re declining.
- Nearly 40 percent of millennials say they don’t eat cereal for breakfast because “they have to clean up after eating it.”
- In the Rio Olympics, women won more total medals than men in 29 countries.
- After steady declines over the last four decades, highway deaths last year recorded the largest annual percentage increase in 50 years. Blame Snapchat and other apps.
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