Humans are learning from the day they are born, with babies absorbing everything they see, hear, touch, and experience around them. This innate desire to learn doesn’t simply disappear when we leave childhood; it carries on well into adulthood, and, hopefully, until the day we breathe our last breath.
The Internet offers a golden opportunity to learn something new every day. From Wikipedia to Google mashups, from subreddits to blogs, there are an incredible range of tools available to those who want to learn. My personal favorite of all of these is one particular subreddit: Today I learned (TIL).
Today I Learned (TIL)
Today I Learned, or TIL for short, is a subreddit dedicated to disseminating interesting facts that would otherwise go ignored or unnoticed. These must be non-trivial facts backed up by a reliable source, with opinions and politics removed from the equation.
This section of Reddit is therefore full of interesting facts and intriguing stories which deserve to be more widely known than they are currently. A countless number of amazing facts have been shared to the Today I Learned subreddit over the years, but below are just 10 that have blown my mind and may blow your mind as well. All chosen to appeal especially to geeks.
Switching to Verizon AND going full time iPhone only AND going to use a boring case. IMA be so dadcore.
— Dieter Bohn (@backlon) September 16, 2014
Today I Learned a guy faked his own death in order to get out of a Verizon Wireless contract. Unfortunately, the ruse failed, and Verizon got its money. But surely, as a corporation which care about its customers, if someone hates your service so much they’re desperate enough to draft a fake death certificate, you should take pity on them and cancel their contract. Nope. Because profits.
Going to try and burn through some of my Steam games that I haven’t completed yet. Going to start with Homefront.
— Alex Romo (@SparkyMcSparks) September 13, 2014
Today I Learned 37 percent of all registered Steam games have never been played. Which, at the time the original article was written, equates to 288 million of the 781 million games registered on the platform sitting untouched and unloved. Remember this statistic the next time you’re tempted to buy all the games during the Steam sales. You won’t play them all, so why bother?
Back in action! GO FOLD! :)
— Foldit (@Foldit) September 17, 2014
Today I Learned players of an online game called Foldit resolved the structure of an enzyme in just three weeks. The enzyme causes a nasty disease in monkeys, and researchers had been working on the problem for 13 years. There are other similar success stories in the original article too, so feel free to point naysayers in its direction the next time they condemn gaming as a waste of time and energy.
— Mike Chapman (@ChappersChapman) September 20, 2014
Today I Learned Nintendo has so much money in the bank it could survive until at least 2052 even if it made a considerable loss every 12 months between now and then. Nintendo has, or at least had (in 2012) $6.7 billion saved for a rainy day, which means that no matter how badly the Wii U sells — and it has struggled, quite frankly — Nintendo will be sticking around for a while to come. Which is heartening news for all those who love Mario, Zelda, et al.
My moves in the bedroom stem from how I used to pelvic thrust pinball machines in order to keep my score going.
— Kyle (@TheLevelArc) September 11, 2014
Today I Learned Pinball was removed from Windows because it had a nasty bug that no one at Microsoft knew how to fix. Pinball was included as a free game in Windows 95 through to Windows XP. And then it disappeared. The 64-bit version of the game was broken, and uncommented code made it impossible to debug the program. So, Microsoft chose to simply drop Pinball instead. Unless you’re still using 32-bit Windows XP, of course.
We are at NASA! This is ridiculously cool. pic.twitter.com/5HILpjqpqW
— cwGabriel (@cwgabriel) September 19, 2014
Today I Learned NASA has its own online radio station which plays rock, indie, and alternative music while updating listeners on the latest news from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. An inspired name, great music (if you like that sort of thing), and mission updates from NASA. What more could you possibly want?
Congratulations on being the kind of person who corrects the grammar of others, unsolicited. You’re the Microsoft Word Paperclip.
— Steve Stifler (@SteveStfler) September 20, 2014
Today I Learned Microsoft traded the bob.com domain for the windows2000.com domain. The lucky recipient of the former was a guy called Bob Kerstein, who was using the latter to run a business. And why did Microsoft own the bob.com in the first place? Because of Microsoft Bob, its short-lived and much-maligned graphical user interface.
i wish i could sleep forever
— jess (@admirabledallas) September 20, 2014
Today I Learned that a man survived for 40 years without sleeping. Paul Kern was a Hungarian soldier shot in the head during World War I. He survived, but lost part of his frontal lobe, and with it, the ability to sleep. Despite this abnormality, Kern moved to Budapest and lived out the rest of his life without incident. And watched a lot of Netflix. Probably.
Life in Texas is like one big country music video.
— Texas Humor (@TexasHumor) September 17, 2014
Today I Learned there is an abandoned supercollider in Texas. The idea to build a supercollider was first mooted in 1983, and construction began in 1991. The U.S. Government then chose to abandon the project in favor of funding the International Space Station (ISS), but not before a whopping $2 billion had been spent in Texas. Had it been completed, this would have been more powerful than the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Switzerland. So, the creation of a black hole capable of wiping us all out would have been even more likely than it is now.
[4 years ago] *worrying about internet people finding me in real life* [now] *worrying about people in real life finding me on internet*
— no (@tbhfanproblems) September 19, 2014
Today I Learned that Cunningham’s Law states, “The best way to get the right answer on the Internet is not to ask a question, it’s to post the wrong answer.” There isn’t much more to add to this one, except to say Ward Cunningham — a computer programmer famous for developing the first wiki — clearly understands the way things work online better than most.
What Have You Learned From Reddit?
These are just 10 of the many amazing facts disseminated via Reddit in recent years, but there are plenty more. Whether you’re a regular visitor to TIL or are only just discovering it now thanks to this article, please let us know in the comments below what you have personally learned from Reddit. Like you, we want to learn. So teach us.
Image Credit: Casey Fleser via Flickr