The world around is a fascinating place. There's so much that we just take for granted without ever wondering how it came to be. I've found that even the most mundane things often have interesting stories behind them.
Keeping that in mind, here's a list of secrets behind seven familiar things around you that you probably never knew about.
1. The mysterious zigzag of a tram cable
Have you ever wondered why contact wires for cable cars zigzag back and forth instead of just going in a straight line?
That's because the pantograph at the top of the tram gets gradually worn down by contact with the overhead cable. In order for it to wear down evenly, the wire is installed in a zigzag pattern.
2. The King of Hearts
Most standard decks of playing cards show the King of Hearts as the only king without a mustache, and also appears to be sticking a sword in his head. There are numerous theories behind the appearance of this card.
- One theory suggests that the king once held an ax in his hand, but centuries of bad copy work distorted the image and it eventually morphed into a sword.
- Some also say that the King of Hearts is a representation of the French King Charles VII, an emotionally disturbed man who is reputed to have put a sword through his head to avoid death by poisoning.
- Some historians say that the King of Hearts is the Greek hero Ajax, while the Queen of Hearts is Helen of Troy - said to be the most beautiful woman in the world and the face that launched a thousand Greek ships and began the Trojan War. Ajax was once a suitor to Helen, but she refused him, and in his grief, he committed suicide by falling on his own sword.
3. The Royal Coat of Arms on British currency
The British 1, 2, 5, 20, and 50 pence coins each feature a section of the Royal Coat of Arms, such that they form the full shield when placed together. The one pound coin depicts the entire shield. How clever is that?
4. Open jar symbol
This little open jar symbol, usually with a number on it, indicates the Period After Opening (PAO) that the product is safe after opening. The number indicates how long the product is expected to stay good (usually in months, indicated by "M").
5. The crown on the Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty is famous around the world, but few people know that the seven spikes on her crown represent the seven oceans and continents of the world as a nod towards the universal concept of liberty. Another interesting fact: each spike weighs 150 pounds.
6. Blank book pages
Ever wonder why books have those blank pages at the beginning or end? It's because books are often printed on very large sheets of paper. If there isn't enough content to completely fill these sheets, there are some blank pages left over. Publishers often print "Notes" on top of these pages so that readers feel they have a purpose.
7. Toothpaste colors
Ever wonder what those three colors in classic, striped toothpaste were made of? It turns out, each stripe (red, white, blue) has a purpose.
- Fluoride (white): This is the most important ingredient, containing the majority of the tooth whitening and plaque-removing properties any good toothpaste needs to have.
- Blue/green gel: This aqua gel has antimicrobial and breath-freshening effects.
- Red gel: The red gel was the last part to be added, and contains various elements crucial for healthy gums.
These ingredients work in tandem, and they don't have to be separated into stripes... that's just a visually appealing marketing tactic.
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H/T: Bright Side