Random fact roundup, March 19th—26th, 2018!

What do hot dogs, the Vatican, and the Large Hadron Collider have in common? They're all in our random fact roundup where we bring you some favorite facts about three subjects.

Fast Food

— Hamburgers originated in and get their name from Hamburg, Germany. Nobody is quite sure when the first one was cooked, but a recipe for something similar to a modern hamburger appeared in that part of the world towards the end of the 1800s, with the first supposed burger in America in 1885. The humble hamburger gained in popularity and was nationwide by 1905, with several regional varieties.


— During World War I, the American government attempted to rename the hamburger as the "liberty sandwich" due to anti-German sentiment. The name didn't stick, but "hot dog" stuck around. Before, they were called Frankfurters. 

— Hot dogs in America can be directly traced back to the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, where two recent immigrants from Vienna,  Emil Reichel and Sam Ladany,  sold them. It was a hit. They formed a company called Vienna Beef which still operates today. 

— The Chicago hot dog (slice of tomato, poppy seed bun, white onion, sweet pickle relish, a slice of kosher dill pickle, celery salt, and sport peppers) was originally called the Depression Sandwich and can be attributed to a restaurant called Fluky's around the time of the stock market crash of 1929. 

Hadron Colliders 

— The heat generated by smashing up the particles at hyper-speeds can sometimes get up to 100,000 times hotter than our sun. In theory, this is close to the heat of the universe a few moments after the Big Bang occurred. 

— In 2009, the CERN Hadron Collider had to shut down after a bird dropped a "bit of baguette" (don't forget much of the machine is in France) onto one of the power stations, causing a short-circuit. 

— Before it was finished, many thought that operations at the CERN Large Hadron Collider would cause the destruction of Earth itself, due to the potential to create microscopic black holes.

— Technically, the CERN Hadron Collider could be considered the world's largest refrigerator. All the magnets used have to be cooled to -193.2ºC. 

The Vatican 

— The Vatican consumes more wine per capita than any other country, with 74 liters drank per citizen per year, according to several British newspapers. There are about 1,000 people who live in the Vatican year round. The wine intake isn't due to communions, however, as most people might think. Most of the people who live and work in the Vatican tend to be older men who eat in large groups... and those guys consume double the amount that the rest of Europe drinks. Communion does factor in, but at a far smaller percentage. 

— Vatican City was created in 1929 to ensure it operated within its own jurisdiction. It is within the Holy See, which is an independent sovereign nation, separate from Italy, but within Rome. Sort of like a Turducken.

— The Vatican has its own astronomical research wing. It was started in 1774 and located mostly within the Holy See. The Vatican owns, funds, and operates a massive telescope called the VATT (Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope) in Mt Graham, Arizona. It's a pretty significant telescope, too: it's responsible for finding MACHOs (Massive Compact Halo Objects) in the Andromeda Galaxy, and even evidence that galaxies change shape over time. 

A still from the film "We Became Fragments" by Luisa Conlon , Lacy Roberts and Hanna Miller, part of the Global Oneness Project library.

Photo: Luisa Conlon , Lacy Roberts and Hanna Miller / Global Oneness Project
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Stories are at the heart of learning, writes Cleary Vaughan-Lee, Executive Director for the Global Oneness Project. They have always challenged us to think beyond ourselves, expanding our experience and revealing deep truths.
  • Vaughan-Lee explains 6 ways that storytelling can foster empathy and deliver powerful learning experiences.
  • Global Oneness Project is a free library of stories—containing short documentaries, photo essays, and essays—that each contain a companion lesson plan and learning activities for students so they can expand their experience of the world.
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The army during riots in Washington, DC, after the assassination of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., April 1968.

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
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