Cool, random and interesting things you might like to share

Updated: Feb 7

Within the Habits of Mind, I've often thought that 'Responding with wonderment and awe' was one of the most interesting and important. We need to find the awesomeness in this world and spark curiosity; our own and others'. As we're researching articles for The Future Learning Project, anything that doesn't fit our usual categories goes into our 'cool and interesting' file, and posts like this one are the result.

You might like to use these as a provocation for a planned discussion or lesson, or just a random piece of knowledge that people might be interested in. Let's begin!

The Dutch East India Company was richer than twenty of the most valuable modern companies, including Apple, Google and Facebook, combined - the equivalent of 7.9 Trillion Dollars. See a fascinating summary here.

50% of the human experience has happened after 1309 AD. This site looks as (as closely as possible) the total number of people alive over the last 50,000 years (about 8 Billion), and looks at the amount of time our species has spent on common activities, including drinking coffee and watching Netflix. The calculations are provided, and it's fascinating.

A large percentage women over the age of 15 have faced some form of sexual harassment, and both men and women tend to underestimate how often it happens - men more so. In Denmark, 80% of women surveyed indicated experiencing some form of sexual harassment - when asked, men said they thought it had happened to about 30% of women, and women thought it had happened to about 40%. A summary of the survey can be found here, and again fascinating and important.

Human history in one chart. A researcher has gathered data on six metrics to look at how the world has changed over time. The metrics are life expectancy, GDP per capita, percentage living in extreme poverty, water making capacity (technology), and the percentage of people living in a democracy. It's eye-opening, and an excellent provocation for discussion.

Have a look at this map of medieval trade routes connecting Europe, Asia and Africa in the 11th and 12th Centuries. There's a zoomable version here, and an excellent prompt for discussion about trade etc.

Have you ever wondered where Google's products go to die? Visit the Google Cemetery.

Have you ever heard of a Hype Cycle? It's a visual demonstration of a digital technology's journey, from innovation to excitement to bold predictions to waning interest to revival to mainstream adoption. This article looks at the most hyped technology from 2000-2018, which ones worked and which ones didn't. A good reminder to be cautious about the potential update of new and emerging digital technologies.

If you ever see a world map on a wall, you may not be aware that the size of the countries is distorted to make it all fit. The True Size of Countries lets you drag and drop countries on an interactive map and compare their size. Cool and interesting.

The M87 Galaxy is a supergiant, and was discovered in 1781 by Charles Messier. At its centre is a supermassive black hole, and this was first imaged in 2017. How big is this black hole? Have a look at its size compared to our solar system.

How many packets of skittles do you need to buy before you find two that are identical? Yes, someone asked this question and actually found out.

The French national Scrabble winner is from New Zealand and does not speak a word of French. French Scrabble has 386,000 possible words, compared to the 187,000 of the North American version, and he's being hailed as possible the greatest Scrabble player of all time.

Descartes stated that animals are automata that cannot reason, feel pain or have conciousness, and are therefore not deserving of compassion. Have a look at this mother ferret showing off her babies to her human owner, and then decide whether Descartes was right.

To finish, a lesson in incentives and unintended consequences, commonly known as The Cobra Effect. The Great Hanoi Rat Massacre was carried out due to an explosion of rats in the city's sewage system. It's a fun tale that ends with tailless rats running everywhere and rat farms being set up.

Thank you for joining us this week. We welcome any and all feedback and comments, and please contact me with any questions or suggestions you have.


  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn Social Icon
  • YouTube

©2018 by The Future Learning Project. Proudly created with