Factoid #6

Tomatoes lose their flavor when you put them in the fridge!

I just learned this from a friend, then verified it by reading about it in Barbara Kingsolver’s book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. To all you folks who knew this already, congratulations! You’re way quicker than I am. And to those tomato-lovers who didn’t know, run–don’t walk–to your fridge and free those tomatoes to be their true, tasty selves!

(What does this have to do with writing, you ask? Nothing. Who said Factoids had to focus on writing? Widen your world!)

Factoid #5

During most of the 1800s, crime in England was so bad that the prisons were completely overcrowded. First the Royal Government started using lousy old ships as prisons, ones that could still float but weren’t good enough to go to sea any more. When those started bursting at the seams, they began sending criminals away to Australia, which they used as one giant prison. The great-great-grandmother of a friend of mine was exiled to Australia for stealing some cloth. I know this from my friend, plus from a book about Austrialia’s beginnings called The Fatal Shore, by Robert Hughes.

Factoid #4

Those famous red walls of the Grand Canyon aren’t really red. They are several different colors (because they are several different rock layers), but the main one is limestone, whose natural color is pale grey. The walls only look red because red dirt from above has washed down over them and “painted” them. So go ahead–try to imagine the Grand Canyon as grey. It’s hard, right?

I know this from talking to a Grand Canyon guide. They really know their stuff.

Factoid #2

In 1951, a woman named Henrietta Lacks died of cervical cancer. Before she died (but without her knowledge or permission), her doctor took a tiny sample of her cancer cells to see if he could keep them growing artificially outside her body. The cells grew and grew and grew, and he sent them to researchers around the world. Today the HeLa cells, as they are called, exist in nearly every country on the globe, and have even traveled into outer space in experiments–though the woman they come from has been dead for over 60 years! I learned this from The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot.