Things that are much older than you thought
For many, 1990 is a thing of the near past - a past that is part of their childhood, adolescence, or even their adult life. At the same time, we tend to take the year 2050 as a futuristic reference and a date so far away that it's not graspable. Well, just to put these dates into perspective: today we are closer to 2050 than to 1990 - in case you hadn't done the math.
Some things in our lives seem very modern and it's hard to imagine that they have been around for a long time. Oreo Cookies are an example of this. While seemingly flashy and new, they were first produced in 1912 by the Nabisco company. In 2012, the cookies celebrated their 100th birthday.
And what if we told you that the jack plug is older than the Oreo cookie? The current 3.5 millimeter connector stems from the middle of the 20th century, but the first version of 6.35 mm was invented in 1878. It was used in telephone switchboards to connect and disconnect calls.
The CW series 'Gossip Girl' elevated the term 'gossip' to the summum of 21st-century television. What you may not know is that it was William Shakespeare who coined the term 'gossip' at the end of the 16th century. It was not the only word he devised. Scholars have credited him with the invention of more than 1,700 terms that would later flow through the English language.
It is hard to believe, but the lighter predates matches as we know them today. In the 16th century, the spark plug was already in use. However, in 1780, the Swiss chemist J. Furstenberger devised the magic spark lighter. Matches, as we know them, did not appear until the year 1800.
Sharks have inhabited the planet longer than trees. Scientists estimate that the first sharks appeared 400 million years ago, even before the dinosaurs. In fact, they were the first animals with spines to develop jaws and hard teeth. Trees would not reach our planet until about 30 million years later.
For how long can trees live? The oldest tree in the world is no less than 9,560 years old. It is known as Old Tjikko and located in Fulufjället National Park in Sweden. The tree, a Norwegian spruce, stands on a plateau of vegetation overlooking the tundra. It has managed to surpass the average longevity of its kind thanks to the low temperatures and its intricate system of over 600 roots.
(Image: Karl Brodowsky, Wikimedia)
On June 2, 1953, Elizabeth II became Queen of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan and Ceylon (Sri Lanka). To this day she holds office, which means she saw 13 U.S. presidents while carrying the crown. The first president was Eisenhower and the last (for now) is Joe Biden.
Going from Elizabeth II to Queen Elizabeth I will give you an idea of how old wristwatches are. The first Elizabeth already wore a wristwatch in 1571. It was a gift from the Count of Leicester, halfway between a jewel and a clock. It was not until 1812 that Abraham Louis Breguet produced the first wristwatch for Caroline, the Queen of Naples and sister of Napoleon. Despite this invention, people continued to use pocket watches for decades.
Tiffany is the trade name of the iconic jewelry shop that Audrey Hepburn obsessed about in 'Breakfast at Tiffany's.' It is also a popular first name, though. Historically, the name 'Tiffany' goes back to the 12th century.
It may sound strange, but the fax was invented before the telephone. It was in 1842 that the Scotsman Alexander Bain invented a machine that scanned, line by line, a message written with special ink on a metal surface. The telephone would not be invented until 12 years later, by the Italian Antonio Meucci.
Oxford University is the oldest university in the English-speaking world. Although it does not have a specific date, historians note that there was already higher education at Oxford in 1096. In 1167, when Henry II of England forbade students to go to the University of Paris, Oxford got an enormous boost in attendance.
245 million years ago, in the middle of the Triassic period, dinosaurs appeared. It would take them 13 million years to rule the entire planet.