Octopus have 6 arms and 2 legs. North Pole is not a land mass, but rather a body of water. Olympic Games in Nazi Germany [r/TodayiLearned, Episode #20]

#1

TIL during the 1938 Berlin Olympics, two Japanese pole vaulters who tied for second place refused to participate in a tie-breaker. Upon returning to Japan, they cut their medals in half and fused them to one another so each athlete ended up with a half-silver, half-bronze medal.

Five athletes reached the final stage of the men’s pole vault at the 1936 Olympics, having cleared the then-impressive height of 4m 15cm. At the climactic jump-off, with 25,000 spectators braving the chill of the Berlin evening, it eventually grew so dark that night-lighting had to be switched on. You can still see parts of it in Leni Riefenstahl’s film, Olympia.

Both young men were students, Shuhei Nishida at Waseda University and Sueo Oe at Keio. More importantly, both were friends. And so – to general astonishment – they refused to compete further. They wanted to share the honors.

Their request was rejected. Someone had to take bronze and someone silver. The Japanese team was told to make its own decision about who should claim second place and who third. After a lengthy discussion, it was agreed that Nishida, who had vaulted 4.25 at his first attempt, should take precedence over Oe, who had needed two attempts at that height.

Oe died in 1941, in the war; Nishida died in 1997. Oe’s medal remains in private hands but Nishida’s is kept by Waseda University. In each case, the peculiar half-and-half medals serve as permanent reminders that, even in the hate-filled atmosphere of Hitler’s Germany, the Olympic Games allowed young people to display something more lasting, and ultimately more thrilling, than mere athletic excellence.

#2

TIL while shooting for Deliverance (1972), Burt Reynolds insisted on doing a stunt by himself instead of a dummy. During the stunt, he got injured and his clothes came off. Waking up in hospital, he asked the director what it looked like, who said, “It looked like a dummy falling over a waterfall.’

Burt Reynolds has cultivated the image of being a man’s man, with a film career so diverse and bad-assed that even animated super spies look up to him as a symbol of virility and action. Part of the reason he’s so revered as a legend is because of his commitment to his craft, which sometimes included doing his own stunts. Nowhere was this clearer than in his performance in the thriller Deliverance, and Reynolds’ biggest impersonator, Norm MacDonald, recounted an interesting story that involved a waterfall, some rough rapids, and total nudity.

Needless to say, Burt Reynolds emerged with some injuries, but nothing some rest and recuperation couldn’t handle. While the shot really didn’t benefit from his death-defying stunt work, Reynolds did walk away with one more story to tell people as a charming example of his nerves of steel. Which, by proxy, gives Norm MacDonald further grist to fuel his mill of Burt Reynolds impressions, which lead to interviews like the one we’ve just discussed.

If you’re interested in more Burt Reynolds’ history, told by the man himself, then you can pick up a copy of his autobiography, But Enough About Me, which is currently available.

#3

TIL that the North Pole is not a land mass, but rather a body of water that is almost permanently covered in a 2-3m thick ice sheet.

The North Pole is the northernmost point on Earth. It is the precise point of the intersection of the Earth’s axis and the Earth’s surface.

From the North Pole, all directions are south. Its latitude is 90 degrees north, and all lines of longitude meet there (as well as at the South Pole, on the opposite end of the Earth). Polaris, the current North Star, sits almost motionless in the sky above the pole, making it an excellent fixed point to use in celestial navigation in the Northern Hemisphere.

Polar bears, Arctic foxes, and other terrestrial animals rarely migrate to the North Pole. The drifting ice is an unpredictable habitat, and does not allow for regular migration routes or the establishment of dens in which to raise young. Still, polar bears sometimes wander into the area in search of food.

The undersea ecosystem of the North Pole is more varied than the ice above it. Shrimp, sea anemones, and tiny crustaceans inhabit in the area. A few ringed seals have been spotted. (Ringed seals are common prey of the polar bears that wander into the region.) Larger marine mammals, such as narwhal whales, are much rarer.

Several species of fish live at the North Pole. Arctic cod are the most abundant. Arctic cod are small fish usually found near the seafloor, close to their food sources—tiny shrimp and crustaceans.

#4

TIL An Octopus doesn’t have 8 arms but 6 arms and 2 legs.

Octopuses’ eight tentacles divide up into six “arms” and two “legs”, a study published by a chain of commercial aquariums said on Thursday.

Octopuses are reckoned to be the world’s most intelligent invertebrates and are able to use tools with their sucker-covered tentacles.

Helped by over 2,000 observations by visitors, teams of aquatic specialists carried out a study showing that the creatures seemed to favor their first three pairs of tentacles for grabbing and using objects, Sea Life aquariums said.

“One can assume that the front six tentacles have the function of arms and that the back two take over the function of legs,” said Sea Life biologist Oliver Walenciak.

Unlike humans and some other animals, most octopuses did not appear to be left-handed or right-handed. Those that were suffered from eye problems on their less-favored side.