Significant Facts on Everything from Climate Change…to Shopping Behavior

Learning Life’s mission is to nurture a wider culture of learning by spreading knowledge on the surfaces of everyday life.  To help advance our mission, we post brief, interesting and significant facts (as opposed to trivial information) to our social media outlets, including Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and Pinterest.  Here is a sampling of some of the information we have disseminated thus far on everything from climate change, to the U.S. Constitution, to research on shopping behavior.    

Thanks to Learning Life interns Kayla Hamedi and Anjali Jacob for researching and drafting many of the following facts.





            Shopping Research

            Energy & Fuel

            Food & Nutrition




            Climate Change

            Geography & Resources

            Renewable Energy

            Space Research



            News Coverage



            Gender Issues

            Human Rights


            Race & Racism

            Sex & Marriage



            Torture & Repression

            Youth Issues




            Elections & Parties

            Internal Revenue Service



            Supreme Court







Human Muscles of the Eye

According to the Library of Congress Science Reference Service, the external muscles of the eye, responsible for adjusting the position of the eye in order to maintain a steady fixation point, are some of the strongest muscles in the human body given their repetitive motion.  In just one hour of reading, the eyes make almost 10,000 coordinated movements.  Learn more about humans’ strongest muscles:


Shoppers’ Eye Range

According to consumer researcher Paco Underhill, in his bestelling book, Why We Buy, the dictum “location, location, location” applies not just to where stores are located, but also to where goods are placed on shelves within stores.  Because people’s eyes move within a certain predictable range, from slightly above eye level down to about knee level, stores often put the smallest and most important or profitable goods on store shelves in that eye range, and the largest or least profitable goods on shelves above or below that range.

Learn more about the science of shopping by taking Learning Life’s five-question quiz on the topic at:


Energy Consumption in America

Americans, on average, consumed 308 million British thermal units (a BTU is the amount of energy needed to heat one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit) per person in 2009.  There are, however, wide variations by state, with the least energy-consuming states clustered on the east and west coasts, and the greatest consumers among the Mountain and Plains states.  Learn more here:

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Plate Size Shapes Eating

People who use smaller plates and bowls tend to eat less because the same portion sizes look bigger on/in smaller plates/bowls.

This interesting finding comes from Cornell University Professor Brian Wansink’s Food and Brand Lab.  Learn more about the Lab’s eating behavior research by taking Learning Life’s five-question food psychology quiz at:

Food Waste in America

Since the 1970’s, food waste has risen 50 percent in the United States. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that between 30 and 40 percent of the U.S. food supply is thrown away, amounting to 1,400 calories per person per day, $400 per person per year, and 31 million tons of food added to landfills each year.   For more information and to help the USDA reduce food waste, visit the US Food Waste Challenge:


Fast Food Consumption

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from 2003–2006 to 2007–2010 the percentage of daily calories consumed from fast foods among adults less than 20 years old decreased slightly from 12.8% to 11.3%. For those aged 40-59, a decrease from 12.7% to 10.5% was observed.  Those 20-39 years old ate the most fast food.   Learn more about your world at Learning Life:


Water in You

Did you know that about 60% of the adult body is composed of water?  In fact, the brain and heart are composed of 73% water, the lungs 83%, the skin 64%, and the bones 31%.  Learn more about the water in you:


Firearm Violence and Homicide

According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, of all homicides committed between 1993 and 2011, 70% were due to firearms violence.  Learn more here:

Household Burglaries

According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, the rate of household burglaries decreased by 56% from 63 victimizations per 1,000 U.S. households to 27 from 1994 to 2011.  However, theft involving electronic devices increased from 28% to 34% from 2001 to 2011.

Take Learning Life’s crime and crime reporting quiz to learn more:



Education and Income

Is education worth the investment?  One way to answer this question is to look at income by education level.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, here were the average weekly earnings of persons 25 and older working full-time in 2012, by education level:

Doctoral degree: $1,624

Professional degree: $1,725

Master’s degree: $1,300

Bachelor’s degree: $1,066

Associate’s degree: $785

Some college, no degree: $727

High school degree: $652

Less than high school: $471

Education and Employment

Is education worth the investment?  One way to answer this question is to look at unemployment rates by education level.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, here was the unemployment rate in 2012 for persons 25 and older, by education level:

Doctoral degree: 2.5%

Professional degree: 2.1%

Master’s degree: 3.5%

Bachelor’s degree: 4.5%

Associate’s degree: 6.2%

Some college, no degree: 7.7%

High school degree: 8.3%

Less than high school: 12.4%

Learn more about the relations between education, income and employment via Learning Life’s five-question quiz on the topic:

Education – Popular Majors

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, “Of the 1,650,000 bachelor’s degrees conferred in 2009-2010, the greatest numbers of degrees were conferred in the fields of business (358,000); social sciences and history (173,000); health professions and related programs (130,000); and education (101,000).”  Additionally, the number of bachelor’s degrees conferred rose 33% between 1999-2000 and 2009-2010.  For more info, visit:

Education, Employment & Gender

Men are more likely than women to have a job, even with the same education level, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics.  In 2012, the employment rate for young adults 20-24 years old with less than a high school degree was 57% for males and 36% for females.   The rate for young adults with a high school degree was 68% for males and 59% for females, and 89% versus 86% respectively for men and women with a college degree or higher.  As the level of education increases, the gender difference in employment rates diminishes.  For more, visit:

Dropout Rate

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the high school dropout rate nationwide has decreased from 12% in 1990 to 7% in 2010. The most significant drop was seen amongst Hispanics, which declined from 32% to 15%.  Learn more about your world at Learning Life:


Economic Status vs. Ethnicity in Education

Studies show that young children’s cognitive skills are hindered by poverty much more than race/ethnicity.  The Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, for instance, found that 29% of 2-year-olds in poverty showed proficiency in listening comprehension versus 67% of 2-year-olds at or above poverty.  In contrast, minimal differences were found among racial/ethnic groups.  Learn more about your world at Learning Life:


Student Loan Debt

Since 2007, outstanding student loan debt has almost doubled from $550 billion to over $1 trillion today.  Some 167,000 Americans have more than $200,000 of student loan debt.  Source:

Learn more about American’s spending and savings at Learning Life:


Rising Heat and Climate Change

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), over the last century, the global average temperature has increased by more than 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit.  The decade from 2000 to 2010 was the warmest on record, and 2010 was tied with 2005 as the warmest year on record.

Take this five-question Learning Life’s quiz to learn more about the environment:


Snowstorms and Climate Change

Are very snowy winters a sign that global warming is not happening?  No.  According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, very snowy winters are more likely in a warmer climate because warmer temperatures mean more water vapor is held in the atmosphere, causing more intense rain and snowstorms.  As the climate warms, snow seasons are expected to shorten, but may nonetheless entail bigger snowstorms.

Take this five-question Learning Life’s quiz to learn more about our environment:


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Water on Planet Earth

Nearly 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered in water.  Of that, 97% is ocean water.  Only 3% is freshwater.  Take Learning Life’s water quiz to learn more:


Deserts and Solar Energy

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, covering 4% of the world’s deserts with photovoltaic/solar energy panels could supply all of the world’s current electricity needs.  Take this Learning Life five-question quiz to learn more about energy:



Findings from Mars

In 2003, NASA launched the twin rovers “Spirit” and “Opportunity” as part of their Mars Exploration Rover Project.  After working twenty months in a Mars area called “Cape York,” the Opportunity rover has confirmed that the planet was once rich with water.  According to astronomers, there was once a large amount of water flowing, all of which was drinkable.  For more info, visit:


Leading Killers Worldwide

According to the World Health Organization, the leading killers worldwide are high blood pressure (13% of global deaths), tobacco use (9%), high blood sugar (6%), physical inactivity (6%), and overweight and obesity (5%).

Learn more from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 2009 “Global Health Risks” report:

Life Expectancy Inequality

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African American men die on average six years sooner than white men (70 vs. 76 years), and African American women die 4 years sooner than white women (77 vs. 81 years).  Learn more about your world at Learning Life:


U.S. Workplace Deaths

4,609 workers were killed on the job in the United States in 2011, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).  That’s nearly 13 deaths every day.

This, per OSHA, is a slight rise from the 4,551 workplace deaths in 2009, but the second lowest annual total since 1992, when the first workplace death census was conducted.  The leading type of workplace death in 2011 was transportation incidents (especially on roadways), accounting for 41% of the year’s 4,609 deaths.


Texting and Driving

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that “at any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving,” despite numerous warnings against this.  This number has held steady since 2010.  In 2011, more than 3,300 people were killed and 387,000 were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver.  Learn more:


News Coverage of Presidential Candidates

In 2012, the Pew Research Center examined the portrayal of presidential candidates in 50 major news outlets.  In the 2012 presidential race, they found that 72% of news coverage was negative for Barack Obama compared with 71% for Mitt Romney, consistent with a trend toward negative news coverage in recent times.  However, coverage of Barack Obama in 2008 diverged from this trend, with 69% of media coverage being positive, compared with 43% for John McCain.

Learn more about the world at Learning Life:



Supercomputer vs. The Brain

In 2012, IBM announced that it had used the Blue Gene/Q Sequoia supercomputer to clock in over 16 quadrillion calculations per second.  It currently ranks as the second fastest supercomputer in the world. Though not as fast, the brain is capable of doing more calculations per second than even the fastest supercomputer because it contains numerous networks of neurons that work simultaneously to solve many problems at once.  For more info, visit:

The Manhattan Project

The Manhattan Project was a covert, government research project that produced the first atomic bombs.  The project helped bring an end to World War II with the dropping of “Little Boy” and “Fat Man” on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, respectively.  However, the atomic bomb also ushered in the nuclear age, and the Cold War between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R.   Learn more:


Sexual Violence in the United States

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), “nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men in the United States have been raped at some time in their lives and nearly 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men have experienced other forms of sexual violence victimization in their lifetime.”  Learn more here:

Sexual Violence in America

From 1995 to 2010, the “estimated annual rate of female rape or sexual assault victimizations” fell 58%, per the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics.  Women 34 or younger who live in lower-income households in rural areas experience some of the highest rates of sexual violence.  In 2005-2010, 78% of sexual violence involved an offender who was a family member, intimate partner, friend, or acquaintance.  For more info, visit:

Gender & Exhaustion

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, women (15%) were more likely than men (10%) to often feel very tired or exhausted. Among adults 18-44 years old, women were nearly twice as likely as men to feel this way (16% vs. 9%).  For more info, visit:

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The International Criminal Court

What is the International Criminal Court (ICC)?

The ICC, established in 2002, was formed to investigate and prosecute genocides, crimes against humanity and war crimes when national authorities are unable or unwilling to do so.  Since its establishment, the ICC’s prosecutor has launched investigations into crimes committed in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, and the Central African Republic.

Learn more about the world at Learning Life:



It’s Expensive to Be Poor

It’s expensive to be poor.  Per Brookings Institution researcher Matt Fellowes, “lower income families tend to pay more for the exact same consumer product than families with higher incomes. For instance, 4.2 million lower income homeowners that earn less than $30,000 a year pay higher than average prices for their mortgages. About 4.5 million lower income households pay higher than average prices for auto loans. At least 1.6 million lower income adults pay excessive fees for furniture, appliances, and electronics. And, countless more pay high prices for other necessities, such as basic financial services, groceries, and insurance. Together, these extra costs add up to hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars unnecessarily spent by lower income families every year.”  Learn more:


Interracial Marriage

State laws prohibiting interracial marriage were valid in the United States until 1967.  In 1967, in the famous Loving v. Virginia case, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously declared such anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional.  In the Lovings’ case, Virginia had previously sentenced Mildred Loving, a black woman, and Richard Loving, a white man, to a year in prison for violating the state’s 1924 “Racial Integrity Act.”

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Race and the Death Penalty

In January 2003, a University of Maryland study concluded that race and geography are major factors in death penalty decisions. Specifically, black offenders who killed blacks were significantly less likely to face the death penalty, while black offenders who killed whites were significantly more likely to face a death sentence than all other racial combinations.

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U.S. Marriage Rates: 1940 vs. 2010

In 1940, 55% of U.S men and 68% of U.S. women aged 20-34 were married.  By 2010, 30% of men and 39% of women the same age were married.  Learn more about the U.S. in 1940 vs. 2010:


Slavery in the Modern World

Has slavery been abolished in the modern world? Not quite.

As of 2012, the U.S. State Department estimates as many as 27 million people around the world are victims of modern slavery, also known as trafficking in persons.  Yet some progress has been made:   according to the State Department’s 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report, 29 countries have made improvements in their efforts to prevent and combat modern slavery.   For more from this report, visit:


Suicide in the USA

According to the U.S. Dept of Health & Human Services, “[s]uicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. It accounts for the loss of more than 38,000 American lives each year, more than double the number of lives lost to homicide.”  Learn more about suicide and mental health here:


Torture and Repression in the World

In 2012, Amnesty International conducted research on human rights abuses in 159 countries and territories globally. Out of those 159 nations, 112 tortured their citizens, and 101 repressed their freedom of expression.  Learn more about your world at Learning Life:


Sibling Bullying

Being picked on by your brother or sister may seem like a normal part of growing up, but research shows it increases the risk of depression and anxiety.  As University of New Hamphshire researcher Corinna Jenkins Tucker and her colleagues report in a 2013 study published in the journal, Pediatrics, among 3,600 U.S. kids surveyed, those who were pushed around by a sibling, physically or verbally, had higher depression and anxiety scores.  They researchers suggest that parents should not turn a blind eye to their kids’ fights and teasing as it may prove harmful.

Learn more about the living conditions of U.S. kids by taking Learning Life’s five question quiz on the topic:



Congressional Place & History

Did you know that the U.S. government was not always centered in Washington D.C.?  Congress first met in the Capitol Building on November 17, 1800.  Prior, meetings were held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Learn more about the U.S. government at:



U.S. Constitution’s 18th Amendment 

The U.S. Constitution has 27 amendments, but only 26 of them are in force.  Why is that?

Answer: In 1920, the long-standing and vigorous American temperance movement had its day.  In that year, the United States ratified the 18th Amendment banning “the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors.”  Alcohol consumption subsequently fell by about half in the 1920s, but the 18th Amendment also spurred organized crime and corruption as the law was frequently broken.  The 21st Amendment ratified in 1933 repealed the 18th Amendment, making it the only defunct amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Learn more about the U.S. Constitution by taking Learning Life’s five-question quiz on the topic at:


Political Party Symbols

Did you know that the Democratic and Republican Party animal symbols arose out of mockery?  During the 1828 election, Andrew Jackson’s opponents referred to him as a “jackass.”  In response, he gleefully adopted the image for his Democratic Party campaign.  Similarly, in 1874 the satirical cartoonist Thomas Nast drew an elephant scared of a donkey cloaked in lion’s skin, and labeled the elephant “the Republican vote.”  The elephant has stuck with the Republican Party since.  Learn more:

Super PACs

Everyone hears about Super PACs in election seasons, but what exactly are they?

A “Super PAC” is a Political Action Committee that cannot officially be affiliated with a candidate or party, or donate directly to them, but importantly, can otherwise spend unlimited amounts to influence election races.  Super PACs’ right to spend unlimited amounts is due in part to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.  Currently, there are 726 Super PACs.  Learn more about your world at Learning Life:



The Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

The origins of the IRS date back to 1862 during the Civil War, when President Lincoln and Congress created the position of Commissioner of Internal Revenue and enacted an income tax to cover war costs.  The constitutionality of the IRS came into question numerous times in the following years.  However, this was legally resolved in 1913 with the addition of the 16th Amendment to the Constitution, which states, “Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.”

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Presidential Inauguration: George Washington

In his second inaugural ceremony in 1793, President George Washington gave the shortest address in the ceremony’s history.  The speech was only 135 words.  Learn more inaugural history:

Presidential Inauguration: Barack Obama

Not only did President Barack Obama’s first inaugural ceremony on January 20, 2009 have the largest attendance of any Presidential Inauguration in U.S. history, it had the largest attendance of any event in the history of Washington D.C.  Learn more about U.S. presidents’ inaugural firsts:

Attempted Assassination of Theodore Roosevelt

While on his way to making a campaign speech in Milwaukee in 1912, Theodore Roosevelt was shot at point-blank range by John F. Schrank.  Roosevelt coughed into his hand, saw no blood, and thus assessed that the bullet had not entered his lung, so he proceeded to deliver his ninety-minute speech before visiting a doctor.  Learn more about this incident:


The Filibuster

Per the U.S. Senate website, a filibuster refers to “any attempt to block or delay Senate action on a bill or other matter by debating it at length, by offering numerous procedural motions, or by any other delaying or obstructive actions.”   South Carolina Senator J. Strom Thurmond led the longest filibuster in U.S. history, speaking for 24 hours and 18 minutes to block the Civil Rights Act of 1957.  Learn more about the history of the filibuster:

Filibuster definition:


The U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court’s work begins on the first Monday in October, and runs through late June or early July.  The term is divided between “sittings” for the hearing of cases and delivering of opinions, and intervening “recesses” for the consideration of the business before the Court and writing of opinions/decisions on cases.  Sittings and recesses alternate every two weeks or so.  This term, the Court will be deciding 32 cases between June and July, so be on the lookout for some landmark decisions!

Take Learning Life’s 5-question quiz to learn more about the U.S. Supreme Court:



U.S. Women Veterans

As of 2012, there were 22.3 million U.S. veterans, 10% of whom were women, per the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.  By 2040, the percentage of women veterans is expected to rise to nearly 18%.  Learn more about your world at Learning Life: