129 New ‘Today I Learned’ Facts That Prove It’s Never Too Late To Learn Something New
Nobody has all the answers. Except for the internet.
Today I Learned, or "TIL," is a subreddit for people to share tidbits of information that may not be widely known, but that others may find fascinating. Often with accompanying pictures, too.
While these factoids may not be newsworthy or highly beneficial to our everyday lives, they at least produce a genuine "Oh, I didn't know that, how cool!"
About every two weeks, we at Bored Panda go through the subreddit and handpick a selection of posts we find to be the most interesting and worthy of your time. Below, you will find what we have in store for you this time. To view our earlier pieces on the subreddit, go here, here, and here.
#1TIL that in 1986 an astronomer trying to trace a 75 cent computer time discrepancy for 10 months eventually found a German hacker selling defense secrets to the KGB
Image credits: Skarmunkel
#2TIL a homeless man found a 10 000$ check on the street meant for a real estate broker and found a way to return it. So, touched, the broker awarded him a place to live and arranged for a job interview. A year later, he was on the board of directors of one of their foundations.
Image credits: Emergency_Culture_35
#3TIL In the 1936 Olympics two Japanese pole vaulters (Shuhei Nashida & Sueo Oe) tied for second. Declined to compete against each other, Nashida was awarded silver and Oe bronze. On return to Japan they had the medals cut in two & joined together to make two 'friendship medals' out of silver & bronze
Image credits: sewn_of_a_gun
#4TIL Nordic countries have a "Freedom to Roam", allowing people to enjoy all nature regardless of ownership (within reason)
Image credits: korro90
#5TIL Michael Jackson was a virtuoso composer, despite being unable to read music or play instruments well. He wrote the parts to his songs by singing and beatboxing into a tape recorder. “He would sing us an entire string arrangement, every part. Had it all in his head, harmony and everything."
Image credits: Friskyinthenight
#6TIL Nic Cage once crashed a Nic Cage film festival, watched 4 of his own films, did a 47-minute Q&A and read a 10-minute short story
Image credits: Naweezy
#7TIL During World War II, an American lieutenant, realizing his position was inundated with enemy troops, called in an artillery barrage on himself. Following a US counterattack later that day, the lieutenant's body was found alongside approximately 100 German soldiers. His name was John R. Fox.
Image credits: dansux
#8TIL that in 1948 the Nobel Committee did not award the Nobel Peace Prize on the grounds that “there was no suitable living candidate”, implying that Mahatma Gandhi would have received it if it were not for his assassination earlier that year.
Image credits: Zircon_72
#9TIL Elizabeth Swaney, a relatively amateur skier, was able to qualify for the 2018 Winter Olympics halfpipe by accumulating points at qualifying events leading up to the Olympics by doing flawless yet completely simple routines, outscoring opponents who often would crash in their more-ambitious runs
Image credits: holyfruits
#10TIL that in 1648 an angry mob of Parisians once broke into the royal palace, demanding to see the king. They were led into the bedchamber of Louis XIV, who was pretending to be asleep. Satisfied, the mob quietly departed.
Image credits: argon435
#11TIL that 10s of farmers die each year from Grain entrapment, which is when a person is partially or fully submerged in grain, and cannot get out without assistance. In 2019, 67 incidents of grain entrapment took place, of which 39 were fatal.
Image credits: Fruit_Louse
#12Today I learned Dana Carvey underwent heart bypass surgery for a blocked coronary artery, but the surgeon operated on the wrong artery. Eventually he won a lawsuit against the hospital and won 7.5 million dollars, all of which was donated to charity.
Image credits: sephirothreturns
#13TIL Charles Barkley was the first black baby born at a segregated, all-white town hospital in Leeds, Alabama and was in the first group of black students at his elementary school.
Image credits: BenSimmonsToTheMoon
#14TIL When his owner died in August 1936, Shep the Dog followed the casket to the railroad station and watched it being loaded onto a train heading to the eastern US. For six years until his own death, he would greet every train that arrived each day, expecting his master to return.
Image credits: tjfergusen
#15TIL When the doctor Alois Alzheimer wanted to share in a meeting his findings of the Alzheimer patology, the attendees where uninteresed and skipped the questions because they were hurried to go to the next talk that was about "compulsive masturbation".
Image credits: RodriPuertas
#16TIL many people in ancient Rome who were among the educated elite were aware that lead was poisonous and some of these people even tried to make others aware of this.
Image credits: randomsnowflake
#17TIL when former NFL safety Dave Duerson took his life he left a note that read, “Please see that my brain is given to the NFL’s brain bank.” He shot himself in the chest rather than his head so as to preserve his brain. Doctors confirmed that he was suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
Image credits: Str33twise84
#18TIL there is such a thing as Earl Grey tea intoxication, where drinking 4L per day causes extensive muscle cramps and blurred vision. Cutting down to 1-2L makes the symptoms go away.
Image credits: tamsui_tosspot
#19TIL in 1990 Marilyn vos Savant wrote about the "Monty Hall problem" in her column in Parade magazine, correctly answering the statistical brainteaser. Thousands wrote to her to insist she was wrong, including many people with PhDs. Mythbusters even confirmed she was right in a 2011 episode.
Image credits: MyPasswordIsMyCat
#20TIL of all the gold medals won by US swimmers in the history of the Olympics, nearly 10% were won by Michael Phelps. (23/246)
Image credits: scrumbly
#21TIL Poland sent the US a birthday card with 5.5 million signatures to mark the 150th anniversary of the US in 1926.
Image credits: wrldms14
#22TIL that Nazi Germany made a New Testament Bible where they removed the genealogies of Jesus that showed his Davidic descent, removed Jewish names and places, but left any mention of Jews that showed them in a bad light, in an attempt to Aryanize Jesus.
Image credits: John-Piece
#23TIL the opening crawl to Star Wars begins with a storybook-esque narration ("A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away....") because George Lucas first imagined his films as stories being told by an ancient race of immortals. The immortals were written out for early films, but this vestige remained.
Image credits: WhileFalseRepeat
#24TIL: The United States Department of Defense runs Linux. "In fact, the US Army is the single largest installed base for RedHat Linux and the US Navy nuclear submarine fleet runs on Linux"
Image credits: CelibateSamyaza
#25TIL The famously large President Taft followed a weight loss program. Taft was in contact with Dr. Yorke-Davies for over twenty years and kept a daily record of his weight, food intake, and physical activity. Taft managed to go from 340 to 244 pounds and walked 3 miles to the Capitol every day.
Image credits: joeyjojodoh
#26TIL Charles Dickens' father was imprisoned when he was boy for unpaid debts. At the age of 12, Dickens' was forced to leave school and work 10-hour long days at a warehouse for 6 shillings per day.
Image credits: MarineKingPrime_
#27TIL Owls’ ears are placed asymmetrically – at different heights on the sides of their faces – so the sounds reach each ear at different times. This is essential to identifying the exact direction of their prey.
Image credits: yeahumsure
#28TIL about “formaldehyde hunger” a well-known phenomenon in anatomy labs where med students get hungry while dissecting cadavers, allegedly due to formaldehyde being an appetite stimulant.
Image credits: FauxPaws87
#29TIL Ford originally wanted to unveil the 2021 Ford Bronco on July 9, 2020. However, the debut was rescheduled for July 13 when it was pointed out that July 9 is the birthday of O.J. Simpson.
Image credits: YourOwnBiggestFan
#30TIL that P.T. Barnum's famous elephant Jumbo got his name from the Swahili word for chief. It was the elephant who caused the word "jumbo" to mean something large - not the other way around.
Image credits: p38-lightning
#31TIL the oldest woman to climb El Capitan is the mother of Alex Honnold (of Free Solo fame) who did it at the age of 66. Her first time in a climbing gym was when she was 57.
Image credits: Adder00
#32TIL Stingray injuries are almost never fatal. When Steve Irwin was killed in a stingray attack in 2006, he was only the second reported fatality in Australia since 1945. Only one to two fatal attacks are reported each year worldwide.
Image credits: youngster_matt
#33TIL that there is more water in the vapor and clouds above the Amazon rainforest than there is in the Amazon river
Image credits: DigbyChickenZone
#34TIL 50 years ago, Ham the chimp was launched into space, where he experienced up to 14.7g during a six-minute freefall. He survived his ocean splashdown (although he nearly drown before rescue crews arrived) and lived 20 more years at a zoo in Washington D.C.
Image credits: clayt6
#35TIL that on October 18, 1963 French scientists launched a rocket into space, containing a cat named Felicette. She orbited close to 100 miles above earth, then descended safely to the ground via a special parachute. Felicette has the high honor of being the only cat launched into space thus far.
Image credits: aimilah
#36TIL when sonar was first invented, operators were puzzled by the appearance of a ‘false seafloor’ that changed depth with the time of day and amount of moonlight. It was eventually identified as a previously unknown layer of billions of lanternfish that reflect sonar waves and migrate up and down.
Image credits: Meninaeidethea
#37TIL Thomas Jefferson sent a giant moose carcass to Paris to prove that America’s animals were bigger than Europe’s
Image credits: majesticalpha09
#38TIL that when the allied forces were at the edge of the city, Hitler ordered the destruction of Paris. The Nazi commander of Paris couldn’t bring himself to execute the order and surrendered the city a few days later.
Image credits: ser_antonii
#39TIL During the American Revolution at the Battle of Long Island, 400 Maryland Soldiers repeatedly attacked a superior British force in order to allow Gen. Washington’s army to escape total destruction. Washington said of them, “Good God, what brave fellows I must this day lose”.
Image credits: Jesture4
#40TIL The population of Rio de Janeiro was so unsatisfied with its politicians during the election of 1988, that a well-known local monkey from a zoo received over 400,000 votes.
Image credits: dansux
#41TIL that a crocodile from Burundi named Gustave has killed as many as 300 people. He has evaded numerous capture and kill attempts, and has obtained near-mythical status in the region.
Image credits: kj450
#42TIL that In 1889 a lion escaped from a travelling show in Birmingham and ran into the sewers. When an angry mob formed, Frank Bostock, the owner secretly snuck another lion out the back. He then returned with the lion clearly visible and was hailed a hero. The escaped lion was still in the sewers!
Image credits: UnknownAlien123
#43TIL Mariah Carey wrote and recorded a secret grunge album under the pseudonym "Chick" because Sony thought it would ruin her image
Image credits: HallowGoob
#44TIL that Bethesda set up a challenge that would reward any couple free Bethesda games for life if they gave birth on Skyrim's 11/11/11 release date and named the baby Dovahkiin. One couple took up that challenge and their son's now called Dovahkiin Tom Kellermeyer
Image credits: SuperAlloyBerserker
#45TIL that contrary to popular belief, sweating does not remove toxins from the body. Dehydration from excessive sweating can actually make it harder for your body to remove toxins.
Image credits: DookieDemon
#46TIL that there are ancient languages that are considered untranslatable or ‘extinct’ because we have no descendant languages to use as a frame of reference for translation. One example is the Etruscan language of Italy that belonged to people who lived in Italy before the Romans.
Image credits: Squaragus_Asparagus
#47TIL for centuries, Poland was home to the largest and most significant Jewish community in the world. Poland sheltered Jews persecuted and expelled from various European countries. About three-quarters of the world's Jews lived in Poland by the middle of the 16th century.
Image credits: redwhiterosemoon
#48TIL Thomas Jefferson said that his Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom was “meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew, the Gentile, the Christian and the Mahometan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.” It's on his grave as 1 of 3 great accomplishments.
Image credits: Johnny_Banana18
#49TIL that, in order for the British Army to legally exist, Parliament must pass an act every 5 years. This stems from the Bill of Rights 1689, which forbade a standing army in time of peace without Parliamentary approval.
Image credits: bigbrother2030
#50TIL that the rivalry between Manchester United and Liverpool began during the industrial revolution when Manchester built a canal to circumvent Liverpool to avoid paying fees for importing/exporting goods through their port.
Image credits: opulent321
#51TIL The only copies of "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" and "Beowulf" are unique manuscripts that came from the same private library -- both were nearly destroyed in a fire in 1731.
Image credits: RandomName39483
#52TIL about the Japanese national pillow fighting tournament. The pillow fighters start by pretending to sleep on futons. But when the whistle sounds, they spring to their feet and race to get a pillow. A mix between dodgeball and chess, teams throw pillows at each other while protecting the 'King'.
Image credits: SeizeOpportunity
#53TIL that Alaska is not least populated state of the US. It has more people than Vermont and Wyoming.
Image credits: sormatador
#54TIL that in 1981, the US Post Office issued an anti-alcoholism stamp that said "Alcoholism: You can beat it!" Though well intentioned, it was a huge flop mainly because it could look like the sender was sending a specific message to the recipient.
Image credits: Ice_Burn
#55TIL that in 2016 a research ship was named The RRS Sir David Attenborough. An internet poll to suggest the name of the ship showed the actual winner was the name "Boaty McBoatface," but the Science Minister wanted a "more suitable name" and chose a different name from the poll's choices.
Image credits: littlemetalpixie
#56TIL a woman named Pamela Kreimeyer died at a gender reveal party after her family members filled a steel umbrella stand with gun powder, but instead of it emitting a shower of sparks, the metal pipe could not take the overpressure; acting like a pipe bomb.
Image credits: violetdragons
#57TIL that Military Chocolate was made to taste terrible on purpose, as to have the soldiers actually save it for emergencies instead of eating it prematurely.
Image credits: redditcardkey
#58TIL that In 1979, two families escaped East Germany in a homemade hot air balloon. They flew for 28 minutes at −8 °C with no shelter as the gondola was just a clothesline railing. They landed just 10km from the border. The escape was planned out over 1 and 1/2 years and took 3 attempts.
#59TIL the Statue of Liberty almost wasn't built in New York because the governor wouldn't use city funds to build its pedestal, but Joseph Pulitzer's newspaper articles inspired 160,000 people to donate. Though a majority of donations were less than $1, they raised over $100,000 in just five months.
Image credits: ShocketRip
#60TIL Baby horses are born with "feathers", AKA faery fingers or golden slippers (real name eponychium). They protect the mother's uterus during gestation and birth canal during parturition from damage from the otherwise sharp and dangerous hoof kicks. They harden and fall off very soon after birth.
Image credits: DariusMDeV
#61TIL spiders tune their webs like guitar strings, tightening and loosening strands so they can read the different frequencies caused by intruders and determine where/how big the intruders are, if they are predator or prey, or if they’re just a potential mate flirtatiously strumming their strings.
Image credits: ShocketRip
#62TIL talk-show host Stephen Colbert half-jokingly ran for US President in the 2008 election. He stated that he would only he run if he received a sign, which came when Viggo Mortensen, who played Aragorn in Lord of the Rings, appeared on his show and gave him a replica of the the sword, 'Anduril'.
Image credits: szekeres81
#63TIL the first reported successful blood transfusions were performed by the Incas as early as the 1500s. Spanish conquistadors witnessed blood transfusions when they arrived in the sixteenth century
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#64TIL: The ADA exclusively recommends "soft" bristles for toothbrushes. Medium or firmer brushes are considered harmful because they can erode teeth enamel and damage your gums.
Image credits: ctsims
#65TIL: It only took one week in 2000 for the Olympic Village to run out of 70,000 condoms. Olympians have been shown to have need for more and more condoms as the years go by, requiring over 100,000 in 2012.
Image credits: Kingflares
#66TIL that In 1915, a man named Charles Hatfield convinced the town of San Diego that he could create rainfall using a secret mix of chemicals. The city offered to pay him $10,000 if he could end their drought, and the result, a few days later, was the town’s worst flood of the 20th century.
Image credits: UnknownAlien123
#67TIL Hummingbirds are one of the fastest animals on Earth relative to their body size. They can cover more body lengths per second than any other vertebrate and for their size can outpace fighter jets and the space shuttle – all while withstanding g-forces that would make a fighter pilot blackout.
Image credits: WhileFalseRepeat
#68TIL Martin Luther enrolled at the University of Erfurt at age 17 to study law which he described as a "beerhouse and whorehouse". He gave up law for philosophy but eventually left university altogether, sold his books, & became a monk.
Image credits: MarineKingPrime_
#69TIL that Teddy Roosevelt enjoyed boxing while president. His sparring partner punched him so hard he lost vision in his eye for the rest of his life. Roosevelt never told the other man what had happened.
Image credits: TrueBirch
#70TIL in the 1990’s, a group of Mazda engineers created a suitcase “car” from a large Samsonite suitcase and a pocket bike; the suitcase car took just a minute to assemble and had a top speed of 30 km/h (18.46 mph)
Image credits: johnnylgarfield
#71TIL Alcatraz's prison guards created the myths about man eating sharks and deadly waters of San Francisco to discourage prisoners from escaping. There is only one recorded shark fatality in San Francisco in 1959
Image credits: Historicalhysteria
#72TIL the role of Hannibal Lecter was turned down by Sean Connery, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro & others. Silence of the Lambs would go on to be the 3rd film in history to win all "Big 5" Academy Awards & upon release in 1991 on VHS, became the most rented film in the United States.
Image credits: MarineKingPrime_
#73TIL Steve Jobs purchased a company from George Lucas in 1986, named it "Pixar", and its first client after being incorporated was Disney.
Image credits: NiltiacSif
#74TIL the explosion that led to the Chernobyl nuclear accident was chemical, driven by gases and steam generated by the core runaway, not by nuclear reactions. No commercial nuclear reactor contains a high enough concentration of U-235 or plutonium to cause a nuclear explosion.
Image credits: f_GOD
#75TIL There was a mysterious culture in Eastern Europe between 5,500 to 2,700 BC which constructed sophisticated, organized, densely-populated settlements - only to burn them to the ground every 60-80 years to rebuild the same settlement as before
Image credits: HydrolicKrane
#76TIL that before Terry Crews was a football player or actor, he was a courtroom sketch artist. He covered the worst murder case in Flint, MI history.
Image credits: LuckyLaceyKS
#77TIL after an obese umpire died during a game, Major League Baseball decided to enforce weight limits. In 1999 under this policy, umpire Eric Gregg was fined $5,000 for exceeding 300lbs.
Image credits: Ok-Needleworker-8876
#78Today I learned that the CIA secretly owned a Swiss company called Crypto AG that maintained offices all over the world and sold products with secret backdoors for the US government and key allies.
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#79TIL Screenwriter Tom Schulman was hired to rewrite the script for Honey I Shrunk the Kids, given only 7 days to overhaul it from a drama into a comedy.
Image credits: SoccerHorse
#80TIL that unlike terrestrial mammals, whales do not have a connected mouth and respiratory system. They do not and cannot breathe through their mouths.
Image credits: TommaClock
#81TIL in the 80’s and 90’s, the LAPD set up a task force to look into the possibility of an active serial killer they dubbed the “Southside Slayer”. In reality, they had 4 or 5 active serial killers.
Image credits: kevlarbuns
#82TIL Marco Polo became Kublai Khan's diplomat at 21 years old. One of his journeys included 2-year voyage from China to the Persian Gulf where of 600 men, only 18 survived. Altogether, throughout his life he traveled almost 15,000 miles or 24,000 km.
Image credits: MarineKingPrime_
#83TIL that despite being strongly associated with NASA and astronauts, freeze-dried ice cream was never taken on board any missions to space.
Image credits: ExiledToTerminus
#84TIL that famous computer hacker Kevin Mitnick only wound up in jail originally because a "friend" was pissed that Mitnick beat him at a $150 bet. | After being bested, Mitnick's then-friend was so angry about losing that he called the FBI and blew Mitnick in.
Image credits: AlwaysTheNoob
#85TIL In 1957 woman was struck by consecutive foul balls. First one broke her nose and the second broke her leg while being carried out on a stretcher.
Image credits: Good_nuff
#86TIL actors were not looked upon highly in the Roman Empire, and were considered to be on the same social level as prostitutes.
Image credits: iajzz
#87TIL of Labi Siffre. Dr. Dre wanted to sample his 1970s song "I got the..." for Eminem's "My Name Is" but Siffre, openly gay, initially refused, demanding sexist and homophobic lyrics be removed. Dre and Eminem made changes and the song became a massive hit.
Image credits: CardinalNYC
#88TIL One study found that job seekers are more likely to be hired if they wear glasses to their interview. Several studies have shown that people who wear glasses are typically perceived as more intelligent, more competent, and more industrious than those without spectacles
Image credits: yaboodooect
#89TIL farts don’t dissipate easily in space and a particularly smelly astronaut, while in the space shuttle’s middeck, would position his butt next to an air hose that led to the ISS and fire away. He called it “sending emails” to the ISS
Image credits: EisWarren
#90TIL the man who invented the modern theory about oxygen and combustion, Antoine Lavoisier, was guillotined in 1794 during the French Revolution:
Image credits: DannyABoi
#91TIL that the white rind of a watermelon, between the pink flesh and green skin, is loaded with nutrients and just as healthy as the commonly eaten pink flesh.
Image credits: Thunder-_-Bear-
#92TIL Over half of psychology studies fail reproducibility test
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#93TIL, that a decapitated flatworm can regrow not only its head back entirely but also all of its old memories back with it.
Image credits: hamishandandys
#94TIL of Mikhail Devyataev, a Soviet fighter pilot who in Feb 1945 escaped a Nazi concentration camp near Peenemünde with nine other POWs by taking over the commandant's He 111 bomber. The NKVD didn't believe his story and classified him as a criminal, but in 1957 he became a Hero of the Soviet Union.
Image credits: Litvi
#95TIL that legendary jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald forgot the words to “Mac the Knife” when performing it live in Berlin and completely improvised the lyrics. She won a Grammy for the performance.
#96TIL: That seagrass can convert 20 times more carbon per acre than land forests.
#97TIL in the 1900s the Austerlitz family in Omaha, Lutheran German emigrants, moved to New York City in hopes of finding fortune through their children's vaudeville talents. The son wore a top hat and studied tango, waltz, and other ballroom dances. He would become Fred Astaire.
#98TIL James Murray Spangler (1848–1915), a salesman and janitor, invented the first commercially successful portable electric vacuum cleaner that revolutionized household carpet cleaning. His device was the first to use both a cloth filter bag and cleaning attachments. His invention was patented 1908.
#99TIL that cavemen had relatively straight teeth and that crooked teeth are a modern phenomenon
#100TIL if you scale the history of the universe to a single year, where the Big Bang happened at January 1st 00:00:00 and the present day is December 31st 23:59:59, all of recorded human history fits within the last 12 seconds
#101TIL that during the 1870s, 16 Black Members held seats in Congress—14 in the House, two in the Senate, and each one a Republican from the South with Hiram Revels of Mississippi having been appointed the first Black Senator in February 1870
#102TIL that in 1999, author of the Dilbert comic Scott Adams released “the blue jeans of food”: a microwave burrito he affectionately dubbed the Dilberito. The product tanked, with the creator himself later admitting that “three bites made you fart so hard your intestines formed a tail”.
#103TIL in Scandinavia the Kiruna to Narvik electrified railway carries iron ore down a steeply graded route. On the way down the trains generate large amounts of electricity by regenerative braking, which is sufficient to power the empty trains back up the track and pump excess energy into the grid.
#104TIL a Polynesian man named Tupaia drew an incredibly accurate map for Captain Cook, but it was misunderstood to be badly made and unusable. The map puzzled people for centuries until some researchers finally figured out how to use it correctly.
#105TIL sometimes Spitfires had to taxi to the take-off position with a person sat on the tail. In 1945 a pilot forgot about this and took-off with mechanic Margaret Horton clinging on the tail. The pilot realized that his aircraft wasn't handling correctly and landed with Miss Horton still on the tail
#106TIL Neuroscientists have found evidence to suggest feeling powerful dampens a part of our brain that helps with empathy. Even a small amount of power can have this effect on someone
#107TIL the 1970 Guess Who song "No Sugar Tonight" was created when the band's guitarist saw a tough biker in a California intersection getting yelled at by his girlfriend for not taking out the trash and leaving her with the kids. She added, "And one more thing, you ain't getting no sugar tonight."
#108TIL that in 2016, Live Nation admitted that less than 1/3 of tickets for a popular tour were available to fans | When The Tragically Hip announced their final tour, 2/3 of tickets were sold to brokers and more were held for industry guests.
#109TIL of the Heart Attack Grill restaurant in Las Vegas, which serves high fat/sugar food. Customers wear hospital gowns, waitresses are dressed as nurses, and customers over 350lb in weight eat for free. There is in fact a history of people dying there from cardiac arrest.
Image credits: noctus_exterreri