Woman takes a shower in bathing cap.

20 Curious Things to Think About in the Shower

Ever find yourself lost in thought under the soothing cascade of your morning shower? We get some of our best ideas, and best questions in the shower. Something about the warm water running down makes it a good place for pondering life's mysteries.

So today, we present 20 thought-provoking tidbits—perfect for contemplation amidst the steam and spray. Let your mind wander, and enjoy. 

1. Why Do Fingers Get Wrinkly in Water?

hand with wrinkly fingers after being in bath for a long time.
Image Credit: Sergey-Diordiev/Shutterstock.

Wrinkling fingers while swimming isn't due to water absorption but rather a nerve-mediated response. Wrinkled skin results from constricting blood vessels beneath the skin when it is wet for long durations. The wrinkles actually help to grip wet objects. Since the 1930s, repeated research has revealed this is an evolutionary advantage. A 2013 study in Biology Letters showed wrinkled fingers improved underwater dexterity, supporting this theory. (Source)

2. What Are the Little Black Dots on Car Windows?

car windsheild with black dots near edge.
Image Credit:
Eduardo-MT/Shutterstock.

Car windows feature black dots for practical and aesthetic reasons. Dating back to the '50s, they help to conceal adhesive used for window installation. These dots and the surrounding black rims (called “frits”) are painted onto the glass to mask the adhesive but also serve as a transition from black to transparent.

Additionally, and maybe most importantly, they aid in temperature control by distributing heat evenly and preventing glass warping. (Source)

3. Why are School Buses Yellow? 

yellow buses lined up in front of school ready for first day.
Image Credit: David-Prahl/Shutterstock.

“National school bus glossy yellow,” mandated in 1939, ensures visibility and safety. Adopted at a conference funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, officials from all 48 states agreed on this color for its high visibility, especially in low light, and the contrast with black lettering enhances readability. By 1974, all US school buses complied with this standard. (Source)

4. How Do Birds Know to Fly South?

Bird Migration at Sunset.
Image Credit: Depositphotos.com.

Birds navigate vast distances during migration, with some species covering thousands of miles annually. Research, including a study by Richard Holland of Bangor University, indicates that certain birds may rely on a magnetic map for guidance. However, the mechanism by which they detect the Earth's magnetic field remains a mystery. (Source)

5. Where Did a Baker’s Dozen Come From?

Closeup view of a woman grabbing a butter based croissant from the dozen.
Image Credit: Gonzalo-de-Miceu/Shutterstock.

In medieval England, bakers likely added an extra item to ensure customer satisfaction and avoid accusations of cheating. Unlike eggs, baked goods varied in size due to dough rising unpredictably. With inaccurate scales and severe penalties for cheating, bakers included 13 (or sometimes 14) items in a batch to mitigate complaints and potential punishment. (Source)

6. Why Do We Use the Traffic Light Colors?

traffic light in front of city street.
Image Credit: Victor-Grow/Shutterstock.

Traffic lights employ green, yellow, and red for distinct reasons. Red, with its long wavelength, is easily visible from a distance and originally used in railroad systems. Green replaced white for “go” due to visibility concerns. Yellow, initially chosen for stop signs' visibility at night, evolved into the caution signal, as it's easily spotted from a distance. (Source)

7. Why Wear Wedding Rings on the Fourth Finger?

putting wedding ring on her finger.
Image Credit: Victor-Grow/Shutterstock.

Wearing wedding rings on the fourth finger of the left hand traces back to ancient Egypt, where they symbolized eternity and were believed to connect to the heart via a “delicate nerve.”

Although modern science clarifies the heart's function, ancient cultures perceived it as the center of emotions. This tradition persisted through ancient Greek and Roman civilizations, ultimately influencing contemporary wedding customs. (Source)

8. Why Do We Eat Birthday Cake?

Child blowing candles on cake surrounded by rainbow decorations
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Birthday cake consumption stems from ancient Egypt, where pharaohs' divine coronations were celebrated. Greeks enhanced this with sweet treats like moon-shaped pies for Artemis, the moon goddess, adorned with candles.

Popularized during the Industrial Revolution, cakes became accessible to the general population. Thus, a blend of ancient symbolism and economic shifts birthed the tradition of indulging in cake on birthdays. (Source)

9. Why Do Newspapers Turn Yellow?

Pile of old yellowed newspaper.
Image Credit: I.Pilon/Shutterstock.

Old newspapers turn yellow due to oxidation. Exposure to air and sunlight triggers a chemical process where they absorb more light, causing the paper to darken from white to yellow over time. (Source)

10. What Keeps a Jellyfish Together?

Moon jellyfish.
Image Credit: Bill-Roque/Shutterstock.

Jellyfish possess hydrostatic skeletons composed of fluid-filled bells and circular muscles. To move, they contract muscles and expel water in the desired direction, propelling themselves along without bones. (Source: Marine Conservation Society)

11. Sleeping Your Life Away?

Woman sleeping in dark
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

If a person lives 75 years they'll spend approximately 25 of those years sleeping. However, it's not time wasted – sleep is critical for a multitude of biological processes.

12. How Many Thoughts Can You Think?

Rear view of a cute little boy drawing with a marker on a A concrete wall with a cog brain sketch on it.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Your brain, a three-pound marvel, juggles 70,000 daily thoughts through 100 billion neurons and 500 trillion synapses. These connections shape memories, thoughts, and identity, illustrating the profound impact of our experiences on cognition. Despite its complexity, our brains handle this task seamlessly, a feat even beyond the capabilities of computers. (Source)

13. How Much Time Do You Spend in the Bathroom?

closeup of a young caucasian man using his smartphone in the toilet while sitting in the bowl
Photo Credit: Depositphotos

You might not be surprised to know that gender plays a role in the amount of bathroom time. But what might surprise you is that men spend approximately 855.8 days (2 years and 125 days), and women spend 770.8 days (2 years and 40 days) over their lives. (Source)

14. How Many Books Are Published Each Year?

woman in library reading book
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Annually, around 4 million new book titles are released, with traditional publishers contributing 500,000 to 1 million. Many self-published works lack ISBNs, potentially increasing the overall count. Additionally, 71,000 audiobooks were published in 2020, and English-language books made up 21.84% of global publications in 2008. (Source)

15. How Many Words Are in a Pen?

Woman hand is writing on a note pad with a pen.
Image Credit: Depositphotos.com.

Have a lot to write about? You can expect a ballpoint pen to write about 100 pages of text or about 50,000 words before it runs out of ink. Generally, each person in the US goes through 4.3 pens in a year. (Source)

16. How Much Time is Spent on Hold? 

woman on phone at work.
Image Credit: Kinga/Shutterstock.

Annually, Americans collectively waste 900 million hours waiting on hold, translating to an average of 43 days per person over their lifetime—a period equivalent to taking a month and a half sabbatical. (Source)

17. Where’s My Old Toothbrush?

Tolietries back sits on counter with toothbrush sticking out.
Photo credit: Depositphotos

It’s still out there, somewhere. Plastic toothbrushes require about 400 years to decompose, meaning toothbrushes that came into popularity in the 1930s are still out there today. With individuals likely using around 300 toothbrushes in their lifetime, and considering the global population of 7.8 billion, the volume of toothbrushes ending up in landfills is substantial. (Source)

18. What Are the Top Travel Destinations?

woman in hat and sunglasses reading map choosing route from San Marco Square while traveling in italy.
Photo credit: Depositphotos

In 2022, Italy ranked as the most visited country, followed by Spain, France, Portugal, and Greece, while Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Brazil remain highly sought-after destinations globally. (Source)

19. Are Giraffes Prone to Lightning Strikes?

A lone Giraffe standing in the grasslands of Africa with an acacia tree in the background.
Image Credit: Chaithanya-Krishnan/Shutterstock.

Giraffes face a significantly higher risk of lightning strikes compared to humans, with five documented fatal incidents from 1996 to 2010. Considering their population of 140,000 during this period, the fatality rate stands at approximately 0.003 per thousand giraffes annually, making it 30 times higher than that for humans. (Source)

20. How Does an Ant Breathe?

Red ant walking on green leaf.
Image Credit: ArtLovePhoto/Shutterstock.

Ants don’t have lungs; instead, they breathe through spiracles or tiny openings, depending on the species. (Source)

30 Most Interesting Words That Don't Exist in English

A young girl with a fur coat on her shoulders stands at a wet window and looks at the rain.
Photo credit: Depositphotos

There are some things that could take a paragraph to express in English but can be expressed in one word in another language. 

Author: Todd Rowley

Title: Copywriter

Expertise: social services, transportation, mental health

Todd Rowley is a copywriter and content writer. He’s an unabashed introvert, an only child with a curious spirit, and a lover of the Oxford comma. Originally educated as a Child and Youth Worker - spending more than 25 years in the field - he also dabbled in Religious Education and Communications Studies.