13 Things You Never Realized Were Shrinking
For better or worse, these things are getting smaller and smaller—and you probably haven't even noticed.
Trying to cut back on carbs and sugar? You’re in luck. Many popular candy bars are doing the job for you by shrinking ever so slightly, a 2018 BBC study found. A Snickers bar, for instance, is now 28 percent lighter than it was four years ago, while Twix bars have lost 20 percent of their original weight. As candy bars become more expensive to make, many companies have opted to downsize instead of changing their recipes or charging customers more. They’re counting on the fact that most buyers won’t notice the difference. Beware of these 50 supermarket tricks you still fall for, too.
Up until about 100,000 years ago, sloths could be as tall as giraffes and beavers weighed as much as NFL linebackers. But that changed when Homo sapiens entered the picture, according to a 2018 study published in the journal Science. Due to rising global temperatures and overhunting of large mammals, the average animal size fell by an estimated 50 to 75 percent. Experts predict that animals will continue to shrink if humans don’t adjust their behavior. Worse, many large animals like whales and polar bears could go extinct altogether.
When Anita Mark VII, one of the world’s first commercially available calculators, was launched in 1961, it could barely fit on the average school desk. But don’t let its size fool you; it could only do basic arithmetic. This personal number cruncher had a $1,000 price tag, to boot. Fortunately, both the size and cost of calculators have declined over time. Today, you can slip a basic calculator into your pocket or just use an app on your smartphone.
In 2016, Australian researchers made an alarming discovery: Five islands in the Pacific Ocean had completely disappeared. This was no magic trick, though; the real culprit was climate change. Melting glaciers have caused sea levels to rise, covering the islands—which ranged in size from 2.5-12.4 acres—in the process. While the missing islands were not inhabited by humans, shrinking coastlines on six other islands have forced entire villages to relocate, the researchers found.
Car engines have come a long way in just a century. Back in 1932, the classic Ford V8 engine weighed a whopping 230 kilograms (about 507 pounds) but delivered just 48 kilowatts of power. Ford’s new EcoBoost engine, by comparison, delivers over triple the amount of power as its predecessor and is only half the weight. Car manufacturing companies are now going greener, too; the new Ford engine reduced its carbon dioxide emissions by 7 percent.
The U.S. population
The U.S. birth rate dropped to about 1.8 births per woman last year, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). That’s 16 percent lower than the replacement rate of 2.1 births per woman, which is the rate predicted to keep a population stable without immigration. Experts believe that the growing number of women waiting to have children—along with a decrease in teen pregnancies—are causing the decline, Fatherly reports. Here are more fascinating facts about America you didn’t learn in school.
Scary, but true—research shows that many bad yet common habits can actually cause your brain to shrink. While it’s normal for the gray matter in our craniums to decrease as we age, certain behaviors could speed up that process. In fact, studies have linked brain shrinkage to everything from lack of sunlight to not sleeping enough to vitamin B12 deficiency, the Atlantic reports. Find out more bizarre human body features you didn’t know existed.
Bad news, breakfast lovers: You are paying more for cereal than you were a few years ago. A three-year study published in the Journal of Retailing found that 15 types of American cereals were downsized between 2013 and 2016, without a corresponding drop in price. The plus side? Considering most cereals are just sugar bombs in disguise, cutting back on this breakfast staple could be a huge favor for both your waistline and your wallet.
No matter how many loads of laundry you have done, chances are you will shrink a favorite sweater or two. Shrinkage doesn’t always happen all at once, either. Applying any kind of heat to clothes causes their fibers to shorten, so several cycles in a hot washing machine or dryer can shrink the fabric over time. To avoid a collection of tiny shirts and shorts, stick to a cold-water cycle and hang delicate garments to dry.
The Atanasoff-Berry Computer (also called ABC) is widely considered to be the world’s first digital computer. Though it was about the size of a desk, this early computer could only solve simple addition and subtraction problems. ENIAC, a more general-purpose computer that came along a few years later, took up the space of an entire room. But thanks to decades of innovation, a modern-day laptop can now easily fit into your backpack, and it has approximately 100 times more processing power.
If it seems like your household is going through toilet paper faster than usual, you’re not imagining things. That roll of TP no longer stretches as far as it once did—literally. In a 2016 report, consumer watchdog Which? found that the number of sheets per roll have decreased by 14 percent in two years. Sadly, toilet paper brands have not dropped their prices to match the rollback (pun intended). So for your budget’s sake, you might want to start limiting your TP use per bathroom break.
Next time you pick up a jar of pasta sauce, take a close look at the fine print on the packaging. You may notice that the numbers have gotten smaller over the years. According to a 2017 report by the United Kingdom’s Office of National Statistics, 2,529 supermarket products have decreased in size or weight in a five-year span. This sneaky scheme, which researchers coined as “shrinkflation,” means you are getting less food for your money each year. Don’t miss more secrets grocery stores don’t want you to know.
The numbers speak for themselves: Ice in the Arctic Sea has thinned by 10 percent over the last 30 years, and glaciers in the Himalayas are predicted to disappear by 2035, National Geographic reports. Experts say greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide are to blame. These gases become trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere, increasing average temperatures and melting glaciers as a result. To curb global warming, the world needs to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 to 70 percent by 2050, according to a 2014 UN report. Read on for 100 interesting facts about basically everything.