15 Pings of Trivia We Sensed During the Week of February 5, 2024
Stick all your dishes in a dishwasher, and you’ll see some of them fare better than others. Even if you took the precaution of only loading stuff that’s dishwasher safe, you’ll see the plastic dishes come out more wet than the ceramic ones. Whatever, you might say to yourselves. These things are random.
They’re not random. There’s an explanation. Find out what it is below, along with some uplifting news about how we’re all confused in exactly the same way.
In 1995, a woman crashed her motorcycle on the way to a flight, and she boarded the plane with broken ribs. Air began filling a cavity in her chest, and when staff asked for doctors among the other passengers, a surgeon volunteered to operate on her mid-flight, with help from a coat hanger. The operation was successful.
Astronauts have tried mixing concrete in space, and they discovered that concrete made in zero-gravity is stronger than the regular kind made on the ground. Gravity pulls denser parts of the mixture down, but without gravity, the mixture stays evenly mixed until it hardens.
Emperor’s Clothes: Origins
Before The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen, the same concept popped up in an earlier folk tale. Here, you couldn’t see the clothes if you were a bastard. So, everyone who saw the emperor naked feared losing their inheritance, and the emperor himself feared being booted from the throne.
The first wireless hack was in 1903, and it involved a dirty limerick. Marconi sent a message to London, but a hacker overrode it, saying, “There was a young fellow of Italy, who diddled the public quite prettily.”
There is no such species as “oxen.” Ox is just the name we use for any cow-like animal that pulls something. Hook a bull up to a plow? It’s an ox now. Hook a buffalo up to the plow next door? Great, now that’s an ox, too.
Bring Back Lard
We always used to cook with animal fat, rather than vegetable oil, which requires processing. Procter & Gamble invented the vegetable processing technique to use up a raw material they were stuck with: cottonseed oil. They’d built cottonseed oil factories to make candles, then this oil became useless thanks to lightbulbs, so P&G invented a new use.
Na Na Na Na-Na-Na-Na
The Beatles’ song “Hey Jude” contains the sounds of one of the four saying “fucking hell.” Sources dispute whether that’s John or Paul, but the words are quite audible when you know what to listen for, right before the three-minute mark.
Einstein never failed math as a kid, as one urban legend says. He did fail his college entrance exam — not the math section, but other sections, including language. It didn’t help that the exam was in French, and young Einstein mostly spoke German.
Love a Bad Boy
After killing half a dozen people, Russian serial killer Sergey Maduev was arrested, but he escaped custody thanks to a surprising ally: the prosecutor. He seduced her and convinced her to smuggle him in a gun.
And They Called Me Mad
In the 1980s, scientist Dan Shechtman was talking about something called quasicrystals, earning some mockery, since what the hell are quasicrystals? He delayed publishing for years because people made fun of the idea. The research later won him a Nobel Prize.
People are able to sense the Earth’s magnetic field. Actually, in experiments, only men are able to sense the Earth’s magnetic field — and only when hungry.
Scavengers Be Gone
A helicopter crashed trying to rescue 81-year-old skier Robert Blake in 2014. That added some inconvenience for the rescuers, but one party never gave up. The man’s dog stayed by him and guarded his body from coyotes.
The Science of Moistness
A dishwasher heats all dishes to the same temperature and then switches the heat off. Plastic plates absorb less heat than ceramic ones to reach this temperature, so once the heat turns off, the plastic dishes have less stored heat to release. Released heat is what dries the dishes, so plastic dishes are more likely to come out wet.
The interjection “huh” isn’t an English word to express confusion. It’s an everything word. People use it in dozens of different languages, having arrived at it independently.
The Voyage of the Baron of Renfrew
Canada built a 6,000-ton wooden ship in 1825. They built it so big to transport its wood to England. By building a huge ship of wood, instead of a normal ship that merely carried lumber, they saved on tariffs. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the smartest way to build a ship, and after it launched, it quickly split apart and sank.