15 Samples of Trivia We Tried During the Week of February 12, 2024

15 Samples of Trivia We Tried During the Week of February 12, 2024

Years ago, our parents told us not to sit too close to the TV because it would hurt our eyes. Today, we have virtual reality headsets, where the lenses and our eyes are separated by mere millimeters.

Some people use that fact to argue that VR is dangerous. But the truth is, holding screens that close to your eyes is perfectly safe, as far as we’ve been able to determine. Light, even if it were dangerous, hits your eye with roughly the same intensity whether from an inch away or 20 feet away. The idea that TVs hurt you up close arose because of something other than light. Find out what that is below, along with a stunt you should not try at home. 

Rockets’ Red Glare

Instead of lightbulbs, photographers used to add flash to cameras using pocket explosives. Cartridges of fulminate were activated by pressure and exploded, producing firework-like light, since film needed light that bright to capture images. 

Gas Attack

Leading Aircraftman Ronald Maddison didn’t know what he was in for when the RAF put something in a patch on his uniform. He just knew this was an experiment of some kind, and they were paying him 15 shillings. The patch released nerve gas, and it killed him. 

Pure Gibberish

The words “My sex is on fire” from the Kings of Leon song was supposed to be a placeholder line. Those were just six syllables they had to fill, so they used that till they thought of something better, and then never did think of anything better.

Space Germs

Lactobacillus plantarum lives in our saliva and is benign enough normally. Take it up to the space station, however? It thrives, spreads and starts eating away at the titanium there. 

A Cat by Any Name

Several countries each call some animal a “panther,” but there’s really no separate “panther” species. In Africa, when they call a black cat a panther, that’s really a leopard. In Central America, when they call a black cat a panther, that’s really a jaguar. We also call mountain lions panthers, but that animal’s better referred to as a cougar. 

Jaguar at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska.

Cburnett/Wiki Commons 

This is Panthera onca, but that’s just the scientific name for any jaguar. 


Texas used to forbid the sale of any beer that was more than 4 percent alcohol. Brewers got around this by labeling any beers stronger than that as “in Texas, malt liquor.”

Too Gross to Consider

When scientists first pointed out that sewage contaminating the drinking water supply led to cholera outbreaks, people didn’t want to hear it. They dismissed the idea as “disgusting.” Which it was, but it was really the drinking sewage part that was disgusting, not the scientific theory. 

The Four Faces

The original plan for Mount Rushmore was for it to be Old West-themed, not to honor four presidents. Because of this, the original faces they wanted to carve up there included Lewis and Clark, Sacagawea and Buffalo Bill. 

Unsatisfactory Performance

A Mexican drug lord died receiving plastic surgery. The failed surgeons’ bodies were later found embedded in cement. Unless, as one theory suggests, the gang faked his death, and they killed the surgeons to complete the ruse. 

Warwolf the Great

King Edward I ordered the biggest trebuchet ever made, to lay siege to a Scottish castle. The Scots surrendered, but Edward rejected the surrender because he really wanted to fire his trebuchet

Here’s a recreation, we have no photos from the year 1304

Kumpel von McKarri

Here’s a recreation, as we have no photos from the year 1304.

The Radioactive Television

Sitting close to the TV isn’t bad for your eyes, or dangerous in any way. The myth stems from the 1960s, when GE sold TVs that emitted X-rays. These were dangerous up close but were considered safe from six feet or more away. 

Side-Splitting Stunt

In 1985, daredevil Karel Soucek performed a stunt in the Houston Astrodome, where he’d drop 180 feet into a tank of water, while encased in a protective barrel. Sadly, he missed the tank while descending, and that was the end of Karel Soucek. 


House inspectors look at the homes that owners claim are haunted, and they’ve noticed something linking them. Often, these houses contain carbon monoxide leaks. The stuff people report as signs of haunting might be their own carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms. 

I ♥ Slimey

A lab designed a smartwatch that’s activated by a living slime mold. Complications ensued when the test users grew emotionally attached to slime in their devices, finding it difficult to let the slime die. 

Stubby’s Promotion

Sailors smuggled a dog named Stubby onto a ship in 1917. The commanding officer allowed the dog to stay after it saluted him, imitating the salute it saw the men do. By the end of World War I, the dog had ascended to the rank of sergeant.

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