15 Trivia Tidbits for Saturday, April 13, 2024

Here’s why you should never fly a plane over a zoo
15 Trivia Tidbits for Saturday, April 13, 2024

In 1772, a French scientist decided to set fire to some diamonds. His goal was to prove that diamonds are made of the same material (and contain the same amount of that material) as charcoal, and he did succeed at demonstrating this. 

Unfortunately, things didn’t end so pleasantly for him. Find out what happened below, along with some advice about your lizard. 

King for a Day

Assyrians believed that eclipses portended doom for the king. So, they’d temporarily replace the king with a commoner, to absorb the bad luck. When the eclipse ended, they killed the commoner and reinstated the original king.

Nameless and Damned

A town in Texas kept submitting names for themselves, so the Postal Service would recognize them as legit. All were rejected. “Let the post office be nameless and be damned!” the town finally wrote back. The government accepted this, and the town was named Nameless.

Always Carry a Knife

The pull-tab on beverage cans is a relatively recent intention. Until 1959, you needed to carry some separate device for opening or puncturing the can. People had tried to design a tab since the 1920s or earlier, but it took them decades to figure it out. 

Sabbath Bloody Sabbath

Geneticists analyzed Ozzy Osbourne’s DNA and found some surprising gene variants they’d never seen before. These mutations could help his body process unusual quantities of meth, the doctors suggested. 

Biting the Hand

A Colorado man this year has the unusual distinction of being the first person killed by a Gila monster in almost a century. He owned two of the venomous lizards, in violation of the law, but it seems that the bite only killed him because he was allergic.  

Theo Kruse 

We’re sure the pet was still a good boy.

Screwy Origin

The term “to duck” isn’t named after the bird. It’s the other way around. People named the duck a “duck” because it kept ducking into the water. 

Soda in the Desert

The 1987 movie Ishtar is famous for being a box-office bomb. Few people remember that it was financed by Coca-Cola, who made the director film in Morocco — because they had money in Morocco they were forbidden from taking out of the country

Still Feeling Salty

In 1965, to see what would happen, the Navy set off three explosions in Kahoolawe, Hawaii. Each one of these consisted of 500 tons of piled-up TNT. The force of the blasts cracked the island open, and seawater swept into the aquifer, permanently making it undrinkable.  

The Power of Teeth

A monkey in India got electrocuted in 2014 by walking on a railway station’s live wire. Another monkey now tried to revive it, by biting it and dunking its head in water. This worked. The two monkeys left together. 

Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité

Antoine Lavoisier was the French scientist who named oxygen. He also was accused of messing around with taxes, which meant he earned an appointment with the guillotine during the French Revolution. “The Republic needs neither scientists nor chemists,” said the judge. “The course of justice cannot be delayed.” 

Jacques-Louis David

Do not mourn him. Lavoisier also helped design the metric system.

Trench Rats

Life in the trenches during World War I wasn’t great, obviously. One problem not everyone knows about: Those trenches were inevitably full of rats, which would swarm soldiers and steal food right out of their pockets. 

Historical Er-arr

Our idea of “pirate speak,” with pirates talking in one idiosyncratic way and saying arr a lot, comes from one single movie actor: Robert Newton. He played Blackbeard and Long John Silver and spoke in an exaggerated West Country accent because that was where he was from.  

Smooth Balls

Golf balls used to be smooth, like ping-pong balls, but some became flawed with use. These battered ones traveled farther, and manufactures went on to decide all golf balls should have dimples. 

Panic Eating

A jet flew low over a Stockholm zoo in 1993. The terrified animals responded by eating 23 of their children.  

Cracking Down on Crudeness

When building a new oil rig in 1997, Shell decided to try something a little different: telling the workers they needed to talk about their feelings. Everyone laughed at this suggestion. Still, following the change, Shell did soon report an 84 percent drop in their accident rate. 

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