12 Infinitesimally Small Bits of Trivia That Are Barrelling Into the Center of Your Brain on a Tiny Yellow School Bus
Yeah, I agree, it doesn’t sound particularly comfortable. But your mom signed the permission slip, so no turning back now.
The Romanian Cave with an Alien Atmosphere
Movile Cave has been closed off to the outside world for five million years, and has developed its own sulfuric atmosphere that contains 100 times more carbon dioxide than what we normally breathe. There are at least 33 species in there that haven’t been found anywhere else on the planet.
The Connecticut Family With the Strongest Bones on Earth
A mutation of the LRP5 gene has given a family potentially unbreakable bones. Researchers are studying the family’s DNA in hopes of curing various bone diseases, as tiny mutations in the same gene more often lead to osteoporosis.
A Woman Took a Nap on a Flight, Woke Up to a Completely Deserted Plane
None of the passengers or crew noticed she was still in her seat after the plane landed, and she woke up hours later, alone in a dark, cold fuselage. Her phone died, since the plane was fully shut off, but she was able to break into the cockpit, find a flashlight and signal to a baggage handler for help.
Triiodide: A Uniquely Combustible Material
Most explosives require chemical processes to kick off the fun stuff. Triiodide, however, is constantly on the verge of a nervous breakdown. If a pile of this substance is so much as lightly touched by any object, the friction is enough to set it off.
A Weird German Guy Has the World’s Largest Collection of Do Not Disturb Signs
Rainer Weichert, a man who surely has nothing to hide, has collected at least 11,570 such signs from 188 countries. His collection includes — yikes, buddy — a 1936 Berlin Olympic Village original.
The Unstoppable Arapaho Clown
Arapaho tribes often had a designated Nihancan — which translates to “spider,” but was also known as the “white crazy man” — who would paint himself in white clay and cause absolute mayhem at certain ceremonies. Some accounts refer to it as harmless mischief, but it’s thought that he also sometimes had access to special drugs, was given free range to bone anyone he wanted and could shoot darts at people with impunity. Everyone hated this guy.
The Dreaded Piggy-Back Werewolf
The Böxenwolf is a big scary half-man, half-wolf creature in German folklore that ambushes travelers by pouncing on their backs… and then just kind of riding around until it gets bored. Someone made a deal with the devil to become an entire werewolf, and all he got was the ability to talk people into giving him piggyback rides.
The Guy Behind the Eyeglass Monopoly Has a Pretty Inspiring Story
Luxottica is an extremely unethical business that owns pretty much every major brand of glasses frame, lens and retailer (not to mention one of the largest vision health insurance companies). You may recognize that as a goddam monopoly. Sadly, Leonardo Del Vecchio’s rags-to-riches story is cool as hell. He was sent to an orphanage early in life, worked in a factory for years, went to art school at night, then finally started manufacturing eyeglass parts on his own. When he died, he was worth about $25 billion.
The Pharaoh Who Invented God for Fun
Akhenaton was a pretty prolific Egyptian pharaoh, having built a capital city from scratch, among other accomplishments. His passion project was inventing what’s thought to be the first monotheistic religion, based around the worship of the sun. Everyone was more or less cool about it while he was alive, but they went back to polytheism as soon as he died.
Māori Stabbin’ Clubs
New Zealand’s Māori tribes have traditionally carried a unique type of weapon called a mere club. They’re relatively short and flat, and you’re supposed to use them with more of a stabbing motion than a baseball bat swing. They’re usually made of jade, and are often named and passed down between generations, as they’re thought to have their own spiritual life force.
CIA’s Pipe Phones
In the mid-20th century, some CIA agents were given a special pipe that was outfitted with a secret radio receiver. When biting down on the pipe, nearly imperceptible soundwaves could be transferred from their teeth directly to their ears. You can get lollipops and toothbrushes for kids that use the same concept to play NSYNC in your mouth.
Two Princeton Weirdos Made a Phone Out of a Cat
In 1929, Ernest Glen Wever and Charles William Bray connected telephone wires to a cat’s auditory nerve. Bray then talked into the cat’s ears, and Wever was able to hear him on a phone 50 feet away. Great work, boys.