12 Humdrum Bits of Trivia That’ll Conk Out a Colicky Baby in Seconds
This collection of trivia tidbits is far from enticing, enthralling or even amusing. These are prescription-strength snooze inducers. Do not operate heavy machinery for at least ten hours after consuming this trivia.
The World’s Largest Barf Bag Collection
Niek Vermeulen has collected over 6,000 airsickness bags. It started in what’s probably the healthiest way a deranged collection like this can start — as a bet. His crown jewel is a barf bag that spent 16 days in space on the Columbia shuttle.
One Argentinian Community Is Immune to Arsenic
The people of San Antonio de los Cobres have developed an immunity to arsenic over centuries of exposure. The chemical is present at 80 times the normal consumable level in the local mountain wells, and scientists have traced their ability to process it to a mutation in the AS3MT gene.
This Lake Will Kill You in an Hour
Lake Karachay was long used as a Soviet dumping site for radioactive waste. An accidental explosion, and the lake bed partially drying up, helped awaken the toxic particles from their watery slumber, making it wildly hazardous to spend any amount of time near it. It’s widely regarded as the most toxic place on the planet.
Those Fancy Ruffled Turtle Necks Were Originally a Cooling Device
Ruffled cuffs can be traced back to 16th century Spanish soldiers, who started cutting little slits in their many layers of clothes to help mitigate the stifling heat. As the practice became more widespread, fashion designers went buckwild with the idea, making an entirely new article of clothing that was a hybrid ventilator and sweat rag.
An Underwear Thief Kept Breaking into Buckingham Palace
Edward Jones, known as “The Boy Jones,” was a 19th-century weirdo who broke into the palace on at least three occasions — one time, he was caught with Queen Victoria’s underwear shoved down his pants. He kept stalking the royal family over the course of his life, and the British government exiled him to Brazil, then imprisoned him on a ship for six years, and eventually shipped him off to Australia.
Karni Mata: Rat Temple
Karni Mata is a Hindu temple where, locals believe, deities are reincarnated as big ol’ rats. The 20,000 or so black rats that have free rein on the grounds are considered lucky, and are referred to affectionately as “little children.”
The Complicated Relationship Between Genes and Popularity
At least in young men, rule-breaking can have a high correlation with popularity. Rule-breaking can be inspired by impulsiveness. Impulsiveness can be caused by high serotonin levels. And scientists have isolated at least one gene that seems to account for a boost in serotonin, sometimes referred to as the “popularity gene.”
Support Ribbons Can Be Traced Back to One Grieving Wife
In 1979, Penny Laingen’s husband was caught up in the Iran hostage crisis. While waiting nervously for his return (over a year later), she tied a yellow ribbon around a tree in her yard, which quickly became a symbol of hope for the families of hostages and the country as a whole. That incident made it fashionable for other causes to pick their own colored ribbons.
Knucklebones: The Ancient Version of Bottle Flipping
Knucklebones was a popular ancient game, most likely started in Egypt before spreading to Greece and Rome, where kids would chuck a handful of items in the air, and try to catch them on the backs of their hands. The chuckable items were often made of wood, glass or precious metals, but were originally the literal knuckle bones of sheep or goats.
The Bavarian Christmas Witch
Berchta is a German witch who stalks children during the 12 days of Christmas. Instead of naughty versus nice, she grades them on a lazy versus hardworking binary. Kids who have finished all their work get a silver coin, and lazy kids get their torsos ripped open and stuffed with trash.
The Norwegian Ghost Hotel
The Hotel Union Øye in Norway’s Lyngen Alps was built in 1891 and is still in operation today. Its infamous Blue Room was once frequented by a German officer and his mistress, Linda — and by some accounts, it’s still occupied by Linda today. Blue Room guests are given a silver bowl full of garlic that’s supposed to keep Linda from hanging out on their bed and crying all night.
Historians Can’t Get Enough of George Washington’s Trash
Modern politicians have to worry about folks digging through their old tweets, and before that, through their once-private correspondences with mistresses. Similarly, historians licked their chops when they found the South Grove Midden, a dump next to George Washington’s plantation home in Virginia. A lot of the details we know about how Washington and his family lived come from that pile of garbage.