12 Bits of Trivia To Paste Into Your Source Code
We’re beginner coders here, so make sure to back up your entire consciousness on an external hard drive, just in case you start to glitch out after reading these.
The First General Anesthetic Was Jimson Weed and Ginseng
Japanese surgeon Hanaoka Seishū developed the first known anesthetic that could reliably knock a person out. It was a seven-ingredient concoction that allowed him to first perform a partial mastectomy in 1804, then likely hundreds of similar operations.
The Feds Had a Warmup for Waco
Eight years before they raided the Branch Dividians in Waco, Texas, authorities raided a lumberyard owned by another bizarre cult. Orville Gordon (who renamed himself Nodrog) started the Outer Dimensional Forces, a cult that built a UFO landing strip they called Armageddon Time Ark Base, expecting aliens to come pick them up before destroying the Earth. They also wanted to buy a lumberyard and turn it into a mall, but when the mayor tried to block them, they pipe bombed his car.
Your Ears Can Tell the Story of Your Heart
Not in, like, a romantic sense. Dr. Sanders T. Frank, a man who was somehow named backward, discovered a link in his patients between diagonal ear folds and angina. In one study, 75 percent of stroke victims had those particular folds. People have even found cases of famous historical figures who died of heart failure, and had those same ear characteristics.
Unexpected Victims of Climate Change: Vietnamese Whale Graveyards
Because sea levels have paradoxically fallen in some areas, the shore has actually gotten further from some Vietnamese whale temples. Part of their custom of whale worship involves burying beached whales in their temples, then later retrieving the bones and parading them around town. As shorelines change, it becomes increasingly difficult to cart a carcass all the way to a temple.
The Cancer Drug That Erases Your Fingerprints
Capecitabine is a medication that visits some bizarre side effects upon patients’ hands and feet, including erasing their fingerprints entirely. Only one-third of people get their prints back a month after quitting the medication. Lots of people don’t even notice it until airport security or a DMV employee gives them a hard time.
Benjamin Franklin’s Thirstiest Letters
Franklin was notoriously amorous, but one woman in particular seemed to bring out his most desperate bro tendencies. He was mad at a mistress for not putting out — “You renounce and totally exclude all that might be of the flesh in our affection, allowing me only some kisses” — and for trying to force monogamy upon him, aka “seek monopoly on all my affection and not allow me any for the agreeable ladies of your country.”
How to Turn a Black Cat Into a Black Diamond
It’s not uncommon to have a human’s or an animal’s remains turned into a diamond, as our bodies contain plenty of carbon. But they’re almost always white diamonds. In 2008, a company was able to turn a woman’s cat, named Sooty, into a black diamond for the first time by exposing its remains to extremely high heat and pressure for two weeks, then zapping it with electrons for a full day.
World War I Was Steampunk As Hell
Zeppelins are inherently goofy pieces of technology, but they really got the job done. They were used to surveil and attack deep behind enemy lines, but being big stupid balloons, they were easy to spot. Unless, of course, they were hiding in the clouds. Pilots would float above or inside of clouds, then crank down a little basket, where a man in a wicker chair would pierce below the cloud line, and take note of what he saw.
Chu Ko Nu: The Bow-and-Arrow AR-15
This rapid-fire crossbow dates back to the 4th century B.C., and was so effective, it was used in combat as recently as 1895. A soldier would fill it up with about 10 crossbow bolts, and blast them at close range. It was more like a sawed-off shotgun than a sniper rifle, but it did the trick.
An Off-Duty Clown Killed a Kid
Jean-Gaspard Deburau was entertainment royalty in 19th-century Paris. But when a little kid called him by his stage name, Pierrot, when he was out of costume, Deburau whacked him with his cane, killing him instantly. He was somehow acquitted, and biographers have speculated that he was only able to regulate his rage (and other undiagnosed emotional issues) while in character as Pierrot.
The World’s Largest Collection of Backscratchers
Manfred S. Rothstein has collected 675 backscratchers, from 71 different countries. That’s cool and all, but I think a few Amazon orders could accomplish in a week what Rothstein took decades to compile.
You Only Need Four Hours of Sleep Per Day — If You’re a Literal Mutant
Researchers have found that about 5 percent of humans have a mutation in the DEC2 gene that allows them to soak in all the rest their brain and body need in just four hours. Yeah, I’m sure you did the same thing in college, but you eventually had to pay that sleep debt.