April 16, 2012 3:51 PM   Subscribe

I'm memorizing all of the world capitals. What other flash-cardable things would be useful/impressive to memorize?

I say flash-cardable because I've been having a lot of success using Memrise consistently for things like this, so for the purposes of this question it should be able to fit into that format. I could learn the names of the Hebrew letters, but not the full text of Beowulf or 1000 digits of pi even though those would be impressive and arguably useful. It needs to be framable in this-thing-goes-with-that-thing or this-thing-is-called-this format.

My usefulness threshold is low. Like, will it help with bar trivia? World capitals is a good example of what I'm after because it's something one "should" know, but very few actually do.

If I need to point this out, it should be reasonably possible to memorize all of something. Like, I probably can't learn to identify every species of beetle or something.
posted by cmoj to Grab Bag (31 answers total) 59 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Also, while I like Memrise, I don't mean to shill for them, so if that's unnecessary or problematic, I won't be hurt if that part gets axed.
posted by cmoj at 3:52 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Browsing through the quizzes at Sporcle might give you some ideas.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 3:54 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Elements (names, symbols, atomic numbers).
US state capitals.
Top 50 countries by population.
Top 50 world cities by population.
Flag airline of every nation that has one.

Also, pretty much anything that's on Sporcle.
posted by AkzidenzGrotesk at 3:54 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you're American, learning metric conversions is helpful (5k is 3.1 miles, temperatures, weights, etc).
posted by raccoon409 at 3:57 PM on April 16, 2012

All of the weird-but-useful Scrabble words. Q-without-U, 2- and 3-letter words, and vowel dumps are the ones that will improve your game the most, as I understand it. Even if the vowel dumps don't help that much, they make a hand full of aeioour more fun.

Of course if you decide to continue, you can always add more useful things like the various 7- and 8-letter words.
posted by novalis_dt at 3:58 PM on April 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

Recognizing nations from their flags.
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:09 PM on April 16, 2012 [4 favorites]

Naming 50 states in 1 minute.
posted by LonnieK at 4:13 PM on April 16, 2012

Soccer teams from around the world
posted by facetious at 4:16 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Periodic table. By number and by group.
Superheroes and secret identities.
posted by biffa at 4:18 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Facts associated with U.S. states: capital, largest city, governor, state bird, state motto
Facts associated with world countries: flag, currency, current head of state
U.S. presidents associated with their vice president, party, or years in office
How to say "Hello" or "I love you" in many different languages
Letters and numbers associated with Morse code sequences
Characters associated with the NATO spelling alphabet
posted by datarose at 4:20 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Lots and lots of musical scales. Jazz Scales.
posted by gregglind at 4:28 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Great works of art (what they're called and who painted them)

edible and inedible mushrooms
posted by Mchelly at 4:39 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the Memrise tip. I've been brute-forcing my way through things like State Capitals. Since I'm in a trivia league and have some big gaps in my knowledge, here are suggestions based on what i wish *I* knew...

- US state: capitals, slogans, birds, license plates
- the periodic table in some fashion [maybe symbols matched to names?]
- airports by code
- flags
- alphabet in ASL
- how to count to ten in fifty languages
- money denominations in many languages
- writers and their pseudonyms [William Sydney Porter]
- actors and their original names [Archibald Leach]
- all car logos [I got a point today for knowing one)
- bones in the human body [by photo?]
posted by jessamyn at 5:03 PM on April 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

human anatomy
dog/cat breeds
world olympic games (dates, host countries)
programming language(s)
music notes (not sure if that works with memrise, maybe some other flash card site)
bill of rights/civil rights/human rights (UN)
UN member states
oscar winners
world currencies

P.S. Some games for a good cause are on freerice
posted by travelwithcats at 5:07 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Recognizing nations from their flags.
That's a good start, but to really impress World Geography geeks you can attempt the greater challenge of memorizing the names, capitals and flags of every state (and province/district/prefecture/empire/kingdom/region) of every country.

Names of countries spoken & written in their native language.

Names of rivers of the world. Bonus: their lengths, or at least be able to recite them in order of length.

Currencies of the world. Both the name (United States Dollar), their symbol ($), and their ISO abbreviation (USD).

International dialing calling codes.

Left vs right side driving countries.

Skyscrapers of the world.

Astronomy: names of planets and moons.

(crossposted with jessamyn and travelwithcats)
posted by ceribus peribus at 5:11 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm just finishing the 5-letter words in Scrabble. I've done the 2s, 3s, 4s, and a significant chunk of 7s and a bit less of 8s. So I'm not sure it's super impressive, but there ya go.
posted by iftheaccidentwill at 5:23 PM on April 16, 2012

Names of sails (example example2)

Ships from their silhouettes
-example1a example1b
-example2a example2b
-example3a example3b
posted by ceribus peribus at 5:49 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Winners of the Oscar for Best Picture, by year
posted by argonauta at 6:37 PM on April 16, 2012

Military ranks
Winners of Super Bowls, Stanley Cups, etc.
posted by lakeroon at 6:51 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Poetry. There are lots of short poems that are very very impressive for someone to be able to quote. My dad had several poems from when he was a schoolboy and they were required to memorize them as punishments, and to this day, someone who can recite a poem impresses the socks off me. Even limericks would be cool.
posted by viggorlijah at 7:50 PM on April 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

Did you see this old 'What should I memorize askme'?

Police code
Beef cuts
posted by travelwithcats at 7:54 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I frequently impress people by knowing all the countries in Africa. For flashcardableness you could have a small map of africa on one side with the country highlighted, and the name on the other. Or the name of the country on one side and a list of its border countries on the other.
posted by lollusc at 9:00 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

States/capitals/nicknames (I had to memorize this in 5th grade)
Signers of the Declaration of Independence
Members of the Senate
US Presidents/First Ladies/Vice Presidents
Kings and queens of England (bonus: cool mnemonic verse for this)
Billboard #1 songs (either for a given year, or #1 song of the year for however many years)
Books of the Bible
Best in Show winners at the Westminster Dog Show
posted by SisterHavana at 11:19 PM on April 16, 2012

Yeah, I started flashcarding for studying Japanese kanji and scoured the web for other stuff I could memorise too, I think it happens to everyone or something.

nthing human anatomy - bones etc. it's pretty cool and useful.

Currency exchange rates. Not on an anal-retentive level where you memorise every decimal figure, but enough so you know how much 72 euros is in relation to Yen, etc.

Poetry! I know it doesn't fit your model, but seriously, you can do poetry well with flashcards and its mondo impressive. You could also pick out passages and quotes you've enjoyed in books, movies etc. and memorise them.

Foreign writing scripts - not particularly easy, I'll admit, but at least learn the International Phonetic Alphabet. An easier alternative is to learn how numbers are written in foreign languages, such as Arabic or Hindi. Also, how they're read, 1-10.

You might want to take a spin around Quizlet. It's an online flashcard memory thing in itself and has a vast library of decks. You might get some pointers from there, at least.
posted by Senza Volto at 11:58 PM on April 16, 2012

All the active teams in the 4 major US team sports, and their divisions.

Calculating all fractions with denominators up to 12 (for starters). eg. 1/5=20%. 2/7=29%. 5/8=63%. 10/11=90.909%. The less obvious ones often have some kind of pattern or are a simple sum of other fractions.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 12:40 AM on April 17, 2012

Learning to count in many languages is interesting; learning to say "Where is the bathroom?" in many languages will be more useful, especially if other people are asking you.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 3:32 AM on April 17, 2012

Pick up a copy of Wheelock and learn Latin. When I took Latin I had endless flashcards with the declensions of various nouns.
posted by dagnyscott at 5:28 AM on April 17, 2012

jessamyn suggested "actors and their original names".

I suggest actors and the characters they've played in popular television series (or even television series notable for their negative reception).

e.g. What character did Dominic West play in The Wire? Who played Ferris Bueller in the 1990 TV adaptation of the film?
posted by fakelvis at 9:14 AM on April 17, 2012

After hearing yesterday that Munch's The Scream will be auction on May 2nd, I thought of another thing to memorise: the list of most expensive paintings (the work's name, the artist, the selling price).
posted by fakelvis at 11:28 PM on April 17, 2012

Memorising the NATO phonetic alphabet is cool and not just a party trick but also useful.
posted by inbetweener at 12:10 PM on April 23, 2012

That reminds that the Greek alphabet is also handy to know (maybe the characters too), especially if you play Scrabble, join a frat, or are into Star Trek.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 2:27 PM on April 23, 2012

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