What's your favorite piece of trivia?
September 10, 2018 7:51 PM   Subscribe

There's good trivia and bad trivia. Bad trivia is mere fact (e.g. the population of Toronto is .....). Good trivia is entertaining, surprising, insightful. What's your favorite bit of good trivia?
posted by storybored to Grab Bag (80 answers total) 62 users marked this as a favorite
 
President John Tyler (USA president from 1841 to 1845) has two living grandsons.
posted by blob at 7:58 PM on September 10 [16 favorites]


The Carrier Dome (at least for now) isn't air conditioned.

Ernesto Miranda (of Miranda v. Arizona) died in a bar fight and the case officially remains unsolved because the main suspect used his right to remain silent and later left town.
posted by Flannery Culp at 8:04 PM on September 10 [10 favorites]


There are flowers called pinks. Because of their color, you would assume. But, no, it's the other way around. The color was named after the flower.
posted by Redstart at 8:04 PM on September 10 [6 favorites]


The guy who writes my trivia league has a page about writing good questions and it includes a lot of interesting bits of trivia by way of example.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:06 PM on September 10 [9 favorites]


There's a suburb of Melbourne called Saint Kilda. It's not named after a saint - there is no saint named Kilda - but rather after a mishearing: It's named after a boat that's named after a Scottish island that in turn was given the name as a result of either a mishearing or a cartographical error.

Despite "saint" not being a word with a meaning when it comes to the place name, it's still abbreviated "St. Kilda"
posted by LSK at 8:11 PM on September 10 [2 favorites]


Jacquilynne, I've been to a dozen of Paul Paquet's trivia events here in Ottawa!
posted by storybored at 8:15 PM on September 10


What 16th century Danish astronomer wore a prosthetic metal nose? I was asked that 30 years ago during a game of trivial pursuit. My team mate, God bless her, pipes up with: Tycho Brahe! She was right and I've remembered it ever since.
posted by BoscosMom at 8:26 PM on September 10 [2 favorites]


I have always loved knowing that Donna Reed hides in a hydrangea bush when Jimmy Stewart accidentally steps on her robe in It's a Wonderful Life. "Over here, in the hydrangea bushes."
posted by 10ch at 8:28 PM on September 10 [1 favorite]


If you ate an entire polar bear liver, you'd probably die of vitamin A poisoning.
posted by DingoMutt at 8:30 PM on September 10 [2 favorites]


Here's my favourite bit of Canadian trivia: Although we no longer name people as peers, Canada does still have some extant peers from back when we used to allow Canadians to be granted titles -- one in the aristocracy of France and a handful in the UK. One of those people, the Baron Shaughnessy, is the guy who played Max Sheffield on The Nanny.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:31 PM on September 10 [10 favorites]


Rhode Island has the longest state name in the Union: State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations

Walt Disney planned to build Disney World on the northshore of Lake Pontchartrain outside of New Orleans. "Florida offered Disney major incentives while Louisiana had its hand out. The savvy Disney went to Florida and the rest is history."
posted by tafetta, darling! at 8:42 PM on September 10 [2 favorites]


Brian May has an asteroid named after him. And a PhD in Astrophysics.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:52 PM on September 10 [3 favorites]


I learned what IKEA stood for when I worked there - it actually is an acronymn.
posted by just_ducky at 9:15 PM on September 10 [3 favorites]


Omaha won the American Triple Crown (Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes) in 1935 despite never in his career winning more than 2 races in a row (he ran and lost in the Withers Stakes between the Preakness and Belmont).
posted by e-man at 9:18 PM on September 10 [1 favorite]


Genetically, humans are 99.0-99.9% the same.
posted by bunderful at 9:25 PM on September 10


Angus MacAskill, at 7'9'', is believed to be the tallest true giant (i.e.not suffering from gigantism or any other medical condition. He was just tall as hell).
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 10:00 PM on September 10 [2 favorites]


John mules (males) have 2 vestigial nipples on their sheath (the pouch into which the penis retracts.)
posted by BlueHorse at 10:11 PM on September 10


Rats cannot vomit.
posted by The otter lady at 10:15 PM on September 10 [1 favorite]


The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Mo. is the tallest man-made monument in the U.S. at 630 feet. It's also 630 feet wide at its base.
posted by brentajones at 10:19 PM on September 10 [3 favorites]


The average time it takes to urinate is about 23 seconds or so and is rather on the mark for mammals no matter their size.
posted by zengargoyle at 10:30 PM on September 10 [11 favorites]


Clayton Kershaw, pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, is 104-0 when the Dodgers give him 4+ runs in support.
posted by sideshow at 10:52 PM on September 10 [2 favorites]


Due to FDA labeling requirements which have strict definitions for what different types of food are and aren't, Pringles does not sell potato "chips" in the US, they sell potato "crisps". Furthermore, the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 codified and standardized what products could be labeled as "light", and Pringles' light offering at the time failed to meet the new guideline. Not wanting to abandon the product, they did the minimum needed to change the branding, selling them as "Pringles' Right Crisps" -- a light potato chip that by Federal Law was neither "light" nor "chip".
posted by radwolf76 at 10:57 PM on September 10 [1 favorite]


The last surviving widow of a US Civil War veteran died in 2004 at age 97. In 1927, when she was 21, she married an 81 year old war veteran of the Confederate army. One motivation for such marriages was the widow inherited the veteran's pension, collecting it for the rest of her life.
posted by Homer42 at 11:00 PM on September 10 [8 favorites]


The name for the Lego building bricks is an acronym of the danish words for "play well" - "LEg GOdt".
posted by alchemist at 11:04 PM on September 10


8675309 is a prime number. In fact it is one half of a twin prime along with 8675311.
posted by Mitheral at 11:25 PM on September 10 [18 favorites]


When Levi jeans were first introduced during the California gold rush they had a metal rivet in the crotch where the four-way seam is. However, when the wearer was crouching in front of a campfire the metal rivet heated up and branded their balls until the company tweaked their design.
posted by bendy at 11:27 PM on September 10 [7 favorites]


New Zealand's world famous rugby team is the All Blacks.

What is the name of New Zealand's basketball team? The Tall Blacks.
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 11:43 PM on September 10 [6 favorites]


The last woolly mammoths were still alive when the Pyramids were built.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 12:06 AM on September 11 [23 favorites]


Genetically, humans are 99.0-99.9% the same.

More interestingly you are more than 60% genetically related to a banana. I have avoided the obvious Trump joke.
posted by TheRaven at 12:44 AM on September 11 [1 favorite]


The zinc flake look that occurs on galvanised metal is referred to as spangle, with larger flake referred to as a higher degree of spangle than small.
posted by deadwax at 2:08 AM on September 11 [2 favorites]


The rate of change of position with respect to time is velocity.
The rate of change of velocity with respect to time is acceleration.
The rate of change of acceleration with respect to time is jerk.
The rate of change of jerk with respect to time is jounce or snap.
The rate of change of snap with respect to time is crackle.
The rate of change of crackle with respect to time is pop.
posted by flabdablet at 3:18 AM on September 11 [20 favorites]


Humans are more closely related to goldfish than goldfish are to sharks.

(we’re also more closely related to starfish than we are to bees, which seems remarkable to me but I guess people’s intuitions about those kind of deeper relationships will vary)
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 3:41 AM on September 11 [3 favorites]


Jacquilynne, I've been to a dozen of Paul Paquet's trivia events here in Ottawa!

And he was in my D&D group when I was in grad school! Very funny guy. :) I had no idea he was into trivia.
posted by Mogur at 4:54 AM on September 11 [1 favorite]


The rate of change of snap with respect to time is crackle.
The rate of change of crackle with respect to time is pop.


The rate of change of pop with respect to time is lock.
The rate of change of lock with respect to time is drop.

(these are genuinely true, but we're up to 7th and 8th derivative by now...)
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 5:06 AM on September 11 [9 favorites]


Only really works for people who know the UK, but - Edinburgh is further west than Bristol, despite Edinburgh being on the east coast and Bristol being on the west.
posted by penguin pie at 5:10 AM on September 11 [2 favorites]


Also this askme is tangentially related
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 5:13 AM on September 11




Sharks predate trees.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 5:52 AM on September 11 [13 favorites]


Anne Frank, Martin Luther King Jr, and Barbara Walters were born the same year.
posted by littlesq at 6:06 AM on September 11 [15 favorites]


There's a readable forum in my online trivia league that has a long thread of "What's your favorite thing you've learned recently" in it. My contribution to that thread was that the analemma (the shape formed by tracing where the sun is during the day over a year) on Mars is a stretched out pear shape while the one on Earth is a figure eight.

Rhode Island has the longest state name in the Union: State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations


This is bonus good because it's also the smallest state!
posted by jessamyn at 6:10 AM on September 11 [5 favorites]


Bananas are very, very slightly radioactive (due to potassium content), and while it's (obviously) not enough to harm you, it IS sufficient to complicate port security attempts to guard against dirty-bomb scenarios.

(It's not JUST bananas, but bananas are the funniest example.)
posted by uberchet at 6:50 AM on September 11 [2 favorites]


The NHL Nashville Predators have the saber-tooth tiger as a mascot because one of the five saber-toothed tiger remains found in North America were discovered in caves under where the hockey rink was built.
posted by teleri025 at 7:26 AM on September 11 [1 favorite]


The name for the Lego building bricks is an acronym of the danish words for "play well" - "LEg GOdt".

Or 'leg godt' just kind of sounds like 'lego' if you're a mumbly Dane.

"Kemosabe" comes from a Ojibwe/Potawatomi word that means "one who sneaks" or "one who spies".
posted by elsietheeel at 7:27 AM on September 11 [1 favorite]


Steely Dan is named after a dildo in Burroughs' Naked Lunch
posted by Bron at 7:31 AM on September 11


We're closer in time to the T-Rex than the T-Rex was to Stegosaurus.
posted by bettafish at 7:54 AM on September 11 [5 favorites]


We are farther away in time from Lincoln's birth, than Lincoln's birth was to Shakespeare's death.
posted by storybored at 8:02 AM on September 11 [6 favorites]


Bananas are very, very slightly radioactive (due to potassium content)

Related: an adult human produces about four or five positrons (anti-electrons) per minute. (Presumably rapidly annihilated upon encountering an electron.)

Back-of-the-envelope calculation:

Average adult human mass = 62kg (source)

0.4% of a human's mass is potassium (source), or ~250g/adult human

0.0117% of potassium is potassium-40 (source), or ~29mg/human, which is ~4.4*1020 atoms 40K/human

The half-life of 40K is ~1.25 billion years (source), or ~3.94*1015s. The decay rate is ln(2)/t1/2, or ~1.76*10-17/s. So ~7700 40K atoms decay in a human body each second, or ~460000/minute.

40K undergoes decay by three different modes; the least common, positron emission, acounts for only 1 in 100000 of all decays. (source). So, on average, about 4.6 decays/minute generate a positron in an adult human.

The inital figure of 62kg/human is a world-wide average. If you start with the North American average of ~81kg/adult, you get about 6 positrons/minute.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:11 AM on September 11 [1 favorite]


GPS satellites need to take relativistic effects into account; otherwise they would gain 38.6 microseconds/day compared to ground-based clocks.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:20 AM on September 11 [2 favorites]


Did you hear the one about the dueling balloonists?

Other fun aircraft trivia...

The Wright Flyer's first flight was shorter than the wingspan of a modern 747. And required a catapult and strong wind to take off.

How did you navigate before GPS, radios, or even aircraft instruments? Easy, just follow the arrows.

Early radio navigation was accomplished using Morse code on a low frequency band. Known as A-N navigation, two directional antennas would transmit an "A" (dit-dah) on one side of the airway and an "N" (dah-dit) on the other side. When you were right on the airway, the two signals would overlap and you'd hear a solid tone. Modern VORs and instrument landing systems use the same principles (but you obviously don't listen to them anymore).

If you want to know where you are, you need to know what time it is. Modern GPS wayfinding is entirely dependent on knowing what time it is to a high degree of accuracy. Speaking of...

When GPS satellites were first being developed and launched, scientists were still skeptical of the theory of relativity. There was a question about whether the satellites needed to be programmed to correct for relativity. The engineers added the functionality, but it was initially disabled. When the system was turned on, they found that it was wildly inaccurate - until they enabled the relativity corrections. Pretty much settled that argument right there.
posted by backseatpilot at 8:25 AM on September 11 [7 favorites]


A polar bear's fur is not white, but transparent. It looks white because of reflecting light.
posted by tangosnail at 8:31 AM on September 11 [4 favorites]


In 1987, Tiffany's "I Think We're Alone Now" spent two weeks as #1 on the Billboard chart, until it was dethroned by Billy Idol's "Mony Mony." Both songs are covers of songs by Tommy James and the Shondells.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:35 AM on September 11 [10 favorites]


Translate the baseball team "The Los Angeles Angels" into English and you get "the the angels angels." I heard this on Jeopardy, and I think it was the Final Jeopardy question.
posted by soelo at 9:35 AM on September 11 [2 favorites]


This one is localized to Chicago, but I was fascinated to learned that the call letters for the WGN TV station stood for "World's Greatest Newspaper" because the station was originally owned by the Chicago Tribune. Similarly the ABC affiliate, WLS was so named because it was owned by Sears Roebuck ("World's Largest Store).
posted by hydra77 at 10:06 AM on September 11


Rats can't vomit

Neither can horses!
posted by Archipelago at 10:15 AM on September 11 [1 favorite]


The southernmost tip of Illinois is further south than Virginia.
posted by Constance Mirabella at 10:20 AM on September 11 [3 favorites]


I heard on a podcast today that up until the 1990s, the largest purchaser of kale in the United States was Pizza Hut. They used it as decoration for their salad bars.
posted by miltthetank at 11:10 AM on September 11 [3 favorites]


The table fork, brought to the west by the Byzantine wife of a Venetian doge, was condemned by ecclesiastical authorities of the time. St. Peter Damien described it as "an insult to [God] to substitute artificial forks for [one's own fingers]."
posted by jackbishop at 12:06 PM on September 11 [2 favorites]


The most deadly animal in North America is deer (because of car crashes).
posted by epersonae at 12:59 PM on September 11 [3 favorites]


Current occupation with the highest on-the-job fatality rate?

US President (8 out of 44)
posted by Twicketface at 1:19 PM on September 11 [2 favorites]


One of, if not the only, color named after a person (even if only indierctly) in English is fuchsia, named for the flower genus Fuchsia, which itself was named for the 16th century German botanist Leonhart Fuchs.
posted by mhum at 1:41 PM on September 11


Octopus eyes develop the "better" way and as such they don't have a blindspot.

--

Related to me by my pediatric oncologist masters supervisor: when boys develop childhood leukemia and are put on radiation/ chemotherapy, one side effect is the damage to their gonads results in testosterone deficiency.

These children are put on testosterone supplements to improve their height/ weight development. For whatever reason, either the regimen of the exogenous supplementation or the nature of the supplement itself, they statistically don't achieve their full growth potential.

That's for height and weight.

Their penises, though, statistically respond very well. Very well indeed.
posted by porpoise at 3:53 PM on September 11 [1 favorite]


The scientific name for plains bison is bison bison bison. Someone really don't want you to call them buffalo.

There's a type of small mollusk known as a bittium. There's a type of even smaller mollusk known as an ittibittium.

Ursus Arctos translates to bear bear. It's the scientific name for a bear.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:01 PM on September 11 [4 favorites]


From the XKCD What If?

Which of the following would be brighter, in terms of the amount of energy delivered to your retina:

A supernova, seen from as far away as the Sun is from the Earth, or

The detonation of a hydrogen bomb pressed against your eyeball?

The supernova is brighter ... by nine orders of magnitude.
posted by cali59 at 6:28 PM on September 11 [6 favorites]


The ore [pitchblende] that Marie Curie refined in order to discover the element Radium, came from the location from which the word 'Dollar' is derived - Joachimstal in Bohemia, modern day Jachymov in Czechia.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 7:14 PM on September 11


Bison saliva causes grass to grow faster.
posted by spindrifter at 7:36 PM on September 11 [1 favorite]


A million seconds is 11 days. A billion seconds is 31 years.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 7:51 PM on September 11 [10 favorites]


Radio and TV station callsigns begin with W when east of the Mississippi River and begin with K west of the river.

US highways with even numbers generally run east-west while those with odd numbers are usually north-south.

In Arkansas the name of the Arkansas River is pronounced as "Arkansas." In Kansas it's pronounced "Ar-KANSAS".
posted by bendy at 10:17 PM on September 11


Translate the baseball team "The Los Angeles Angels" into English and you get "the the angels angels."

On a similar note, "The La Brea Tar Pits" becomes "The the tar tar pits".
posted by downtohisturtles at 11:57 PM on September 11 [2 favorites]


One of my favorite timeline trivia is that we are closer in the timeline to Cleopatra (d. 30 BCE) than Cleopatra was the the finishing of the pyramids of Giza (finished 2500 BCE). That just blows my mind.
posted by Tchad at 4:58 AM on September 12 [3 favorites]


On a similar note, "The La Brea Tar Pits" becomes "The the tar tar pits".

Lake Mille Lacs in Minnesota is Lake A Thousand Lakes.
posted by clavicle at 7:11 AM on September 12 [2 favorites]


Pendle Hill translates to Hill Hill Hill in Cumbrian, Old English, and then modern English. It is, indeed, a hill.

Pendleton Hill is Hill Hill Town Hill.

I remember this when I'm trying to name things for my D&D game.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:30 AM on September 12 [3 favorites]


Only really works for people who know the UK, but - Edinburgh is further west than Bristol, despite Edinburgh being on the east coast and Bristol being on the west.

Two similar American-centric tidbits that blew my mind are that Atlanta is west of Detroit, and Seattle is further north than Maine.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 12:47 PM on September 12 [2 favorites]


Atlanta is west of Detroit

I had to open google maps because I thought you must be wrong.
posted by Smearcase at 1:06 PM on September 12 [3 favorites]


Reno, Nevada is further west than Los Angeles.
posted by elsietheeel at 1:59 PM on September 12


Canada is south of Detroit.
posted by soelo at 2:53 PM on September 12


I posted this in the earlier linked thread, but it bears repeating: If you fly due north from Santiago, Chile, the first US state you will reach is Massachusetts. (Specifically, either Martha's Vineyard, or Nomans Land, a small island off the coast of Martha's Vineyard, depending on precisely where in Santiago you leave from.) Or to put it another way, Santiago is further east than Boston.

There are parts of the Pacific Ocean where the antipode — the directly opposite point on the earth's surface — is also in the Pacific Ocean. (See on this antipode map the little bits of white sandwiched between southeast Asia in blue and South America in yellow.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:10 PM on September 12


Radio and TV station callsigns begin with W when east of the Mississippi River and begin with K west of the river.

With a handful of exceptions, my favorite being KYW on the AM band, a station that originated in Chicago in 1921, was moved to Philadelphia in 1934, then traded to Cleveland in 1956, before moving back to Philadelphia in 1965.
posted by radwolf76 at 5:50 PM on September 12 [1 favorite]


Not trivia so much as the most memorable riddle I've ever solved... I once won a pub quiz contest while I was studying abroad in Britain around 2006 (I am an American) by winning the question "What is the only US state that doesn't have any letters from GEORGE W BUSH in its spelling?"

(It's Indiana!)
posted by mostly vowels at 8:42 PM on September 14 [1 favorite]


My fave piece of trivia is that Samuel Beckett drove young Andre The Giant to school.
According to Snopes, it's not exactly as told, but not entirely untrue.
posted by ovvl at 10:06 PM on September 15 [1 favorite]


bendy: "US highways with even numbers generally run east-west while those with odd numbers are usually north-south."

Related: in many states (and provinces) exits aren't numbered sequentially; instead they count up in miles/kilometers from starting point. So if you know the exit number of your destination, and all your travel is on one highway, every exit you pass is a sign telling you how far you have to travel.

DevilsAdvocate: "I posted this in the earlier linked thread, but it bears repeating: If you fly due north from Santiago, Chile, the first US state you will reach is Massachusetts. (Specifically, either Martha's Vineyard, or Nomans Land, a small island off the coast of Martha's Vineyard, depending on precisely where in Santiago you leave from.) Or to put it another way, Santiago is further east than Boston.
"

Or to put it another way: if you proceed due south from Key West you completely miss South America passing by it to the west.
posted by Mitheral at 8:57 PM on September 19 [2 favorites]


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