15 Weird and Wonderful Bits of Trivia We Ran Into This Week
When it’s cold outside, you can always step into the nearest library. You’ll find big comfy stairs. You’ll find giant statues of lions. And you’ll find a seemingly endless collection of information, bound into books. You might even find each of the following facts…
1. Robot Fish
New York University scientists built a robot fish and dropped it into a tank to see if the other fish would accept it as one of their own. Not only did they accept it — in time, the treated the robot as their leader.
2. Return of the King
Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha became the Tsar of Bulgaria when he was six years old. In 1946, the country abolished the monarchy, and he became an exile. Then, in 2001, he came back, formed a new political party and was elected prime minister.
3. The Four-Incher
One early NASA rocket, part of the Mercury-Redstone 1 flight, rose just four inches into the air before plopping back down. A postmortem revealed that the prong of one plug was too short and tripped a circuit. The prong was supposed to be longer than its neighboring prong, but someone must have mistaken this for an error and filed it down.
We remember such Puritan names as “Prudence” and “Hope,” but the names got a lot weirder than that. Puritans in the 16th century also gave their kids names such as “Wrestling,” “Die-Well” and “Fly-fornication.”
5. Gay Hitler
Circleville, Ohio, has a street named Hitler Road. Don’t worry, it’s not named after Adolf Hitler. It’s named after Dr. Gay Hitler, George Washington Hitler’s son.
6. Split-Phase Power
You probably know that American electricity comes in at 120 volts, while most of the rest of the world uses around 240 volts. But that’s not true. Transformers send 240-volt electricity to American homes, and while the home has a system that gives you 120 volts, many home appliances tap into the full 240-volt supply.
7. Ninja Gunslingers
At the end of the 16th century, Japan made more guns each year than any other country in the world. Then the samurai took control and phased guns out.
8. Late Discovery
An Italian man filed for divorce after discovering his wife had had an affair. The twist here is the man was 99, the wife was 96 and the affair had happened 60 years earlier.
Einstein’s wife Elsa was his second cousin, on his father’s side. She was also his first cousin, on his mother’s side. When he started sleeping with her, he was already married — to a different woman.
10. Chilly Memento
Wrestler Rulon Gardner owns a toe in a jar. It is his own toe, which he lost to frostbite after a snowmobiling mishap. He keeps it in his fridge.
America’s bestselling book of 1981 was a guide on how to solve Rubik’s Cubes. In fact, that year, several different guides to solving Rubik’s Cubes were bestsellers, sometimes simultaneously.
12. Most Qualified Man
For 50 years, the IEEE Information Theory Society has given out a prize called the Claude E. Shannon Award. The first winner? Claude E. Shannon.
13. Hall of Shame
At the ancient Olympics, when they caught someone cheating, they fined him and then spent the funds on a bronze sculpture. On the sculpture was a plaque, describing the cheating. This didn’t end cheating, and so, they wound up with a whole lot of sculptures.
14. Bun Conspiracy
Many have observed how strange it is that hotdog buns come in packs of eight, while the dogs themselves come in packs of 10. In 2021, Heinz launched a campaign to get manufacturers to work together and fix this contradiction. Nothing changed.
15. Operation Frequent Wind
In 1975, a Vietnamese general smuggled his family of six into a tiny plane and asked to land on an American aircraft carrier. The commander, Lawrence Chambers, dumped helicopters worth $10 million in the water to make room. He feared a court-martial, but he received none, because it turned out almost every carrier routinely lost a chopper or two.