15 Rivulets of Trivia That Flowed Past Our Doors This Week
If you ever get sworn in as a witness in court, you’ll face a major challenge. You will have to tell the truth, which means not merely refraining from lying but telling the whole truth. You will have to tell every single fact that is true. Obviously, no one has managed this so far, which explains why so many people are currently in jail.
When you do find yourself on the stand, start relating the truth by sharing the following facts with the court, as they are all true.
1. New Zealand’s Patron
Peter Jackson opened a World War I museum, but the Ministry for Culture and Heritage had to foot the bill. They wound up $8 million in debt from it. Tearing it down cost them even more.
2. The 747 Bump
747s have a weird semi-double-decker layout, leading to a characteristic bump on the front half. This was because they originally figured the planes would only service passengers a little while before supersonic planes replaced them, so they needed this strange layout once the plane shifted to carrying cargo. Seventy years later, we have no supersonic passenger planes in operation.
3. The Lincoln Conspiracy
Andrew Johnson became president because Abraham Lincoln died of course, but he only became vice president because Lincoln’s first choice for running mate never received a telegram offering him the position. Someone intercepted it, possibly the Secretary of War, his enemy.
4. Darkness and Sulfur
Movile Cave in Romania has zero light. Still, life thrives there. Microbes use sulfide instead of light to turn carbon dioxide into food, and the food chain continues from there.
5. Final Message
The news spotted an SOS sign on a Japanese mountain. They never found the remains of the man, presumably a hiker who’d gone missing there five years earlier, but they found a backpack with audio logs recording his cries for help.
San Francisco’s fire department still uses handmade wooden ladders. That sounds flammable and dangerous, but they’re less dangerous than metal ones, due to the city’s low power lines.
7. Stupid Birds
The British Falcon Destruction Unit killed only British birds. The plan behind this World War II unit was to kill Nazi birds that were chasing British messenger pigeons, but these falcons killed just British pigeons. In hindsight, it seems likely that there were no Nazi birds.
8. Dr. Moran Campbell
To find what triggers the breathing reflex, a scientist took curare, the arrow poison used by South American tribes, to paralyze his own diaphragm. This did interfere with breathing but didn’t definitively answer any questions.
9. Fighting Fire With Fire
Hearing that Mauna Lao in Hawaii was going to erupt, George Patton came up with a solution: bomb the volcano, to divert the lava flow. Disaster was averted in the end, though it’s unclear if it was because of the bombs.
10. Eww, Pee
It’s possible to pee out of your belly button. The condition is called having a patent urachus. Sufferers don’t notice anything wrong till adolescence, at which point they may be too embarrassed to tell anyone.
11. Gloomy Gus
In the 1990s, doctors prescribed Prozac to a polar bear named Gus, since he spent 12 hours a day swimming. This worked. He started being happy just lounging around, like other bears.
12. Math Starvation
At the end of his life, mathematician Kurt Gödel became convinced someone was poisoning him. He only ate food that his wife prepared. After she was hospitalized, he ate nothing and died.
13. The Athens Cannon
The first and last double-barreled cannon was built in 1863. The first time they fired it, it broke free of its chains, knocked the chimney off a house and killed a cow.
14. Blue Box
It took a long time for airplanes to use flight recorders. When the original black box invention was presented to the army, they rejected it, saying that it would capture a lot of pilots swearing and not much else.
15. Ham and Tan
A farmer brought in a professor to prove a balloon scared his pigs. The owners of the balloon showed GPS data to prove the pigs couldn’t have seen the balloon, but the professor proved with trig that the data was wrong, and so the court found in favor of the pigs.