15 Portals of Trivia We Hopped Through This Week
Step on a fixed platform traveling through a rotating cylinder. The cylinder needs to be painted with a pattern or images so that you can clearly see it moving around you. After a few seconds, you will perceive that the cylinder is stationary, and it’s instead the platform that’s moving — with you on it. You will feel a (totally imaginary) constant force rotating you, and you will instinctively tilt yourself the other way to try to avoid falling.
Really, you need to experience this in person to understand it. You can’t just read it. Fortunately, you can indeed just read the following facts, and that’s all you need to do to learn them.
Police in India are generally banned from handcuffing prisoners. They used to do it, then an advocacy group sued all the way up to the Supreme Court, who ruled that handcuffs violate human dignity.
Along with the atomic bomb, the Enola Gay that targeted Hiroshima carried 12 cyanide pills. If the mission did not succeed, the flight crew were supposed to swallow them.
In 1991, a farmer tried to train his goat to guard his home. The goat then butted him to death. In such circumstances, it’s normal to kill the problem animal, but the town protested in the goat’s favor and ensured it was spared.
Edmund Hillary, the first man to summit Mount Everest, visited the North Pole in 1985. Accompanying him on this expedition was Neil Armstrong.
Don’t Drink That
A “Shirley Temple” is a famous nonalcoholic cocktail. Shirley Temple herself sued to stop a company from selling it under that name. She probably didn’t like being associated with this kiddie cocktail, when she was now 70 years old and had had a long career after child stardom.
Some woman named Mary showed up in a British town in 1817 and pretended to be a princess from the fictitious island of Javasu. Everyone believed her. Everyone but one professor, who thought it would be funny to get in on the charade and pretended to be her translator.
The Magic Cells
UCLA doctors found that cells from one man were good at fighting infection, so they took them and cultured them and made medicine from them. They did not inform the man about what they were doing.
In Singapore, fish get cosmetic surgery. Expensive fish get eyelifts, fin enlargement and blemish removal to boost their value.
The Thieving Manager
When Fleetwood Mac broke up, their manager figured he still owned the rights to their name. He now sent on tour a band made of totally different people, and called them Fleetwood Mac.
A cis woman lived as a man for 18 months starting in 2005, to write about the experience and give women insight into what being a man is like. It gave her such severe depression, she had to admit herself into a hospital.
The Ice Bowl
The 1967 NFL championship game was so cold that the halftime band’s instruments froze. One Green Bay Packer had to hitchhike to the stadium because his engine was frozen. One fan caught hypothermia and died.
Let the Cat Out of the Bag
This phrase supposedly originates from when people used to sell live pigs in sacks, and fraudsters would sometimes stick a cat in there instead. However, that origin is nonsense. Who would ever believe a cat in a sack is a pig? The truth is, no one knows where the phrase came from.
Does underwear shield us from fart germs? Scientists tested this by farting on petri dishes, naked then clothed. Indeed, clothes prevent bacterial transmission from farts.
Texas executed a man for burning his house down, with his kids in it. Only afterward did the snitch who testified against him admit he made it all up. There was no other evidence that the fire was arson at all.
Elvis Presley’s limo passed a gas station one day in 1977 where people were fighting. He got out, said “I’ll take you on,” did a karate pose, then started laughing. They stopped fighting of course, and there’s now a historical marker at the spot.