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Useless Trivia

Below is a collection of interesting claims I've accumulated over the years. Although I'm sure about most of them, keep in mind you can't believe everything you read!

History

When George Washington was elected President, there was a King in France, a Tsarina in Russia, an Emperor in China, and a Shogun in Japan.

Six people died in Oregon during WWII as a result of a Japanese balloon bomb.

Roulette, an invention by the mathematician Blaise Pascal, was a by-product of his experiments with perpetual motion.

The dome on Monticello conceals a billiards room (billiards were illegal in Virginia).

Armored knights raised their visors to identify themselves when they rode past royalty. This custom has evolved into the modern military salute.

Spiral staircases in medieval castles turn right as they ascend. This was so that (right-handed) knights defending the castle could more easily combat invading foes who were climbing the stairs.

Dashing horses kicking up mud (among other things), splashing the passengers riding behind them, led to the invention of the dashboard, a term which survives today.

Firehouses have circular stairways because the engines were at a time pulled by horses. The horses were stabled on the ground floor, and figured out how to walk up straight staircases.

Neil Armstrong first stepped on the moon with his left foot.

Great Britain was the first county to issue postage stamps, so theirs are the only stamps in the world not to bear the name of the country of origin. (And the glue on Israeli postage stamps is certified kosher).

In the 1940s, the FCC assigned TV Channel 1 to mobile services, but did not re-number the other channel assignments.

Sputnik was launched on October 4, 1957, the same day that "Leave it to Beaver" debuted.

The Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper.

The US purchased Alaska from Russia for approximately 2 cents an acre.

Taft was the last President with facial hair.

The day after October 4, 1582 was October 15, 1582.

Robert E. Lee is the only person to date to have graduated from West Point military academy without a single demerit.

Names

The names of the three monkeys are Mizaru (see no evil), Kikazaru (hear no evil), and Iwazaru (speak no evil).

The ammunition belts in WWII aircraft were 27 feet long, reminiscent of the expression "the whole nine yards".

University of Florida football team, the Gators, first tested Gatorade.

The Greek word "gymnasium" means "to exercise naked". In Ancient Greece, gymnasts wore no clothes.

Dismas and Gestas were the two thieves crucified with Jesus.

The term "dodger" (from the Brooklyn Dodgers, now known as the Los Angeles Dodgers) was a shortened form of "trolley dodgers," which described Brooklynites for their ability to avoid being hit by trolley cars.

The ghosts in Pac-Man are named Inky, Blinky, Pinky, and Clyde.

Mr. Snuffleupagas' first name was Aloysius.

Thomas Crapper is credited with inventing the modern-day toilet, and Otto Titsling with inventing the brassiere. Major General Joseph Hooker allegedly paid prostitutes to accompany his soldiers in the Civil War.

A group of unicorns is called a blessing. A group of owls is called a parliament.

A barmaid reportedly decorated her establishment with the tail feathers of cocks. One day a patron asked for "one of those cock tails." She served him a drink with a feather in it.

The most common name in the world is Mohammed.

The product's full name is WD-40 Water Displacer, which was perfected on the fortieth attempt.

TriBeCa stands for TRIangle BElow CAnal Street.

The two lions in front of the New York Public Library are currently named Patience and Fortitude.

The letter "J" does not yet appear anywhere within the periodic table of the elements.

Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street share the same names as Bert the cop and Ernie the taxi driver in "Its A Wonderful Life".

Words

The word "pound" is abbreviated "lb." from the Latin "libra pondo", meaning weight or balance, where the constellation got its name.

The word "checkmate" comes from the Persian phrase "Shah Mat," meaning "the king is dead".

"Alma mater" means "bountiful mother".

"Admiral" is derived from the Arabic phrase "amir al bahr," which means "lord of the sea".

"Stewardesses", "reverberated", and "lollipop" are the longest words that can be typed using only one hand on a keyboard. "Skepticisms" is the longest word that alternates hands, while the longest word that can be typed using the top row only is "typewriter".

The only 15-letter word that can be spelled without repeating a letter is "uncopyrightable".

The Shakespearean character with the most lines is Falstaff.

"Bookkeeper" and "bookkeeping" are the only words in the English language with three consecutive double letters.

The word "set" has more definitions than any other word in the English language.

"Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis" (a lung disease) is the longest English word according to the Oxford English Dictionary.

"Beelzebub", another name for the devil, is Hebrew for "Lord of the Flies".

Geography

Mapmaking is older than writing.

At latitude 60 degrees south you can sail the entire way around the world.

If the earth were the size of a bowling ball, it would be just as smooth; the mountains on raised relief globes are greatly exaggerated.

Hawaii's Mauna Kea is the largest mountain on Earth: although partially submerged, it is 4,000 feet taller than Mount Everest.

When the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers play football at home to a sellout crowd, the full stadium becomes the state's third largest city.

Alaska is the most northern, western and eastern US state.

Mozambique has an AK-47 assault rifle on its flag.

Pluto takes 248 Earth years to orbit the Sun. For 20 of those years, it is closer to the Sun than Neptune.

The Amazon River enters the Atlantic with so much volume that fresh water exists more than a hundred miles from the mouth of the river.

Biology &c.

The human brain stops growing at age 18, and is 80% water. Your skin weighs twice as much as your brain. The storage capacity of the human brain is about 4 terabytes (4,000 gigabytes).

A peanut is a legume, not nut.

Honey is the only food that cannot spoil.

Mel Blanc, the voice of Bugs Bunny, was allergic to carrots.

A pig's orgasm lasts for 30 minutes.

A blue whale gains approximately 200 pounds a day for the first seven months of its life.

The male praying mantis cannot copulate while its head is attached to its body. The female initiates sex by ripping the male's head off.

An elephant can be pregnant for two years.

The fingerprints of koala bears are virtually indistinguishable from those of humans, so much so that they could be confused at a crime scene.

All polar bears are left-handed.

The human body has 70,000 miles of blood vessels.

Fun Facts

Dueling is legal in Paraguay as long as both parties are registered blood donors.

Congo is the world leader in cobalt mining, producing two-thirds of the world's cobalt.

You expend more calories eating and digesting celery than there are in the celery itself.

Minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit equals minus 40 degrees Celsius.

Michael Jordan shaves his head on Tuesdays and Fridays.

The international telephone dialing code for Antarctica is 672.

Powdered non-dairy creamer is flammable (trust me on this).

There are about 150 dead bodies on top of Mount Everest.

Out of all US cities, Washtington DC has the most psychiatrists per capita.

Raindrops are not tear-drop shaped. They are rounded at the top and flat on the bottom.

Isaac Asimov is the only author to have written a book in (almost) all 10 Dewey-decimal categories.

There are 293 ways to make change for a dollar.

The purpose of the indentation at the bottom of a wine bottle is to strengthen the structure of the bottle and to trap the sediments in the wine.

The tip of a whip moves so fast that it breaks the sound barrier. The "crack" of a whip is actually a tiny sonic boom.

Mr. (Fred) Rogers was an ordained minister.

In a deck of cards, the King of Hearts (AKA the suicide King) appears to be sticking his sword through his head.

The wingspan of a Boeing 747 jet is longer than the Wright Brothers' first flight.

Starting with the number one, you would have to count to one thousand to use the letter "A".

The Statue of Liberty's tablet is two feet thick.

If done perfectly, any Rubik's Cube combination can be solved in 20 turns.

A duck's quack will echo. Saying it doesn't is like saying ducks cast no reflection in a mirror!

Created, maintained and by John Hubbard (write to me). Disclaimers. Hosted by Dreamhost. Last modified: February-23-2012.