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trivia

The Hindenburg disaster, a slice of pizza and a squirrel.

How is it that some people seem to know a lot of random facts and are great at trivia, while others can’t get a question right while watching “Jeopardy!”? A big reason is curiosity. People interested in many different subjects have a more significant knowledge base than those who do not.

Further, when people are genuinely interested in a subject, they retain knowledge much better than if they heard the information in passing. So, while two students may learn the same thing in class, the genuinely interested one will remember the information, while the other will quickly forget it.

Studies show that curiosity is one of the most significant predictors of having a high IQ.


A Redditor named TechSavvy_Ryan asked the curious folks on the platform to share the facts that “most people don’t know.” The post went viral, inspiring over 8,000 responses in just two days. So, we cobbled together a list of the 15 most intriguing facts so you can wow people at your next trivia night or cocktail party.

Here are 15 facts that “most people don’t know."

1. Hindenburg survivors

"Most the people involved in the Hindenburg disaster lived." — CaligulaMonkey

"It was said 62 of the 97 people survived. You can see them running away in the nick of time as they touched the ground." — Rook2Pawn

2. Freaky fish

"Irukandji jellyfish grow only to about 1 cubic cm in size, but have an incredibly painful sting. One symptom of the sting is a strong impending sense of doom. Victims have begged their doctor to be killed as they were certain they would die anyways." — NikkiRex

3. Dangerous laughter

"You can collapse your lungs from laughing." — ContentTask2032

"So you can technically die from laughing?" -PaptaLopikju-

4. Dark side of cruises

"The amount of murder, rape and suicide that happens on cruise ships. Most of them unresolved, too." — PeacefulKillah

"Most newer cruise ships also operate an onboard morgue, as they are now considered cheaper options to retirement homes. Last time I was on a cruise, a crew member let slip that there were 2 deaths from natural causes." — Kegman83

5. Happy birthday

"A company called Warner Chappell Music collected licensing fees for use of the song 'Happy Birthday to You' all the way until 2015. That’s why characters in movies often sing other songs like 'For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow”'and restaurant chains often have their own birthday songs they sing to customers." — ItsMeCourtney

6. Burial facts

"A burial plot is called a graveyard if it's part of a church lot. It's called a cemetery if separate." — Missusmidas

"The backyard is only a graveyard if they can find the body." — Diels_Alder

7. Spanish Africa

"The only Spanish-speaking country in Africa is Equatorial Guinea. Its capital, Malabo, is on an island slightly northwest of the country’s mainland." — Dre_Lake

8. A case of bad nerves

"If your nerve is broken in the wrong way, the nerve will send a pain signal to the brain and it won't stop." — RhiannonCrystalLady

9. Pizza truth

"An 18-inch pizza is more than two 12-inch pizzas. To do the math, the surface area of a circle is pi x r squared. Pi is the constant. 18 in pizza has a 9 in radius, or r. 12 inch has 6. 9 squared is 81, 6 squared is 36. 36 x 2 is 72. 81 is greater than 72." — Who_Else_But_Macho

"Not only that but if you assume that each pizza has a 1" wide crust all the way around, the 18-inch pizza is 79% toppings and 21% crust, while the two 12-inch pizzas are only 70% toppings and 30% crust. So not only do you get MORE pizza, you get a more efficient pizza with a greater toppings-to-crust ratio." — Tajwriggly

10. Declare your pacemaker

"When a body is to be cremated, the funeral director will first ensure that any rubber sole shoes, watches, phones, glasses, and sealed glass/metal containers are removed. Any sealed container becomes a pressure vessel when exposed to temperatures exceeding 1000°c. These will explode and do significant damage to the crematorium. This is the same reason why any electrical devices or items with batteries are removed, including most watches, and also pacemakers. When an undertaker asks whether your loved on had any medical implants or pacemakers, this is the reason why.
Glasses often tend to leave a silica residue on the bottom of the cremator which is just awkward to clean up and can build over time. Rubber soles are just incredibly polluting and are often not caught by the many filtration systems. This usually results in a black plume of smoke coming from the chimneys. Also, all metal residues and materials which are collected after the cremation is completed are gathered up and can either be returned to the family (upon request) or else treated and recycled, with proceeds from the recycling going towards a worthy charity."
— Flaky_Tumbleweed

11. Scuba or S.C.U.B.A.?

"Scuba is an acronym, standing for self-contained underwater breathing apparatus." — JackCooper_7274

12. Squirrel speed

"Squirrels run faster up trees than on flat surfaces." — sstebbinss

13. Battleships

"Battleships in museums/ on display that are WW2 and later cannot start their engines because they have preservative grease inside in case the Navy has to bring the ship back into service." — Stravata

14. Sharkgevity

"Sharks predate trees." — External_Crazy_6568

"Well duh, they're predators." — Flowcahrt83

15. Code-shifting cells

"Your immune system has at least 1 cell to combat every single infection that could ever exist. Your T-cells are cells that, when created, go through a sort of training phase in the thymus where they are allowed to change their genetic code at random, in order to be able to battle 1 random very specific disease. During this, the body also kills any T-cells that are accidentally adapted to kill human cells. Then the T-cells are sent to lymph nodes, to be found later by presenting an antigen (a part of a pathogen) to it. Basically, you have something for everything in your body, the problem is just finding it, as it takes a good few days for your body to locate the specific one." — Chipperland4471


Education

5 fun facts about St. Patrick's Day to wow your friends and family

Saint Patrick wasn't Irish and neither is corned beef.

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Several St. Patrick's Day traditions didn't originally come from Ireland.

Shamrocks, leprechauns, corned beef and cabbage, pinches for those who forget to wear green—St. Patrick's Day is filled with traditions that have passed down from generation to generation. What began as a religious holiday in Ireland over 1,000 years ago to honor Saint Patrick, patron saint of Ireland, has morphed into a raucous celebration of all things Irish here across the pond.

Ironically, however, some of those traditions and "all things Irish" didn't actually come from Ireland—including Saint Patrick himself.

If you want to impress your friends with some interesting St. Patrick's day trivia, here's a handful of fun facts to put in your pocket.


1. Saint Patrick wasn't actually Irish. He was British.

Born in Britain in 386 A.D., St. Patrick was captured by pirates and brought to Ireland at age 16, where he was sold as a slave. For six years, he worked in the fields, tending sheep and praying. One night, he dreamt that God was directing him to a boat that would take him home, and in 408 A.D., he escaped Ireland. Then, after being ordained as a bishop in 432 A.D., the Pope sent him back to the Emerald Isle to spread Christianity.

"Patrick became inflamed with the desire to help alleviate the suffering of the Irish people who were burdened under the yoke of slavery, brutal tribal warfare and pagan idolatry," Matthew Paul Grote, a Catholic priest with the Order of Preachers, shared with USA Today. Saint Patrick incorporated pagan rituals into Christian worship practices to ease the resistance to Christianity. Even when he was attacked and captured by Irish clans, he would respond with non-violence and share his Catholic faith peacefully, always treating non-Christians with fairness.

He is credited with the spread of Christianity in Ireland, but he himself wasn't Irish.

2. The legend about St. Patrick driving all the snakes out of Ireland? Literally impossible.

Legend has it that St. Patrick was fasting for 40 days on a hilltop when he was attacked by snakes. With a sermon and a wave of his staff, he drove all the snakes in Ireland out to the sea where they all drowned, which is why, according to the lore, there are no snakes in Ireland.

Except there were never any snakes in Ireland, according to the fossil record. The cool climate and being part of an island make Ireland uninhabitable for snakes. Scholars today generally view the snake story as a metaphor for driving paganism out of Ireland.

3. St. Patrick's Day was not traditionally a festive holiday.

Parades filled with floats, pubs filled with festivity, parties filled with frivolity—all of that fun, celebratory St. Patrick's day revelry is fairly new. For the vast majority of the holiday's history in Ireland, it was a somber, quiet religious holy day spent in prayer. It wasn't until Irish immigrants to America began celebrating their Irish pride in the 1700s with parades and such that the holiday became more of a festive occasion.

According to History.com, the invention of the television let Irish people see how the U.S. celebrated the holiday, which led to the party atmosphere making its way to Ireland.

4. The traditional color associated with St. Patrick was blue, not green.

St. Patrick's Day is all about green green green, from the shamrock shakes to the leprechaun coats to the Irish flag. But the color Saint Patrick himself was actually associated with is blue. The earliest depictions of the patron saint of Ireland show him in blue garments, and according to The Smithsonian, when George III created the Order of St. Patrick, a new order of chivalry for the Kingdom of Ireland, its official color was known as "St. Patrick's Blue."

Green is more of a political color than a religious one, as it became the color of Irish nationalism in 1789 with a series of rebellions against the UK. And really, green makes the most sense as a symbol for a place known as The Emerald Isle. The shamrock helps, too. (Another fun fact: The green, white and orange flag of Ireland was officially adopted in 1937 and points directly to the contemporary history between the Catholic and Protestant branches of Christianity in the country.)

5. The tradition of eating corned beef didn't come from Ireland, either.

For many Americans, a St. Patrick's Day meal simply must include corned beef and cabbage. Traditional Irish fare, right? Nope.

Though the Irish produced some of the world's most sought-after corned beef in the mid-1600s, they didn't eat it themselves. Due to England's oppressive laws, Irish people couldn't afford beef, and when they could afford meat, they ate salted pork or bacon. (The reason they produced corned beef was due to some complicated history with the UK and cattle shipping restrictions.)

Two centuries later, Irish immigrants who had a bit more money started buying kosher beef from their Jewish immigrant neighbors in America. According to The Smithsonian, what we consider Irish corned beef today was really Jewish corned beef tossed into a stew with some cabbage and potatoes—truly an example of the American immigration "melting pot."

In Ireland today, you'd most likely be served lamb or beef stew for a St. Patrick's Day feast. (However, much like our St. Paddy's Day revelry, the American tradition of corned beef has slowly made its way into Ireland's celebrations as well.)

It's a wee bit funny to dive into the history of St. Patrick's Day and find that many of the things we typically think of as old Irish traditions are neither particularly old (compared to Saint Patrick himself) nor purely Irish. That's not to say these traditions are not worth celebrating; Irish Americans have their own storied history in the U.S., after all, and who doesn't love a dyed green river or a green-themed parade with lucky shamrocks and leprechauns?

No matter how you celebrate, have a very Happy St. Patrick's Day! Or as they say in Irish Gaelic, "Beannachtaí na Féile Padraig ort!" (Watch how to pronounce it below.)

How U.S. highways are numbered is surprisingly systematic.

A bunch of years ago, our family traveled around the United States as nomads for a year, driving thousands of miles through dozens of states. And throughout the entirety of that kind of epic road trip, I never once learned that there's a system for how our highways are numbered. It always seemed random, but it's so very not.

A viral Facebook post sharing just two basic principles of interstate highway numbering blew my mind, and also the minds of approximately 196,000 other people who shared the post in the past few days. Rich Evans included two images showing the East-West interstate highways and the North-South interstate highways with this explanation:

"I always knew there was a logic to it, but I never saw it explained so well until I stumbled upon this delightfully informative short video on how the US interstates are numbered.


Those with 2-digits traverse the entire country.

If they end in "0" they run East-West (10, 20, 30, ..)

If they end in "5" they run North-South (5, 15, 25, ..)

Those with 3-digits are bypasses and contain the last 2 digits of the interstates they bypass.

That's it! (plus exceptions 😉 ) Neat!"

It is neat, actually. But it's even a bit more complex than that, and the video link Evans shared explains it all in a clear (usually) and funny way. "The Interstate's Forgotten Code" from CGP Grey uses animation to show that the numbering system does indeed have a rhyme and reason, despite there being a few notable exceptions. (A highway system would be boring if it always followed the rules, wouldn't it?)

Enjoy learning something new if you didn't already know this:

Photo by Sean Benesh on Unsplash

Some facts are only useful for trivia contests.

Ah, useless facts. Random knowledge that serves no purpose other than to take up space in our brains, and maybe, just maybe, win a trivia game (yeah right) or kill time at a party (I’ve forgotten, what’s a party?).

Leave it to Ask Reddit to resurface all things odd and amusing, though. People shared their own useless facts that live rent free in their heads. And though they might be pointless, they are certainly entertaining.

Without further do:


  Mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell.

Yep, this useless fact has stayed with us since elementary school On the bright side, it’s been the source of many a fun meme.

Vending machines are more deadly than sharks.

animation domination lol GIF by gifnewsGiphy

Think about this next time you go to retrieve a Snickers bar: Between 2002 and 2015, the National Electronic Surveillance System reported that vending machines caused four deaths per year in the U.S. Mostly due to people tipping the machines onto themselves.

Compare that to the shark-related deaths averaging out to just 0.6 deaths per year. Not sure how only about half of a person is considered dead, but math was never my strength.

This statistic might need to be taken with a grain of sea salt however, given that those in landlocked states have next-to-zero chances of experiencing a shark attack. But there you have it, a useless fact to use when you’re at the beach.

Snails have teeth.

horror finger GIF by absurdnoiseGiphy

“They’re not big enough teeth to hurt humans. That’s what makes it a useless fact to know. & it won’t leave my head because it’s juuuuuust disturbing enough to make me rethink my entire opinion on snails.” – ghosts-go-boo

But cows do not.

At least, no upper front teeth. Makes chewing—and dentist visits—easier I suppose.

The Sun is about 400 times bigger than the Moon but also about 400 times farther away from Earth. So they look to be about the same size.

File:Solar eclipse 1999 4.jpg - Wikimedia Commonscommons.wikimedia.org

This explains how the sun can be completely blocked in an eclipse.

Pigeons and doves are in the same bird family.

Happy Animation GIF by sahlooterGiphy

Columbidae is a subspecies of birds that are stout bodied, with short necks, and primarily feed on seeds, fruits and plants. Though one lives on as a symbol of peace and love, and the other is often considered a flying rat, the names are practically interchangeable.

However, thinking about Stevie Nicks singing, “just like a white-winged pigeon” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.

The length of a jiffy…

back to the future great scott GIFGiphy

According to ScienceFocus.com, physicists use a “jiffy” to define how long light takes to travel one femtometer (which is a tiny fraction of a millimeter). In layman’s terms, one jiffy equals one-fiftieth of a second.

So next time you say, “be back in a jiffy,” know that you better return really, really, really fast.

Most corn is inedible for humans.

corn on teal surfacePhoto by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

1% of the corn grown in the USA is sweet corn (the corn you eat as corn). The other 99% is field corn (or dent corn), which is fairly inedible raw and needs to be processed before human consumption. This field corn is also what they use for non-edible corn products, like ethanol, paint, cosmetics, etc. Yes, most corn goes to livestock feed. Ethanol and High Fructose Corn Syrup are up there as well. Yes, if you're driving on a highway and are passing fields of corn, you very likely cannot eat it.” – Kat_lbltko1pl

Infants have flexible bones.

stretching GIF by AFV BabiesGiphy

Ever wonder why toddlers seem so much more flexible? This is because a baby’s skeleton if very different from an adult's. Babies are born with about 300 bones (94 more than adults) that are joined together with pliable cartilage to make that whole birth thing possible. As they get older, the bones will fuse together. And suddenly that toe touch is nothing but a distant dream of the past.

Numbers from 1-999 don't have the letter "a" in word form.

white printing paper with numbersPhoto by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

Some vowels just don’t get the respect they deserve.

John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald are both known by three names. And each full name is composed of 15 letters.

surprised season 4 GIFGiphy

Actually, this is not entirely correct. Oswald’s full name was not used until after Kennedy’s assassination, due to his habit of adopting false names.

Cockroaches molt.

Unlike a reptile shedding it’s skin, cockroaches molt out of their entire exoskeleton. Out crawls a soft, fleshy, ghostly-white creature that will turn brown over a few hours. You’re welcome for the nightmare fuel.

There you have it. Gems of wisdom no one asked for. They say knowledge is power. But in this case, I’d say knowledge is unnecessary. But still fun!