35 Fascinating Fast Facts for When You're Bored
These quick trivia tidbits will help you kill your boredom and impress your friends.
You're probably spending a lot of time inside these days, and at this point you may feel like you've exhausted all the possibilities when it comes to entertaining yourself. Don't worry, we have the solution—more fun trivia that will help make the time fly by. These fast facts cover everything from the animal kingdom to ancient history to the human body. You can conquer your boredom and gain some knowledge to impress your friends with at the same time. Whether you need to kill a few minutes or an entire hour, here's the best place to start. And if you need more trivia to keep you occupied, try these 50 Feel-Good Facts to Cure Quarantine Boredom.
Cute animals are more likely to be endangered.
A 2018 study in PLOS Biology found that the most "charismatic animals"—such as lions, tigers, elephants, giraffes and other beloved creatures—are more likely to face threats to their survival. As the study's author puts it, "Unknowingly, companies using giraffes, cheetahs, or polar bears for marketing purposes may be actively contributing to the false perception that these animals are not at risk of extinction, and therefore not in need of conservation." And for more trivia about our furry friends, check out these 75 Animal Facts That Will Change the Way You View the Animal Kingdom.
King Tut owned a dagger from outer space.
King Tutankhamun had lots of cool toys, but one of his most intriguing may have been a dagger, discovered in his tomb in 1925, made of meteoric metal. It wasn't until recently that scientists were able to confirm the material, using a technique called portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometry. They determined that the dagger's composition of iron, nickel, and cobalt "strongly suggests an extraterrestrial origin."
The art of Bambi was inspired by Chinese landscape paintings.
The backgrounds in Disney's Bambi were inspired by landscape paintings of the Song dynasty. It was an innovation by the film's Chinese-born lead artist, Tyrus Wong. Despite Bambi's celebration as an animation classic, Wong himself, according to the The New York Times, "endured poverty, discrimination and chronic lack of recognition, not only for his work at Disney but also for his fine art, before finding acclaim in his 90s." And if you're a Disney fan, make sure you read these 30 Disney Facts That Will Give You a Childlike Sense of Wonder.
There is a species of jellyfish that never dies.
Known as Turritopsis dohrnii—or colloquially, the immortal jellyfish—this sea creature is able to revert back into its adolescent state after going through adulthood, a "process that looks remarkably like immortality."
Our sharpest memories are from early adulthood.
Called "the reminiscence bump," this psychological concept holds that as adults reflect on events of their lives, they remember more events from their twenties than from any other time in their lives. According to psychologist Dan McAdams, this phenomenon grows out of the fact that this period of one's life is important in shaping one's identity or "life story."
There's a peak cuteness for puppies.
A 2018 study from Arizona State University comparing how people viewed the "cuteness" of dogs found that most reached their highest levels of cuteness when they were between six and eight weeks old. It varied slightly depending on the species, however. National Geographic notes, "Jack Russell terriers peaked at 7.7 weeks, cane corsos at 6.3 weeks, and white shepherds at 8.3 weeks. All three breeds showed an uptick in cuteness when they reached 30 weeks old, but it's unclear why."
There's a precise speed where jogging becomes running.
You might think jogging and running are basically the same thing, but according to conditioning coach Mike Antoniades, jogging means moving at "speeds less than 6 mph." Any faster than that, and it's technically running. And if you're feeling especially health-conscious right now, you'll love these 50 Science-Backed Health Facts That Will Blow Your Mind.
Lemurs get high on bugs.
That might sound like a weird rock album title, but it's true. In the jungles of Madagascar, lemurs get a buzz by chomping down on a particular species of millipede that causes toxins to release, leading them to salivate and appear intoxicated. Besides getting them high, the bugs may also have another positive effect: acting as a pesticide to ward off mosquitos.
People in Medieval England had rap battles.
Before rap battles, there was "flyting," a trading of insults that was popular from the 5th to the 16th centuries in England and Scotland. As Atlas Obscura describes it, "Participants employed the timeless tools of provocation and perversion as well as satire, rhetoric, and early bathroom humor to publicly trounce opponents." Even society's elite would join in these battles of wits.
Ancient cats once led to the extinction of ancient dogs.
The tension between cats and dogs goes back millennia. According to researchers, some 20 million years ago, ancient cats and dogs battled for scarce food, and the cats won out. "When various species of cats first appeared in North America, there was a steep decline in the number of canine species in the same area," as computational biologist Daniele Silvestro, lead author of a paper on the subject, explained to Quartz. And for more trivia that sounds too good to be true, here are 50 Absurd Facts That Sound Made Up.
Princeton University's first graduate student was a U.S. president.
Princeton University has been around since 1746, but the school didn't start officially awarding doctorates until 1879. And though it took more than a century for the university to formally begin graduate studies, it actually had its first graduate student back in 1771. His name was James Madison—the fourth president of the United States.
The tallest man in the world saved a pair of dolphins.
The long arms of Mongolian herdsman Bao Xishun—who, at 7', 8.95", was the tallest man in the world in 2006—saved the day when a pair of dolphins were found to have swallowed plastic shards that could not be extracted from their stomachs using standard instruments. Bao's unusually long arm proved a more effective tool and saved the lives of both creatures.
Goosebumps are caused by a muscle.
Arrector pili muscles, fan-shaped muscles at the base of each hair follice, are responsible for goosebumps: These muscles contract when the body is cold in an effort to generate heat and cause a person's hair to "stand up straight" on their skin.
Marilyn Monroe's dress sold for millions.
In 2016, the iconic sparkly dress that Marilyn Monroe wore to serenade President John F. Kennedy on his birthday sold for a staggering $4.8 million at auction. This remains the world record for the most expensive article of clothing ever sold, beating out the record previously held by… another one of Monroe's dresses, her costume from The Seven Year Itch.
The original Back to the Future time machine was a fridge.
The DeLorean was not always the way Marty McFly was supposed to travel to the past. As /Film recounts, in the original draft of Back to the Future, the time machine was attached to a refrigerator, and "taken to the Nevada desert test site for the atomic bomb, where it was strapped into the back of a truck and driven into the atomic explosion in order to harness the power from the nuclear explosion. Marty had to climb into the fridge as the truck barreled towards ground zero."
A penguin achieved knighthood.
In 2008, a penguin living in the Edinburgh Zoo was knighted. The penguin is the mascot of the King of Norway's Guard, making it a special figure for the country's military—and the knighting of this particular one, named Nils Olav III, was an opportunity to celebrate the relations between Norway and Scotland. The knighting went over so well that in 2016, he was promoted to Brigadier.
There's a 3,400-year-old song.
Dating back to the 14th century B.C., "Hurrian Hymn No. 6" is considered the world's earliest melody. It was inscribed in cuneiform on clay tablets, which were excavated from the ancient city of Ugarit (in today's Syria). You can actually listen to the tune performed on lyre by composer Michael Levy. It's not exactly Top 40 material, but it's still an interesting listen.
The Twitter bird has a name.
It's Larry! Supposedly, the blue bird was named after former NBA player Larry Bird, who used to play for Twitter co-founder Biz Stone's home-state team, the Boston Celtics.
There is a museum dedicated to failure.
Boasting "a one-of-a-kind international collection of more than 100 innovation failures," the touring Museum of Failure features displays on such bad ideas as Harley-Davidson perfume, Colgate beef lasagna, and Google Glass.
Only 18 out of 1 million Lego pieces are defective.
The molds manufacturing process of Lego bricks is so accurate and effective that just 18 out of 1 million are found to be defective. That's out of the 20 billion pieces that are manufactured every year.
The youngest Olympian was 10 years old.
According to Olympic records, the youngest athlete to ever become a medalist in the Olympics was Greek gymnast Dimitrios Loundras, who finished third at the 1896 Olympic Games when he was 10 years old. Syria's Hend Zaza, who is 11, was on track to be the youngest Olympian at this year's games, but they were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic—and she will be slightly older whenever the Tokyo Olympics do take place.
Loch Ness contains more freshwater than all of England's lakes—combined.
Scotland's largest lake by volume at 7,452 cubic meters, Loch Ness holds more fresh water than all the lakes of England and Wales put together. If any body of water could secretly house a giant mythical sea monster, it's this one.
A mailman made a castle in France.
Le Palais Idéal is an 85-foot-long, 33-foot-high castle 30 miles south of Lyon made from rocks that a 19th-century French postman picked up during his mail route over the course of 34 years. Despite having precisely zero formal architectural training, he built the massive structure himself, complete with pillars, grottoes and flying buttresses—and visitors still go out to view it today.
All five of George Foreman's sons have the same name, George Foreman.
Things probably get a bit confusing around the Foreman household, seeing as all of the boxer's sons are also named George Foreman—and there are five of them. When asked why they all have the same name, Foreman said, "I named all my sons George Edward Foreman so they would always have something in common. I say to them, 'If one of us goes up, then we all go up together, and if one goes down, we all go down together!'"
The filling in Kit Kats is made from damaged Kit Kats.
All those Kit Kat bars that are somehow made imperfect during production—due to air bubbles, weirdly shaped wafers, or some other issue—aren't tossed out, but instead ground up into a fine paste and turned into a filling that's then incorporated back into the production process to create new Kit Kat bars. It's the circle of candy life.
Liechtenstein has just one jail.
The country of Liechtenstein, wedged in between Austria and Switzerland, has a total prison population of between 10 and 20 people in its single prison. Furthermore, any criminal requiring a sentence of more than two years is sent to prisons in Austria or Switzerland.
There's only one human organ that naturally regenerates.
Of all the organs in the human body, the liver is the only that can regenerate on its own. As researcher Richard Bowen explains, "The liver has a remarkable capacity to regenerate after injury and to adjust its size to match its host. Within a week after partial hepatectomy, which, in typical experimental settings entails surgical removal of two-thirds of the liver, hepatic mass is back essentially to what it was prior to surgery."
And your liver's size fluctuates significantly throughout the day.
A team of Swiss researchers studying mice found that their liver cells swelled and contracted up to 40 percent along with the daily activities of the mice. Though evidence is limited as to whether the same happens in humans, one study from 1986 found a variation of about 20 percent between day and night—presumably related to the fact that the liver is not working as hard when a person is sleeping.
Neil Armstrong once threatened to sue his barber for selling his hair.
In 2005, Neil Armstrong threatened legal action against his barber, who earned an estimated $3,000 by selling his famous customer's hair. The barber refused, and in 2016, both the hair and the barber's comb and scissors went on sale on Amazon for $38,611.
Winston Churchill was hit by a car and nearly killed during a New York visit.
Talk about a poor way to welcome a visitor. During a lecture tour in the U.S. in Dec. 1931, Winston Churchill was struck by a car while crossing Fifth Avenue and nearly killed. He would describe the experience in The Daily Mail, in an article dictated from his hospital bed: "I felt it on my forehead and across the thighs. But besides the blow there was an impact, a shock, a concussion indescribably violent. Many years ago at 'Plugstreet' in Flanders, a 4.2 shell burst in a corner of the little room in which we were gathered for luncheon, reducing all to dust and devastation. This shock was of the same order as the shell explosion. In my case it blotted out everything except thought." Fortunately, he recovered.
A jockey once won a race after he had died.
In 1923, Frank Hayes was hailed the victor at a race at Belmont Park in New York. The only problem? The jockey had suffered a heart attack and died in the middle of the race, so he wasn't exactly able to celebrate his victory.
The Eagles' stadium once had a courtroom.
Veterans Stadium, where the Philadelphia Eagles once played, included a stadium courtroom and jail to handle the team's notoriously rowdy fans. As a former judge for the so-called "Eagles Court" explained, "Eagles Court was a lot of fun and it served a purpose. One of the interesting facts that came out of Eagles Court was that 95 percent of the people arrested were not from Philadelphia. But Philadelphia was getting broad-brushed as the city with horrible, horrible fans."
Viking men wore makeup.
Vikings were some of the toughest dudes in history, but they cared about their appearance enough that makeup was a standard part of their look, regardless of gender. According to the National Museum of Denmark, "A Spanish Arab who visited Hedeby around the year 1000 described how both men and women in the town wore makeup to look younger and more attractive."
The official bird of Redondo Beach, California, is the Goodyear Blimp.
In 1983, the coastal city adopted a resolution to make the legendary aircraft the official city bird, even presenting a plaque to a team from Goodyear Airship Operations to commemorate the decision.
An astronaut was allergic to the moon.
It might seem like he was in the wrong line of work. Harrison Schmitt, from the Apollo 17 mission, found out that he had a severe allergy to moon dust.