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Greg's Useless Trivia #33 (1 Viewer)


A collection of mostly useless but sometimes interesting things I've come across.

Links to previous Useless Trivia:







1) In 1963, a man in Derinkuyu, Turkey knocked down a wall in his house and discovered the entrance to somewhere previously unknown. Entrance to where?

a) the treasure cave spoken of in Arabian Nights
b) an ancient gold mine, which since its re-discovery has earned his family $400 million in gold
c) a lavishly decorated, secret underground bunker prepared for Nazi leadership should they have to flee Germany
d) an ancient underground city capable of holding 20,000 people

d) He found the entrance to an underground city that may have been built as far back as the 8th-7th centuries BCE. The entrance could be sealed off with giant stone doors in times of urgent need and it had the potential to shelter about 20,000 people, plus room for their livestock and food. The complex is complete with ventilation shafts and goes down almost 200 feet into the Earth. Each level could be closed off separately. The tunnels are open to the public now and can be visited by tourists.
2) We don't know for sure who invented the modern fire hydrant, despite it having been patented. Why not?

Because the patent was, ironically, destroyed in a fire at the US Patent Office in 1836. Though credit is typically given to Frederick Graff Sr, who was the chief engineer of the Philadelphia Water Works in 1801.
3) Before there were clocks, people used uniformly made candles to tell time. They even had a way of setting an alarm to alert them when it was a given time. What simple method did they use for the alarm?

They would put a metal nail or pin in the candle at the point they wanted to be alerted. When the candle reached that point, it would fall and clatter on the metal stand.
4) In the Victorian era, there were drinking cups (image) with a semicircular ledge inside just below the brim, with a half-moon shaped opening to allow the passage of liquids. The ledge was only on one side of the cup and covered perhaps a third of the cup. What was its purpose?

The ledge was there to keep a gentleman's mustache dry when drinking from the cup. They were known as mustache cups. Mustaches flourished during the Victorian years. The British military even required all of its soldiers to sport a mustache for the authority they felt it imparted.
5) True or False. The US Post Office once delivered mail in a cruise missile whose nuclear warhead had been removed and replaced with mail containers.

True. In 1959 the U.S. Navy submarine USS Barbero assisted the Post Office Department in its search for faster mail transportation, with the only delivery of "Missile Mail". On 8 June 1959, near Norfolk, Virginia, Barbero fired a Regulus cruise missile — its nuclear warhead having earlier been replaced by two Post Office Department mail containers — targeted at the Naval Auxiliary Air Station at Naval Station Mayport in Florida. Twenty-two minutes after launch, the missile struck its target. When the Postmaster General at the time saw the missile land, he proclaimed the event to be "of historic significance to the peoples of the entire world", and predicted that "before man reaches the moon, mail will be delivered within hours from New York to California, to Britain, to India or Australia by guided missiles. We stand on the threshold of rocket mail."
6) Zhuge Liang (181-234) was an accomplished Chinese strategist that has been compared to Sun Tzu, author of the "Art of War". According to stories, Zhuge Liang and 100 soldiers successfully defended a town from an army of 150,000 by using The Empty Fort strategy. What did they do?

Liang himself had a huge army but it was off in another area when he heard of the enemy approach. Liang, recognizing that the situation was hopeless, ordered his men to take down the flags, open the gates, and hide and disguise themselves as civilians. Liang himself then sat upon the wall of the town in a Tao robe and played a lute. The opposing general, Sima Yi, recognised Liang and knew of his military and tactical capabilities. Seeing how calm Liang remained in the face of such a large force, Yi was certain that it was a trap and ordered a retreat. This strategy of reverse psychology is known as The Empty Fort, and is one of the Chinese Thirty-Six Strategems. Also worth noting this story is believed to be fictional, though the strategy is real and has been successfully used at other times.
7) True or False. The US tried to deploy a ring of copper wires around the Earth in space as a communication device.

True. In 1961 and 1963, Project West Ford launched half a billion whisker-thin copper wires into orbit in an attempt to install a ring around the Earth as the largest radio antenna in human history. Its goal was to protect the nation’s long-range communications in the event of an attack from the increasingly belligerent Soviet Union. At the time communications depended on undersea cables which could be cut, and over-the-horizon radio which was at the mercy of disruption by solar storms. The wires were first deployed as a test at a low orbit so they would re-enter the atmosphere within a few years. Space junk was not as much of a concern since there was not manned spaceflight yet. While the test was successful, the deployment was flawed and many wires were welded together in clumps by the vacuum of space. There are still clumps of the 1.8 centimeter long wires being tracked as space junk today.
8) In 1917, this entertainer took time off from his career to sell war bonds and teach American soldiers how to free themselves from German restraints.

Harry Houdini.
9) True or False. The Confederate Constitution abolished the slave trade.

False. It outlawed it from foreign countries but still allowed the slave trade to continue within the Confederate States, and with any slaveholding States or Territories of the United States. In other sections it further enforced the right to own slaves. -- Sec. 9. (I) The importation of negroes of the African race from any foreign country other than the slaveholding States or Territories of the United States of America, is hereby forbidden; and Congress is required to pass such laws as shall effectually prevent the same.
10) During World War I in 1917 on the Eastern Front, German and Russian soldiers faced a threat from other opponents that were so vicious that the warring adversaries entered into negotiations for a ceasefire. The Germans and Russians joined forces to fight the opponent until that enemy was defeated, and then the war resumed. Who were the opponents they joined together to fight?

Wolves. The starving animals had great numbers, and had grown bold and began attacking even large groups of soldiers on both sides. Attempts on each side to eradicate them while still fighting the war were unsuccessful, leading to the ceasefire. According to a New York Times article on it from 1917, several hundred wolves were killed and the others finally fled. After which they were able to get back to trying to kill each other in safety.

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Regarding #3

Towns would also hire someone to go around tapping on people's windows in the morning so people could go to work. This guy was knows as the town Knocker-Upper


El Floppo

4/10 with 2 t/f guesses correct

loved this one- lots of interesting trivia/history that I'd never heard of.



first time i ever got the first 5 questions of a GUT. feelin kinda geniusy -

Towns would also hire someone to go around tapping on people's windows in the morning so people could go to work. This guy was knows as the town Knocker-Upper
British folk still say "knock me up" for "come on over"



1/10 - :bag:   I can't even guess right on T/F.  Only one I got right was #10, which was a total guess.  I was close on #3, but a little off on the execution, so I counted it wrong.


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