The World of the Trivial

by Don Meyer, Ph.D. | Aug 28, 2010

"Duty largely consists of pretending that the trivial is critical."
John Roweles

One of life's little pleasures is to learn something new that we never knew before. Over the years I have enjoyed collecting some of these trivial facts. Here are a few of them. 

Did you know that... 

    If you put a buzzard in a pen six or eight feet square and entirely open at the top, the bird, in spite of his ability to fly, will be an absolute prisoner. The reason is that a buzzard always begins a flight from the ground with a run of ten or twelve feet. Without space to run, as is his habit, he will not even attempt to fly, but will remain a prisoner for life in a small jail with no top.

    The birthday of the Teddy Bear was November 18, 1902. On that day Theodore Roosevelt gave permission to the little stuffed bear to be named after him. His rationale was obvious when he said, "I don't think my name is likely to be worth much in the toy bear business but you are welcome to use it."

    The first Popsicle was discovered by accident in 1905 when eleven year old Frank Epperson left a fruit drink out overnight with a stirrer in it, and it froze. It was originally called the Epsicle. He later got a patent on his "frozen ice on a stick."

    Ruth Wakefield, known as the "mother of chocolate chips," created the chips and chocolate chip cookies in 1930. At the time, she ran the Toll House Inn in Massachusetts, and her cookies were dubbed the Toll House Cookie.

    The ordinary bat that flies around at night, a remarkably nimble creature in the air, cannot take off from a level place. If it is placed on the floor or flat ground, all it can do is shuffle about helplessly and, no doubt, painfully, until it reaches some slight elevation from which it can throw itself into the air. Then, at once, it takes off like a flash.

    The first microwave oven was discovered when engineer Dr. Percy Spencer was working on magnetrons. He realized the micro-wave he was working with caused a candy bar in his pocket to melt. After some additional experimenting he realized microwaves would cook foods quickly. The first commercial microwave was released in 1954.

    The "clasp-locker," now known as the zipper, was introduced at the Chicago World Fair in 1893. Sadly, the inventor, Whitcomb Judson, died before seeing his invention become a success late in the 19th century.

    If dropped into an open tumbler, a bumblebee will be there until it dies, unless it is taken out. It never sees the means of escape at the top, but persists in trying to find some way out through the sides near the bottom. It will seek a way where none exists, until it completely destroys itself.

    Tea bags were first made in 1908. Thomas Sullivan, a tea and coffee merchant in New York, began packaging tea samples in silk bags. The customers began brewing the tea in the bag by placing it in boiling water, as opposed to boiling the leaves directly in the water.

    In 1800, Humphrey Davy created the first incandescent electric light, but it was Thomas Edison who created a bulb that could glow for over 1500 hours.

    The first feature-length film, released by Disney Studios in 1937, was "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."

    Television was first invented in the 1920's, twenty some years after the U.S. Office of Patents said, "Everything that can be invented has been invented."

I'm not sure why these trivial facts fascinate me but they do. I have encountered many people over the years who also have a fascination with them. Perhaps you are one of them. 

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of 
Valley Forge Christian College, Phoenixville, PA 
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