Seriously Nitpicky Pedantry Quiz

By: Staff

How many senses do humans have?

It's actually somewhere between 14 and 20 (depending on how you count it), not five like you might have learned in elementary school.

Why do bulls run at matadors?

The movement of the cloth gets them excited, not the color. In fact, bulls can't even see red.

What do bananas grow on?

The banana plant is technically an herb, though at up to 25 feet (8 meters) tall, it looks a lot like a tree.

Which did George Washington Carver do?

He invented a lot of uses for the peanut, but peanut butter wasn't actually one of them.

What is a black hole?

Black holes are made up of a whole bunch of matter packed densely into a relatively small region. So they're basically the opposite of the empty hole the name "black hole" implies.

Evolution is a "theory," which means …

While it may sound like a guess, a theory is actually a thoroughly tested explanation for a phenomenon like evolution.

According to the Bible, how many wise men visited baby Jesus?

The Bible doesn't actually specify how many wise men there were, the song and countless Nativity scenes notwithstanding.

Napoleon's height was …

At 5 feet 6.5 inches (169 centimeters) tall, Napoleon was technically average height for a Frenchman of the time. His reputation for being short may have come from the height listed on his death certificate: 5 feet 2 inches in French units, which were slightly bigger units than the English-based units used in the United States today.

True or false: Jesus was born on Dec. 25.

That's almost certainly false. Scholars don't actually agree on when Jesus was born, but most doubt it was winter.

Who codified the rules of baseball?

Alexander Joy Cartwright actually came up with the rules in 1845, though Abner Doubleday is sometimes given credit for inventing the sport in Cooperstown, New York, in 1839.

Who was the first European to step foot in North America?

Viking Leif Eriksson landed in Newfoundland, Canada, around 1000 C.E., almost 500 years before Christopher Columbus. And yet the Italian latecomer still has his own holiday. Go figure.

George Washington's teeth were made of …

The teeth were made of ivory and a lot of other things, but wood wasn't one of them.

On what day did the United States Continental Congress vote for independence from Britain?

The vote happened on July 2. The final language of the Declaration of Independence was approved on July 4, and the document wasn't signed until Aug. 2.

True or false: There is a red telephone for urgent communication between Washington and Moscow.

While there is such a hotline, it's never involved red telephones. It started off with a teletype machine, then a fax machine, and now it's a secure email link.

What is the main source of heat when an object re-enters Earth's atmosphere?

It's caused by compression of the atmosphere in front of the object, even though friction often seems to get the credit. In fact, friction is only responsible for less than 1 percent of the heat.

What happens when you cut an earthworm in half?

Some species will regenerate the front half only; none can actually regenerate both halves.

Shaving can cause hair to grow back …

Newly sliced hair ends are simply wider than the tapered end on hair that's never been cut before. Shaving doesn't make it grow faster, thicker, coarser or darker.

What effect does vitamin C have on a cold?

Studies show it might shorten the duration but not cure it.

What causes tetanus?

It's the bacteria <i>Clostridium tetani</i>, which can live on rusty metal. But that corroded nail itself isn't the cause.

Which did Thomas Edison do?

Don't give him too much credit: Edison just invented the first <i>practical</i> lightbulb using a carbonized bamboo filament.

True or false: Earth revolves around the sun.

That's technically false: Earth and the sun revolve around the center of the mass between them.

Which did Al Gore do?

Al Gore drafted the High Performance Computing Act of 1991, which provided funding for internet infrastructure. Contrary to popular belief, he never actually said he invented the internet. His exact words were: "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet."

What color is the sun?

It's technically white; the atmosphere makes it look yellow, orange or red.

Who was the first person to circumnavigate the globe by boat?

It was Elcano and the 17 survivors of Magellan's 1519 expedition. Magellan was killed in the Philippines, so he didn't actually complete the trip.

How long is a year?

It's actually 365.256 days, which is why we have to add a leap day in every four years.

Which is the tallest mountain from base to peak?

Technically, that is Mauna Kea, which rises 33,497 feet (10,210 meters) from the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Everest is the tallest mountain if you measure from sea level, and Chimborazo is the tallest if you measure from the center of Earth.

How would you classify a string bean?

A botanist will tell you a string bean is a fruit. That's because it develops from a flower.

How would you classify a peanut?

It's a legume, despite the fact that the word "nut" is in the name.

What is coffee made from?

Coffee comes from the seed of a cherrylike plant. There's really no such thing as a coffee bean!

Which did Henry Ford do?

Henry Ford made some improvements to the assembly line but mostly paid his employees to improve it.

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