View Full Version : Learning Things In Unusual Places

2010-Dec-19, 02:12 AM
Does anybody else have any stories about how they learned things from places or sources that other people find unusual when you tell them the story? (I'm excluding anything where the topic learned about is something central to the story, because that wouldn't be unusual. For example, it wouldn't be very unusual to learn something about Ancient Egypt from Indiana Jones!)

I learned what "phosphorescence" was from the Scooby-Doo episode with the ghost in the glowing hard-hat diving suit. Also, that episode was the first place I heard of dry ice, including the fact that it makes fog/smoke when it comes in contact with water.

I learned that a weakening of the ozone layer results in more UV penetration and a greater need for sunblock from the cartoon show Totally Spies.

I learned the meaning of the words "telekinesis" and "telepathy" from Pokemon. (And brrrrr, did the things that Sabrina the Psychic-type Gym Leader did with those powers ever creep me out!)

I first saw the B-2 Spirit bomber in a book about UFOs that I got from the library when I was about 8. A few months later, during the first airstrikes against Afganistan, there was a picture of one on the news and I surprised my mom by shouting "That's the plane from my UFO book!" Also, I learned what ball lightning was from another UFO book.

I first read the story of Ernest Shackleton's Endurance expedition in an easy-to-read book that was lying around at my brothers' Elementary School when I went to an after-school event there when I myself was in 7th grade.

I first heard of WikiLeaks during a roleplaying game when one of the other players mentioned it briefly as part of something related to the plot. (This was several months before the first time they were in the news, I'd like to note.)

I learned how to spell the word "Opportunity" from typing the name of the Mars rover so many times on BAUT!

2010-Dec-19, 02:24 AM
I learned the word "literally" from the context of its usage in an Archie comic book ("That's when the roof fell in - not literally, of course.").

2010-Dec-19, 03:52 AM
I learned from a Donald Duck comic book that "It is the law of the Voodoo that the nearest of kin must atone for the sins of a wrongdoer." That was over 60 years ago. I remember wondering if they made that up to support the storyline.... I never found out.

2010-Dec-19, 10:45 AM
I learned the Japanese word for 'calyx' from a (not very good) joke in a women's magazine. I don't think I have ever had need to use it.

2010-Dec-19, 09:27 PM
I learned what "phosphorescence" was from the Scooby-Doo episode with the ghost in the glowing hard-hat diving suit.

Sorry for the sidetrack Miss Kai, but you reminded me of the many times I've seen tropical seas phosphoresce due to the passage of the ship. (And maybe Captain Swoop has seen it as well if he got far enough south.) My friend AQ3 Swain, a big ol' cajun from New Orleans, showed me this one on my first cruise, once we got to the tropics.

Depending on the species of plankton being disrupted the glow will be pale green through to pale blue. The Constellation had four twenty-ton propellers that could push the 90,000 ton ship to over 40 miles per hour.

You can beat the fudge out of a LOT of plankton with that.

(For the people playing at home, the glow is caused by the cellular contents of specific species of plankton oxidizing after they are ruptured.)

The newbies would never believe me at first. You could see this huge bluegreen glow at night from the middle of the flightdeck, some 500 feet away, coming up from the stern of the ship. The new guys would think that the glow came from lights coming up from the aircraft engine repair shop which is down on the hanger bay level. I would have to drag them over to the deck edge and show them that the lights weren't on.

And one of the odd things about the light is the lack of a source point. Your eyes always seem to want one. It's not like a glowing oil slick. The glow seems to come from the air itself.

The other weirdness with glowing plankton guts happens in the heads (bathrooms). The urinals and commodes are supplied by diversions of the ship's firefighting system which gets it's water from the ocean. The urinals are usually the big ones found at stadiums and such and are almost always the constantly flowing type.

Well, the pipes and plumbing have very little oxygen in them so the contents don't see oxygen until it's in the basin. When I saw a had a couple of "live ones", after I showed them the view off of the stern I would take them to one of the larger restrooms. The restroom looks normal under regular light, then you turn off the lights. The glow can be bright enough to easily navigate the room.

The commodes flash color too because their water isn't supplied by a tank in the back, but by connecting to the same system that pressurizes the urinals. When you flush, the lever opens a valve for about five seconds which flushes the bowl. You can get a big blast of light from flushing the commodes in the dark.

(And if you were at war with a particular squadron or division of ship's company and had the right tools, you could rig the commode with a wee bit too much pressure. Sorta like directing a three inch firehose into your toilet. You're a bright lass, I'll let you fill in the blanks. :) )

2010-Dec-20, 05:50 AM
Interesting story BigDon. This reminds me of the bit in Apollo 13 where Lovell is talking about using phosphorescent plankton churned up by his carrier to navigate his way back to it.

2010-Dec-20, 02:31 PM
Heh; most of what I know about classic literature, history, and pop culture I learned from the Simpsons, Animaniacs, or other various cartoons.

. . . and people say that television rots kid's brains! pshhh!

2010-Dec-20, 06:29 PM
My only issue with people "learning" things from cartoons, comics, etc is quite often they will exaggerate or create falsehoods for the sake of amusement, then people take them as facts.

When I was a teenager I was running a bait and tackle shop (fish supplies for those who are non-fishing people) for my parents. We lived in the country, about 100 yards off the highway, and had the shop setup in an old work shop in the yard. During the summer we got a fair amount of business from people just driving by. One hot summer day (it was about +32C, 90F) and a Volvo with Tennessee licence plates drove into the yard. At first I was amazed that we got someone from that far south stopping in. Then what really amazed me was the fact they had skis strapped down to the roof of their car, not water skis either, down hill skis. They did some shopping, we had a nice chat about local fishing, fishing in Tennessee, about how nice and warm it was, etc. Then right before they left the wife asked how much further it was to Canada. By that point they were already 70 miles into Canada, so I told them that they crossed the border about an hour and a half ago to which she laughed and replied that this isn't Canada, where was all the snow. The only thing that came to my mind was a cartoon that I had seen where it shows the US Canada border. On the US side a guy standing there wearing shorts, sun glasses, a Hawaiian shirt, with the sun shining down on him and holding a drink that looked like ice tea and looking north across the border; and on the Canadian side there was a massive mountain of snow with an igloo, polar bear running around in the back ground, and an Eskimo all bundled up in furs holding a spear looking back south at the guy in the US. I can pretty much guarantee that's what these people were expecting to find.

2010-Dec-20, 07:08 PM
A friend of my had a stroke at 23. He was very limited in activities for about a year afterwards, he had some balance issues for a long time. After he beat every video game he got his hands on he was reduced to having friends and family take crafting books out of the library.

He taught me to sew, knit, juggle, make clay, Tole paint, make chainmail armor, how to solder, how to fold 100 different kinds of paper airplanes and about two dozen card games.

He made a full recovery and ended up with an amazing number of skills.

2010-Dec-21, 08:53 PM
My only issue with people "learning" things from cartoons, comics, etc is quite often they will exaggerate or create falsehoods for the sake of amusement, then people take them as facts.

While I can't say that doesn't happen, the interesting thing with my Pokemon example is that, since it was a show that otherwise had all sorts of strange creatures with unusual powers that I knew couldn't possibly be real, I never once thought either of those psychic powers were possible.