True or False: both Robert F. Kennedy and John F. Kennedy were assassinated.
Among the people who wrestled the gun away from presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy’s assassin in 1968 were writer George Plimpton, Olympic gold medal decathlete Rafer Johnson, and former New York Giant Rosey Grier.
In 1978, over 900 members of the People’s Temple Agricultural Project, led by Jim Jones, died in what is now called the...
In 1978, over 900 members of the People’s Temple Agricultural Project, led by Jim Jones, died in what is now called the Jonestown Massacre.
What was the deadliest natural disaster in US history?
The deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history was the Galveston hurricane, also known as the Great Storm of 1900. This Category 4 storm hit land in Texas with winds measuring up to 145 miles per hour, resulting in an estimated 6,000 to 12,000 deaths.
At the Olympic Games in 1972, a group of armed Palestinians broke into the apartment of Israeli athletes, killing two and taking the rest hostage. Where were those games held?
At the Munich Olympic Games in 1972, a group of armed Palestinians broke into the apartment of Israeli athletes, killing two and taking the rest hostage. The Palestinians then demanded the release of 236 prisoners and a plane to fly them to Cairo. Nearly every detail of this scenario had been foreseen by police psychologist Georg Sieber, who the German government had tasked with coming up with possible Olympic disaster scenarios. Sieber had 26 scenarios; the 1972 events were Situation Twenty-One.
True or False: Hurricanes have always been given people’s names.
Recent hurricanes to ravage the Caribbean went by the names Harvey, Irma, and Martha. But until 1947, hurricanes and tropical storms did not have official names. That year, the U.S. Air Force started naming them after the phonetic alphabet the military uses to spell out words over the radio. They weren’t consistently given people’s names until the 1950s.
The sinking of the USS Indianapolis in 1945 resulted in the largest loss of life at sea from a single ship in the history of the US Navy. Why did it sink?
The sinking of the USS Indianapolis in 1945 resulted in the largest loss of life at sea from a single ship in the history of the US Navy. The ship was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine during World War II and sank in twelve minutes. Only 317 of the 1,196 crewmen aboard survived.
What is the name for the device that allows you to open a door by pushing on a bar?
The “panic bar” is the device that allows you to open a door by pushing on a bar. It was invented after an incident at Victoria Hall concert venue in England in 1883. 183 children died in a stampede caused by boys and girls who rushed to get the gifts and treats being handed out by performers onstage. The children who rushed to the door were unable to open the bolt, and many were crushed to death.
Where did the most deadly balloon accident of all-time occur?
The most people ever killed in a balloon accident was 19, when a hot air balloon caught fire over Luxor, Egypt in 2013. The passengers were all tourists on a sight-seeing trip. Along with the pilot, a single passenger survived the incident.
True or False: There was once a subway accident in New York City that killed more than 10 people.
The worst subway accident in New York City history happened in 1905, when an aboveground train turned too quickly, jumped the track, and fell onto Ninth Avenue. 13 people were killed. The accident happened, eerily, on September 11th.
1816 was known as the Year Without a Summer. What happened?
1816 was known as the Year Without a Summer. The eruption of a volcano at Mount Tambora caused a volcanic winter, and snow fell in June. Severe weather across North America, Europe, and Asia caused famine and flooding, which resulted in food riots and disease outbreaks. Fatality rates were twice as high as in other years.
True or False: The recent mass shooting in Las Vegas has been called the deadliest in US history, but tragically, there have been many historical tragedies had higher body counts
While the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas has been called the deadliest in US history, several historical tragedies had higher body counts. White Arkansas men lynched up to 237 black sharecroppers in the 1919 Elaine massacre, the deadliest racial conflict in US history. U.S. troops killed anywhere from 60 to 200 Pomo men, women, and children in the Bloody Island Massacre of 1850; and up to 300 Lakota at the Battle of Wounded Knee in 1890.
What was the name of the 1918 pandemic that killed more than 500 million people around the world?
The “Spanish Flu” was the name given to an 1918 influenza pandemic that killed 500 million people around the world. The name comes from the fact that, while wartime censors suppressed news of the pandemic in the US, the UK, France, and Germany, the press in Spain was free to report on the tragedy. This gave the world a false impression that Spain was hardest hit by the flu—and the name stuck.
What caused the Halifax Explosion?
The Halifax Explosion of 1917 occurred when a cargo ship carrying explosives collided with another ship in Halifax Harbour, killing 2,000 people and injuring 9,000. It was the largest man-made explosion prior to the development of nuclear weapons, and the standard by which large blasts were measured for many years.
True or False: there was once an event called the Great Smog of London.
Since the 1200s, London has had problems with air quality, but in 1952, a severe air-pollution event called the Great Smog of London blanketed the city with yellow-black smoke for four days, making it hard to see more than a few feet. The city nearly shut down, and the smog resulted in up to 12,000 deaths from lung and respiratory tract infections.
Which two Japanese cities were the victims of nuclear bombings by the United States army in 1945?
Time magazine reported on the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 by saying that the bomb’s power was equivalent to seven times the Halifax Explosion.
True or False: One man was present for the nuclear bombing of both Hiroshima AND Nagasaki.
Imagine the odds of being struck by lightning twice. Pretty rare. I'm sure if that happened to you, you'd think you must have been cursed by some sort of vindictive witch. So imagine the confusion and suffering of Tsutomu Yamaguchi, a Japanese man who survived the bombing of Hiroshima... only to move to Nagasaki and experience that bombing as well.
Where was the deadliest nightclub fire in history?
Clifford Johnson was injured at the deadliest nightclub fire in history, at the famous Cocoanut Grove in 1942. He suffered third-degree burns over more than half his body but survived, and was seen as a medical marvel. After hundreds of operations and nearly two years in the hospital, he married his nurse. In an ironic twist of fate, he burned to death in a car crash in 1958.
True or False: A famine in Malta in 1823 became even more tragic when 110 hungry boys who went to the Convent of the Minori Osservanti to get free bread on the last day of Carnival celebrations fell down a flight of stairs and were crushed to death.
It’s true! A famine in Malta in 1823 became even more tragic when 110 hungry boys who went to the Convent of the Minori Osservanti to get free bread on the last day of Carnival celebrations fell down a flight of stairs and were crushed to death.
What was the name of the NASA space shuttle which exploded in 1986?
Designers of the parts for the Challenger space shuttle, which exploded in 1986, warned that the shuttle shouldn’t have been launched because a seal could come loose in cold weather. NASA officials disregarded the warning, with one asking, "When do you want me to launch—next April?"
True or False: Sports teams at the University of Illinois at Chicago are nicknamed the Flames, to commemorate the infamous Great Chicago Fire.
It’s true! Sports teams at the University of Illinois at Chicago are nicknamed the Flames, to commemorate the infamous Great Chicago Fire.
When the British soldiers who killed colonists in the Boston Massacre during the American Revolution were tried in court, their lawyer was...
When the British soldiers who killed colonists in the Boston Massacre during the American Revolution were tried in court, their lawyer was none other than John Adams, founding father and future president. After being convinced by the court to take the case, Adams persuaded the jury that the soldiers had feared for their lives, reducing the charge to manslaughter.
In 1970, Richard Nixon was heavily criticized for sending the National Guard to a university campus, where the fired at and killed four anti-war protestors. What school was it?
Immediately following the shootings at Kent State University in 1970, when the National Guard fired at and killed four anti-war protestors, 900 university campuses had to be closed due to protests. 100,000 people rioted in Washington, DC, President Nixon was evacuated to Camp David, and the 82nd Airborne was deployed to protect the White House.
A ninth-century Norse earl was killed by an enemy he had beheaded hours earlier. He tied the severed head to his horse’s saddle, but on the ride home the man’s tooth scratched his leg. The resulting infection killed the earl. What was the Norse earl’s name?
A ninth-century Norse earl named Sigurd the Mighty was killed by an enemy he had beheaded hours earlier. He tied the severed head to his horse’s saddle, but on the ride home the man’s tooth scratched his leg. The resulting infection killed the earl.
True or False: In 1871, a lawyer named Clement Vallandigham accidentally shot himself while defending a murder suspect.
Description: In 1871, a lawyer named Clement Vallandigham accidentally shot himself while defending a murder suspect. He was trying to demonstrate that the murder victim could have accidentally shot himself. The client was acquitted, but the lawyer died.
The first person killed by a robot was Robert Williams, in 1979. What was he doing?
The first person killed by a robot was Robert Williams, in 1979. The Ford assembly-line worker was hit in the head by a robot’s arm.
True or False: A man once died by jumping off the Eiffel Tower in a parachute he built himself.
An Austrian named Franz Reichelt invented a parachute in 1912 and tested it himself by jumping off the Eiffel Tower. The invention didn’t work, and he died.
Eight people were killed in the London Beer Flood of 1814 when a massive vat of fermenting beer burst. How much beer was spilt?
Eight people were killed in the London Beer Flood of 1814 when a massive vat of fermenting beer burst, filling the streets with over 1,000,000 imperial pints’ worth of beer.
True or False: 400 people in Strasbourg, France were struck by dance madness in the summer of 1518.
400 people in Strasbourg, France were struck by dance madness in the summer of 1518. They were compelled to dance for about a month for no clear reason. Several danced themselves to death.
Sure, a few of those questions got past you… but that’s because we made this as hard as humanly possible. And you still did pretty dang well. Good on you. One thing is absolutely for certain: you’ve really studied your history.
How could you possibly know all that? That was truly incredible performance. We made this quiz as hard as we possibly could, and you still beat it. Well done.
Happy With Your Test Score? This video can help you do better on any quiz... even if you know ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about the topic.
Natural disasters, deaths, and raging fires: the world is full of tragedies, and not just the kind you find in Shakespeare plays. How much do you know about the worst tragedies in human history?