50 Times People Had No Clue What They Were Looking At, But The Internet Had Their Back (New Pics)
The world is far too complex for us to have all the answers. On any given day, people are coming up with new projects and ideas that prove change is the only stable thing in life. Since we can’t keep up with their sometimes weird, sometimes brilliant inventions, we’re bound to believe that all of these novel items have a purpose.
But have you ever stumbled across something so random and mysterious that you just had to ask, "What Is This Thing?" Well, if you have, chances are you reached out to the online group on Reddit with the same name. "We may not know the 'why' but we can help with the 'what'," the moderators write in the description, and boy, do they deliver!
More than 2.1 million amateur detectives consistently scroll through the photographs and solve one case after another by deciphering the perplexities people upload online. We gathered some of the most bizarre objects people posted on the group, along with the wisdom from the subreddit about what they are. Continue scrolling, upvote the most interesting ones, and tell us what you think about them in the comments! And if you're in the mood for even more strange objects and the explanations behind them, check out our previous posts about them here, here, and here.
My Girlfriend's House Has This Panel Next To The Basement Door That Lights Up Whenever The Basement Light Is On. Why?
Answer: It’s to tell you that the basement light is on.
What Is This Ice Phenomenon I Found On The Forest Floor Today?
Answer: The term for it is frost flower and has to do with moisture freezing as it escapes plant tissue.
For most people, feeling unsure about the things right in front of them is at least a little bit frustrating and a whole lot confusing. This uneasy feeling of uncertainty can lead to worry and distress because, more often than not, we humans tend to assume the worst. So the not-knowing and living in anxious anticipation is hard for people, and we are almost programmed to hate it. In fact, one study has revealed that our stress levels max out when uncertainty is highest. The volunteers in the experiment were asked to play a game where they had to overturn rocks. If a snake appeared under one of them, they would get a painful electric shock. The results showed that people would rather definitely get an electric shock now than know there's a possibility to get shocked later. Or in other words, uncertainty is more stressful than predictable negative outcomes.
In part, that’s one reason why people are so eager to find out the meaning and purpose behind bizarre objects they encounter. To learn more about uncertainty and how it affects our day-to-day lives, we reached out to Frank T. McAndrew, Ph.D., the Cornelia H. Dudley Professor of Psychology at Knox College. "Novelty in our environment (i.e., new or mysterious things) automatically grab our attention for good evolutionary reasons," he told Bored Panda.
What Is This Thing? Small Gold Pig Container With Removable Tiny Spoon For A Tail
Answer: Salt cellar aka salt pig
Toilet With A U-Shaped Divot In The Front
Answer: It's a type of handicap toilet, more common in Europe than the US. It's supposed to have an open-front seat, too. That allows a person to slide straight onto and off of the seat (such as from a wheelchair), without their genitals ever touching the seat or the bowl. This is more comfortable and decreases spread of disease.
Found In My Math Teacher's Room. 100 Squares With Varying Patterns And Colors. No Patterns Seem To Be Same
They are times. For example, 4 is 2 blue, blue is 2. So 4 is 2x2. 8 has three blue 2x2x2. 96 has 4 blue 2x2x2x2 (32) x red which is 3. 32x3 is 96
Interestingly, we are hardwired by evolution to focus on the unusual things in our surroundings and try to associate them with threat or safety. "Something new in our environment may potentially be very good (something else to eat or an object that might prove useful to us in other ways) or very bad (a dangerous thing that we should avoid)," McAndrew added. "In either case, people who paid attention to new things did a lot better over time than people who ignored them, and we are the descendants of the people who were curious."
According to the professor, when we can’t figure something out and cannot determine if it’s good, bad, or neutral, we become uncomfortable. "Our inability to categorize it will eat at us because we do not know how to deal with it, and this can be paralyzing if it is something that we cannot easily avoid," he explained. That’s why people go out of their way to escape feeling psychological discomfort and hope to be in control again.
Staying At An Airbnb And We Have This Little Metal Tray Embedded In The Counter Top. It's About An Inch Deep (Banana For Scale), Cannot Be Removed, And Has A Drawer Underneath
Answer: It's where a scale used to be.
Why Do These Window Grills Have A Bulge. Seen In Spain
Answer: They're called "belly bars" in a lot of places. They're designed for flower boxes.
Edit: forgot to mention that the primary purpose is security. The rounded part is for flower boxes.
Burying Our Dog In The Backyard Who Passed Today At 16 And Came Across This Underground Wall
Answer: It’s got holes in it, that’s a drywell. That thing fills up when it rains so the yard doesn’t flood.
When asked if it’s possible to cope with these anxious feelings and even tame them, McAndrew told us it’s unlikely that we want to overcome them in the first place. "Being uncomfortable with uncertainty is a very adaptive thing, and it helps us remain vigilant in situations where we need to do so," the professor said.
"People differ from each other in how comfortable they are with uncertainty, and someone who is not at all tolerant of uncertainty will be more stressed out than they should be over even moderate levels of uncertainty. I am not sure that there is too much that can be done about this, as it is a personality thing and personalities are very hard to change," McAndrew noted.
Art Nouveau Style Hook Made Of Silver
Answer: a boot button hook. Used to hook all those tiny buttons on ladies boots
Heavy And Small. Found In Southern Germany
Answer: Medieval pilgrim’s badge
Strange Graves In A Village Graveyard In Northwest Iran. So I Have Seen These Graves Since I Was A Kid But Never Understood What The Marking Meant. They Don’t Look Like Christian Or Muslim Graves And No One In The Village Knows Their Origin. If Someone Knows Anything, I Would Appreciate The Help
Answer: gravestones in NW Iran sometimes have figural/narrative carvings that indicate the occupation of the person.
At least we can feel a dash of comfort knowing that once we encounter a random object, we can turn to the 'What Is This Thing' online group on Reddit and hope they will quickly release us from relentless questioning. Ever since it was created in 2010, it has been steadily growing and helping thousands of people solve their puzzles. With the tagline “For the identification of mysterious objects”, the moderators state that "if you have an object and you don't know what it is, this is the place for you to search for an answer."
What Is This 6-Floor Tiny Tower In The Middle Of A Parking Lot, Adjacent A Baseball Field In East Austin, Tx?
Answer: it's a fire fighter practice building. hey use that whole area for training of all sorts including high speed chase training for cops as well as a firing range.
Witt - Two Card Parked On A Street, Both Seem To Have T-Shirts (Or Some Sort Of Material) Over Their Wing Mirrors, But Just On The Side Facing The Road
Answer: Its to keep birds from attacking the mirrors
What Is The Intended Purpose Of This Very Thin, Glass Covered Drawer?
Answer: It’s a bedside cabinet and it’s to put cups of coffee/ breakfast on so it doesn’t leave coffee rings/stains on the top
We previously managed to get in touch with one of the moderators who looks after the group. They told us there are several reasons people become amateur detectives and set out on a mission to discover the meaning behind obscure pictures posted online. The first one is when people encounter interesting and novel items, they can’t help but feel curious and want to get a chance at cracking the case. Another reason would be the "thrill of the chase" — folks simply want to show off their great research skills.
"Many [people] have unique and obscure knowledge and they like to use it. Get enough of them together and they cover most things," they told Bored Panda.
What Is This Oddly Burned Log I Found At A Campsite?
Answer: Swedish log burning....burns longer than firing a log onto a fire.
Kids Pack On Air Flight Contained These With No Explanation Or Instructions. What Are They?
Answer: Ahh...the inventor didn't realize that some parents even adults need instructions. Surely you can see that these look like airplane wings!
"Kids flying Air France can play with their food thanks to Catalan designer Eugeni Quitllet, who created a spoon, fork and knife that can be transformed into a small model aircraft. "
The spoon, fork and knife for the kids meal pack have slots in their handles, you slot these into the handles to make model airplanes. Notice that you get 3 of them, and "mon avion" is French for "my airplane".
What Is Up Against This Person's Mouth?
Answer: Court stenographer mask so they can dictate
Luckily for us, the moderator also revealed that only under 10 percent of 'cases' remain unsolved, so it’s very rare that members of the community wouldn't know anything about the unidentified things posted on the page. "A majority of things are solved within 15 minutes of posting," they added. So if you have an unusual object archived in your photo gallery that you still ponder about to this day, be sure to share your findings with the online group, and we are willing to bet that they’ll know the answer right away.
What Is This Red Leather Devil Figure, Found In A Wooden Box In An Attic?
"Turns out one of the weirder ways skates and rays have been used by people is as curiosities. These cartilaginous fish, related to sharks, were flipped over and “shaped” into gruesome likenesses of imagined sea devils or maybe evil-looking mermaids. After being dried out and shellacked they were sold in port cities and seaside towns as far back as the 16th century. The origins of the name are obscure, but some articles reference jeune fille d’Anvers which translates as girl from Antwerp.
Intentionally fishing and drying out sea creatures as tourist trinkets, whether sea stars, sea horses or Jenny Hanivers, has fortunately fallen out of fashion. But beach combing is still a great way to come upon all sorts of interesting bits and pieces brought in on the tide and tossed ashore by a wave to dry in the sun."
What Are These Tiny Brown And Tan Beads I Found In My Carpet And On My Windowsill?
Answer: Looks like termite frass, aka termite poop.
Witt? Slightly Rusty Metal Plate With "Stop" In Cutout Lettering
Answer: Rear Light Stop Face Plate A-13442-AR it’s from a vintage ford.
This Metal Decorative Floral Piece, Removable Petals, 10” Long, On A Table Top
What Is This Instrument/Tool This Woman Is Displaying?
Answer: Its a bed warmer
Wooden Machine Hanging On The Wall Of A Historical Building. It Features Dials That All Seem To Be In Sync. Knob Below When Pushed Makes The Dials Jump, But Turning Does Nothing. The Dials Are Numbered But A Few Are Labeled Parlor, Ladies Entrance And Bathroom
Answer: Servants summoning panel. Buttons or pulls all over the house ring a bell there
What Is This Type Of Clamp Used? Only Says China On It
Answer: That’s a gang lock for lockout/tagout. You place this on a breaker when multiple people are working on equipment to keep people from turning the equipment on.
I've Seen This Cane Shaped (Usually) Brass Post At Numerous Bars And Pubs, And Wondered What It Is And What It Is Used For. L Have Been Unable To Google The Correct Sequence Of Words To Get A Result
Answer: "divider" or "service divider". It serves to keep standing customers to one side, away from the part of the bar where servers pick up drinks. Also notice the opening under the bar, the bartender (in some designs) can lift the top and gets in and out. You don't want customers standing there blocking access
Ukraine National Police Posted An Image Of This Strangely Textured Object, They Call It "Dangerous To Health And Even Life"... But What Is It?
Answer: Butterfly mines
Park Bench With Weird Cutouts. Don't Think It's For Bikes, You'd Need A Really Long Chain To Wrap All The Way Around
Answer: It’s for bikes. When u want to sit you park your bike behind you. It’s not meant to lock your bike and leave
Witt: Small Metal Trinket Found Buried On Rural Missouri Farm. Appears To Have An Eagle, Flor De Lis, And Rope Pattern On From And A Metal Band On The Back. Quarter For Scale
Answer: It's a boy scout neckerchief slide.
Enclosed, Copper Gazebo Type Thing On A Residential Property. House Built In 1929
Answer: It's a cupola. At least it was. When old buildings are torn down, people buy these and repurpose them.
What Is This Thing? Circular Thing On A Post In An Antique Place
Answer: This is an Engine Order Telegraph used in older marine vessels. Allowed the Captain remote communication with the ships engine room.
Found Buried In The Closet Of A Commercial Kitchen. What've I Got? About 6 Inches In Diameter
Answer: It's a hamburger press
Found This Deep In My Church's Storage. Looks Like There's A Place For A Battery, Multiple Lights, And Even A Knob That Only Clicks When You Twist It. It Seems To Be From The 70s And Made Primarily Out Of Aluminum. All I Can Think Of Is It Was Some Sort Of Tithe Device, But It Doesn't Seem To Open
Answer: A device found in a church that says “PLEASE” on it only has one meaning, MONEY. It some sort of offering collector.
Cinderblock Stove Structure On The Edge Of 1920 Farmhouse Property. Located Down The Hill From The House
Answer: That’s what it is. Cook houses were often away from the main house to reduce fire risk and to just deal with the heat in the summer
Found On The Beach Near Myrtle Beach, Sc. We Just Had A Big Storm. It's Very Firm And Breaks Apart Smoothly. Seems Organic
Answer: We used to get stuff like this on our beach in colder weather. It turns out it was fats in the “treated” water from the Boston sewer plant that was pipelined out into Cape Cod Bay. They would clump together into big fatty lumps like that one.
Industrial lubricants (synthetic waxes) also regularly get dumped from ships and wash up on shores. Wax or fat seem most likely.
Strange “Bench” With Tubing Near The Parking Lot Of An Old Elementary School
Answer: This is playground equipment from the 70s-80s. You lay on your back and slide through by pulling on the bars
Witt: This Metal "Ring" Was In Every Toilet In A Hospital. No Search I Have Done Was Able To Locate A Match Or Answer
Answer: Stops flushable wipes from being flushed. Traptex Plumbing Protection System
Came In A Box Of Candy Making Supplies That I Got Off Craigslist. Measures 4 1/2 Inches Wide And Has About 60 Twisty Screws Embedded Into It. It Came With Lots Of Different Semi-Professional Sugar/Candy Tools And This One Has Me Stumped
Answer: It's for making spun sugar
Found This While Cleaning Out The Attic. It's Wood, Looks Handmade, Measures 20cm, But I Have No Idea What It Is Or Does!
Answer: Perhaps it's a Yacouba Double Spoon - a symbol of hospitality in traditional African art. It represents two very distinct universes that are opposite.
"Light Fixture" I Noticed At A Restaurant In Nl, Canada. Appears To Be Some Sort Of Old Machinery
Answer: It’s the lift mechanism from a dumbwaiter.
To Piggy Back Off The Other Clothing "Loop" Post: What Is This Loop Towards The End Of Both The Sleeves On My Jacket? Who Would Hang Their Jacket Up By The Sleeves? What Are These For?
Answer: The fleece can go inside an outer shell jacket. The loops connect inside the sleeves of the jacket so that the sleeves of the fleece don't come out of the jacket when you take it off
Brass Or Bronze Ball With Dividing Lines
Answer: Petanque ball
Found This Behind A Commercial Freezer While Doing Renovations. Plastic Casing, Plastic Looking Balls, Metal Shroud, About 1.5 Inches In Length. Wall Anchor? Cyanide Capsule?
Answer: this is a scent/pheromone capsule for a moth glue trap
Large Chunk Of (Metal?) Weighs Quite A Bit In Your Hand And Hasn't Changed In Color In Decades
Answer: The circled m logo is the logo of the réunion des musées nationaux, the French public museums. Probably a copy of a cuneiform tablet available as a souvenir at the Louvre, among other museums.
Large Plastic Hood With Gloves Attached. Found In Chicago Residential Alleyway
Answer: glove box. Laboratory glove box. Used to isolate samples. I'm sure you may have seen them once or twice in movies with science labs etc.
Bronze And Lead Object, With Some Kind Of Scale In It, No Moving Parts, Found While Digging
Answer: Appears to be a German artillery fuse
Found Tiny Vial Of Thick Liquid With A Bead Inside. There Were Also 4 Rubber Things For Your Fingers And It Was All In A Sealed Black Foil Packet. Any Idea What It Is?
Answer: It’s a lotion that comes with temporary tattoo kits. The little rubber finger covers are for applications
My Neighbor Just Installed This Outside Of Their Window. I Assume It Measures Something But I Have Never Seen Such A Pole
Answer: It’s an antenna
Witt? A Small Wooden Box With A Sort Of Dial On The Front Which Can Turn But Cannot Turn Anymore At Certain Points. There Is One More In Another Pew
Answer: The dial is a potentiometer which suggests maybe those are headphone sockets with a volume control
Found This Plastic Device Buried In The Garage. About 13 Inches Long, And When You Pull Back The Trigger Where Your Hand Goes It Lifts The Little Knob On The End Upwards. The Bottom Side Of The Knob Has Velcro On It
Answer: Looks like those TSA wands that test for explosives. They put a little cloth piece in there, rub it all over your s**t and then put the little cloth pad in a detector.
What Are These Lights That Appear To Be Behind The Mirror In The Hotel I’m Staying At?
Answer: It’s likely supposed to be an “infinity mirror” you lay a one way mirror over a standard one and put the LED’s between the layer giving it a tunnel appearance. The missing side could be a bad strip of LED’s
Note: this post originally had 115 images. It’s been shortened to the top 50 images based on user votes.