Sometimes I find myself thinking of the time in college when a professor asked the question “who can tell me what renaissance means?” and I casually threw out “rebirth.” She nodded, somewhat impressed, probably not used to freshmen knowing that offhand.

But the weird thing is, even though I did attend a very academically rigorous private high school, and even though I’d over-achieved my way to near-perfect grades there, none of that is what had prepared me for this moment.

It was 30 Rock. I remembered that factoid because someone said it on 30 Rock.

Turns out, I’m not alone in these sorts of moments, when pop culture provides unexpected education.

Take this thread on Tumblr, for instance.

No, seriously, just take it and read it. I don’t want to explain any further…

1. Killer Facts: Part 1

User tomhardysteeth (weird name, but OK) got the ball rolling with their tale.

2. Killer Facts: Part 2

3. Learning Rocks

This Sondheim story launched several more…

4. Hour by Hour

5. Jacob & Sons

I’ll bet his face was red and yellow and green and brown, scarlet and black and ocher and peach…

6. Blame Canada

7. Nerd Alert

8. State of Play

I guess it just goes to show that you can pick up a little knowledge from anywhere. Just remember to double check it before trying to apply it to something serious. I’m a theatre major and even I wouldn’t advise that anybody base their life on musicals.

Do you have an example of something like this?

Tell us about it in the comments.