In our current issue of Smith, we delve into the history of boredom. And while we were researching that story, we stumbled upon a theory on the most boring day in history.
We’ve all heard the old chestnut, “Only boring people get bored,” but recent research shows that anyone feeling particular ennui one Sunday nearly 65 years ago might’ve had a jolly good reason for it.
A Cambridge boffin has crunched the numbers and scientifically proven that 11 April 1954 was the most boring day ever.
Computer scientist William Tunstall-Pedoe and his team reached this conclusion by programming the question What was the most boring day in history? into their custom search engine True Knowledge.
In answering users’ queries, True Knowledge draws on a database of more than 300 million facts – “a big percentage of which tie events, people and places to points in time”, explains Tunstall-Pedoe. “For fun, we wrote a script to scan all days (from the beginning of the 20th century) and set it going.”
It’s logical enough when you think about it. Boredom is all about a lack of stimulation or action, so theoretically a boring day is one where nothing interesting, stimulating or even disastrous occurs. No earthquakes or assassinations, no heroic sporting achievements or scientific breakthroughs, no celebrity weddings or important births. Just 24 hours of unadulterated dullsville.
And when True Knowledge churned through its fact catalogue, comparing every day’s significant goings-on (or lack thereof), 11 April 1954 emerged as drearily deserving of this dubious honour.
“Nobody significant died that day, no major events apparently occurred, and although a typical day in the 20th century has many notable people being born, for some reason that day had only one who might make that claim: Abdullah Atalar – a Turkish academic,” Tunstall-Pedoe observes. (No doubt Professor Atalar’s parents had a very exciting day, even if nobody else did).
Doing some digging of its own in response to this research, The Telegraph newspaper discovered that a general election was held in Belgium and an Oldham Athletic footballer called Jack Shufflebotham died on 11 April 1954 as well. “Apart from that nothing much happened,” it admitted.
Of course, by being branded the most boring day in history, 11 April 1954 just became a whole lot less so…
Check out Smith Journal volume 27 for some more surprisingly interesting insights into the history of boredom.
Images taken from Keiichi Kobayashi’s film About the Pink Sky.