The internet is a truly extraordinary thing. Among its many wonders, it can put a seemingly endless array of knowledge right into the palms of our hands.

But not only can we access pre-written and pre-prepared sets of facts about virtually any subject through the internet, but we can also use the collective intelligence of internet users to answer some of life’s most perplexing questions.

Have you ever come across something weird and interesting that you just can’t explain, an object whose purpose you just aren’t sure of? Even in everyday life, we occasionally stumble onto bizarre curiosities, some of which are even in our own homes. And in such cases, plenty of people have tapped into the hive mind of the internet to help them figure out just what in the word they were looking at.

Here are some of the most interesting cases of people using the internet to decipher the mysteries of some odd everyday objects.


Three-Ring Structures in Parks

rings

Have you ever seen these strange-looking three-ring structures while outside? Many have, particularly in public parks. You might be forgiven for thinking that these things are some sort of odd, brutalist public art pieces, but as one intrepid and knowledgeable Reddit user revealed to the world, they have a purpose.

If you look closely at these metal circles, you’ll notice little hooks placed on the interior of each side of each circle. These are swing hooks. If you want to set up a little hammock and enjoy some swing time at the park, these interesting structures can help you do that.


Strange Wooden Hands

wooden-hands

Way over in the town of Miraflores in Lima, Peru, someone found a cool-looking carved wooden hand left there along the beach. You certainly don’t find things like that every day, so the person who grabbed it was curious about what it was and turned to the internet hive mind for help.

As it turns out, the object has quite a cool origin. It’s a ceremonial tool that Peruvian shamans use during healing rituals like the all-night San Pedro ceremony. It’s called a chonta staff.


A Turbine a Day Keeps the Birds Away

turbine

If you live somewhere known for having large bird populations, you may have noticed that some of the power lines in your area have small wind turbines that are clipped to them. It can be odd and confusing to find one of these if you haven’t seen them before, but they are called bird diverters. As their names suggest, they are meant to keep birds from accidentally flying into power lines. They accomplish this in all kinds of ways, including by spinning or glowing in the dark.


Novelties From the Past

cup

One person found a set of two objects that look like small brass teacups with covers on them. But that isn’t actually what they are. What they are is a double inkwell.

Back before computers or ballpoint pens, when people had to write everything out by dipping quills into ink, many people needed double inkwells. One little container generally held the ink while the other held some water that you could dip your quill into to wash it off.