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FASCINATING FACTS: 50 RANDOM FACTS TO BROADEN YOUR HORIZONS

1.  Teller

Teller (the silent half of Penn and Teller) began doing magic in complete silence when performing at fraternity houses as he found it reduced heckling and beer that was thrown at him during his act.


2. When Theo Albrecht, the CEO of discount supermarket chain ALDI was kidnapped, he haggled about his ransom money and claimed the sum as a tax-deductible business expense in court after his release.


3. In 1896, New York passed the Raines law to reduce Sunday drinking. The law had a loophole though that allowed bars to serve alcohol only with a meal. Staff added a sandwich to every drink order, then took it away, serving it to the next customer. The sandwich often lasted all day.


4. Bats in the US eat so many insects that they save farmers an estimated $22.9 billion every year on pesticides.


5. Astronaut Gus Grissom was accused of prematurely blowing the hatch on the Liberty 7 space capsule, causing it to sink. He always maintained that the hatch blew on its own without his intervention. He later died in the Apollo 1 capsule fire because of a complicated hatch that would not blow quickly enough.


6.  Robert Goddard

When Professor Robert Goddard proposed using rockets to send men to the moon, New York Times ran a scathing editorial questioning his credentials, his chair at Clark College and his intelligence. In response to Apollo 11, New York Times printed one of the most famous retractions in history.


7. American singer Al Green who originally made Take Me To The River got more royalties from the Big Mouth Billy Bass fish than from any other recordings of the song.


8. The massive ancient library of Nineveh (Mesopotamian equivalent of library of Alexandria) was burnt by the Medes. The fires rather than destroying the documents surprisingly treated the approximately 30,000 clay tablets and preserved the cuneiform text very well.


9. The oldest continuously operating Chinese restaurant in the US is not in New York or San Francisco, but Butte, Montana. Pekin Noodle Parlor opened in 1911 and is still open today.


10. In the early days of home computers, late 70’s to early ’80s, computer magazines featured code listings that readers would spend hours typing into their computer in order to play a game or have a certain program.

 


11.  James Matthew Barrie

Sir James Matthew Barrie assigned the copyright of Peter Pan to Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital. Peter Pan is the only copyright in the UK that has been extended in perpetuity, meaning the Hospital can receive royalties forever. It is the copyright which never grows old.


12. In 2017, Frankfurt police found a car belonging to a 76-year-old man who had forgotten where he had parked it 20 years earlier.


13. During the American Civil War, Southern Unionists and Quakers formed a secret society known as the Red Strings. Red Strings aided deserters, spies, escaped prisoners and passed intelligence on Confederate forces to Union authorities. After the war, they actively opposed the KKK.


14. The story of Kitty Genovese’s murder being ignored by 38 people is a myth and the police were called twice. One woman even went down and held her after she was stabbed. The myth came due to the New York Times’s writer wanting a more dramatic story.


15. The physical shape of the human ear selectively filters out frequencies outside of the human vocal range.

 


16.  Bruce Dickinson

Bruce Dickinson (lead singer of the heavy metal band Iron Maiden) and his then-solo band drove through the front lines of the war in Sarajevo during the Bosnian war. They weren’t protected and there were bullets flying around. They played a show for the people trapped in the city.


17. A few weeks before the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, US scientists performed a safety test on the EBR-II reactor by disabling cooling pumps and automatic protection systems at full thermal power. The core passively cooled itself as designed without human intervention or damage.


18. The meeting of presidents President Taft and Díaz in Mexico in 1909 was the first between a president of the United States and a president of Mexico. Because both presidents were bilingual there was no need for interpreters. No one else attended the meeting where they spent 20 minutes alone.


19. Bumblebees have parasitic “doppelgangers” called cuckoo bumblebees that resemble a specific race enough to be able to sneak into their nest, kill the queen, and trick all the workers into feeding their offspring and ultimately taking over the whole nest before moving onto their next target.


20. It makes no difference which side of the aluminum foil you use, both sides do the same fine job of cooking, freezing and storing food. The difference in appearance between dull and shiny is due to the foil manufacturing process.


21.  Buddha

Most Buddhists do not believe in God. Although they respect and look up to Buddha, they do not believe he was a God but they worship him as a form of respect.


22. There are over 40,000 unclaimed bodies in morgues across America. Families often don’t show up and claim the bodies because they can’t afford a funeral for them. These bodies are then later buried in mass graves.


23. Back when dinosaurs existed, there used to be volcanoes that were erupting on the moon.


24. There was a Tennessee Republican politician named Byron Looper who changed his middle name to ‘Low tax’ so that it would appear on the ballot box. He murdered his political opponent in a later senatorial race, was sentenced to life and died in prison.


25. During the filming of ‘The Longest Day’ a tank from the actual invasion of Normandy was found buried in the sand since D-Day. The tank was cleaned up and used in the film.

 


26.  Frasier Crane


Dr. Frasier Crane’s accent is called “Transatlantic” and is neither truly American nor British.


27. There will be five new sports debuting in the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics: Skateboarding, Rock climbing, Surfing, Baseball/Softball, and Karate.


28. Physicist Ted Taylor was the first person to light a cigarette using a nuclear bomb. During a bomb test in 1952, he used a parabolic mirror to concentrate the light of the blast enough to heat a cigarette suspended from a tiny wire.


29. There is an official day of kindness in Pennsylvania that honors Mr. Rogers’ favorite number, 143, which stands for the letters in “I love you.” This day falls on May 23, the 143rd day of the year.


30. Although Dr. Dre is credited as writing “Still D.R.E.”, it was actually ghostwritten entirely by Jay-Z.


31.  Horse Naming Commission


Iceland has a Horse Naming Commission that oversees horse names across the country to ensure that no horse gets a foreign, vulgar, or inappropriate name.


32. A slave rebellion broke out on slave ship La Amistad in 1839, resulting in two deaths. The slaves were captured and stood trial. It was ruled that they acted as free men, and were entitled to take any measures necessary to ensure freedom, including force. They were all returned to Africa.


33. Stan Lee used alliterative names like Peter Parker and Reed Richards because he had poor memory. Having first and last name start with the same letter made them easier for him to remember their names.


34. In 1931, a suspension bridge (Waldo-Hancock Bridge) was built in Maine. The construction was so far under budget that there was enough money left over to build a second bridge elsewhere.


35. After Minnie Cox, the first black female postmaster was pressured out of her post, President Theodore Roosevelt continued to pay her salary and punished the town by rerouting their mail 30 miles away. In the end, atmosphere in the town became so hostile that Mrs. Cox left for her own safety.


36.  Armin T. Wegner


Armin T. Wegner resisted both the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust. In 1915, he took hundreds of photos of the persecuted Armenians and was subsequently arrested. In 1933, he wrote a letter to Hitler denouncing the persecution of Jews and was then sent to a concentration camp.


37. Chiune Sugihara a.k.a. “Japanese Schindler” was a Japanese diplomat in Germany during the Holocaust, who went against orders to save 6000 Jewish lives by issuing transit visas to them so that they could travel through Japanese territory. He’s the only Japanese honored Righteous Among the Nations by Israel.


38. Tolkien had Beren and Lúthien engraved on his and his wife’s grave, Lúthien being the most beautiful being in all Arda and Beren the man she forsook her immortality for.


39. Robert Chesebrough, the man who invented Vaseline used to go city to city dipping his hand in acid and burning it, showing previous wounds that had healed using his product.


40. In 2015, Nathan Fielder became aware that his favorite jacket company Taiga had published a tribute to Holocaust denier Doug Collins in one of their winter catalogs. So he created his own company to raise awareness of The Holocaust. He also gives free exchanges for Taiga coats.


41.  Captain Kirk


In Star Trek, Captain Kirk’s phrase “You have the conn” has its origins in early battleships dating as far back as the 1860s. These ships were built with conning towers. A conning tower is a raised platform on a ship or submarine from which an officer in charge can issue commands.


42. A Danish carpenter named Ole Kirk Christiansen suffered huge losses after a fire broke out in his woodworking shop that made furniture. He descended into bankruptcy and decided to start making small wood items, including toys. He even renamed his company to ‘leg godt’ (‘play well’) or Lego.


43. All Singaporeans over 21 years old are organ donors by default, allowing for the kidneys, heart, liver, and corneas to be transplanted in the event of death from any cause. Individuals who do not wish to be donors must actively opt-out, and few do: 97% of its citizens are organ donors.


44. Tommy James and the Shondells declined an invitation to perform at the Woodstock festival, because James’ secretary put it to him as “Yeah, listen, there’s this pig farmer in upstate New York that wants you to play in his field.”


45. Terence Kirk was an American soldier who was captured by the Japanese on the day they bombed Pearl Harbor. He spent the entire war at a brutal prison camp. While there, he built a camera out of scrap and took many pictures. After the war, he was put under a gag order, and only told his story 38 years later.


46.  Poop


In the Middle Ages, the word “poop” meant to blast a horn. By the 1600s it was slang for farting.

 


47. William Franklin, Benjamin Franklin’s son was the Governor of New Jersey when the Revolutionary War broke out. Will sided with the crown and the two never spoke again for the rest of their lives.


48. Eric Clapton is the only person that has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three times. Once with the Yardbirds, once with Cream, and once as a solo artist.


49. There is a laser procedure which breaks up brown eye pigment (melanin) in the iris to effectively change one’s eye color from brown to blue, since blue eyes exist under all brown eyes.


50. E.T. was originally written as a horror movie in which aliens kill others simply by the touch of a long, bony finger. Spielberg changed his mind and decided to make it a family-friendly film and later repurposed the horror concept for “Poltergeist.”

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