50 Random Facts List #159

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26Pigeon population

In Barcelona, the government controls the pigeon population by mixing birth control chemicals with the birdseed.


27. Dreams are caused by the random firing of neurons in the cerebral cortex during the REM period. The forebrain then creates a story in an attempt to reconcile and make sense of the nonsensical sensory information presented to it.


28. Caffeine evolved independently in many plants. It's toxic in high doses to hungry insects, and caffeinated leaf litter can make soil toxic for other competing plants. Separately, pollinators receive a light "buzz" from caffeine in pollen and are more likely to remember the flower's scent.


29. In 2015, a man named John Cox had his sentence doubled after an appeal judge decided his original 4-year sentence received from starting a toilet fire on a commercial aircraft from a cigarette was too lenient.


30. A retired construction worker named Wally Wallington has figured out a way for a single person to manipulate monoliths using only wooden levers, pebbles, and counterweights, and may have solved the mystery of Stonehenge. 


31Edwin Hubble

American astronomer Edwin Hubble broke the state record in the high jump and went on to play basketball for the University of Chicago. He won a Rhodes scholarship and studied law at Oxford. He earned a Ph.D. in astronomy but practiced law in Kentucky.


32. Crocodiles can jump vertically. The propelling of their tail is strong enough to launch their whole body out of the water. 


33. The Cutter Documents revealed that in 1980s pharmaceutical companies knowingly sold HIV contaminated blood products to hemophilia patients. It ended up killing many people.


34. In the Bible, Jesus entrusts Peter with "keys to the kingdom of heaven." The Vatican considers St. Peter the first Pope. The Vatican's coat of arms displays these keys to heaven.


35. Thurgood Marshall, the first black Supreme Court Justice, liked to poke fun at his conservative colleagues. He would greet the Chief Justice with "What's shakin', Chiefy Baby?"


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36Maggie Kuhn

Elder rights activist Maggie Kuhn founded an activist group named Gray Panthers. She advocated for intergenerational housing, opposed the Vietnam War, attempted to reduce the taboo surrounding the sexualities of older people, and believed that teenagers should have more societal responsibility.


37. When the Hope Diamond was sent to the Smithsonian, it was sent through U.S. Mail in a box wrapped in brown paper as simple registered mail with $2.44 postage.


38. During the filming of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Kate Capshaw's custom-made beaded dress was hanging on a tree for a background shot. An elephant ate most of the back of it. Because of the dress' value, the production submitted an insurance claim, noting "dress eaten by elephant."


39. Anybody traveling on the International Space Station needs to have both metric and imperial tools with them. This is because the American portion has been built in 'imperial' and the rest in metric.


40. Maryland passed the United States' first campaign finance reform law in 1811. It prohibited candidates from purchasing alcohol for voters, which was an extremely common practice at that time.


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41The Pan Am smile

A fake smile is called 'The Pan Am smile', named after the airline Pan American World Airways, whose flight attendants would always flash every passenger the same superficial smile.


42. The reason we have 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour and 360 degrees in a circle is because the Sumerians used a counting system with a base 60, which was then passed on to the Babylonians.


43. ‘The Bloody Benders’ were America’s first serial killer family. They are known to have killed 11 people between 1868 and 1872, luring each of them into their hotel in Cherryvale, Kansas. They disappeared before their crimes were discovered and were never seen again.


44. Hatuey was an anti-colonial revolutionary in Cuba during the 16th century. Upon being captured by the Spaniards he was sentenced to be burned. Before being burned a priest offered to baptize him so he may go to heaven. To this, he said, "If the Spaniards go to this heaven, I don't want to go."


45. Around 200,000 tonnes of rock was removed to build the ancient Indian temple called Kailasa. This megalith was carved out of one single rock. Carvers started at the top of the original rock and excavated downward.


46Defibrillation

Although it is commonly shown in medical dramas, you do not shock someone with a flatline. You only use defibrillators on people with ventricular fibrillation, and pulseless ventricular tachycardia (heart beats out of rhythm or heartbeats that are really fast and out of sync).


47. 10 minutes before the Titanic hit an iceberg, the nearby SS Californian's sole radio operator (Stanley Lord) shut his set down for the night and went to bed. They were only 10-12 miles away, while the RMS Carpathia, which was 58 miles away, arrived 1.5 hours after the Titanic Sank.


48. Pablo Picasso would carry around a revolver loaded with blanks and fire at people inquiring about the meaning of his paintings, his theory of aesthetics, or those he simply found to be dull.


49. During World War 1, due to concerns that the public would reject their product, American sauerkraut makers relabeled it as “Liberty Cabbage.”


50. Ketone bodies, unlike fats, can pass through the blood-brain barrier so help you survive more than 40 days of starvation by providing energy for the brain.

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