50 Random Facts List #180

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1Williamina Fleming

Williamina Fleming

In the 1880s, the Harvard Observatory director named Professor Edward Charles Pickering was frustrated with his staff, and would say "My Scottish maid could do better!" So, he hired his Scottish maid named Williamina Fleming. She ran a team for decades, classified tens of thousands of stars, and discovered white dwarfs and the Horsehead Nebula.

2. In 36 B.C.E., a Roman statesman named Marcus Varro wrote about germs, describing "minute creatures which cannot be seen by the eyes, which...enter the body through the mouth and nose and there cause serious diseases." The germ theory of disease would not be accepted widely for another 1,900 years.

3. As President William McKinley was dying, no one knew where Vice President Teddy Roosevelt was. When located in the wilderness, he raced all night down mountain roads on a buckboard wagon in pitch black and pouring rains to be sworn in. 

4. At the time of his graduation in 1969, Robin Williams was voted "Most Likely Not to Succeed" and "Funniest" by his classmates.

5. Trey Parker used Auto-Tune on the South Park song “Gay Fish”, and found that he had to sing off-key in order to sound distorted; he claimed, "You had to be a bad singer in order for that thing to actually sound the way it does. If you use it and you sing into it correctly, it doesn't do anything to your voice.”

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6Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson was a serious foodie, who introduced America to waffles, Mac and cheese, Parmesan, olive oil, and champagne.

7. Scottish singer-songwriter Mark Knopfler agreed to allow Weird Al to parody "Money For Nothing" on the condition that Knopfler play the lead guitar on the track to add "authenticity."

8. An Italian scholar named Della Porta (1563) invented a method of writing secret messages inside eggs. He found that ink automatically transferred from the shell to the boiled egg inside and the message could only be revealed when it was cracked and peeled.

9. On Valentine's Day of 1884, just 36 hours after the birth of their only daughter, Alice, future U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt held his wife as she passed away from undiagnosed Bright's disease. Just hours before, in the same house, he had already said a final goodbye to his mother, Martha.

10. American tv series To Catch a Predator was canceled because a Texas District Attorney committed suicide after being caught exchanging photos with an underage boy.

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11Isaac Woodard

Isaac Woodard

Isaac Woodard was an African-American World War 2 veteran who was badly beaten at a bus stop in 1946 for asking the driver to stop at a bathroom, blinding him in both eyes. His case brought the treating of veterans to light and the beginnings of the civil rights movement in the 1950s.

12. An analysis based on insurance industry data concluded that without aging or disease, people would live an average of nearly 9,000 years before accident, murder, or disaster got them.

13. Rebel Wilson decided to pursue acting because of a malaria-induced hallucination in which she saw herself winning an Oscar. She contracted malaria while working as a Youth Ambassador for Rotary International in South Africa.

14. Male fruit flies seek out alcohol when sexually rejected.

15. There is a theme park in Lithuania named Lithuania's Soviet Bunker visitor attraction which recreates life as a USSR citizen. The visitors have their belongings confiscated, have to wear moldy overcoats, experience interrogation, and must learn the Soviet anthem.

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Pistachios are expensive because the trees take up to 20 years to reach peak production, and are "biennial-bearing", meaning a light harvest every other year. The nuts used to be dyed red to hide stains caused by hand picking. Most pistachios are now machine picked and dying is unnecessary.

17. A 24-year-old man named Richard Vega took part in a "Hands on a Hard Body" contest in 2005 to win a Nissan Pickup by keeping a hand on the truck. In the third day, after consuming as many as 6 energy drinks, he took his hand off the truck, went to K-Mart across the street, stole a gun and ammo, and shot himself.

18. London Underground workers once gained concessions from management through a 'piss strike,' meaning they followed safety rules so exactly that workers going to the toilet one after the other essentially shut down any work being done.

19. Tut Ankh Amun's tomb is the only tomb to date to be discovered intact and complete. All others were looted sometime in the past. The tomb door’s seal remained unbroken since it was closed 3,341 years ago.

20. US soldiers in Vietnam saw 6 times more combat than US soldiers in previous wars because helicopter deliveries drastically cut downtime spent waiting for supplies.

21Joshua Bell

Joshua Bell

American violinist Joshua Bell sat at a metro station in Washington DC and played the violin of worth $3.5 million. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes, and collected $32 from people passing by.

22. In 2017, a Chinese man named Zhan did not want to pay for a ticket to get into the zoo. Instead of buying a ticket, like his family did, he decided to scale a wall to get in. He ended up in a tiger enclosure and was promptly mauled to death while onlookers watched and recorded video of it.

23. There was a copper scroll found among the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1952 that is not a literary work like the others. Instead, it lists the locations of valuable treasures such as silver and gold that have been buried or hidden.

24. John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy had an older brother named Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. who had aspirations to become president. However, Joe Jr. was killed during a top-secret mission at the age of 29 during World War 2.

25. The Netherlands is a leader when it comes to food production due to innovations in agricultural techniques which drastically improve efficiency. Growing a kg of tomatoes in the Netherlands uses 9.1 liters of water (1.1 gallons/lb). The global average is over 210 liters of water per kg (25.6 gallons/lb)

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