50 Random Facts List #215

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26James Watt

In 1983, US Interior Department secretary James Watt banned the Beach Boys from playing at the National Mall, saying the concerts encouraged drug use and attracted the wrong element. He was forced to apologize after finding Ronald Reagan was a fan.


27. Ivan the Terrible died without ever telling anyone where he put the library he inherited from his grandfather, and ever since there has been a treasure hunt for it.


28. An engineer named Vic Tandy established a connection between supposed paranormal activity and infrasound frequency (~19Hz), which is below the range of human hearing and also roughly the resonant frequency of our eyeballs, causing some people to 'see' things that aren't there.


29. Willem Kolff created the first dialysis machine in the Netherlands during World War 2. Lacking materials, he used sausage casings, tin cans, a washing machine, and saltwater. He also saved more than 800 people from the Nazis by hiding them in his hospital. He later invented the artificial heart.


30. During the Trial of Joan of Arc, the prosecution, headed by Pierre Cauchon, sent an agent to France to collect dirt on her life in her home village. Cauchon was enraged when the agent "had found nothing concerning Joan that he would not have liked to find about his own sister."


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31NASCAR pit crew member

Being a NASCAR pit crew member is so physically demanding that today instead of giving mechanics physical training, they take athletes and give them auto mechanic training.


32. Actor Cary Grant experimented with LSD in the late 1950s an estimated 100 times and stated that it was the solution after many years of "searching for his peace of mind", and that for the first time in his life he was "truly, deeply and honestly happy."


33. Jordan Peele decided to make "Us" a full-on horror film due to people being generally confused over the genre of "Get Out."


34. In 1745, a British soldier named Hannah Snell joined the British Army by disguising herself as a man. She managed to keep her gender a secret even though she received 500 lashes and was shot in the groin. After her service, she revealed her identity and was eventually awarded a military pension.


35. Tumbleweeds, an iconic symbol of the old West, are actually an invasive species and didn't arrive until the late 1800s.


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36Chiggers

Chiggers don't actually bite or burrow but rather drill holes into our skin and then excrete enzymes that break the skin down into a liquid mixture. Then they slurp up the mixture through a hardened skin cell straw. They basically make skin frappes out of us.


37. American founding father George Wythe was poisoned by his great-nephew, George Sweeney. Even though Wythe's black housekeeper provided evidence against Sweeney, it was thrown out in court because a black person could not legally testify against a white person, and Sweeney went free.


38. In ancient China, a huge war was sparked because of a board game gone wrong. The crown prince was arguing with his cousin, the son of a regional king, during a match of a game called Liubo, and when his cousin offended him, he threw the board at him. He died from the blow. His father revolted.


39. Because of the actions of Bob Hawke and Michel Rocard, Antarctica has been protected from all drilling and mining since 1991. This protection banned these practices for fifty years, establishing Antarctica as a “natural reserve, devoted to peace and science.”


40. Deus ex machina (God from the machine) is a plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem in a story is suddenly and abruptly resolved by an unexpected and seemingly unlikely occurrence. H.G. Wells used it in War of the Worlds to kill the Martians with bacteria.


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41Welles Crowther

Welles Crowther a.k.a. “The Man in the Red Bandana” was an equities trader who is credited with saving as many as 18 people in the south tower during the 9/11 attacks, before losing his own life in the collapse. Every year his Alma Mater Boston College honors him during a football game by wearing red bandanas.


42. "Earth Simulator" is one of the most powerful supercomputers on the planet with nearly 35 trillion operations per second and it's used to model Earth's Climate.


43. In the 60s Zambia planned to send "Afronauts" to land on Mars and the Moon. The Mars mission was planned to send a 'spacegirl', two cats and a missionary to convert the Martians to Christianity.


44. Prince wrote - and recorded - the synthesizer part for the Stevie Nicks song Stand Back. She called him the night she came up with the melody, and he came right over, "walked over to the synthesizers that were set up, was absolutely brilliant for about 25 minutes, and then left."


45. Hanns Scharff was the most successful German Interrogator in World War 2. He would not use torture, but rather walk with prisoners in the nearby woods and treat them like a friend. Through the desire to speak to anyone, the prisoners would say small parts of important Information.


46Tree of 40 Fruit

Through the process of grafting it is possible for one tree to produce multiple types of fruit. One remarkable example is the “Tree of 40 Fruit” that produces up to 40 different stone fruits simultaneously.


47. Harvey Ball, the graphic designer who designed the yellow smiley face icon in 1963, was only paid $45 for his work. The Smiley Company, which licenses the image, made $419.9 million in 2017.


48. Himeji Castle located in Himeji, Japan is the largest and best-preserved samurai fortification in the country and is both an official National Treasure of Japan and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


49. Andreas Mihavecz is an Austrian who was taken into custody and forgotten in his cell for 18 days by policemen. He lost 24 kg (53 pounds) and holds the record of surviving the longest without any food or liquids.


50. A man named Vermin Supreme has unsuccessfully run for the president four times. He wears a giant boot on his head and campaigns every term on the promise to make Americans brush their teeth and that he will give every citizen a pony if he is elected.

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