50 Random Facts List #229

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26Osamu Tezuka

While dying of stomach cancer and hospitalized in 1989, Osamu Tezuka (creator of Kimba and Astro Boy) was still able to draw tons of sketches with his pens and paper. His last words were “I’m begging you, let me keep working!” as a hospital nurse took away his pens and paper so that he could rest.


27. During the American Civil War, the king of Siam (now Thailand) offered Lincoln war elephants to help fight the confederates. Lincoln respectfully declined.


28. Astronauts often see random flashes of light in space, even through closed eyes. This is caused by cosmic rays passing through their eyes or optical nerves. Scientists think the light is either generated by Cherenkov radiation or by the ray being powerful enough to activate the optical nerve.


29. A herpetologist named Karl P. Schmidt documented his own death after he was bitten by a juvenile boomslang snake. He made detailed notes on the symptoms he experienced, almost right up to the end. He died 24 hours after the bite, bleeding in his lungs, kidneys, heart, and brain.


30. In 1900, a category 4 hurricane was raging through the Bahamas. The advanced weather stations in Cuba tried to inform the US Weather Bureau that it was headed west to Texas. They ignored the Cubans and claimed it was headed north instead. The hurricane hit Texas killing up to 12,000 people.


31Platypus Venom

The male Platypus is venomous during mating season and its venom is immediate, sustained, and devastating. Though the venom is not lethal to humans, it produces excruciating pain that may be intense enough to incapacitate the victim. The venom is immune to all forms of painkillers including morphine and it lasts for months.


32. Shuttlecocks used in professional badminton are made of feathers from the left-wing of a goose. Feathers from the right-wing make them spin the wrong way.


33. American businessman Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt died when RMS Lusitania sank in 1915, after giving his lifejacket to a young mother and her baby. He knew that he could not swim and that there were no other lifeboats available at the time. His body was never recovered.


34. France was the first western European country to decriminalize homosexuality way back in 1791. The man who presented it, Louis-Michel le Peletier, stated that only “true crimes” ought to be punished, and not “superstition.”


35. Rapper DMX became addicted to crack cocaine at the age of 14, has fathered 15 children and has been arrested over 20 times.


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361859 Solar Storm

In 1859, during a massive solar storm, telegraph operators in Boston, Massachusetts unplugged their batteries and were able to send messages to Portland, Maine using only the auroral current.


37. The Southern Baptist Church formed in 1844 when Baptists living in the south opposed the efforts of Baptists living in the north to prevent missionaries from owning slaves. So they formed the Southern Baptist church, a church that explicitly allowed slavery.


38. A German filmmaker named Philip Gröning once asked Carthusian monks for permission to film a documentary of their lives. They responded affirmatively 16 years later and Gröning then came alone to live at the monastery, where no visitors were ordinarily allowed, for a total of six months in 2002 and 2003. He filmed and recorded on his own, using no artificial light. He then spent 2.5 years editing the film. The final cut of ‘Into Great Silence’ contains neither spoken commentary nor added sound effects. It consists of images and sounds that depict the rhythm of monastic life, with occasional intertitles displaying selections from Holy Scripture.


39. In 1809, a man named Theodore Hook bet his friend that he could make a random house the most famous house in London within a week. He did so by ordering chimney sweeps, piano deliveries, and priests to the address. The ensuing chaos brought London to a standstill. This became known as the Berners Street hoax.


40. The voting age in Brazil is 16 and voting is mandatory for all literate people from 18 to 70.


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41Texas City Disaster

The Texas City Disaster was the deadliest industrial accident in United States history. The explosion which occurred in 1947 caused by a ship full of ammonium nitrate catching fire was so large that the ship’s anchor serves as a memorial to the explosion where it landed, a mile and a half inland.


42. In the 1792 Presidential election, George Washington got 100.0% of the vote, which was only 28,579 votes.


43. A man named Cody Slaughter was so honest during his job interview with the Border Patrol in 2012 that he admitted to molesting a toddler and having sex with various types of animals, offenses which the police were previously unaware of.


44. Researchers have found that Inuit from northern Quebec are genetically distinct from any present-day population in the world. They compared the genetic profile of 170 Nunavik Inuit with “everyone possible” from Asians, Africans, and Europeans to North and South Americans.


45. The characterization of Emperor Palpatine in the Star Wars saga as an ambitious and ruthless politician dismantling a democratic republic to achieve supreme power is in part inspired by Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Adolf Hitler. Other elements of the character come from Richard Nixon.


46Hand Washing

An observational study of handwashing after toilet use at an Infectious Disease conference found that compliance with hand hygiene after toilet visits was 84% for conference participants, 75% for members of the public, and only 46% for hospital staff.


47. The original reason no photography was allowed in the Sistine Chapel is that Nippon TV of Japan obtained exclusive photographic, film and television rights in exchange for funding the chapel’s restoration project ($3 million). Their rights expired in 1997 but the ban is still upheld today.


48. Fake Christmas trees were invented by a company that made toilet brushes and were made on the same machinery.


49. On a US Navy submarine using the ‘emergency blow activator’, or ‘chicken switch,’ is the last resort in emergency situations. Throwing the switch immediately blasts large volumes of compressed air into all of a submarine’s ballast tanks, bringing the boat to the surface as quickly as possible.


50. In 1955, Quaker Oats gave away free land deeds as part of a cereal promotion. Participants could mail in their cereal box to redeem a plot of land sized 1-inch x 1-inch in a gold-rush region of Canada.

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