50 Random Facts List #238

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1Smallpox

In 2017, Canadian scientists recreated an extinct horse pox virus to demonstrate that the smallpox virus can be recreated in a small lab at a cost of about $100,000, by a team of scientists without specialist knowledge. 


2. The human bellybutton is so dirty that scientists are finding new unknown bacteria regularly. One person had bacterium previously found only on Japanese soil, where he had never been.


3. Research has shown that starting school at 10 am instead of 8:30 am halves student illness and improves academic performance.


4. Magnolia plants are so ancient that they are pollinated by beetles because they have existed before bees appeared.


5. The Pyramids are so well built that when a Sultan’s workers tried to destroy a small Pyramid 3000 years after its construction, they could only move 1-2 stones a day and gave up after creating only a gash after eight months.


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6Věra Čáslavská

After Czech gymnast Věra Čáslavská lost her training facility due to the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia, she trained for the 1968 Olympics in the forest using potato sacks as weights and logs as beams. She medaled in all six events, four of them Gold.


7. There are almost no mosquitoes in Disney World (Florida) even though it is in a swampy territory abundant with bugs. They have a sophisticated mosquito surveillance program to try and eliminate them quickly.


8. When Julie Andrews won the Oscar for Mary Poppins, she thanked Jack Warner, the producer of the competing movie, My Fair Lady. Andrews had starred in My Fair Lady on Broadway but Warner refused to cast her in the movie, leaving Andrews open to play Mary Poppins.


9. A Jew girl named Eva Umlauf arrived in Auschwitz at the age of 2 in 1944. Despite her young age, she was tattooed with her camp number: A26959. Getting it was so painful, that she passed out. Her mother was a digit lower. Eva thinks she was the youngest child to have been tattooed who survived.


10. Old books have a particular pleasant smell due to lignin being present in the paper. Lignin is related to vanillin, leading them having a faint vanilla scent.


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11Rainbow Lorikeet

The rainbow lorikeet is a colorful species of parrot native to the forests of eastern Australia. Reportedly, they love showering and sometimes sleep upside down. As intelligent birds, they easily get bored and love to play with noisy toys. When they eat fermented fruit, they can get quite drunk.


12. The marble lions outside the New York Public Library were named Patience and Fortitude by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia during the Great Depression.


13. Evidence has shown that during the 7.5 months preceding Elvis’ death (from January 1, 1977, to August 16, 1977), Dr. Nichopoulos wrote prescriptions for Elvis for at least 8,805 pills, tablets, vials, and injectables. Going back to January 1975, the count was 19,012.


14. “The Great Leveler” is a book that argues that the greatest redistributions of wealth in history are during times of war, plague, and catastrophe, citing the Black Death and World War 1 as “actually suppressing inequality, by raising the price of labor.”


15. The Zulu part at the beginning of Lion King’s ‘Circle of Life’ basically means “here comes a lion; yup, it’s a lion.”


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16Spanish Flu

Prior to the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 being reported in St. Louis, Dr. Max Starkloff had local physicians on high alert and wrote about the importance of avoiding crowds. As the health commissioner, he closed schools, theaters, and prohibited public gatherings. The city had the lowest U.S. mortality rate.


17. Family Video still operates over 500 stores in the US and Canada. They own the real estate where their stores are located and they own all of the media they rent out so they keep all of the profits. This is why they were able to outlast other video rental businesses like Blockbuster.


18. In 2009, a San Diego man named Byron Stuckey was arrested after he placed a bag of urine and fish bait to rot into his safety deposit box in Bank of America because the bank froze his account, leaving him penniless.


19. The Top Gun (1986) movie contained no footage of the actors in the air because they all vomited while shooting.


20. In 1867, after New York City firemen sent a fire engine and fire gears for use in Columbia, South Carolina which was razed by fire during the Civil War, South Carolina promised to return the favor “should misfortune ever befall the Empire City.” After 9/11, Columbia sent a fire ladder truck to FDNY as a gesture from 1867.


21Newseum

An interactive museum named Newseum located near the Smithsonian closed in 2019 due to years of financial losses. It stood for the freedom of journalism and displayed items from a German World War 2 Tower to the Unabomber’s cabin to the antenna on top of the World Trade Center.


22. When Joseph Stalin’s first wife died, he was so overcome with grief he threw himself into her grave during the funeral. Later, secret policemen arrived at the funeral, looking for Stalin (as he was a wanted fugitive). He was forced to flee the service early by jumping the graveyard’s fence.


23. Folk Singer Phil Ochs was paranoid that the FBI was spying on him, saying, “I’m a folk singer for the FBI” in 1966. In reality, the FBI had hundreds of pages on file, but Ochs never committed a federal crime. He continued to be under investigation until his death by suicide in 1976.


24. In 2019, a woman in Spain gave her neighbor a ‘box of sex toys’ to hold on to. About 6 months later the neighbor noticed a stench coming from her closet where the box was stored. She finally opened it and found a decomposing severed head inside. It belonged to the original woman’s husband.


25. To increase the circulation of dollar coins, in 2008 the US Mint allowed individuals to purchase in bulk with free shipping. It was quickly exploited as a way to gain frequent flyer miles. People purchased coins with a credit card, then deposited them at their bank to pay the bill, cost-free.

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