50 Random Facts List #239

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26 Squirrel


When the Grand Canyon divided the local squirrel population, they evolved into two different species. Despite being separated only by the Colorado River and remaining extremely similar in appearance, they are now so genetically incompatible that they can no longer interbreed.

27. Exxon used to be known as Esso, a phonetic spelling of “S.O.” for Standard Oil after it was forced to break up into 34 smaller companies. It is still widely known as Esso outside the US.

28. During the 1952 polio epidemic in Denmark, mortality was over 85% due to a shortage of respirators. Dr. Bjorn Ibsen invented a new kind of ventilator, proved it worked and then recruited thousands of volunteers to hand-pump them for weeks (they were fully manual). Mortality fell to 26%.

29. A former American slave named John Berry Meachum began teaching classes for black people on a steamboat in the middle of the Mississippi River to work around the state of Missouri’s prohibition of black education.

30. Young children develop “theory of mind” earlier if they know two languages, and in older people, bilingualism can postpone the onset of dementia. Researchers say the statement that learning languages make people smarter has a sound scientific basis.

31 Honey Badgers

Honey Badgers

Honey Badgers are extremely intelligent and are therefore extremely hard to keep locked up in captivity.

32. Bill Gates’ idea of a splurge was a used Porsche 911 after Microsoft went public that made him worth over $350 million before the age of 30.

33. Admiral J. Stockdale was shot down in Vietnam and held prisoner for 7.5 years, 4 of them in solitary. He endured captivity by drawing inspiration from Epictetus, a stoic and former slave who shrugged off even his own state of slavery as a natural inconvenience that should not concern him.

34. In the 16th century, a Ruthenian/Ukrainian woman was taken captive and brought to Istanbul as a slave. Her joyful spirit earned her a name Hurrem – “the Cheerful One”. She rose to become Suleiman’s legal wife and “Queen of the Ottoman Empire” known in history as Hurrem Sultan or Roxelana.

35. The only major court decision based primarily on the 3rd amendment of the US Constitution was in 1982 when the US Court of Appeals ruled that housing National Guardsmen in a private residence without the owner’s expressed consent was unconstitutional.

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36 Neptune


In 1846, planet Neptune’s exact location was predicted by three astronomers studying the eccentric orbits of several distant asteroids. The data hinted at the presence of a giant, distant planet. Neptune was found on the very first night of its hunt, only 1° off its predicted position.

37. In the wake of Hurricane Dorian, a Celebrity cruise ship rerouted to deliver food, water, and aid to survivors in the Bahamas. The kitchen staff made around 10,000 meals and guests volunteered to pack them.

38. The reason there are tags on mattresses that say “Do Not Remove Under Penalty of Law” is the result of laws that require that the contents of the mattress be listed on the label. These laws were passed in a time when many mattresses were filled with a variety of undesirable contents.

39. In the 1952 Olympics, Luxembourg won a gold medal which was so unexpected that the band did not know their national anthem and instead had to improvise and played gibberish.

40. The movie ‘Seven Pounds’ about a man (Will Smith) giving the gift of life to seven strangers, foregone the usual Hollywood premiere and instead chose Cleveland, Miami, Dallas, St. Louis, and Denver to premiere the film to raise funds for food banks in each region.

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41 Sick


Feeling sick is part of the body’s attempts to preserve energy for the immune system and make you act in a way that signals to nearby people that you need help.

42. In Scrabble, the word “OXYPHENBUTAZONE” is theoretically the highest possible scoring word, netting 1778 points. It has never been played.

43. In 1980, the New York Yankees traded player Brad Gulden to the Seattle Mariners for “a player to be named later.” In 1981, the Mariners traded Brad Gulden back as the player to be named.

44. Coca-Cola has a medical application. It is sometimes used for the treatment of gastric phytobezoars (trapped mass in the gastrointestinal system). In about 50% of cases studied, Coca-Cola alone was found to be effective in gastric phytobezoar dissolution.

45. Cosmic dust adds about 40,000 metric tons per year to Earth’s mass.

15 Most Controversial & Costly Blunders in History

46 Gilligan’s Island

Gilligan's Island

The flag in the opening credits of Gilligan’s Island is at half-mast because of the Kennedy assassination.

47. The Antarctic Snow Cruiser is a 55 foot, 37-ton vehicle used in a 1939 Antarctic expedition. Its smooth tires were ill-suited for the deep snow but the crew discovered that traction was increased by driving in reverse. They proceeded to complete a 92-mile trek, completely in reverse.

48. When Canada invented colored designs on their coins, US Army contractors thought they were spy devices filled with “nanotechnology.”

49. The Common cold is not a single virus. It actually refers to a collection of over 200 virus strains, with rhinoviruses being the most common.

50. Julius Caesar almost started his career as a priest, which would have forbidden him from touching a horse, sleeping one night outside of Rome, or looking upon an army.

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