Random #255 – 50 Fascinating Random Facts

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1Opossums

Opossums can survive up to 80 rattlesnake and coral snake bites. Thanks to them, there is a new and very inexpensive antidote for many different snake venom. In addition, they eat ticks and don't get rabies.


2. Michael Jackson removed "Dirty Diana" from his concert setlist in London for Princess Diana to be respectful, but she asked for him to keep it in the setlist as it was one of her personal favorites.


3. American electrical engineer Grant Imahara from Mythbusters was one of three people who operated the R2-D2's in the Star Wars prequels and he updated all of the electronics on 12 R2 units.


4. Bubbles from a bubble bath thermally insulate the surface of the water, keeping the bath warm for a longer period of time.


5. For the movie "O Brother, Where art Thou?", the cows that were shot and hit by the police car looked so realistic that the American Humane Society wouldn't immediately certify the movie as "No Animals Were Harmed". A representative had to be shown how they were digitally created ten times.


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6One free taco

In 2001, TacoBell offered to give "one free taco" to every US customer if the core of the Soviet Mir space station hit a TacoBell target in the middle of the South Pacific ocean. The target read: "Free Taco Here" with a TacoBell logo emblazoned in the middle. 


7. The Catalina Wine Mixer from Step Brothers wasn't a real thing when the movie was made but has since become a real event because of the movie.


8. Cassandra was a Greek mythological character, who could accurately predict the future but was cursed so that no one would believe her.


9. A device called a 'Teasmade' was popular in the 60s and 70s in the UK. It was an alarm clock which also made tea, ensuring that it was ready by the time the alarm rang.


10. In 1783, grandmaster Philidor played and won three chess games simultaneously while being blindfolded. Witnesses signed affidavits since they doubted future generations would believe such a feat was possible.


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111920 Presidential election

In the 1920 Presidential election (the first where women were allowed to vote), only 36% of eligible women turned up at the polls, partly due to barriers like poll taxes and literacy tests, both of which are now illegal.


12. UK Royal Navy's Astute-class nuclear-powered submarines can purify their own air and water and run on nuclear fuel. Despite this, its endurance is limited to only 90 days due to breakfast storage capacity for 18,000 sausages and 4200 Weetabix.


13. North Koreans are especially proud of Kim Jong Il for his "inventions". One of them is the Gogigyeopbbang or double breaded meat, which is essentially a hamburger.


14. A merino sheep named Shrek escaped his enclosure in New Zealand and evaded shearers for six years by hiding in caves. When he was found, his fleece contained enough wool to make suits for 20 large men.


15. The reason backseat windows in cars don't roll all the way down is not in fact for child safety, but because there isn't room in the car door to fit the full window due to the wheel well.


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16Hooded pitohui

The hooded pitohui is one of the only known birds to be toxic. This bird’s feathers contain one of the most potent neurotoxins known to science. They are toxic because of the beetles they eat. Its feathers give off homobatrachotoxin which has previously only been found in the skin of poison dart frogs, and handling them can cause numbness.


17. In 1254, Möngke Khan, grandson of Genghis, hosted a religious debate between Christian, Muslim, and Buddhist theologians. The debate ended with the Buddhists sitting silently as the Christian and Muslim debaters sang loudly at each other. Then they all got drunk.


18. A 13-year study analyzing 17,000 traffic deaths in 12 cities found that cities that had protected bike lanes with physical barriers between bikes and motorized traffic had 44% fewer overall traffic deaths than the average city without them. Painted line bike lanes had no improvement on safety.


19. In Italy, it's very common for dwarfs to undergo painful limb lengthening surgery (that involves repeatedly breaking bones and pulling them apart over the course of 2-3 years) due to societal pressure. 90% of Italian dwarfs undergo the procedure (in the rest of Europe, the rate is around 8%).


20. If an alpha male chimpanzee relies on intimidation and aggression in order to keep his status, then a coalition of chimpanzees will attempt to overthrow the alpha male.


21Type-G recorder

After World War 2, a small electronics shop was built in a bomb-damaged department store in Tokyo. The company, Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation, had only $530 and 8 employees. The company invented Japan's first tape recorder Type-G recorder and, in 1958, changed its name to Sony.


22. Alligators are scared of humans and it's usually safe to swim in most alligator-infested waters. A 2010 report tallied all the reported alligator attacks over the 81 years from 1928 to 2009. It found there were only 24 deaths from alligators in the United States, most of them in Florida.


23. The first scientist named in history was En Hedu’anna, the chief astronomer-priestess of Ur. She lived around 2300 B.C., the only daughter of the great empire architect Sargon of Akkad, and called the Shakespeare of the ancient world as her works were studied for 500 years or more after her death.


24. A Canadian study found that Agatha Christie's later-written novels (Postern of Fate) had a 30% reduction in vocabulary and other possible signs of Alzheimer's Disease.


25. Early in his stand-up career Steve Martin once took the entire audience next door to a McDonald's and ordered 300 hamburgers only to then change the order to 'one small fries.'

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