Random #269 – 50 Fascinating Random Facts

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1Garrett Brown

Garrett Brown

In Return of the Jedi (1983) for the speeder chase, Steadicam inventor Garrett Brown walked through the forest shooting at less than one frame per second. By walking at about 5 mph and projecting the footage at 24 frames per second, the motion seen in the film appeared as if it were moving at around 120 mph.

2. In 1896, Auburn students greased the train tracks leading in and out of the local station. When Georgia Tech's train came into town, it skidded through town and didn't stop for five more miles. The GT football team had to make the trek back to town, then went on to lose, 45-0.

3. Albert Göring, the younger brother of Hermann Göring was opposed to Nazism, and he helped Jews and others who were persecuted in Nazi Germany. He was shunned in post-war Germany because of his family name, and he died without any public recognition for his humanitarian efforts.

4. Gaius Marius eliminated the requirement for Roman soldiers to be landowners. Thereafter, Rome's legions largely consisted of poor citizens who became extremely loyal to their commanders. Ultimately, this was highly significant for Caesar and Rome’s transformation from Republic to Empire.

5. In Georgia, one can be sentenced to banishment from all but one county (a total banishment is unconstitutional). Usually, that is Echols which is mostly an unpopulated swamp. Most choose to leave the State instead.

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6Kay Antonelli

Kay Antonelli

Kay Antonelli's official civil service title, as printed on her employment documentation, was "computer". During her work as the computer, she invented the subroutine (a sequence of computer instructions which can be used repeatedly). Today, the subroutine is an essential programming for all.

7. Charles Fraser-Smith (one of the inspirations behind 'Q' in the James Bond movies) designed a special left-hand thread for the disguised screw-off top of a hidden-document container. He thought that “no German would ever think of trying to unscrew something the wrong way.”

8. Gorillas are in a semi-permanent state of flatulence, meaning they are always farting, due to the kind of bacteria they have in their gut and the 40 pounds of vegetation they consume daily.

9. The bullet lodged inside President James Garfield likely didn't cause his death. At the time, Joseph Lister's ideas about germs had been widely accepted in Europe, but American doctors were still skeptical. Garfield's doctors used unsterilized instruments, causing an infection that killed him.

10. Cereal is named after cereal grains, which in turn were named after Ceres, the Roman goddess of harvests, and agriculture.

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In 2012, pranksters posted flyers falsely claiming a Taco Bell would be opening in their small Alaskan city of 6,000. When Taco Bell discovered this, they shipped in the ingredients for 10,000 tacos.

12. Waving arms and screaming are not signs of drowning, but of aquatic distress. Actual drowning is often “quieter”; no call for help, no waving arms, just an upright body and head tilted back. Thus many people fail to recognize when a person is actually drowning.

13. The sandbox tree, also known as the "Dynamite Tree", is covered in spikes, full of poison, and grows exploding fruits. The fruit looks like little pumpkins, but when they fully mature they explode with a loud bang and fling their seeds at up to 150 mph.

14. 90's band Ace of Base only got worldwide fame due to their demo tape getting stuck in a producer's car stereo resulting in him listening to it repeatedly and realizing the song's potential.

15. There is a squid that eliminates its own shadow. It uses a combination of light detectors on its back and bioluminescent bacteria in its gut controlled by a 'shutter' to perfectly match the brightness of the moon and stars above the water.

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Despite leading the Confederate attack that started the American Civil War, P. G. T. Beauregard later became an advocate for black civil rights and suffrage.

17. Before modern refrigerators, people in Russia and Finland would keep live brown frogs in their milk to keep it fresh. Recent studies have found that the secretions made by the frogs basically act as antibiotics, killing bacteria, and keeping the milk fresh and safe to drink.

18. On his second day in office, 39th American President Jimmy Carter pardoned all the Vietnam War draft evaders by issuing Proclamation 4483.

19. When Alexander the Great defeated Darius III at Issus, Darius fled leaving his entire family to Alexander, including his mother Sisygambis. Alexander treated them well, and when Darius was killed Sisygambis did not mourn her son: "I have only one son [Alexander] and he is the king of all Persia."

20. Monkees never outsold the Beatles and Rolling Stones (as widely reported). Michael Nesmith was giving an interview in 1977 and lied. "It isn’t too well known that we sold over 35 million records in 1967", said Nesmith. He wondered if it was too outrageous, but the next day it was printed as fact.

21Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe is considered one of the founders of the Detective Genre. He created one of the first detectives who solved mysteries based on the facts of the crime. He is credited with inventing the “least likely suspect” trope, as well as the culprit framing another by planting evidence.

22. Peter Buxtun is an epidemiologist at the Public Health Service who after filing two protests with his superiors was the man who blew the whistle on the Tuskeegee Syphilis Experiment. It would become front-page news in the New York Times the next day and congressional hearings would be called.

23. All of New York City's water comes in through 2 large tunnels underground. A 3rd tunnel is being built under NYC. Construction on the 3rd tunnel began in 1970 and is one of the most complex and intricate engineering projects in the world.

24. If hay bales get wet while in storage, bacteria can grow, which builds heat, and can cause the hay to spontaneously combust.

25. Phyllis Pearsall founded a successful map company after constantly getting lost in London using an outdated map. Pearsall worked 18 hour days to create a new map, which was initially rejected by publishers, but later she began receiving orders and became an established map maker of London.

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