Random #277 – 50 Interesting Random Facts

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26Queen

The “queen” in chess used to be the “advisor” which could only move one square diagonally. It wasn't until chess was brought to Europe and the rise of female monarchs during the 15th century that the “advisor” replaced with the “queen.”


27. Horses identify photographs of their current keepers, and even of former keepers whom they had not seen in six months, at a rate much better than chance. Horses correctly identified their current keeper and ignored the stranger’s face about 75 percent of the time.


28. Dr. Albert Johnston went to medical school in 1920s and became a doctor by hiding his black heritage and passing as white for 20 years. He ousted himself by stating he was mixed-race on a Navy application during World War 2. The hospital he worked at fired him when they found out.


29. Spolia Opima was the rarest and the highest military prize given in Ancient Rome. It was only given to a general who had personally killed an enemy general in combat and stripped him of his armor. This happened only 3 times in the history of Rome.


30. The Wodaabe tribe from Chad has a courtship tradition called Gerewol. Men spend hours getting dressed to dance in front of the tribe's women in hopes of being judged the most beautiful. Women from the tribe can pick who they want to get married to.


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31GT-One

Toyota argued that, when empty, the fuel tank of the GT-One could theoretically hold a standard suitcase and be considered a trunk as required by the Le Mans GT1 rules. It worked, as the rules only required the suitcase to fit and didn't take into account if the "trunk" was actually usable.


32. Paul Shuen was one of Canada’s most respected obstetricians and gynecologists for 30 years. His license to practice in Ontario was revoked after it was discovered that, he was drugging his patients without their knowledge to induce labor on Saturday, since deliveries paid more on weekends.


33. M&Ms were inspired by soldiers' rations during the Spanish Civil War. Forrest Mars Sr. of the Mars Company observed British volunteers eating chocolate beads encased in a hard sugar shell (Smarties), which prevented melting. By World War 2, M&Ms were produced and sold exclusively to the military.


34. William Franklin, the bastard son of Benjamin Franklin, was a Loyalist leader opposing the American Revolution. When Benjamin died, he only left his son some worthless land, stating in his will that, had the British won, he would've no wealth at all to give him.


35. Robert Wadlow, the world's tallest man, had over a ten-foot-long casket that weighed 1000 lbs. and required 16 pallbearers. His family ordered his casket entombed in concrete as they feared grave diggers.


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36Sarah Biffin

Sarah Biffin was a Victorian English painter who was born without arms and legs. She learned to write, sew and paint with her mouth. Her miniature portraits at a traveling show impressed an Earl so much that he paid for her tutelage. She became very popular and even the Royal Family commissioned her work.


37. London not only has the "Big Ben" but also "Little Ben“, located at Victoria Station. It mimics the design of its big brother not far away at Westminster Bridge.


38. Edward the Black Prince (1330-1376) was regarded by his English contemporaries as a model of chivalry and one of the greatest knights of his age. He is, on the other hand, remembered in France for his well-documented brutality and the massacres he ordered.


39. Japan has a shrine for hemorrhoids called the Kunigami Shrine. Visitors can point their butts towards the butt-washing stone and recite a chant to cure or prevent hemorrhoids.


40. A study showed that plants have the potential to store memory. A plant species that would close up when touched was repeatedly dropped. At first, the plants closed on every drop but over time remained open because the drops did not harm them. They retained this memory even a month later.


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41Singapore Changi Airport

Singapore Changi Airport has been rated the World's Best Airport by Skytrax for 8 consecutive years, the first airport to ever do so. It contains an indoor slide, butterfly garden, movie theater, and the world's tallest indoor waterfall.


42. Eugene Schieffelin hoped to introduce into North America every bird mentioned by Shakespeare. He imported starlings from England and released them in Manhattan in 1890 and 1891. Starlings soon started to drive native birds out of their habitats, ate massive amounts of crops, and spread disease.


43. The reason why the unicorn on the UK's royal coat of arms is chained, but the lion isn't, is that according to legend a free unicorn was a very dangerous animal.


44. A stowaway named Kiddo the Cat became the first feline to attempt to cross the Atlantic in an airship. His eventual howling led to chief engineer Melvin Vaniman making the first radio message from an aircraft in flight: “Roy, come and get this ---damn cat.”


45. Alexander Grothendieck, the greatest mathematician of the 20th century, became obsessed with the devil whom he thought orchestrated any turmoil in the world. One such conviction was that Devil corrupted the numerically beautiful speed of light, from 300,000 km/sec to the irrational 298,779 km/sec.


46Old books

Old books smell like vanilla due to the decomposition of a class of organic polymers called lignin into vanillin.


47. In 1930, the Indiana Bell telephone company shifted its eight-story Headquarters in downtown Indianapolis 152 feet and rotated it 90º over 34 days without interrupting any services in the building.


48. Vomiting up fecal contents is known as feculent vomiting. It is can occur when the bowel is obstructed and as the intestines try to contract, it pushes the feces back up the esophageal tract.


49. Saffron crocuses, the flower from which the most expensive spice by weight (saffron) is made, are all genetically identical sterile clones propagated by hand by dividing root corms. They do not occur in the wild.


50. The Bing cherry is named after Ah Bing, an Oregon horticulturist who visited China in 1889 and was never allowed to return due to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

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