Random #288 – 50 Fascinating Random Facts

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1Seagrass

A field of seagrass converts carbon dioxide to oxygen at over 8 times the rate of a forest the same size.


2. David Bowie was punched in the left eye as a teenager, leaving it permanently dilated. He later thanked his friend, George Underwood, for doing so, saying it gave him "a kind of mystique." This mystique helped enhance some of Bowie's most iconic images.


3. “Myst Island” is a proposed theme park at Disney World. A limited number of guests would get ferried to an 11-acre island designed like Myst. They would spend hours there, exploring areas, and discovering clues non-linearly. Theoretically, no two guests would have the same adventure.


4. Scientists developed an experimental "universal treatment" for allergies. While still being tested, it works by wrapping allergens in a nanoparticle which sneaks it past the immune system. This helps the body understand it to be harmless. They so far successfully cured mice with egg allergies.


5. Tim Burton did not direct "Tim Burton's A Nightmare Before Christmas." Henry Selick, director of "James and the Giant Peach" and "Coraline," carried out the task, due to Burton having prior commitments to "Batman Returns."


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6J. R. R. Tolkien

J. R. R. Tolkien wrote yearly letters to his children as if they were from Father Christmas. They started off as simple Happy Christmas letters but grew more complex including a polar bear sidekick, the man on the moon, goblins, snow-elves, pictures, and he even developed an Arktik language.


7. In September 1945, an Australian journalist named Wilfred Burchett defied US restrictions and snuck into Hiroshima by train. He was the first to tell the world about the effects of radiation on the victims of the bombing, which the US denied both before and after his story was published.


8. Leonard Schroeder, the first American soldier to land on the beach during the invasion of Normandy was shot twice and not only survived but lived to be 90 years old.


9. The copyright for Anne Frank's diary (The Diary of A Young Girl) was due to expire in 2016. To prevent it from falling into the public domain, in 2015 the Anne Frank foundation added her father Otto Frank as a co-author.


10. Billy Bob Thornton did get drunk for some scenes in Bad Santa. In the escalator fall scene, Thornton actually passed out after drinking 3 glasses of red wine for breakfast followed by vodkas and cranberry juice then a few Bud Lights.


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11Foldering

“Foldering” is a form of covert communication technique which uses emails saved as drafts in an account accessed by multiple people. It poses an extra challenge to detect because the messages are never sent. It has been used by Al Qaeda and drug cartels, amongst others.


12. Frederick the Great, Prussian Monarch from 1740 to 1786, known for his tactical genius on the battlefield, is considered by historians to be primarily homosexual in orientation. Following a demoralizing defeat, he wrote “Fortune has it in for me; she is a woman, and I am not that way inclined.”


13. Overcome with grief after the death of his wife, famed sharpshooter Annie Oakley, Francis Butler refused to eat and died of starvation 18 days later at the age of 78.


14. After the holidays, there is a spike of pets being returned to animal shelters due to them being gifted with little thought to the long term responsibilities of pet ownership.


15. Psychology research shows that people love to hate do-gooders (especially at work). Highly co-operative and generous people can attract hatred and social punishment, especially in competitive circumstances.


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16Parental Advisory label

The Parental Advisory label was created in part because a mom caught her 11-year-old daughter singing the sexually explicit lyrics to “Darling Nikki" by Prince. The Recording Industry Association of America responded by introducing a content warning label.


17. Australia has the world's largest herd of wild camels. The population is estimated to be about 3 million, spread across 37% of the Australian mainland.


18. In 1963, a VW Beetle donated by the manufacturer became the first car in the Antarctic. It was so good for Antarctic use, being able to withstand temperatures below -50°C and winds above 150 km/h, that it was nicknamed "Red Terror" by the users.


19. There were “copper” scrolls also found along with the Dead Sea Scrolls. Besides being metal, this scroll is different from the others in that it is not a religious work. It claims to list the locations where various items of gold and silver were buried or hidden. Attempts to find hidden treasures have been unsuccessful.


20. Psychology research demonstrates the psychological benefits of working less. Working fewer hours was associated with improved psychological and health benefits. It also helps with productivity.


21Art heist

In 2003, there was a £4 million art heist in Manchester which included a Van Gogh painting. It is believed that the culprit tipped off the police and revealed the location of the stolen artwork stating that his intentions were not to steal, but to highlight woeful security.


22. Asphalt is the most recycled material on the planet, with 80% of North American asphalt being recycled annually.


23. The little town of Ytterby in Sweden has 4 elements in the Periodic table named after it - yttrium(Y), erbium(Er), terbium(Tb), and ytterbium(Yb). In addition, 4 other elements, Scandium, Holmium, Thulium, Gadolinium, too can trace their discovery back to this quarry.


24. The "seductive nature" of the Green M&M is a reference to an urban legend during the 1970s that green M&Ms were aphrodisiacs.


25. The main cause of “soft errors” in computer memory is cosmic rays. Systems buried in caves have a negligible rate of cosmic-ray induced soft errors. Computers on mountains have a far higher error rate than at sea level, and the rate of errors in aircraft can be over 300 times the sea level rate.

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