Random #290 – 50 Fascinating Random Facts

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1Harlow Shapley

Harlow Shapley

Astronomer Harlow Shapley firmly believed that there was only one galaxy in the universe but when he was presented with an evidence that disproved his view, he said "it destroyed his universe." Then he completely changed his view and devoted his subsequent career to mapping 76,000 galaxies.

2. 30 years ago, you had 15-17 minutes to escape a house fire. Nowadays you only have 3-5 minutes (due to more plastics and petroleum-based products in the house as well as more open floor plans, bigger rooms, and higher ceilings).

3. Daniel Radcliffe, who played Harry Potter in the film series was allergic to his own glasses. He had a nickel allergy and suffered for weeks with mysterious bumps around his eyes, where the glasses touched his face. The nickel glasses were quickly replaced with hypoallergenic spectacles.

4. If you get a zebrafish drunk and put it in a tank of sober zebrafish, the sober fish will adopt it as their leader and follow the drunk fish around the tank.

5. Although Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture was written to include cannons firing and cathedral bells, synchronising them with an orchestra proved all but impossible. It wasn't until 1954 that composer Antal Doráti mixed a studio recording with cannons and bells, finally playing it as intended.

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6Antoine-Augustin Parmentier

Antoine-Augustin Parmentier

A French soldier named Antoine-Augustin Parmentier was taken as a prisoner of war and fed only potatoes during his captivity, and survived. Feeling like he should have died, he made it his life’s mission to convince the world of the nutritional value of potatoes, and his tomb in France is decorated with potatoes as a tribute.

7. In 1986, Optimus Prime was actually killed off in the Transformers movie, in order to make way for new and more expensive toys. He was eventually resurrected due to Hasbro underestimating the backlash over his death.

8. If you grind a marine sponge through a sieve into salt water, it will reorganize itself back into a sponge. It is the only animal that we know of that can do that.

9. Mercy dogs were trained during World War 1 to comfort mortally wounded soldiers as they died in no man's land.

10. In 1697, a 20-year-old Scottish student named Thomas Aikenhead became the last person to be executed in Great Britain on a charge of blasphemy. He was accused of referring to theology as “ill-invented nonsense” while conversing with friends at the University of Edinburgh.

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11Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Red Rocks Amphitheatre was removed from consideration for the award for the best outdoor venue in the world because it kept winning over and over (11 times). The award is now known as the Red Rocks Award.

12. The idea that caffeinated coffee and tea dehydrate you is misunderstood. It is true that caffeine can be a weak diuretic - (stimulates urination) - but the loss is negated by the water in the drink itself. You are ingesting more fluids than urinating when drinking a cup of caffeinated coffee or tea.

13. The Life expectancy number we know for the middelages includes infant mortality, so 13th-century English nobles had a 30-year life expectancy at birth, but when they reached the age of 21, they would normally have an expectancy of 64.

14. Years after her death, an archive of Marilyn Monroe’s poems, letters, notes, recipes, and diary entries surfaced. The archive included Monroe admitting that her first marriage, at the age of 16, was to keep her out of the orphanage when her caretaker was in the psychiatric hospital.

15. Former World Chess Champion G. Kasparov described Hungarian female chess player Judit Polgár as a "circus puppet" and said that women chess players should stick to having children. Later in September 2002, in the Russia versus the Rest of the World Match, Polgár defeated Garry Kasparov.

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16Buddy Holly

Buddy Holly

Buddy Holly asked his wife (María Elena Holly) out on their first meeting and proposed to her on the second. His manager disapproved of the relationship saying it would upset his female fans, so during his tours she was presented as his secretary.

17. Five completely separate groups of crustaceans independently evolved into what we commonly refer to as "crabs." This phenomenon is called "carcinization."

18. Simone Segouin was a French Resistance fighter in World War 2 who was only 18 when Germany invaded. She took part in large-scale missions, such as capturing German troops, derailing trains, and other acts of sabotage.

19. Ants sleep by taking about 250 one minute naps throughout their day. It totals just under 5 hours of sleep. This allows for 80% of their colony to be awake, working, and prepared at any given moment.

20. Harvard research showed that having no friends is as deadly as smoking. Researchers have discovered a link between loneliness and the levels of blood-protein which can cause heart attacks and strokes.

21The X-men

The X-men

Stan Lee created The X-men as 'mutants' because he didn't want to explain how they got their powers. They were born with their powers.

22. Johnny Cash's brother, Jack Cash (Left), died when he was 14 after getting mangled by a table saw after cutting wood. Johnny, who admired his brother a lot, was heartbroken. According to his sister, Johnny helped dig Jack's grave.

23. Saudi Arabia once accidentally printed thousands of textbooks containing an image of Yoda sitting next to King Faisal while he signed the 1945 UN charter.

24. Larger crocodiles can go for over a year without eating a meal. In extreme situations, crocodiles appear to be able to shut down and live off their own tissue for a long period of time.

25. Growing up as a hungry child, Cristiano Ronaldo would knock on the door of a McDonald's asking if they had any burgers. A lady called Edna and two other women would then help him by giving him something to eat.

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