Random #295 – 50 Random Facts You Need to Know

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1Joseph Bazalgette

Joseph Bazalgette, the man who designed London’s sewers in the 1860s, said “Well, we’re only going to do this once and there’s always the unforeseen” and doubled the pipe diameter. If he had not done this, it would have overflowed in the 1960s. It’s still in use today.


2. Nicaraguan Sign Language is a sign language that spontaneously developed among deaf children in Nicaragua in the 1980s. It is of particular interest to linguists because it is believed to be an example of the birth of a new language, unrelated to any other.


3. Majel Barrett, the voice of the Starfleet computer on Star Trek, recorded an entire library of phonetic sounds before she died which allowed her voice to be used as the computer for future generations.


4. A Scottish woman named Maggie Dickson was sentenced to death by hanging around 1721. She was hung, declared dead, put in a wooden coffin, and carted off. She woke up en route to the churchyard. According to the law, since her sentence had been carried out, she was let go. She lived another 40 years known as ‘Half-hangit Maggie.’


5. At a 1976 Amsterdam chess tournament, Soviet grandmaster Viktor Korchnoi politely asked an English competitor how to spell the words "political asylum." He then went straight to a police station and announced that he wished to defect.


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6GoldeneEye 007

GoldeneEye 007’s multiplayer mode was so last-minute that neither Rare nor Nintendo management knew about it. The first time executives saw anything was when programmers were playing it.


7. When people first started using the telephone they would often yell into the wrong part, and when they did get on the phone, they had to figure out what to say to start a conversation. “Ahoy” was Alexander Graham Bell’s preferred option.


8. It used to be illegal in the United States for actors to wear military uniforms in a production that portrayed the military negatively until the Supreme Court ruled in 1970 that this was a violation of the First Amendment.


9. Noninvasive spinal stimulation enables paralyzed people to regain use of their hands. In 2018, a team of scientists reported that six people with severe spinal cord injuries, three of them completely paralyzed, have regained use of their hands and fingers.


10. ‘Doctor Who’ briefly featured Kamelion, an android who was "played" by an actual robot. Unfortunately, the writers had to kill the character off when the robot's inventor, who was the only one who knew how to control it, died in a boating accident.


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111992 Olympics

Lithuania withdrew from the 1992 Olympics due to the lack of money after the fall of the USSR. The Grateful Dead agreed to fund transportation costs for the basketball team along with Grateful Dead designs for the team's jerseys and shorts. They went on to win the Bronze.


12. There is a psychological phenomenon known as psychic numbing that causes us to feel indifferent to the suffering of large numbers of people or the idea that “the more people die, the less we care”. We not only become numb to the significance of increasing numbers, but our compassion can actually fade as numbers increase.


13. Sweden has a hotel for sourdough starters named RC Chocolat at the Stockholm airport. They care for travelers’ bread dough while they go traveling.


14. Sleight of hand artist Apollo Robbins was so proficient that he once managed to pick the pockets of two secret service agents assigned to former president Jimmy Carter. He managed to steal the former president's itinerary, the keys to his motorcade and the badges of the agents.


15. The oldest known domesticated dog remains are over 14,000 years old. The dog died young and is unlikely to have been much use to humans. Nevertheless, it was buried in an elaborate grave alongside two humans.


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16Shel Silverstein

Children's author Shel Silverstein has won two Grammy Awards, one for the audio recording of “Where the Sidewalk Ends”, and the other for writing Johnny Cash’s famous song, “A Boy Named Sue.”


17. Despite the success of Power Rangers, the original actors were only paid $600/week and did their own stunt work. The Pink Ranger actress was almost electrocuted/set on fire once.


18. Playing action video games can train the mind to make the right decisions faster. Video game players can develop a heightened sensitivity to what is going on around them, such as everyday activities like driving, reading small print, or navigating around town.


19. US Presidents used to give out special presidential packs of cigarettes to guests boarding Air Force One. They were later changed to packs of Presidential M&M’s over health concerns.


20. Children have more energy than endurance athletes. They have fatigue-resistant muscles and they recover faster than adults. Much of this stems from their ability to uptake and distribute oxygen, as well as synergize energy faster.


21Spaghetti Westerns

Spaghetti Westerns are named for being primarily produced by Italians. In Japan, they are called "Macaroni Westerns."


22. Stevie Wonder wasn’t actually born blind but became so at 6-weeks-old due to the incubator he was placed in after birth containing too much oxygen, leading to Retinopathy of Prematurity.


23. A German man named Martin Juergens claims the Moon has belonged to his family since 1756 when the Prussian King presented it to his ancestor as a symbolic gesture for services rendered. It was decreed the Moon would pass to the youngest born son.


24. After the release of the film “Jaws”, fishermen started catching as many sharks as possible, believing they were doing a public service, causing a huge decline in shark populations in the North Atlantic. Peter Benchley, the author of the original book, became a dedicated conservationist later in his life.


25. Fugio Cent, the first U.S official coin in circulation designed by Benjamin Franklin had the insignia "Mind Your Business" instead of the modern design "In God we Trust" and had 13 chainrings on the back representing the 13 states.

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