Random #309 – 50 Surprising Random Facts

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1Grain Entrapment

10s of farmers die each year from grain entrapment, which happens when a person is partially or fully submerged in grain, and cannot get out without assistance. In 2019, 67 incidents of grain entrapment took place, of which 39 were fatal.


2. In 1948, the Nobel Committee did not award the Nobel Peace Prize on the grounds that “there was no suitable living candidate”, implying that Mahatma Gandhi would have received it if it were not for his assassination earlier that year.


3. In 1997, Comedian Dana Carvey underwent heart bypass surgery for a blocked coronary artery, but the surgeon ended up operating on the wrong artery. He sued and eventually won a lawsuit against the hospital. He was awarded $7.5 million, all of which he donated to charity.


4. A woman named Pamela Kreimeyer died at a gender reveal party after her family members filled a steel umbrella stand with gun powder, but instead of it emitting a shower of sparks, the metal pipe could not take the overpressure and acted like a pipe bomb.


5. Charles Dickens’ father was imprisoned for unpaid debts when Dickens was just a boy. At the age of 12, Dickens was forced to leave school and work 10-hour long days at a warehouse for 6 shillings per day.


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6Three Identical Strangers

One set of triplets were deliberately separated at birth by their adoption agency. After investigative journalist, Lawrence Wright looked into the matter, it was revealed the triplets were part of a scientific experiment by Dr. Peter B. Neubauer. After media reports and newspaper articles, the three brothers, Bobby Shafran, David Kellman, and Eddy Galland, found each other.


7. The population of Rio de Janeiro was so unsatisfied with its politicians during the election of 1988, that a well-known local monkey from a zoo named Macaco Tião received over 400,000 votes.


8. In 1979, two families escaped East Germany in a homemade hot air balloon. They flew for 28 minutes at −8°C with no shelter as the gondola was just a clothesline railing. They landed just 10 km from the border. The escape was planned out over 1.5 years and it took them 3 attempts.


9. On October 18, 1963, French scientists launched a rocket into space, containing a cat named Felicette. She orbited close to 100 miles above the earth, then descended safely to the ground via a special parachute. Felicette has the high honor of being the only cat launched into space thus far.


10. Sometimes Spitfires had to taxi to the take-off position with a person sat on the tail. In 1945 a pilot forgot about this and took off with mechanic Margaret Horton clinging on the tail. The pilot realized that his aircraft wasn't handling correctly and landed with Miss Horton still on the tail.


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11Irish Parliament Printer

The Irish parliament recently spent €808,000 on a new printer, and when they discovered it didn’t fit they spent another €236,000 moving walls and reinforcing the building. It remains unused as the staff refuses to operate it without a pay rise.


12. Archaeologists excavating a cave in the mountains of central Mexico have unearthed evidence that people occupied the area more than 30,000 years ago, suggesting that humans arrived in North America at least 15,000 years earlier than thought.


13. Spiders tune their webs like guitar strings, tightening and loosening strands so that they can read the different frequencies caused by intruders and determine where/how big the intruders are, if they are predator or prey, or if they’re just a potential mate flirtatiously strumming their strings.


14. Neuroscientists have found evidence to suggest feeling powerful dampens a part of our brain that helps with empathy. Even a small amount of power can have this effect on someone.


15. The role of Hannibal Lecter was turned down by Sean Connery, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro & others. Silence of the Lambs would go on to be the third film in history to win all “Big 5” Academy Awards & upon release in 1991 on VHS, became the most rented film in the United States.


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16Chernobyl Accident

The explosion that led to the Chernobyl nuclear accident was chemical in nature, driven by gases and steam generated by the core runaway, not by nuclear reactions. No commercial nuclear reactor contains a high enough concentration of U-235 or plutonium to cause a nuclear explosion.


17. The CIA once secretly owned a Swiss company called Crypto AG. It was a communications and information security company that maintained offices all over the world and sold products with secret backdoors for the US government and key allies.


18. Unlike terrestrial mammals, whales do not have a connected mouth and respiratory system. They do not and cannot breathe through their mouths.


19. Guitarist Eddie Van Halen was half Indonesian and his family immigrated to the United States because of how badly his mixed-race parents were treated in the Netherlands.


20. Alaska is not the least populated state of the US. It has more people than Vermont and Wyoming.


21RRS Sir David Attenborough

In 2016, a research ship was named The “RRS Sir David Attenborough.” An internet poll to suggest a name for the ship ended up with the leading entry being “Boaty McBoatface,” but the Science Minister wanted a “more suitable name” and chose a different name from the poll’s choices.


22. In 1816, 147 shipwrecked Frenchman were stuck adrift on a makeshift raft when their captain cut the rope towing them. It took only 3 days for them to resort to cannibalism and only 15 survived to be rescued after 13 days. The aristocrat captain hadn’t sailed in 20 years and the incident was 100% avoidable.


23. Japan holds an annual national pillow fighting tournament. The pillow fighters start by pretending to sleep on futons, but when the whistle sounds, they spring to their feet and race to get a pillow. It’s a mix between dodgeball and chess, teams throw pillows at each other while protecting the ‘King.’


24. The human foot is uniquely advantageous for endurance running. Having entirely front-facing and short toe length decreases the amount of mechanical work required to push off the ground, thereby reducing the metabolic cost.


25. Over half of the psychology studies fail the reproducibility test, i.e., most times different researchers can’t replicate results using the same methodology used in the original study.

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