Random #310 – 50 Amazing Random Facts

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1Clifford Stoll

In 1986, an astronomer named Clifford Stoll trying to trace a 75 cent computer time discrepancy for 10 months eventually found a German hacker selling defense secrets to the KGB.


2. Drinking 4 liters per day of Earl Grey Tea can lead to intoxication resulting in extensive muscle cramps and blurred vision. Cutting down to 1-2 liters makes the symptoms go away.


3. During World War 1, search and rescue dogs would venture out into no man's land to locate wounded men. They carried water and medical supplies to men out of the reach of ambulances and could lead stretcher parties to wounded soldiers stranded in no man's land.


4. During the 1936 Olympics, two Japanese pole vaulters, Shuhei Nashida and Sueo Ōe tied for second. Declining to compete against each other, Nashida was awarded silver and Oe bronze. On return to Japan, they had the medals cut in two and joined together to make two ‘friendship medals’ out of silver and bronze.


5. Elizabeth Swaney, a relatively amateur skier, was able to qualify for the 2018 Winter Olympics halfpipe by accumulating enough points at qualifying events leading up to the Olympics by doing flawless yet completely simple routines, outscoring opponents who often would crash in their more ambitious runs.


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6150th Anniversary

In 1926, Poland sent the USA a birthday card with 5.5 million signatures to mark the 150th anniversary of its Declaration of Independence.


7. Many people in ancient Rome who were among the educated elite were aware that lead was poisonous and some of these people even tried to make others aware of this.


8. The opening crawl to Star Wars begins with a storybook-esque narration (“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away....”) because George Lucas first imagined his films as stories being told by an ancient race of immortals. The immortals were written out for early films, but this vestige remained.


9. “Formaldehyde Hunger” is a well-known phenomenon in anatomy labs where med students get hungry while dissecting cadavers, allegedly due to formaldehyde being an appetite stimulant.


10. Mark Twain and Nicola Tesla were good friends and fans of each other’s work. Tesla read Twain’s works before they met, and Twain, intrigued by electricity, often visited Tesla’s lab. Twain once participated in one of Tesla’s experiments which caused Twain to have to hastily run to the bathroom.


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11Taft’s Weight Loss

The famously large US President William Taft followed a weight loss program. Taft was in contact with Dr. Yorke-Davies for over 20 years and kept a daily record of his weight, food intake, and physical activity. Taft managed to go from 340 to 244 pounds and walked 3 miles to the Capitol every day.


12. P.T. Barnum’s famous elephant Jumbo got his name from the Swahili word for chief. It was the elephant who caused the word “Jumbo” to mean something large, not the other way around.


13. Owls’ ears are placed asymmetrically, at different heights on the sides of their faces, so that the sounds reach each ear at different times. This is essential to identify the exact direction of their prey.


14. A crocodile from Burundi named Gustave has killed as many as 300 people. He has evaded numerous captures and kill attempts and has obtained near-mythical status in the region.


15. The Statue of Liberty almost wasn’t built in New York because the governor wouldn’t use city funds to build its pedestal, but Joseph Pulitzer’s newspaper articles inspired 160,000 people to donate. Though a majority of donations were less than $1, they raised over $100,000 in just 5 months.


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16Sewer Lion

In 1889, a lion escaped from a traveling show in Birmingham and ran into the sewers. When an angry mob formed, Frank Bostock, the owner secretly snuck another lion out the back. He then returned with the lion clearly visible and was hailed a hero. The escaped lion was still in the sewers. He eventually came clean to the police and then rounded up a bunch of men to find the lion.


17. Contrary to popular belief, sweating does not remove toxins from the body. Dehydration from excessive sweating can actually make it harder for your body to remove toxins.


18. Baby horses are born with “feathers”, AKA faery fingers or golden slippers (real name eponychium). They protect the mother’s uterus during gestation and birth canal during parturition from damage from the otherwise sharp and dangerous hoof kicks. They harden and fall off very soon after birth.


19. During the American Revolution at the Battle of Long Island, 400 Maryland Soldiers repeatedly attacked a superior British force in order to allow Gen. Washington’s army to escape total destruction. Washington said of them, “Good God, what brave fellows I must this day lose.”


20. A Polynesian man named Tupaia drew an incredibly accurate map for Captain Cook, but it was misunderstood to be badly made and unusable. The map puzzled people for centuries until some researchers finally figured out how to use it correctly.


21Colbert’s Presidential Run

Talk-show host Stephen Colbert half-jokingly ran for US President in the 2008 election. He stated that he would only run if he received a sign, which came when Viggo Mortensen, who played Aragorn in Lord of the Rings, appeared on his show and gave him a replica of the sword, ‘Anduril.’


22. There is more water in the vapor and clouds above the Amazon rainforest than there is in the Amazon River.


23. The first reported successful blood transfusions were performed by the Incas as early as the 1500s. Spanish conquistadors witnessed blood transfusions when they arrived in the 16th century.


24. American Dental Associations exclusively recommends “soft” bristles for toothbrushes. Medium or firmer brushes are considered harmful because they can erode teeth enamel and damage your gums.


25. 1970's Guess Who song “No Sugar Tonight” was created when the band’s guitarist saw a tough biker in a California intersection getting yelled at by his girlfriend for not taking out the trash and leaving her with the kids. She added, “And one more thing, you ain’t getting no sugar tonight.”

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