Theodore Hall was among the youngest Manhattan Project scientists. He finished high school at 14, graduated from Harvard at 18, and was recruited for the nuclear program at 19. Fifty years later, near death, he admitted to having been a Soviet informant the entire time.
2. Neil Gaiman’s Coraline almost wasn't published. His editor said it was too scary, but was convinced after her daughter said it was fine. Years later, the daughter said she was terrified but wanted to know what happened next so she never let on.
3. Cats domesticated themselves. They existed unchanged until the Middle Ages, and even now are genetically extremely close to their ancestors.
4. The Social Gospel was an early 20th-century Christian movement dedicated to unionization, homing everyone, feeding the poor, solving economic inequality, and social justice. They believed the second coming couldn't happen until humans solved these problems.
5. Hiram Maxim, the inventor of the automatic machine gun, spent so much time test-firing his guns that he became completely deaf. His son Hiram Percy Maxim eventually invented the silencer, but too late to save his father's hearing.
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The Rat Pack were a group of entertainers who were friends in the 1950s. When one performed in Vegas, others would often come without an official booking and perform at the first one's show. Hotel marquees would read "Dean Martin, Maybe Frank (Sinatra), Maybe Sammy (Davis, Jr.)”
7. The first Paddington Bear toy was designed by Shirley and Eddie Clarkson in 1972 and given to their son Jeremy, the future presenter of Top Gear and The Grand Tour.
8. Indonesia put a nationwide stop on manta ray fishing after it was calculated that a single animal is worth an estimated $1 million over its lifetime in tourism versus its value of $40-$500 when killed.
9. In 2009, The Large Hadron Collider had to be turned off for a short period of time because a bit of baguette was dropped into the CERN machinery by a bird.
10. The practice of playing music to the callers on hold was created by a factory owner who discovered that a loose wire in his factory's phone lines made the building a giant receiver. The broadcast from a close radio station was transmitted through the wire and played when calls were put on hold.
In 1986, the 18-year-old Prince of Orange, Willem-Alexander participated in the 120-mile long ice skating tour known as ‘Elfstedentoch’. He entered under the pseudonym ‘W.A. van Buren’, and managed to finish the tour that passes 11 historic cities in the Dutch province of Friesland.
12. Julian Lennon had to buy letters he wrote to his father (John Lennon) at an auction because Yoko Ono wouldn't give them to him.
13. Bing Crosby sang White Christmas for 100,000 tearful troops in France during World War 2. He said the hardest thing he had to do in his career was to not break down himself at that time. Many of the troops would die at the Battle of the Bulge shortly after.
14. Boris Mikhailov, captain of the USSR hockey team, was offered a $1 million contract to leave Russia in 1980 after the Miracle on Ice. However, he declined as the KGB was standing next to him when the offer was made.
15. During World War 2, the US Army was aware that mail to soldiers was critical for morale, but was overwhelmed with the volume and space it took to ship. So they resuscitated a British/Eastman Kodak method where every letter was photographed, and the film was shipped and then printed. It was called V-Mail.
A sperm whale’s clicks are powerful enough to easily blow out a diver's eardrums or vibrate a diver to death.
17. Elvis Presley never wrote any of his own songs despite being one of the most recognizable musicians of all time.
18. Disney had planned on making films based on the video games “Mega Man” and “The Sims,” but canceled those plans after Assassin’s Creed flopped at the box office.
19. Despite the common theory that “New Coke” was a marketing ploy, the main reason for its launch was it consistently beat Pepsi and Coca-Cola Classic in blind taste tests. It performed so well that one bottling company even threatened to sue Coca-Cola if they didn’t launch the new product.
20. A hurricane caused Tim Duncan to take up basketball. He grew up in the US Virgin Islands and trained to be an Olympic swimmer like his big sister until Hurricane Hugo destroyed the island's only Olympic pool. He was too afraid of sharks to swim in the ocean, so he tried basketball instead.
Al Qaeda/Osama Bin Laden considered a plot to destabilize America by kidnapping and assassinating Russell Crowe.
22. Michigan ranks number one as the state with the highest percentage of water (41.5% of its total area). Sources of water are so abundant there that no one in the state is ever more than 6 miles from a body of water.
23. Women tend to use more exclamation points then men to appear more friendly even in professional settings (i.e., business emails).
24. For over 300 years Europeans could not grow vanilla seeds since bringing them from South America. In 1836, it was finally discovered that a bee from Mexico was the only capable pollinator of the vanilla orchid.
25. There is a Korean folktale about the common cold's origin. It is about a male ghost with two genitals who releases himself into people's nostrils after he can't find a bride.