Random #347 – 50 Lesser Known Random Facts

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1Nike Alphaflys

Nike created a pair of shoes that were so advanced, that they were banned from the Olympics because they were considered technological doping. The Alphaflys, or "the shoe that broke running," as sports scientist Dr. Ross Tucker called them, contain tech designed to deliver greater energy return. Nike had to change its design from having 3 plates in the shoe and a thick mid sole to a single plate to adhere to Olympics regulation.


2. British Pound is the oldest currency in the world. It has been used for over 1,200 years and it dates back to the Anglo-Saxon era. Back then it was equivalent to 1 pound of silver. One pound back then could buy you 15 cows. Britain also accidentally adopted a de facto gold standard in 1717 when Sir Isaac Newton, then-master of the Royal Mint, set the exchange rate of silver to gold too low, thus causing silver coins to go out of circulation.


3. A religious group known as ‘The Shakers’ are completely celibate and cannot have children. Therefore the only way they can gain new members is by converting outsiders. As a result, there were only two people in the last existing Shaker community as of 2020. They did however gain a single new member in 2021.


4. In 1999, a waitress named Tonda Dickerson was tipped a lottery ticket, which later won the $10 million jackpot. She was then sued by her colleagues for their share. She was also sued by the man who tipped her the ticket demanding a truck. She was also kidnapped by her ex husband, whom she had to shoot him in the chest. Then she went to court against the IRS, who demanded $1 million in "gift taxes", on top of hefty income taxed.


5. Official temperatures used in weather apps are taken in shade, not under sunlight.


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6António de Oliveira Salazar

After the Portuguese dictator António de Oliveira Salazar went into a coma, he was dismissed as Prime Minister. When he emerged from it and recovered lucidity, no one wanted to tell him he had been removed from power, instead, he was allowed to "rule" in privacy until his death 2 years later.


7. In 1516, Germany passed the Reinheitsgebot law stating only water, barley, and hops were to be used to make beer. This law was passed due to sanitation reasons and because unscrupulous brewers sometimes added hallucinogenic plants to their brew.


8. In the 1970s, the Ford Transit van, with car performance and space for 1.75 tonnes of loot, was used in 95% of bank robberies in the UK.


9. Cats have about 130,000 hairs per square inch of their body. For comparison, an entire human head has about 100,000 total hairs.


10. The life of the man who discovered modern anesthesia, Horace Wells, spiraled out of control after a failed demonstration of nitrous oxide. He closed his practice, became addicted to chloroform, and threw acid on prostitutes while inebriated. There days later he committed suicide in prison.


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11Razor and Blades Model

"The Razor and Blades Business Model" is used to describe a business model in which a product is sold at a low price (or given away) in order to increase sales of a complementary good. For example, low-cost printers only accept expensive refill cartridges.


12. Sediment cores retrieved from the Antarctic seafloor by researchers have been found to contain pristine samples of forest soil, pollen, spores, and even root systems. The soil, its fine-grained clay, and silt were dated to be 90 million years old. Researchers suggest that the continent was a swampy rainforest at that time.


13. The Flintstones was the most financially successful and longest-running network animated television series for three decades until The Simpsons surpassed it in 1997.


14. A Washington English teacher named Robert Shields wrote diary chronicling every five minutes of his life which consisted of 37.5 million words and filled 91 boxes. He spent four hours a day, in his underwear, recording his temperature, blood pressure, medications, and bowel movements, and he slept for only two hours at a time to record his dreams. He died in 2007 at the age of 89.


15. Ordinary South Korean citizens could not get a passport and travel abroad until 1989, which was right around the time the country saw the end of its brutal dictatorship. Until 1992, South Koreans who wanted to travel abroad still had to go through anti-communist education. Before 1989, the country went through brutal political repression, dictatorship, and even massacres of "leftwing" groups.


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16Albert Woodfox

After being wrongfully convicted and suffering through the longest period of solitary confinement in American prison history, Albert Woodfox's conviction was overturned, and he wrote a memoir entitled "Solitary: Unbroken by Four Decades in Solitary Confinement. My Story of Transformation and Hope."


17. When Mozart died unexpectedly at age 35, rumors began circulating that he was poisoned by his colleague Antonio Salieri. Though proven untrue, the accusations and public belief contributed to nervous breakdowns later in Salieri's life.


18. The Black Terror was a fake warship which was used in American Civil War to bluff Confederate forces into destroying the partially-salvaged remains of the ironclad USS Indianola. The Black Terror was also completely fake, and cost $8.63 to construct.


19. Ranch dressing was invented in Alaska by a plumber trying to keep his employees satisfied with his cooking.


20. Spitting Cobras emerged in the fossil record around the same time as early humans. It is speculated that the reason these snakes spray venom is because of the pressure humans in particular put on them. The spraying of venom from a distance countered the humans' use of projectile weapons.


21Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease

In 1997, many people from Kentucky developed CJD (aka human mad cow disease). It was discovered that every single one of them had consumed squirrel brains.


22. Prehistoric monkeys migrated from Africa to South America by traversing the Atlantic Ocean on natural rafts.


23. The first known species of millipede that actually has at least 1,000 legs was only discovered in 2020. Before that, the record-holder was a species with only about 750 legs.


24. Between 16th and 17th century, in Europe and America, the concept of 'bundling' was widely used. This process allowed courting couples to share a bed, fully clothed with a 'bundling board' to separate them. This allowed a pair to talk and get to know each other in the safe confines of the girl's house.


25. More than 60% of global steel is manufactured through a process known as ‘basic oxygen steelmaking.’ This process was invented in 1948 by Swiss engineer Robert Durrer. Since the adoption of this technique by the steel industry, labor requirements to produce steel have decreased by a factor of 1,000.

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