Random #350 – 50 Little Known Random Facts

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26 Nansi Williams

Nansi Williams

Lunch lady Nansi Williams, in the Welsh community of Aberfan in 1966, witnessed a coal waste pile fall and threw herself on top of five students to protect them from the avalanche. While all five kids made it through, Nansi did not. The school’s deputy headmaster, David Beynon, also lost his life while trying to protect five students by holding them in his arms. Unfortunately, all of them perished.


27. Singer Dexter Holland’s time spent working in a biological lab inspired the lyric “You must keep ’em divided” in The Offspring’s song “Come Out and Play.” He realized he needed to keep the two flasks of liquid apart since they were both boiling and wouldn’t cool down if they were placed close to one another.


28. The evolution from simple unicellular creatures into more complex animal forms took around 3 billion years. In contrast, humans have existed for only around 300,000 years, whereas dinosaurs were around for roughly 165 million years.


29. In the 1990s, McDonald’s tried to convert the dining carriages of German trains into miniature restaurants with the introduction of the McTrain. Every car had a kitchen that was 269 square feet and had deep fryers, coffee makers, soda fountains, water heaters, and more.


30. Prisoners of War are entitled to 8, 12, 50, 60, or 75 Swiss francs monthly as compensation for their detention, depending on their rank as defined by the Geneva Conventions.


31 Wisconsin Forest Radiation

Wisconsin Forest Radiation

Over the course of six months in the 1960s, the United States irradiated a 1440-acre plot of woodland in Wisconsin with 10,000 curies of radiation to study the effects of such exposure. The affected region was quite small and immediately near the original source, but now it poses little threat and remains non-hazardous.


32. During World War II, British cryptanalyst Dilly Knox often deciphered coded enemy messages in his tub, so he successfully lobbied to have one placed in his office.


33. In New York, a pyramid was erected on Park Avenue to honor the soldiers who died in World War I. It consisted of 20,000 helmets taken from their defeated German opponents.


34. Airplane toilets are coated with Teflon so that waste doesn’t get stuck when it’s flushed or sucked away. Therefore, the amount of water consumed is minimal.


35. In order to get Paul McCartney on board with the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, the festival organizers had to guarantee a performance slot for The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Jimi closed his performance by setting fire to his guitar, making him an instant rock star.


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36 Australian Ice Imports

Australian Ice Imports

Prior to the development of practical refrigeration technology in 1851, Australia had to import ice from Boston, Massachusetts. Ships insulated with wood, straw, peat, and sawdust brought ice chunks through the tropics.


37. Creme Brulee has been around for a very long time—at least 700 years, to be exact, since it was first mentioned in a cookbook written in the 14th century. The recipe called for custard cream to be poured over sugar and then torched with a hot iron rod. Crema Catalan was the name of this dish, and it was substantially identical to the contemporary Creme Brulee.


38. Kola Coca was developed in Spain in 1880. It was presented at a contest in Philadelphia in 1885, and it won an award. A year later, Coca-Cola was born and marketed in the USA.


39. Before the negative effects of tobacco on health were shown in the 20th century, it was praised in Europe for hundreds of years as a “universal medicine” and used to treat a wide range of illnesses.


40. Historically speaking, wearing a dunce cap was a symbol of great enlightenment and knowledge. Fans of philosopher and theologian John Duns Scotus, known as Dunsmen because of their distinctive pointed hats, believed that the style helped focus thought and absorb information. The Dunsmen were considered “outdated” and eventually fell from favor by the early 1500s.


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41 Nevada State

Nevada State

Nevada did not have the southern point where Las Vegas is presently located when it became a state in 1864. Before 1866, Arizona claimed the land, but Congress gave it to Nevada as a reward for the state’s loyalty to the Union.


42. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, youngsters in the New York City region celebrated Ragamuffin Day by dressing up in costumes and knocking on neighbors’ doors on Thanksgiving Day to beg for sweets or money. As trick-or-treating became more common on Halloween in the 1940s and 1950s, it gradually went out of style.


43. As a gift to the pope, Napoleon once presented him with a tiara (a crown) encrusted with 3,345 individual valuable gems. The tiara weighed 18 pounds and was too small to fit on a human head; therefore, it was meant as an insult. The original gems of the tiara were removed by Pope Benedict XV and replaced with colored glass replicas. Funds from the sale of the gems were used to aid the victims of the First World War.


44. During Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s conquests of Korea in the 1590s, he collected 68,000 Korean and Chinese noses, which are now enshrined at the Mimizuka shrine in Kyoto, Japan. At least 1 million Koreans and Chinese were slaughtered by the Japanese, and at least 215,000 heads were taken by the Japanese as war spoils.


45. After a Japanese corporation gave him 500,000 dollars for copper interest instead of the 500,000 Chilean pesos he had wanted, Andronico Luksic, the founder of Chile’s wealthiest family, who is now estimated to be worth over 18 billion dollars, was able to significantly expand his mining business as a result. This was almost six times the amount that he had requested.


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46 Typhoon Cobra

Typhoon Cobra

In December 1944, during World War II, the United States Pacific Fleet was hit by a severe tropical storm known as “Cobra.” Three destroyers were lost, nine other military vessels were damaged, and 790 sailors were killed by the typhoon.


47. In 1959, 1960, and 1963, black people in Biloxi staged a series of wade-in protests in response to repeated incidents in which they were barred from entering a public beach. Several individuals were shot during the protests in 1960, and the beach did not become accessible to the public until 1967.


48. Despite having no words, the 1958 song “Rumble” by Link Wray was banned by various US radio stations for encouraging juvenile delinquency.


49. The skulls of Baron Saye and his son-in-law were impaled on pikes in an unceremonious manner by a mob after they were executed for treason and had their heads severed (by beheading). The heads were then forced together to give the appearance that they were kissing. Supporting the disgraced Duke of Suffolk got him jailed. During Henry VI’s reign, the Duke of Suffolk was in control. England lost much of its land in northern France under him, and he was punished harshly for his failure. Suffolk was caught for treason and slain, as were his supporters.


50. There are around 1.5 million cats living on the island of Cyprus, which is approximately 10% the size of Ireland. This results in cats outnumbering humans on the island.


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