Random #374 – A Journey Through 50 Remarkable Facts

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1 Nixon’s Nuclear Threat Over Spy Plane

Nixon's Nuclear Threat Over Spy Plane

In April 1969, North Korea shot down a US spy plane. Allegedly enraged, Nixon ordered a tactical nuclear strike and instructed the joint chiefs to recommend targets. Henry Kissinger later spoke to military commanders on the phone and agreed not to take any action until Nixon sobered up the next morning.

2. Ariana Grande receives less than 10% of the royalties for her 2019 single “7 Rings.” The majority goes to the estate of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, the songwriters of “My Favorite Things.”

3. Gooning is a form of legal kidnapping in the US, where a parent can hire someone to abduct a troubled child at night and bring them to a boarding school or behavior modification facility.

4. During World War II, when the Germans captured a British bomber tail gunner who claimed to have jumped out of his plane at 5500 meters without a parachute, they investigated, confirmed his claim, and issued him a certificate to validate his story.

5. In 1954, when Roger Bannister became the first person to run a mile in under 4 minutes, he was working as a doctor in the NHS. On the day he broke the record, he had already completed a morning shift at St. Mary’s Hospital in London and then caught the train to Oxford, where he ran the race.

6 Virginia Towns Ban Trick-or-Treating

Virginia Towns Ban Trick-or-Treating

In 2018, multiple Virginia towns banned trick-or-treating for anyone over the age of 12. For instance, according to the Chesapeake, Virginia, city code in 2018, violators could face a fine and up to 6 months in jail.

7. In the 1980s, NASA had a 1-900 number that charged $2 for the first minute and $0.45 for each additional minute. It allowed callers to listen to a mission status report and mid-flight press conferences. Thousands of callers heard the Challenger explosion in real time.

8. An unplugged microwave carries enough residual current to be lethal, even if it’s been unplugged for months. Therefore, never attempt to repair a broken microwave unless you know how to discharge the capacitor.

9. The exercise paradox highlights that hunter-gatherers who trekked miles daily (or climbed up trees) burned the same amount of calories as much less active office workers and machine operators.

10. Thomas Fuller, an enslaved African and mental calculator, was once asked how many seconds a man has lived in 70 years, 17 days, and 12 hours. He replied with 2,210,500,800. When told he was wrong, Fuller said, “Massa, you forget de leap year,” which was correct once the seconds of the leap years were added.

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11 Schumacher’s Tsunami Donation Tragedy

Schumacher's Tsunami Donation Tragedy

In the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Michael Schumacher made the highest individual donation, contributing $10 million to the victims. The disaster claimed over 220,000 lives, and tragically, Schumacher’s bodyguard, Burkhard Cramer, along with Cramer’s two sons, lost their lives in the tsunami.

12. Jimmy Carter’s secretary had turned his personal journal into over 5,000 pages before he left the White House. Carter, choosing to wait before publishing, held on to his unfiltered impressions. The release of “White House Diary” in 2010 included a quarter of everything he wrote.

13. When casting for Walter White in Breaking Bad, the role was initially offered to John Cusack and Matthew Broderick. It was only after their refusal that the executives saw Bryan Cranston’s X-Files episode and decided to cast him for the role.

14. The famous line “I’ll have what she’s having” from the film “When Harry Met Sally” wasn’t part of the original script. Billy Crystal suggested it after he and Meg Ryan improvised the entire orgasm scene. Originally, the two were supposed to discuss “faking it” without a practical demonstration.

15. Roald Dahl wrote “The Twits” due to his profound disgust for beards.

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16 Galileo’s Earth Fly-By Discoveries

Galileo's Earth Fly-By Discoveries

In 1990, NASA directed the Galileo spacecraft towards Earth to search for signs of life. It did detect signs strongly suggestive of life on Earth. These included abundant gaseous oxygen, a widespread surface pigment with a sharp absorption edge (chlorophyll in vegetation), and atmospheric methane in extreme thermodynamic disequilibrium. Moreover, the spacecraft identified narrow-band, pulsed, amplitude-modulated radio transmissions-a unique marker of intelligence. These observations served as a vital control experiment for the search for extraterrestrial life by modern interplanetary spacecraft.

17. Confucius believed in the natural inclination of people to follow and support a virtuous ruler without the need for harsh laws. He spent 12 years traveling around China in search of a ruler who would listen to his ideas but never found one.

18. The 1998 film “You’ve Got Mail” was initially titled “You Have Mail.” However, after a consultant hired by Warner Brothers discovered that AOL hadn’t trademarked their iconic “You’ve Got Mail!” greeting, the film’s title was changed to the one we know today.

19. In 2018, Utah became the first state in the Michelin Guides’ 118-year history to receive three stars as a tourist destination. It’s described as “essential, exceptional, and worth a journey in itself.”

20. The bronze doors of the Pantheon are the original doors from 2000 years ago.

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21 BMW’s U.K. Car Subscription Service

BMW's U.K. Car Subscription Service

In 2022, BMW introduced subscriptions for U.K. customers, allowing them to access their car’s heated front seats (£15 per month) or heated steering wheel (£10 per month).

22. During WWII, Coca-Cola deployed technical observers, nicknamed Coca-Cola Colonels, to set up bottling plants on the frontlines, establishing 64 bottling lines to supply soldiers with soda.

23. When Dana White and the Fertittas purchased the UFC in 2001 for $2 million, they acquired only the brand name and an old octagon. Other assets, including the domain name UFC.com, had already been sold to a company named ‘User Friendly Computers.’

24. To evade predators, glass frogs remove nearly 90% of their circulating blood cells while asleep, storing their entire circulatory system in one organ, making them almost transparent.

25. The Japanese calendar is divided into 72 seasons, reflecting nuances of weather and nature such as “bamboo shoots sprouting,” “wheat ripening,” and “swallows returning.”

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