Random #384 – 50 Random Facts for the Inquisitive Mind

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1Japanese School Hair Mandate

Japanese School Hair Mandate

Up until 2022, the dress code enforced by the Japanese public school system mandated that students have black hair. One student, with naturally brown hair, was compelled to dye it black and was required to continually dye it whenever her roots showed. She was given academic penalties for not dyeing it often enough.

2. In the 1950s and 1960s, trucks equipped with fogging machines sprayed DDT while traversing American streets to eradicate mosquitoes. Children would often trail behind these trucks, playing in the dense fog they generated. In 1972, the United States banned the use of DDT.

3. In 1998, elementary students in Aurora, Colorado, began purchasing slaves in Sudan with the intention of setting them free. This initiative gained international attention, leading to similar programs in schools across other countries. However, it later became apparent that the money raised was inadvertently perpetuating slavery and helping it grow.

4. Calvin Graham holds the distinction of being the youngest American to serve in World War II, enlisting at the age of 12 in the US Navy. He participated in combat at Guadalcanal and received eight medals, which were later revoked when his true age was revealed by his mother upon seeing him in a newsreel.

5. In 1946, Alvin Graves, a physicist on the Manhattan Project, experienced acute radiation sickness from a demon core along with physicist Louis Slotin during a test, leading to long-term neurological and vision problems. Slotin later asked Alvin's wife, Elizabeth Graves, another physicist on the project, to calculate the survivability of such radiation exposure without disclosing her husband's incident, leaving her stunned upon learning the truth.

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6Japanese Space Novice

Japanese Space Novice

Toyohiro Akiyama made history as the first Japanese individual sent to space. Dubbed "The Space Antihero," Akiyama lacked formal training as an astronaut, scientist, or engineer. During his time in space, he famously yearned for cigarettes.

7. The United States holds a perpetual lease for Guantanamo Bay and annually issues a check for approximately $4500 to Cuba. Since 1953, the Cuban government has consistently refused to accept this payment. However, in 1959, there was confusion when the check was accidentally deposited.

8. Robert Chesebrough, the inventor of Vaseline, had a peculiar habit of consuming a spoonful of it daily. He attributed his longevity of 96 years to this practice, despite lacking scientific evidence to support his claim.

9. The original iPhone lacked the capability to copy and paste text for two years following its release.

10. During the Apollo 12 mission, astronauts covertly brought a camera timer with them. The intention was to capture a selfie together on the moon and intrigue people back on Earth. However, their plan was thwarted when they couldn't locate the timer.

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11Malaysia's First Astronaut

Malaysia's First Astronaut

Malaysia achieved a milestone in 2007 by sending its first astronaut to the ISS. Guidelines issued by the government and Islamic scholars suggested that Muslims in space should ideally face Mecca for prayers; however, if not feasible, they could face the Earth generally or in any direction.

12. In 1944, the Philadelphia Eagles drafted Norm Michael from Syracuse University, unaware that he had already enlisted in the US Army, leaving him oblivious to his NFL selection until 1999, when he discovered it while reading about other Syracuse NFL players.

13. Trains utilize sand tanks and tubes to disperse sand under each wheel, improving friction for more efficient acceleration, particularly on steep inclines or slippery tracks.

14. Despite Henry VIII's terminal condition, his doctors refrained from informing him of his impending death due to the Treason Act's prohibition on discussing the King's demise. It fell upon the archbishop to deliver the grim news.

15. Following Hurricane Sandy in 2012, engineers manually transported diesel fuel up 17 flights of stairs in buckets to sustain generators powering a data center in New York City.

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16Blockbuster Sleepover Event

Blockbuster Sleepover Event

In September 2020, the last remaining Blockbuster video rental store in Bend, Oregon, offered 1990s-themed sleepovers through Airbnb for a mere $4 per night.

17. There are 56 United States Vietnam War Medal of Honor recipients who earned the distinction for their selfless acts, such as sacrificing themselves by jumping on grenades and mines to save the lives of their comrades.

18. Giuseppe Fieschi's "Infernal Machine," a 25-barreled gun used in an assassination attempt on King Louis Phillippe I in 1835, claimed 18 lives and injured 22 individuals, including Fieschi himself, yet only grazed the King.

19. Yellowstone National Park sits atop a caldera, a type of volcano capable of cataclysmic eruptions that cause surrounding land to collapse into the resulting crater, though its appearance belies its volcanic origins, resembling a flat landscape rather than a typical shield volcano.

20. Architect Rafael Viñoly designed two buildings with curved facades that inadvertently function as death rays, intensifying sunlight into concentrated beams when reflected, posing discomfort and safety concerns for nearby residents.

21Bees' Flight Mechanism

Bees' Flight Mechanism

Bees and beetles exhibit a more "highly evolved" method of flight compared to other flying insects and animals. They activate their "flight engine" with a single nerve signal to control wing movement, whereas other creatures must consciously flap their wings.

22. Knocking over a hurdle in a hurdling event does not result in penalties for the athlete.

23. According to an ancient African tradition, a murderer was punished by an assassin running into him with a spear that had meat on it. The murderer kept his mouth open. The murder victim's family decides if the murderer is killed by the spear or fed the meat (forgiven).

24. During Amazon's early days, Jeff Bezos implemented the "two-pizza rule," requiring internal teams to be small enough to be fed with two pizzas. This aimed to minimize time spent on management and communication, allowing teams to focus on tasks more efficiently.

25. Over 40 percent of roads in the USA are rated as being in poor or mediocre condition, with similar assessments for bridges, airports, and water infrastructure.

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