Random Fact Sheet #137 – 30 Odd and Interesting Facts

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1Elephant shrew

Elephant shrew

The elephant shrew was named simply for its long nose, but recent genetic evidence has found that it's more closely related to the elephant than it is to the shrew.

2. Disney’s “Baymax” character design was inspired by Chris Atkeson’s pioneer work in soft robotics. His research in Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute is based on a theory: “For robots to effectively operate in our world, they’re going to have to be as squishy as we are”.

3. Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management is an extensive guide to running a household in Victorian Britain, published in 1861. It recommends boiling pasta for an hour and forty-five minutes and states that potatoes are "suspicious; a great many are narcotic, and many are deleterious."

4. Harry Truman’s official memorial isn’t a physical one like the Lincoln Memorial, but rather is a federal scholarship for graduate school worth $30,000 that’s given out to college juniors interested in public service.

5. If you keep hearing the name "Jim Wilson" on a commercial flight then it is a secret code for a dead body.

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6Air Canada Flight 759

Air Canada Flight 759

On July 7, 2017, a flight (Air Canada Flight 759) landing in San Francisco descended to an altitude of 25 meters and as close as 9 meters laterally to four planes waiting below before aborting. 1,000 passengers were at imminent risk and with only seconds to spare, narrowly avoided "the greatest aviation disaster in history."

7. Magic Johnson retired before the 1991-1992 NBA Season after announcing he was HIV positive, but fans voted him into the 1992 All-Star Game anyway, for which he returned and won Most Valuable Player.

8. Dunkin Donuts used to have a handle on them to dunk the donuts.

9. Wallace and Gromit saved Wensleydale Cheese. The company was on the brink of closing down, before a chance mention in an animated short. Sales increased shortly afterward, saving the company.

10. In 1968, Elton John tried to commit suicide because of relationship problems with a woman. He later ran into lyricist Bernie Taupin, who tried to make John more comfortable with his sexuality. The situation inspired Taupin and John to create the song, 'Someone Saved My Life Tonight.'

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11Phil Collins

Phil Collins

For the 1999 Disney film "Tarzan", English actor Phil Collins sang all his own songs for the Spanish, French, Italian, and German translations of the soundtrack.

12. In The Dark Knight, Heath Ledger wore a prosthetic covering his lower lip, which often became unglued while filming, which is how his famous mouth-licking tick was born.

13. The Omaha zoo had a prairie dog exhibit and when they got out, the zoo lets them roam free. Omaha actually has a perfect natural climate for the prairie dogs and they interact with visitors, often taking their food.

14. The neutron star 'PSR J1748-2446ad' rotates on its axis 716 times per second and is the fastest known spinning neutron star. At its equator, it spins at 24% of the speed of light.

15. You are likely descended from royalty, but that doesn’t make you special. Everyone of European descent alive today can claim ancestry from medieval kings and queens based on statistical analysis of their ancestry.

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16Walking stick

Walking stick

The bug known as the walking stick doesn't need to mate. Unfertilized eggs will turn into exact copies/clones of the mother.

17. The Horn shark lays conical shaped eggs with a spiral flange running around the outside, which enables the female to wedge it into a crevice, making it difficult for predators to access.

18. Dinner was once the main meal of the day, served around one or two in the afternoon, while 'supper' was a much lighter meal, or even just a snack, eaten around sundown.

19. A week after the Kent State massacre in 1970, a Gallup poll revealed nearly 60% placed total blame on the students, while only 10% blamed the guardsmen.

20. Most animals are digitigrade, i.e., they walk on their digits or toes. Birds, cats, dogs etc are examples and what most people think are knees are actually their ankles. Humans are plantigrades, i.e., they walk on the flats of their feet.

21Siamese cats

Siamese cats

Siamese cats get their color points due to a temperature sensitive gene. The colder the body part the darker the fur will become in that area.

22. Flamingos can live in lakes that are so toxic that the water would strip away the human skin.

23. The town of Wellsville, New York was named after a man named Gardiner Wells, who was, according to local history, the one person who didn't show up for the meeting when the residents were naming the town.

24. China built a massive solar farm shaped like a giant panda.

25. The 70s progressive rockers Ambrosia took the lyrics from the 1976 track, “Nice, Nice, Very Nice,” from a Kurt Vonnegut novel. When Vonnegut heard the song on the radio, he wrote the band a letter that said, “Music is the only art that’s really worth a damn. I envy you guys.”

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