Random Fact Sheet #154 – 45 Random Trivia Tidbits

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1Invention Merit Badge

Invention Merit Badge

Only 10 Scouts have so far earned the Invention merit badge, which required obtaining a patent for an invention. The badge was discontinued in 1915 and is, therefore, the rarest badge.

2. On May 7, 1902, a man named Ludger Sylbaris was thrown into solitary confinement after a bar brawl in the town of Saint-Pierre which is located on the island of Martinique in the Caribbean Islands. The very next day, the biggest volcanic eruption of the 20th century destroyed the whole island, but he was one of only three known survivors of the event because his cell was bombproof and poorly ventilated. The cell in which he survived still stands today.

3. Lucius Cincinnatus was a Roman statesman and military leader who was given absolute power to rule the empire when it was attacked. After his victory, he immediately resigned his post as a dictator and went back to farming. The city of Cincinnati is named in his honor.

4. Every high school student in Sweden aged 16-20 is entitled to “study grant” of $139 USD monthly. The only requirement is to attend school.

5. Car makers employ sound engineers to give car doors that satisfying ‘thunk’ when closed.

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6Human Rib

Human Rib

In 1867, a jar was found in Paris containing a human rib among other artifacts, and a label claiming that they belonged to Joan of Arc. Tests conducted in 2006 revealed that it came not from Joan of Arc, but an Egyptian mummy.

7. Charles Schulz always disliked the title of Peanuts, which was given to his comic strip by the syndicate. In a 1987 interview, Schulz said of it: “It’s totally ridiculous, has no meaning, is simply confusing, and has no dignity—and I think my humor has dignity.”

8. Michael Jordan took home economics in high school to learn to cook because he was worried his big ears would make it hard to find a woman who would want to marry him.

9. Within hours of its release in 1993, the video game DOOM was banned from numerous university networks as a rush of players overwhelmed their systems with death matches.

10. The Code of Hammurabi (1754 BC) has 282 laws inscribed on stone. It includes the concept of "eye for an eye" and "tooth for a tooth" - more than 500 years before the Torah.

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11Robin Williams

Robin Williams

Three cameras were standard in multi-cam television filming prior to 1970s. Then Garry Marshall needed a 4th camera to solely follow Robin Williams while filming ‘Mork & Mindy’ since Williams was so unpredictable with his physical comedy.

12. New Mexico was not named after the nation of Mexico, but rather after the Aztec Valley of Mexico in 1563, more than 250 years before Mexico became a nation.

13. Walt Disney bought his parents a house and asked his studio to fix the furnace there. His guys botched the job, causing the furnace to leak, resulting in his mother’s death.

14. The reason we know what cyanide tastes like is because of an Indian man named M.P. Prasad, who when he committed suicide left a hastily scrawled note describing the taste. “Doctors, potassium cyanide. I have tasted it. It burns the tongue and tastes acrid,” he wrote, solving a long unanswered question.

15. There are 150 million mammoths buried in the frozen Siberian tundra. Trading in mammoth ivory is legal but elephant ivory is not, leading to poaching of mammoth tusk ivory. Hence, laws are being planned to include mammoth under protected species despite being extinct for 4000 years.

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16Opalized Fossil

Opalized Fossil

There is a very rare and special type of gemstone that can only be found and formed in fossils of extinct species of cephalopods over the process of hundreds of millions of years. The most expensive opal in the world is one of these, being an opalized fossil valued at over $1,000,000. There is also a six-meter Plesiosaurus that has an opalescent sheen in its skeleton on display at the Adelaide Museum.

17. Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys was drugged and controlled for years by his live-in therapist, who kept him under constant supervision and profited from the rights to Wilson's work.

18. During the Hundred Flowers Campaign of 1956 in China, Mao Zedong allowed citizens to speak out their opinions on the Communist regime freely. The campaign ended a year later and those who spoke critically of the regime were imprisoned.

19. Ancient Rome lasted so long that the original meaning of Lapis Niger, a shrine built in Rome's city center had already been forgotten by later generations of Romans.

20. Walt Disney's surviving family has largely been torn apart by a vicious legal battle over the $400 million Disney fortune, which led to newspapers calling them “not the happiest family on Earth.”

21Giant Sloth Tunnels

Giant Sloth Tunnels

Giant sloths which existed 8,000 to 10,000 years ago excavated hundreds of miles of tunnels in South America that still exist to this day.

22. The animatronic whales used in “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” were so believable that Paramount Studios got angry letters from people who thought they got dangerously close to real whales to film them.

23. The creators of the original Scooby-Doo show never meant for Shaggy to be perceived as a stoner. They were annoyed by the marijuana references in the live-action movie.

24. The Ket people are an isolated population of 1200 in Siberia. Their language is strikingly similar in structure to the Native North American languages, and they are one of the last true hunter and gatherer societies on Earth.

25. ‘Soy Cuba’ (I Am Cuba) was a Soviet-directed propaganda film which was released in 1964. The movie backfired by making capitalism look too appealing. The movie was later rediscovered by Hollywood and its groundbreaking filming techniques inspired scenes in Goodfellas and Boogie Nights.

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