Random Fact Sheet #168 – 35 Unexpectedly Educational Facts

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1Real squirrels

Real squirrels

40 real squirrels were trained to crack nuts for Charlie & the Chocolate Factory instead of using CGI.

2. In the original airing of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” Rudolph visited the island of Misfit Toys and promised to help them, but never actually did. Tons of children wrote to Rankin-Bass, concerned for the toys, and got the company to make another scene showing the toys had been saved.

3. Ivan Kharchenko was named a Hero of the Soviet Union and awarded an Order of Lenin and Gold Star for defusing more than 26,000 explosives during the battles of Stalingrad and Kiev. He continued his job until 1956, disarming 16,000 more munitions along the way, finally retiring in 1964.

4. Aki Ra is a former Khmer Rouge conscripted child soldier who has devoted his life to removing landmines in Cambodia and to caring for young landmine victims. Since 1992, he has personally removed and destroyed as many as 50,000 landmines, and is the founder of the Cambodian Landmine Museum.

5. 1 in 400 solitaire hands is totally unplayable, meaning "no cards can be moved to the foundations even at the start of the game."

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6Twin Films

Twin Films

Hollywood occasionally sees a phenomenon called Twin Films in which two films with the same or very similar plots are produced or released at the same time by two different film studios. Some popular examples include Finding Nemo/Shark Tale, Olympus has Fallen/White House down, Churchill/Darkest Hour, The Prestige/The Illusionist.

7. In 2012, a 9-year-old boy named Brendan Haas decided he wanted to help the families of fallen US soldiers. He started a Facebook page and eventually traded up to $900 worth of Disney gift certificates, airfare, and hotel credits. He then gave the trip to a 2-year-old girl named Liberty Hope who had lost her father in Afghanistan.

8. The belief that using a cell phone at a gas station can cause a fire or explosion is a common urban legend. It has never happened anywhere in the world. Experts believe it to be impossible as no-one has been able to successfully create a fire or explosion by using a cell phone while fueling a car.

9. Precordial catch syndrome is a condition where you get random harmless stabbing pains in the chest.

10. During the filming of Avatar, the lead visual effects company, Weta Digital, hired 900 people to work on the movie at one time. To render Avatar, Weta made use of 4,000 Hewlett-Packard servers with 35,000 processor cores with 104 TB of RAM and 3 PB of network area storage.

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The paper sleeve around your coffee cup is called a zarf and they have existed in various forms for over 800 years.

12. A fish at the Vancouver Aquarium was given a prosthetic eye so it wouldn't be bullied by other fish.

13. Most stars exist in binary or triple star systems. It is hypothesized that up to 85% of stars are gravitationally bound to another star in a multiple star system. Therefore, solitary stars (such as the Sun) are actually not the norm in the universe, but in fact are a rarity.

14. Octopuses have been observed acquiring shiny and reflective objects and planting them around their homes in the seabed like a garden. The song “Octopus’s Garden” by the Beatles was inspired by the captain of a boat informing Ringo Starr of this fact while on vacation.

15. Actress Louise Fletcher, who won an Oscar for Nurse Ratched in ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest’ and played Kai Winn on ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,’ was born to parents who were both deaf. She was taught to speak by a hearing aunt, who also introduced her to acting.

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16Ernst Röhm

Ernst Röhm

Ernst Röhm was a close friend of Hitler, a top Nazi leader, and a homosexual. Hitler was aware of Röhm's homosexuality. They were so close they addressed each other as du (German familiar form of "you"). No other top Nazi leader enjoyed that privilege.

17. 75% of “photography” in the IKEA catalog is actually not photography at all, it’s CGI.

18. To be an alumni you don't need to actually graduate but instead just have attended the school.

19. USA once fed information to the USSR about an extremely deadly nerve gas called “GJ” that was nearly impossible to create. Although initially intended to waste Soviet resources on a wild goose chase, Soviet scientists were successful in replicating “GJ” and produced the now-infamous Novichok agents.

20. Plague doctors often were not real physicians. They rarely treated patients and instead kept a record of those who were contaminated for demographic purposes. Occasionally they would sell false cures to the sick.

21New year eve heist

New year eve heist

At 12:00 a.m. on New Year’s Eve 2017, three men pulled off a 6 million dollar jewelry heist only a half mile from Times Square and 7,000 NYPD officers. Police said that the men waited till midnight, when the officers would be the busiest, to break into KGK Holding Jewelry.

22. A LEGO Death Star built to the scale of a classic Minifigure would be 3.52 km in diameter, or 1066 stories high.

23. The little pepper or strawberry attached to a tomato pincushion has a purpose: it’s filled with emery, which is meant to sharpen your needles and pins.

24. The US army guys who took part in the clean up of Enewetak Atoll after nuclear testing are dying from radiation-related illnesses and the US government won't recognize them.

25. 40 years before James Cameron's "Avatar" was released, the "Noon Universe" Russian sci-fi novels were published. Set on a forest planet called Pandora in the 22nd century, inhabited by humanoids called Nave (compared to the "Na'vi" in Avatar).

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