Random Fact Sheet #174 – Dive Into the Unknown With These 45 Facts

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1Robert De Niro

Robert De Niro

Robert De Niro prepared for his role in 'Taxi Driver' by obtaining a New York taxi license and spending a month working up to 14-hour shifts picking people up all over New York.

2. Homework was considered hugely controversial in the 1800s and early 1900s, when physicians crusaded against it. In 1901, California even banned homework for anyone under the age of 15.

3. The most recent of Wayne Gretzky's 60 NHL records was set sometime after his 1999 retirement. His points-per-game average of 1.921 was second only to Mario Lemieux (2.005), who later came out of retirement and lowered his own average, moving Gretzky to the number 1 spot.

4. The “Flynn Effect” shows that average human IQ is rising steadily with each generation. IQ tests are continually made harder to keep the average at 100. Today's children that take tests from past decades are averaging significantly higher than 100.

5. Chad Stahelski, the director of the John Wick films, had worked as Keanu Reeves’ stunt double for 15 years prior to his directorial debut.

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6Alberta Williams King

Alberta Williams King

Alberta Williams King, Martin Luther King’s mother was also assassinated. A deranged man who believed Christianity was harming African Americans gunned her down as she played the organ in church. He was sentenced to death but this was commuted to life imprisonment because the Kings opposed capital punishment.

7. Discovery Channel survival expert Ed Stafford was the first person to walk the length of the Amazon River from source to the sea. He thought it might take a year, but it took him 860 days.

8. Dan Shechtman was shamed for his ideas on quasicrystals. A Nobel laureate commented that 'there is no such thing as quasicrystals, only quasi-scientists'. In 2011, Dan Schechtman was awarded the Nobel Prize for the discovery of quasicrystals.

9. In 1963, a White civil right activist named William Lewis Moore protested segregation by walking 400 miles, alone, from Tennessee to Mississippi to deliver his own letter to the governor, urging him to accept integration. 2 days after starting, he was found murdered in the side of a highway.

10. General Robert E. Lee had a pet hen named "Nellie" who laid an egg for him every day for breakfast. Lee loved the hen so much, he halted his retreat from Gettysburg in order to have his men look for her when he couldn't find her.

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11Prisoner Baseball Team

Prisoner Baseball Team

In the 1910s, there was a US baseball team made up of death-row prisoners, whose executions were delayed so long as they kept winning.

12. Guns 'N Roses once went on tour with a car that broke down, so they hitchhiked to the gig, ate raw onions from a field along the way, made it to Seattle for the gig, and when they finished, the owner refused to pay them. They responded by trying and failing, to burn the club down.

13. Shaquille O'Neal only made 1 three-point shot during his entire professional career in the NBA.

14. In 1973, the members of Led Zeppelin gave drummer John Bonham a Harley Davidson for his 25th birthday, which he promptly rode up and down the hallways of his hotel, causing thousands of dollars in damage. The next day, he wrote a check for the damages and said: "Oh, and keep the bike."

15. In 1854, Commodore Perry gifted 110 gallons of American Whiskey to the Japanese emperor. That gift has since evolved into a $6 billion industry, with Japan's Suntory distillery winning 2015's World Whisky of the Year. Today, Suntory owns Jim Beam.

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Antarctica used to be called Australia until modern-day Australia stole its name in 1824, which left the continent nameless until its current name was adopted in the 1890s.

17. Instead of generating a fever themselves, cold-blooded animals will move themselves to a hotter area to cause fever when they have an infection.

18. A marathon is exactly 26 miles and 385 yards because that happened to be the length of the 1908 London Olympic marathon and not because it is the distance between Marathon and Athens, which is approximately 25 miles.

19. On July 8th, 1941 the Australian cruiser HMAS Sydney along with the rest of her squadron attempted to shoot down the planet Venus thinking it was a high altitude bomber. Venus managed to survive the engagement.

20. The Agoge was a compulsory training program for all male citizens of ancient Sparta between the ages of 7 to 21. This included not only military training, but also tuition in dancing, singing, stealth and thievery, social skills, and loyalty to Sparta.

21Broadway vs Off-Broadway

Broadway vs Off-Broadway

Broadway vs Off-Broadway is based on the number of seats, with Broadway having over 500, Off-Broadway between 100-499, and Off-Off-Broadway having less than 99.

22. A Greek man named Heron Alexandria, who was born in 10 A.D., invented the first steam engine, called an Aeolipile. His design was forgotten and never used until 1577.

23. 'Chai' means tea. If you say 'chai tea', it literally means 'tea tea'.

24. The First Lady Lou Henry Hoover was the first American woman to earn a geology degree. She spoke 5 languages fluently and is the only first lady to speak an Asian language. She established the American Women's War Relief Fund and founded the National Women’s Conference on Law Enforcement.

25. When Japan occupied Korea, they built Shinto Shrines to enforce “Japanization” of Korea. One of these shrines (the national shrine) was Chōsen Shrine. When Japan surrendered, Korea demolished it and built a monument to An Jung-Geun, the man who assassinated Japan's Prince, Itō Hirobumi.

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