Random Fact Sheet #194 – 40 Intriguing and Fun Facts to Learn

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1Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd played a concert with no audience at the amphitheater in Pompeii, Italy in 1971. It became the first performance to have taken place there since the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in ancient Rome in 79 A.D.

2. Paul McCartney started the recording of "Hey Jude" unaware that Ringo wasn't there and sitting on the toilet. Ringo tiptoed his way back into the studio just in time for the drums to start.

3. The Muppets’ first big break was on The Jimmy Dean Show (the sausage guy) from 1963-66. Rowlf the dog had a 7-10 minute spot with Jimmy every episode. Jim Henson was so grateful he offered Dean 40% of the Muppets, but he turned it down saying he didn't earn it.

4. A New York University study found that people with easier-to-pronounce names have higher-status positions at work.

5. The reason why NASA (and later the Russians) use a specialized space pen instead of the pencil in space is because the graphite of pencils is conductive and can cause short circuits and even fires. The pens have been used since the Apollo era and are still being used right now on the ISS.

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6United States Postal Service

United States Postal Service

The United States Postal Service has about 1,700 employees in Utah who read anything that the automated systems can't read like illegible addresses. About 5 million pieces of mail are read at this location daily. Seasoned employees generally average about 1,600 addresses read per hour.

7. Blade Runner and The Thing both came out on the same day, received mixed critical reception, and were considered box office flops, and are both now considered masterclasses in their genres.

8. Harry Fusao O’Hara, a Japanese expat, volunteered to fight for Britain during World War 1. He was wounded nearly 70 times and received multiple medals for bravery. He remains the only known Japanese national to serve in the RAF.

9. In 1983, after a unit conversion snafu, Air Canada flight 143 ran out of fuel at 41,000 feet. The pilot, who flew gliders in his downtime, brought the plane down on an abandoned airfield which was being used as a racing circuit and everyone got out alive with only minor injuries.

10. The Russian language has a similar proverb to “Necessity is the Mother of Invention” that literally translates to “poor people are crafty.”

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For every mile traveled, motorcyclists have a risk of a fatal accident that is 35 times higher than a car driver.

12. A former deputy sheriff named Joe Maggard, for unknown reasons lied for years through the media that he portrayed Ronald McDonald in the '90s (he was actually only a lighting stand-in for 2 commercials). He was convicted in 1999 of making harassing phone calls. He would always pose as Ronald and call people, scaring and threatening them.

13. In 2014, an Arizona man named Joseph Andrew Dekenipp escaped prison to meet with his girlfriend on Valentine's Day. The man crawled past razor wire, scaled two fences and made his way to a bar about 10 miles away.

14. The underbelly membrane of lobsters is the toughest material of all natural hydrogels, including collagen, animal skins, and natural rubber. The membrane is about as strong as industrial rubber composites, such as those used to make car tires, garden hoses, and conveyor belts.

15. Researchers at the universities in Durham and Lisbon believe that the essential story of ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ dates back over 5,000 years. This prototype of Jack’s beanstalk antics is classified by folklorists as ATU 328 - The Boy Who Stole Ogre’s Treasure.

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16@ symbol

@ symbol

The @ symbol was chosen for the first electronic mail because the developer "was mostly looking for a symbol that wasn’t used much."

17. When Michael Jordan signed his first professional contract it came with a unique clause allowing participation in competitive off-season pickup games. Specifically, this clause allowed for Jordan's "Love of the game" (a desire to play anywhere, anytime), regardless of potential liability.

18. The Vietnamese word for shark literally translates to “fat fish” and the Afrikaans word for an office “stapler” literally translates to “paper vampire.”

19. The Moriori were pacifist people who, when being wiped out by a neighboring Polynesian tribe, decided that their non-violent beliefs were more important than their own survival.

20. Twinkies were invented as a way to use a Continental Bakery's shortcake pans for the 46 weeks each year outside of strawberry season. During the Great Depression, these were cheap and easy to mass produce.



Boatswain (1803-1808) was Lord Byron's beloved Newfoundland dog. When he contracted rabies Byron personally nursed him despite the risk. After he died Byron wrote the poem “Epitaph to a Dog” in his honor. His wish to be buried with Boatswain was denied. The dog’s tomb is larger than Byron’s.

22. Although people live longer on average, the maximum age of humans hasn't increased in 30 years. This had led scientists to conclude that no matter how much medicine advances, the natural limit to human life span will remain around 115.

23. Regularly drinking excessive amounts of Mountain Dew (2-8 Litres/day) can cause a rare neurological disorder with symptoms of memory loss, fatigue, headache, and involuntary movements. The disorder is caused due to bromine accumulating from the brominated vegetable oils used in some citrus-flavored drinks.

24. Jeopardy was canceled twice before the current incarnation of the show. It ran for 11 years before it was canceled and the reboot only lasted 3 months. Alex Trebek was a producer who made the show "his own" leading to it's current and longtime success.

25. Ants manage large-scale infrastructure projects with no coordination at all. Each ant acts alone, solving problems such as removing obstructions as they are encountered. Research points to the simple, evolutionary energy-saving principle of: "If you do not need to communicate, don't!"

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