Random Fact Sheet #198 – The Power of Knowledge – 35 Facts

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1The Jersey Shore

The Jersey Shore

Abercrombie & Fitch offered $10,000 to cast members of "The Jersey Shore" if they'd agree to stop wearing the brand on the show.

2. Many non-English languages have no concept of a spelling bee because the spelling rules in those languages are too regular for good spelling to be impressive.

3. In 1887, a reporter named Nellie Bly talked her way into an insane asylum in New York and published her experience after ten days in the asylum. She claimed many of the patients seemed completely sane and the conditions were horrid. This led to NYC budgeting $1,000,000 to care of the insane.

4. A man was snorkeling off the coast of South Africa when an enormous Bryde's whale scooped him up in his mouth headfirst. The man felt pressure on his body but soon realized he was too big for the whale to swallow him whole which was "kind of instant relief." The whale spat him out unharmed.

5. Olives are essentially inedible when picked. It takes an extensive curing process for them to become edible, with no history of how an inedible fruit became such a popular fruit.

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6Simon & Garfunkel

Simon & Garfunkel

Simon & Garfunkel's first album was so unsuccessful on the charts that the duo split. Their producer took one of the songs from the album, overdubbed/remixed it without their knowledge or permission, and "The Sounds of Silence" became a hit. The duo made four more albums.

7. "Häagen-Dazs" was completely made up by its Polish Jewish founders to sound Danish. The umlaut (¨) does not even exist in Danish and neither does the "zs" letter combination.

8. Chess960 is a game created by Bobby Fischer which uses the same board and pieces of regular chess, but randomly shuffles the home row to prevent players from relying on memorized strategies and instead rely on their own creativity.

9. In the US, production of alarm clocks was allowed in 1944, despite them containing brass needed for war materials, because workers kept missing their shifts due to a critical alarm clock shortage.

10. Radiotrophic fungi were discovered in 1991 growing inside and around the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in an environment in which the radiation level was 500 times higher than in the normal environment. This fungi converts gamma radiation into chemical energy for growth.

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11Danish Protest Pig

Danish Protest Pig

When the Prussians forbade the Danes from displaying their flag in the early 20th century, the Danes responded by creating a new breed of pig (Danish Protest Pig) that resembled the Danish flag and displayed it instead.

12. Robert Leonard, the original bassist for the band 'Sha Na Na', after proofreading the band's contracts, realized he had a knack for critically examining language. He returned to school, received his M.A., MPhil, and Ph.D. from Columbia University and now works as a forensic linguist.

13. Lyndon Johnson's closest aide, Walter Jenkins, was forced to resign when he was arrested for gay sex. Johnson's wife publically supported Jenkins in a time when homosexuality was heavily scorned.

14. A 50-year-old woman named Violet Gibson attempted to assassinate Mussolini in 1927. She fired a gun once, but Mussolini moved his head and the shot hit his nose. She tried again, but the gun misfired. She was almost lynched by the crowd but was rescued by police and taken away for questioning.

15. Chiropractic was founded by a traveling religious miracle healer named Daniel David Palmer who believed that magnets could cure diseases. He was sent to jail in Iowa in 1906 for practicing medicine without a license. The American Medical Association later labeled chiropractors an "unscientific cult."

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16North Pole

North Pole

In 2007, a Russian company named Rossiya broadcasted television footage showcasing the Russians planting a flag at the bottom of the ocean in the North Pole. A 13-year-old boy from Finland noticed some of the footage the station used was from the film Titanic.

17. Wolfgang Doeblin was a Jewish-German mathematician who started fighting for the French during World War 2 and committed suicide at the age of 25 after his company was surrounded. A sealed letter he sent to the French Academy of Sciences was opened in 2000, revealing he had already proven a famous result in stochastic calculus.

18. American writer E.B. White hated the Hanna-Barbera animated film adaptation of his novel Charlotte's Web, saying "The story is interrupted every few minutes so that somebody can sing a jolly song. I don't care much for jolly songs."

19. Queen Victoria was raised under a strict system called the Kensington System, created by her mother and Sir John Conroy. Her first two requests, upon her accession, were that she should be allowed an hour by herself and that her bed should be removed from her mother's room. She also banned Conroy.

20. J.R.R. Tolkien had been known to (as a practical joke) dress up as an ax-wielding Anglo-Saxon warrior and chase his neighbor down the street.

21Hagfish slime

Hagfish slime

Hagfish slime expands by 10,000 times in a fraction of a second, it is 100,000 times softer than Jell-O and can fend off sharks.

22. When Alfred Hitchcock was five, his father sent him to the police with a note. The policeman looked at the note and locked him in jail for a few minutes. This experience left him with a lifelong fear of policemen and he wouldn't even drive a car in case he got a parking ticket.

23. The massive velocity of the Paris Gun used in 1918 meant that each shell fired had a larger diameter than the previous or the gun would blow up. The shells were numerically ordered by size from the factory to make sure you fired the right one.

24. Comedian-actor Harold Ramis successfully dodged the Vietnam draft by taking meth just before his physical.

25. The main purpose of a clapperboard in filmmaking is to synchronize picture and sound in post-production, and when out of sync it’s called ‘lip flap.’

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