Random Fact Sheet #212 – From History to Science: 35 Surprising Facts

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1Red Strings

Red Strings

During the American Civil War, Southern Unionists and Quakers formed a secret society known as the Red Strings. Red Strings aided deserters, spies, escaped prisoners and passed intelligence on Confederate forces to Union authorities. After the war, they actively opposed the KKK.

2. The story of Kitty Genovese's murder being ignored by 38 people is a myth and the police were called twice. One woman even went down and held her after she was stabbed. The myth came due to the New York Times's writer wanting a more dramatic story.

3. The physical shape of the human ear selectively filters out frequencies outside of the human vocal range.

4. Bruce Dickinson (lead singer of the heavy metal band Iron Maiden) and his then-solo band drove through the front lines of the war in Sarajevo during the Bosnian war. They weren't protected and there were bullets flying around. They played a show for the people trapped in the city.

5. A few weeks before the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, US scientists performed a safety test on the EBR-II reactor by disabling cooling pumps and automatic protection systems at full thermal power. The core passively cooled itself as designed without human intervention or damage.

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6Taft and Díaz

Taft and Díaz

The meeting of presidents President Taft and Díaz in Mexico in 1909 was the first between a president of the United States and a president of Mexico. Because both presidents were bilingual there was no need for interpreters. No one else attended the meeting where they spent 20 minutes alone.

7. Bumblebees have parasitic "doppelgangers" called cuckoo bumblebees that resemble a specific race enough to be able to sneak into their nest, kill the queen, and trick all the workers into feeding their offspring and ultimately taking over the whole nest before moving onto their next target.

8. It makes no difference which side of the aluminum foil you use, both sides do the same fine job of cooking, freezing and storing food. The difference in appearance between dull and shiny is due to the foil manufacturing process.

9. Most Buddhists do not believe in God. Although they respect and look up to Buddha, they do not believe he was a God but they worship him as a form of respect.

10. There are over 40,000 unclaimed bodies in morgues across America. Families often don't show up and claim the bodies because they can't afford a funeral for them. These bodies are then later buried in mass graves.

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Back when dinosaurs existed, there used to be volcanoes that were erupting on the moon.

12. There was a Tennessee Republican politician named Byron Looper who changed his middle name to 'Low tax' so that it would appear on the ballot box. He murdered his political opponent in a later senatorial race, was sentenced to life and died in prison.

13. During the filming of 'The Longest Day' a tank from the actual invasion of Normandy was found buried in the sand since D-Day. The tank was cleaned up and used in the film.

14. Dr. Frasier Crane's accent is called "Transatlantic" and is neither truly American nor British.

15. There will be five new sports debuting in the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics: Skateboarding, Rock climbing, Surfing, Baseball/Softball, and Karate.

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16Ted Taylor

Ted Taylor

Ted Taylor was the first person to light a cigarette using a nuclear bomb. During a bomb test in 1952, he used a parabolic mirror to concentrate the light of the blast enough to heat a cigarette suspended from a tiny wire.

17. There is an official day of kindness in Pennsylvania that honors Mr. Rogers’ favorite number, 143, which stands for the letters in “I love you.” This day falls on May 23, the 143rd day of the year.

18. Although Dr. Dre is credited as writing "Still D.R.E.", it was actually ghostwritten entirely by Jay-Z.

19. Iceland has a Horse Naming Commission that oversees horse names across the country to ensure that no horse gets a foreign, vulgar, or inappropriate name.

20. A slave rebellion broke out on slave ship La Amistad in 1839, resulting in two deaths. The slaves were captured and stood trial. It was ruled that they acted as free men, and were entitled to take any measures necessary to ensure freedom, including force. They were all returned to Africa.

21Stan Lee

Stan Lee

Stan Lee used alliterative names like Peter Parker and Reed Richards because he had poor memory. Having first and last name start with the same letter made them easier for him to remember their names.

22. In 1931, a suspension bridge (Waldo-Hancock Bridge) was built in Maine. The construction was so far under budget that there was enough money left over to build a second bridge elsewhere.

23. After Minnie Cox, the first black female postmaster was pressured out of her post, President Theodore Roosevelt continued to pay her salary and punished the town by rerouting their mail 30 miles away. In the end, atmosphere in the town became so hostile that Mrs. Cox left for her own safety.

24. Armin T. Wegner resisted both the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust. In 1915, he took hundreds of photos of the persecuted Armenians and was subsequently arrested. In 1933, he wrote a letter to Hitler denouncing the persecution of Jews and was then sent to a concentration camp.

25. Chiune Sugihara a.k.a. “Japanese Schindler” was a Japanese diplomat in Germany during the Holocaust, who went against orders to save 6000 Jewish lives by issuing transit visas to them so that they could travel through Japanese territory. He's the only Japanese honored Righteous Among the Nations by Israel.

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