Random Fact Sheet #236 – 35 Wondrous Facts to Amaze Your Brain

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1Elizabeth McWilliams

Elizabeth McWilliams

A nurse's aide named Elizabeth McWilliams took care of influenza patients in 1918. She worked tirelessly for patients before contracting the illness herself and dying. Her last words were “I am happy because I’ve tried to be a real American.”

2. Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II had young infants raised without speaking to them in the 13th century to determine if there was a "natural" language imparted by God. His experiments were proven unsuccessful because all the children raised this way died.

3. The TV show "Big Brother" had a policy of keeping the contestants in total information isolation. This included not informing the cast about 9/11. They had to change the policy after one of the cast's family members was lost at Ground Zero.

4. Dalmatians are associated with Fire Fighters because they were originally used as sirens. Dating back to the 1800s, they could keep up with the horse-drawn carriages and warn people they are coming as well as scare off anything that would spook the horses.

5. American cyclist Greg LeMond was accidentally shot with 60 shotgun pellets during a hunt and he lost 65% of his blood volume. Two years later, with 35 pellets still in his body, he won the 1989 Tour de France, becoming the first (and only) American to win the tournament twice.

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6George Washington

George Washington

When George Washington became president, he scrapped the plans for “Washington monument” as he didn’t want to use public money for a personal memorial monument. Long after he died, in 1833 a small group of Washingtonians established a society to raise private funds for the project and got it built.

7. One of the first soldiers to charge the beach on D-Day was a Canadian bagpiper named Bill Millin, who only survived because he said German Snipers thought he was too crazy to be shot.

8. Owner of the Malden Mills, Aaron Feuerstein, could have retired when his textile factory burned down in 1995. Instead, he paid employees for 60 days and rebuilt the factory in the same place. When asked about his decision, he replied: “And what would I do with it? Eat more? Buy another suit? Retire and die?”

9. A man named Jia Jiang set out to overcome his fear of rejection in “100 Days of Rejection.” He forced himself to ask strangers for favors with a high risk of a “no” such as: Ask to borrow $100; ask for a free “burger refill” at a restaurant. His odd requests sometimes got a “yes.”

10. Bacteria are becoming more tolerant of hand sanitizers, but they will never survive regular hand washing with soap. Soap’s physical action of lifting and moving them off your skin, and letting them run down the drain is very important.

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11Domestic pigs

Domestic pigs

Domestic pigs will quickly adapt to living in the wild if set free. They become extremely aggressive, and their physiology will change and resemble that of feral swine (bristly hair, tusks, increased muscle mass) within a matter of months.

12. Stained glass originated to help illiterate people learn about the Bible.

13. Benjamin Franklin was such an incredible swimmer that he was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1968.

14. A 9-year-old pitbull-mix from Montana named Zeus was stolen by a family “friend” and found 2,000 miles away in West Virginia after the thief was arrested. Zeus had a microchip with contact info but was too big to fly so 15 strangers volunteered to drive him home across 9 states.

15. Agatha Christie's in-depth description of using Thallium to poison people in her novel, The Pale Horse, inspired several people to poison others in real life. In some instances, medical professionals who had read the book recognized the symptoms when others had not.

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Deficiency of Vitamin-D worsens Respiratory Tract Infections. This is thought to be one of the reasons why there are fewer Flu cases in the summer.

17. Arthur Conan Doyle loosely based Sherlock Holmes on Dr. Joseph Bell, a Scottish surgeon who was known for his skills in observation. Dr. Bell would often pick a stranger, and by observing him, deduce his occupation and recent activities. He was considered a pioneer in forensic science.

18. In order for Voldemort’s name to spell out to “Je Suis Voldemort” in the French translations of Harry Potter, they had to make his middle name ‘Elvis.’

19. Boston Police officers cared for a stray cat named "SWAT Cat" for 3 years; when the calico cat went missing, Officer Pietroski, (15-yr veteran of BPD), worked after hours to build a "kitty condo" including a large deck and sliding glass doors. The cat returned and moved into the new home.

20. Fire departments were first created in the modern world by the insurance companies in the 17th century. These companies hired private brigades to put out fires for their policyholders. Each insurance company had its own brigade and would extinguish only the fires of their customers while leaving non-customer properties to burn.

21Josef Schleifstein

Josef Schleifstein

In 1943, the life of a 2 ½ year old Jewish boy named Josef Schleifstein was saved after his father hid him in a large sack when they arrived at Buchenwald concentration camp. He was eventually found, but the guards took a liking to him and saw him as a "camp mascot". He survived the war.

22. There was a pandemic in the early 20th century that caused life-long stupor and Parkinsonism in survivors, with many sleeping during the day and waking at night. It resulted in the deaths of millions of people worldwide. Called "Sleeping Sickness", the causative agent has never been found.

23. Joaquin Phoenix began calling himself "Leaf" as a child, having been inspired by spending time outdoors raking leaves and desiring to have a nature-related name like his siblings. This became the name he used as a child actor until he changed it back to Joaquin at the age of 15.

24. Johnny Carson caused a nationwide toilet paper shortage in 1973 by claiming on national TV that there was a toilet paper shortage.

25. There is a conference for all towns and cities around the world named Newcastle that is held every 2 years, where members meet up and discuss how to form better relationships around the world.

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