Random Fact Sheet #249 – Exploring 30 Extraordinary Facts

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1Fran Drescher’s Stalker

Fran Drescher’s Stalker

Fran Drescher’s stalker changed how sitcoms were made. To stop him from sneaking into the studio audience of The Nanny, they began to cast the audience from extras. Good/loud laughers were picked in casting, making the show feel funnier to home audiences. This became an industry standard.

2. When a French scientist wrote that American wildlife was physically inferior to European wildlife, Thomas Jefferson was so offended that he got a group of soldiers to find and send the scientist a bull moose from New Hampshire to prove the “stature and majesty of American quadrupeds.”

3. Your skin gets sunburned because your skin cells put up a protein flag on their surface that tells your white blood cells to come kill them so that they don't become cancerous. So they basically put a hit out on themselves.

4. The author of Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins, helped develop several Nickelodeon shows such as “Little Bear” and “Clarissa Explains It All.” She was also the head writer for Scholastic’s “Clifford's Puppy Days.”

5. When Clark Gable discovered the studio facilities for filming ‘Gone with the Wind’ were segregated, he threatened to walk out of production until the segregation signs were taken down.

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6John Bardeen

John Bardeen

American physicist John Bardeen is the only man to have received 2 Nobel Prizes in Physics. While receiving his first Nobel Prize, the King of Sweden asked him: “why did he bring just one of his 3 kids?” He replied: “I’ll bring them all for the next time.” He kept his promise.

7. Aglaonice of Thessaly was an ancient Greek sorceress who was part of a coven of witches known for their ability to “draw down the moon.” In reality, Aglaonice and her female acolytes were likely accomplished astronomers who were able to predict lunar eclipses.

8. Rudolph Hass, the man who grew and patented the original Hass avocado tree, didn’t make very much money despite its success as most people bought one single tree and then grew vast orchards from cuttings. He only made $5000 from his patent and remained a postman his entire life.

9. The optimal recovery position post-exercise is hands on knees, rather than hands on head. The results of a study indicated that the hands on knee posture significantly improved heart rate recovery, tidal volume, and carbon dioxide elimination in comparison with the hands on head posture.

10. Betty Crocker was never a real person. She was created for a Gold Medal Flour ad in 1921. Shortly after the company decided to use the character to answer all the baking and cooking questions received by mail, as a woman was a more trusted source of baking information than an all-male staff.

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11Danny DeVito

Danny DeVito

American actor Danny DeVito’s short stature, 4 feet 10 inches, is the result of Fairbank’s disease, a rare genetic disorder that affects bone growth.

12. Alfred Hitchcock was so afraid of Psycho being spoiled ahead of time that he bought up as many copies of the original novel as possible. He also insisted that cinemas (for the first time) schedule screening times, sell tickets for those screenings, and not let anyone in after the film started.

13. Iceland was extensively forested before the first humans settled there. But within 500 years of their arrival, 95% of woodlands had been cut down, leading to soil erosion, crop failure, and the eventual abandonment of many farms.

14. A pigeon named Gustav carried the first word of the Normandy invasion back to the British mainland during World War 2, as the fleet underwent radio silence at that time. He flew 150 miles in 5 hours 16 minutes. He was awarded the Dickin Medal for bravery. He died after the war after he was accidentally stepped on.

15. During a live performance in 1965, The Kinks guitarist Dave Davies asked drummer Mick Avory “Why don’t you get your c*ck out and play the snare with it? It’ll probably sound better.” In response, Avory knocked Davies unconscious with a cymbal and then fled the venue, thinking he’d killed him.

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‘Umarells’ is a term used in Italy used to describe old men, who watch over construction sites with their hands behind their backs, offering unwanted advice.

17. The person on the 10,000-Yen banknote in Japan is Fukuzawa Yukichi, who was among the first Japanese to visit America in 1860, after the end of Japan’s isolation period. He became known as one of the foremost experts on Western culture, and the college he founded, Keio University still stands today.

18. When roosters open their beaks fully, their external auditory canals completely close off. Basically, roosters have built-in earplugs and this helps prevent them from damaging their hearing when they crow.

19. A German Shepard named Rin Tin Tin was rescued from a World War I battlefield by an American soldier, Lee Duncan. Duncan trained Rin Tin Tin and obtained silent film work for the dog. He was an immediate box-office success and went on to appear in 27 Hollywood films, gaining worldwide fame.

20. Actor Adam DeVine from Workaholics and Pitch Perfect was paralyzed and nearly had his legs amputated at the age of 11 after being run over by a truck. He recovered years later after multiple surgeries and still has scarring. He credits this experience with giving him his ambition and drive.

21Harlem Hellfighters

Harlem Hellfighters

The 369th Infantry Regiment (better known as the Harlem Hellfighters) served on the front lines for 191 days during World War I, longer than any other American unit. In that time they never gave up any ground they captured.

22. The Quaker Oats Company isn’t Quaker and never was. They picked their name based on a religious stereotype about Quakers being honest in business.

23. Puppies removed from their mother before 12 weeks of age experience more behavioral problems and are less healthy than puppies separated from mother after 3 months. Removing puppies early doesn't improve puppies' ability to bond with humans.

24. Predjama Castle was under siege by the Austrian army for almost a year in the 15th Century. The castle lasted so long because it had a secret tunnel in the back which brought food to the castle. The siege ended only when the ruler died on the latrine after getting hit by a cannonball.

25. The “overview effect” is a cognitive shift in awareness reported by some astronauts during spaceflight, often while viewing the Earth from outer space. It is the experience of seeing firsthand the reality of the Earth in space. According to astronaut Edgar Mitchell, “You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a b*tch.’”

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