Random Fact Sheet #269 – 30 Incredible Facts That Will Make You Appreciate the World

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1Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter

On his second day in office, 39th American President Jimmy Carter pardoned all the Vietnam War draft evaders by issuing Proclamation 4483.

2. When Alexander the Great defeated Darius III at Issus, Darius fled leaving his entire family to Alexander, including his mother Sisygambis. Alexander treated them well, and when Darius was killed Sisygambis did not mourn her son: "I have only one son [Alexander] and he is the king of all Persia."

3. Monkees never outsold the Beatles and Rolling Stones (as widely reported). Michael Nesmith was giving an interview in 1977 and lied. "It isn’t too well known that we sold over 35 million records in 1967", said Nesmith. He wondered if it was too outrageous, but the next day it was printed as fact.

4. Edgar Allan Poe is considered one of the founders of the Detective Genre. He created one of the first detectives who solved mysteries based on the facts of the crime. He is credited with inventing the “least likely suspect” trope, as well as the culprit framing another by planting evidence.

5. Peter Buxtun is an epidemiologist at the Public Health Service who after filing two protests with his superiors was the man who blew the whistle on the Tuskeegee Syphilis Experiment. It would become front-page news in the New York Times the next day and congressional hearings would be called.

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6NYC water

NYC water

All of New York City's water comes in through 2 large tunnels underground. A 3rd tunnel is being built under NYC. Construction on the 3rd tunnel began in 1970 and is one of the most complex and intricate engineering projects in the world.

7. If hay bales get wet while in storage, bacteria can grow, which builds heat, and can cause the hay to spontaneously combust.

8. Phyllis Pearsall founded a successful map company after constantly getting lost in London using an outdated map. Pearsall worked 18 hour days to create a new map, which was initially rejected by publishers, but later she began receiving orders and became an established map maker of London.

9. The first McDonald's drive-through was created in 1975 in Sierra Vista, Arizona, near Fort Huachuca, a military installation, to serve military members who were not permitted to get out of their cars off-post while wearing fatigues.

10. Hercules had a fraternal twin brother, Iphicles. They shared the same mother, Alcmene, but while Hercules' father was Zeus, Iphicles' father was Amphitryon, a normal man. Born one day apart, the brothers were close and Iphicles' son, Iolaus, became a favorite companion of Hercules. 

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11Swiss Banking Act

Swiss Banking Act

The Swiss Banking Act made it a criminal offense to disclose the account information and activity of Jewish clients to Nazi Germany affiliates during World War 2.

12. In 2005, when speaking to a class of 4th graders, the Mayor of Las Vegas, Oscar Goodman, was asked what he'd take with him if stranded on a desert island. He replied: "A bottle of Bombay Sapphire Gin." When asked about his hobbies, he said he enjoyed drinking Bombay Sapphire Gin.

13. In Poznan, Poland, eight clams get to decide if people in the city get water or not. They are equipped with sensors atop them that trip the water supply pumps when they close due to detecting something unsafe in the water.

14. David Bowie founded the “Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Men with Long Hair” when he was 17. The BBC interviewed him about it on which he stated: “It's not nice when people call you darling and that."

15. Mushrooms are the only non-animal food with Vitamin D and their vitamin D levels can be increased by placing them in the sun, just like humans.

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16Cable car disaster

Cable car disaster

In 1998, a US Navy pilot flew too low against regulations and cut a gondola’s cable, killing 20 people. He and his crew were put on trial and found not guilty of involuntary manslaughter and negligent homicide.

17. Charles Darwin never used the word "evolution" in his book ‘On the Origin of Species.’ He instead called the process “descent with modification.” He only used the term “evolved” once, as the last word of the last sentence of the book.

18. Japanese POWS provided a vast wealth of information during World War 2. This was because most Japanese soldiers were unaware of the rights they retained as prisoners under the Geneva convention. Many also felt indebted to American troops for the courteous treatment they received.

19. In 1932, Benito Mussolini described antisemitism as a "German vice" and stated that "There was 'no Jewish Question' in Italy and could not be one in a country with a healthy system of government."

20. The coffee bean is actually just the pit of a bright red fruit called a coffee cherry.



XF-84H, also known as Thunderscreech, is perhaps the loudest aircraft ever. A turboprop plane intended to break the sound barrier, its single propeller visibly produced a continuous sonic boom that radiated for 100s of yards. The ground crew was regularly incapacitated by nausea and, in one case, a seizure.

22. In Māori, France is known as Wīwī, derived from the French phrase oui, oui (yes, yes).

23. The Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation which runs the Crazy Horse statue in South Dakota is worth $77 million. It is not operated by the local Lakota people, and is considered a disgrace by many Lakota. Crazy Horse was known for his humility and never allowed his picture to be taken.

24. The 19th-century anti-urination devices built against sides of buildings were shaped such that anyone urinating there needed to stand away from the wall in public view. The slope of them meant that if anyone still tried to do so, the urine would be deflected back onto their feet and legs.

25. American Samoa has a population of less than 60,000 but has the highest rate of military enlistment of any U.S. state or territory. The local Army recruitment station in Pago Pago ranked #1 in 2014 and 2015 in enlistment out of the 885 Army recruiting stations at the time.

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