Random Fact Sheet #314 – Random Wonders: 45 Fascinating Facts That Will Amaze and Delight You

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1Guy's Grocery Games

Guy's Grocery Games

TV show Guy's Grocery Games is shot in a made for TV grocery story with 10 aisles stocked with 20,000 items including fresh meats, seafood, produce, and baked goods which are donated to local food banks each week, which adds up to nearly 30,000 lb per season.

2. In 1524, a statue of the Virgin Mary at the Cathedral in Riga, Latvia, was accused of being a witch. They put it on trial by throwing it in the river. Since the wooden statue floated, they declared it guilty and burned it.

3. In 1966, Bill Cosby tried to get 16-year-old folk singer Janis Ian blacklisted from tv because he thought she was a lesbian and therefore unsuited for family entertainment.

4. Jean de Selys Longchamps was a Belgian aristocrat who flew with the RAF during World War 2. After learning that his father had been murdered by the Nazis, he flew to Brussels and machine-gunned the Gestapo headquarters. He was demoted for insubordination but also awarded a medal for heroism.

5. Nearly all French wine grapes are grown on vines grafted to rootstock from Missouri. In the 1860s, phylloxera bugs threatened to destroy the vineyards, but roots from the US were resistant. Hundreds of thousands were shipped in and were used to save the French vines.

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6Raccoons and Skunks

Raccoons and Skunks

Raccoons and skunks will literally sniff out a yellow jacket nest at night and dig it up to eat the yellow jackets.

7. A Titanic Survivor named Dick Williams spent over 6 hours waist-deep in freezing water. When rescue doctors wanted to amputate both his legs, he refused. He recovered and went on to win the Wimbledon Men’s Doubles in 1920.

8. Salvador Dali once conned Yoko Ono into paying $10,000 for a single blade of grass. Yoko had offered to pay that amount for one of his mustache hairs. He substituted the blade of grass because he thought that Yoko Ono was a witch and might use his hair in a spell.

9. In 1999, Tom Green hung his own unauthorized piece of art in the National Gallery of Canada (which remained untouched for days) with the added twist of later coming back and vandalizing it to the horror of onlooking patrons.

10. When his father died of a heart attack, Ronald Mallett resolved to figure out time travel to see him again. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in physics and become a professor and has been working on building a time machine ever since.

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11Eric Moussambani

Eric Moussambani

Eric Moussambani had never seen an Olympic-sized swimming pool before the 2000 Olympics. He recorded the slowest time in 100m freestyle history at 1:52.72. He however won his heat as all other competitors false-started. He is now a national hero, the head swimming coach of Equatorial Guinea.

12. MIT created a system that provides cooling with no electricity. It was tested in a blazing hot Chilean desert and achieved a cooling of 13°C compared to the hot surroundings.

13. After ZZ Top's exhausting first major tour, the band went on a long hiatus to recover. When the band finally reconvened after two years of relaxing and decompressing, the two guitarists discovered they had both separately let themselves go and grown long thick beards.

14. The medals in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (held in 2021) are made from metals recovered from recycled cell phones collected since 2017.

15. Olympic swimming is only timed to hundredths of a second because the pools aren’t built to the millimeter tolerances necessary to measure thousandths of a second.

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Drowning people almost never shout, thrash or wave for help. 10% of children who drown are supervised by adults who don't recognize the signs.

17. The idea for the McDonald's Happy Meal originated in Guatemala. Created by manager Yolanda Fernández de Cofiño to simplify the menu for busy parents, it was later brought to the attention of the Chicago office who developed it further and deployed it in the U.S.

18. There was an elevator driver strike in New York City in 1945. Up until then, people were afraid to use automatic elevators but the strike drove their mass adoption. The elevator driver job driver demand started to decline which ultimately meant their job is lost forever.

19. Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire killed 11% of the world's population in the 13th century.

20. Soviet gymnast Elena Mukhina was widely touted as the next great gymnastics star until 1979. Her coach rushed her recovery from an injury and pressured her to perform a dangerous move (the Thomas salto), which caused her to break her neck, leaving her a lifelong quadriplegic. She died at the age of 46 in 2006.

21Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson

America’s Founding Father’s love for ice cream was well known. Thomas Jefferson crafted an 18-step recipe for vanilla ice cream which is now housed in the Library of Congress. George Washington is said to have spent $200 on ice cream in the summer of 1790.

22. Leonardo da Vinci wrote, “all the branches of a tree at every stage of its height when put together are equal in thickness to the trunk”. In 2011, Christophe Eloy investigated and found that trees that followed Leonardo's rule would be the best at resisting wind-induced fracture.

23. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has written various books on topics ranging from the history of a black tank battalion that fought in World War 2 to a reimagining of the life of Mycroft Holmes, the brother of Sherlock Holmes.

24. Russian fishermen learned to farm caviar as early as the 12th century and for centuries it was considered nothing more than cheap peasant food, served with porridge and eaten by the bowlful.

25. Vin Diesel finessed Universal Studios to trade his Tokyo Drift cameo for full rights to the Riddick franchise. Riddick 2 had flopped hard before it and Vin Diesel was the only one who saw the potential of it. Later he did Riddick 3 with a more sensible budget making it a success for him.

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