Random Fact Sheet #343 – Random Marvels: 35 Astonishing Facts That Will Leave You in Awe

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1Lost City of Srivijaya

Lost City of Srivijaya

The city of Srivijaya was situated on Sumatra and ruled over Indonesia and much of Southeast Asia for over 600 years, but disappeared without a trace. Its location was recently uncovered when a fisherman on the River Musi discovered golden artifacts from the city caught in their nets.

2. Arthur Wharton, born in Ghana, in 1865, held the world record in the 100-yard track race for 30 years. He went on to be the world's first professional black soccer player, a cycling champion, a professional cricketer, and then a professional rugby player. He died penniless in 1930 and was buried in an unmarked pauper’s grave.

3. Mongolian beef found in Chinese restaurants isn't Mongolian in origin. It comes from Mongolian BBQ shops in Taiwan. Mongolian BBQ-style restaurants were created by a Taiwanese entrepreneur in the 1950s.

4. Extra Editions referred to a special paper which was issued outside the normal publishing schedule. It reported on important or sensational news which arrived too late for the regular edition.

5. After the Shah of Iran was overthrown, he was reluctantly given medical treatment in Panama. He was charged $21,000 a month for rent in Panama and they assigned to him a "militantly Marxist sociology professor" as a chief bodyguard who spent much of his time lecturing the Shah on how he deserved his fate.

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Icebreaker ships don't crack ice with a sharp bow, rather they break it by first riding the bow up on top of the ice, and then crushing it to pieces underneath the ship's immense weight.

7. In 1893, financier J.P. Morgan and the Rothschilds bailed out the U.S. Treasury with 3.5 million ounces of gold, saving it from default. Over 100 years later, Morgan's bank was bailed out by the federal government during the 2008 financial crisis.

8. The “Woman in Gold” painting was stolen by the Nazis from its Jewish owners in 1941 and displayed at the Galerie Belvedere in Austria. The gallery refused to return the art to its original owners and in 2006 after 7 years of legal claim which included a hearing in front of Supreme Court of the United States, it was returned.

9. The Jimmy Eat World song 'Hear You Me' was in tribute to Mykel and Carli Allan, arguably the biggest Weezer fans of all time. Often they would take in upcoming bands, including Jimmy Eat World. Sadly they died in a car accident, along with their sister, after leaving a Weezer concert.

10. When female manta rays are ready to mate they release pheromones that attract males. This leads to a "manta train" which consists of multiple male mantas following behind a female in hopes of mating with her. This can last for weeks until the final male mantas remain.

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Polonium-210 in tobacco contributes to many cases of lung cancer worldwide.

12. Marion Franklin Tinsley once defeated a checkers playing program named Chinook by analyzing 64 moves into the future and picking the only available winning strategy, after Chinook made a fatal error during gameplay. Tinsley is considered to be the greatest checkers player who ever lived.

13. In car racing, there is a very dangerous fire called an “invisible fire” that’s caused by methanol fuel igniting. It usually gets all over the pit crew and is very hard to put out because it’s so hard to see the flames.

14. France narrowly avoided a constitutional crisis in 1958 when an attempted military coup was diverted by the wartime leader Charles de Gaulle who gave himself emergency powers to establish a unity government that satisfied both civilian and military leaders.

15. Waggoner Ranch is a 525,000 acre, 800 square mile ranch in North Texas, that went up for sale for $725 million and sold for an undisclosed amount to billionaire Stan Kroenke in 2016, making it the largest sale amount ever offered for an American ranch.

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16ISS Weightlessness Myth

ISS Weightlessness Myth

Astronauts aboard the ISS feel weightlessness because it's in orbit (therefore constantly falling) not because of its distance from the earth. An airplane at the same altitude, under its own power, would have 89% as much gravity as the earth's surface.

17. Newark in New Jersey was founded in 1666 by disgruntled Puritans from Connecticut. Wishing to start a theocracy, they named their settlement New Ark believing they were creating a new ark of the covenant. New Ark remained a Puritan theocracy until 1746 when Episcopalian missionaries built a church.

18. Many Native American tribes used fire for thousands of years to manage forest brush for small game hunting as well as creating grasslands for the big game to be hunted. This resulted in many species of plants, animals, and fungi becoming extinct as the forest became a fire-adapted ecosystem.

19. Steven Spielberg developed the first Harry Potter film for 6 months. He called it a "slam dunk" and envisioned it being an animated film with Haley Joel Osment playing Harry. He left due to creative differences with Rowling.

20. Whoopi Goldberg has a fear of flying and only travels by tour bus because she witnessed a mid-air plane collision take place in San Diego back in 1978.

21Funeral Of Ulysses S. Grant

Funeral Of Ulysses S. Grant

The funeral procession for Ulysses S. Grant contained more than 1.5 million people. Pallbearers for Grant included four Civil War Generals, Sherman, Sheridan, Johnston, and Buckner.

22. During the 1960s American banks mass-mailed 100 million unsolicited credit cards to customers including unemployable people, drug addicts, and compulsive debtors. This practice was outlawed in 1970 due to the financial chaos it caused.

23. The Treble Clef symbol in musical notation began as a 'G', and due to repeated hand-copying by church scribes, mutated into the modern treble clef symbol. The bass clef symbol similarly began as an 'F'.

24. Queen’s guitarist Brian May uses banjo strings on his electric guitars. Banjo strings are much lighter (thinner) and can bend much easier, which gives the band its signature sound.

25. The "Ancient Spanish Monastery" in Miami was originally built in 1141 A.D. in Europe and was imported brick-by-brick into the U.S. in 1925 by media tycoon William Randolph Hearst, making it the oldest European building in the Western Hemisphere.

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