Random Fact Sheet #346 – Unraveling the Uncommon: 30 Lesser-Known Facts That Will Leave You Intrigued

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1Nardoo Fern

Nardoo Fern

Consumption of the Australian aquatic fern called Nardoo can cause you to starve if improperly prepared. The plant contains vast quantities of an enzyme that obliterates thiamine (vitamin B1), making your body unable to unlock energy from food, even if eating a full nutritious diet.

2. Air Conditioning was invented in 1902 to dry printing ink, but it became popular after installation in a movie theatre in New York 20 years later.

3. The Cities of Tampa and Miami have a rivalry over where the Cuban Sandwich was first invented and Tampa passed a resolution in 2012 naming it the official sandwich of the city.

4. Special effects had to be employed in Martin Scorsese's documentary film “The Last Waltz.” It was about “The Band's” farewell concert and special effects had to be employed due to the visible amount of cocaine being present on Neil Young's nose during his performance.

5. No babies are born with freckles because they haven't been in the sun long enough for specks to develop.

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6Mcdonald Observatory Incident

Mcdonald Observatory Incident

The McDonald Observatory in Texas has 7 bullet holes in it its primary mirror, which was shot by a newly hired employee who was apparently very dissatisfied with his new job. The damage it caused however only reduced its effectiveness by 1% approximately.

7. Mary Louvestre was an African-American Civil War spy, who delivered details about the construction of the Confederacy's first ironclad into Union hands. Using her seamstress skills, she traced plans her employer had.

8. In the 20th century there was a female criminal gang called the Forty Elephants. Due to conventional ideas of femininity that women were weaker than men, courts believed it was impossible for women to be orchestrators of crime. Most of the women in the gang were assumed to have played supporting roles and received lesser sentences.

9. If you bought a lottery ticket in 16th century England it came with the added bonus of getting a 'get out of jail free card.' Every participant was granted immunity from one arrest, as long as the crime wasn't extremely serious, like murder or treason.

10. Saif ad-Din Qutuz was a child prince from the Khwarezmian Empire who was sold as a slave after the Mongols invaded their land and killed his family. He arrived in Egypt and rose among the ranks until he became Sultan. He then served the Mongols one of their first major defeats, which became a historical turning point for the Mongols.

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11Jean-Bédel Bokassa

Jean-Bédel Bokassa

In 1977, Jean-Bédel Bokassa declared himself as the emperor of Central Africa. He then orchestrated an opulent coronation ceremony, which was almost an exact copy of Napoleon's coronation. The ceremony cost nearly $20 million ($90 million today) and almost bankrupted the country. He was overthrown less than 2 years later.

12. Red pandas were the original pandas and giant pandas were named pandas due to similar habits to the red pandas.

13. The second Prime Minister of India, Lal Bahadur Shastri, died in mysterious circumstances in 1966. No autopsy was ever performed, the Indian Government released no information about his death, and the media was kept silent. His death is considered to be one of India's biggest unsolved mysteries.

14. Charles Darwin's Tree of Life sketch was anonymously returned to Cambridge University Library in a pink gift bag - two decades after being stolen.

15. Erasmus Darwin (grandfather of Charles) built a speaking machine out of bellows. It had leather lips that could generate sounds similar to 'ma' and 'pa.' He made it in a failed bid to win a bet with Matthew Boulton that he could build a machine that could speak the lord’s prayer.

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Sebastianism was a cult that believes Portuguese King Sebastião I was never killed in battle and will return when Portugal needs him the most. The last Sebastianists are found on a Brazilian island where the locals say he's been reincarnated as a bull.

17. The little loops on the back of men's dress shirts have an official name and use. They're called 'locker loops' and were earlier tailored on sailors' shirts so that they could hang their shirts anywhere on hooks on their ship. Universities later followed this trend to keep their button-down uniforms wrinkle-free.

18. Although born vision impaired, singer Andrea Bocelli was officially made completely blind by a soccer ball at the age of 12 while playing goalie. Doctors even, "resorted to leeches in a last-ditch effort to save his sight, but they were unsuccessful and he remained blind."

19. The Romans published a daily gazette called the Acta Diurna. It contained major events, births, and deaths. It was either inscribed in stone or metal or painted in black on white walls called Albums. This practice was initiated by Julius Caesar and lasted from 59 B.C. to 222 A.D.

20. It was practically illegal to own gold in the US from 1933 to 1974. Roosevelt signed an Executive Order to force all citizens to turn in almost all gold for about $20 per ounce, then declared the value of $20 in gold to be worth $35 in paper currency, creating massive inflation.

21Noble Train of Artillery

Noble Train of Artillery

During the American Revolutionary War, Henry Knox managed to transport 60 tons of artillery 300 miles in three months during the dead of winter. This stupendous feat of logistics was widely credited as the catalyst that broke the British siege of Boston and was known as the Noble Train of Artillery.

22. American multimillionaire LaVere Redfield was discovered to be hoarding a massive collection of around 270,000 silver Morgan dollars and postage stamps in his basement during a robbery in 1952. Following his death in 1974, his heirs uncovered even more coins hidden, which was sold for around $7.3 million.

23. In 1966, the United States Air Force lost 4 hydrogen bombs above Palomares in Spain, after a midair collision. Two of these bombs spread radioactive material, including plutonium-239, over a wide area. A large amount of contaminated Spanish soil was removed, packed up, and shipped to the US.

24. Grave Wax is formed by a chemical reaction that turns the fat in your thighs and butt into a soap-like substance after a decade in a coffin.

25. Ancient Egyptians believed that the heart recorded all of the good and bad deeds of a person's life, and was needed for judgment in the afterlife. They believed that after death, the heart was weighed against the feather of Maat and if a person had led an unjust life, their heart was deemed too heavy to enter paradise.

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