Random Facts Sheet #349 – 45 Curious Curiosities: A Collection of Random Facts

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1Major Wilbert “Doug” Pearson

Major Wilbert “Doug” Pearson

United States Air Force Major Wilbert "Doug" Pearson created history on September 13, 1985, when he managed to perform the first and only air-to-space kill ever recorded when he shot down a satellite with his F-15A fighter jet.

2. Matthew McConaughey was first assigned to play Marty Hart in the first season of True Detective. McConaughey however requested to switch his role to Rust Cohle due to the character's obsessive tendencies. McConaughey then created a 450-page analysis of Cohle to study the character's evolution in the series.

3. During the Gulf War, Saddam Hussein built a defensive line filled with trenches and tunnels, hoping to engage the coalition in trench warfare similar to the ones seen during World War 1. US forces however charged ahead with modified bulldozers and simply plowed through the Iraqi trenches, burying many of their soldiers alive.

4. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was not the first such law to be passed in the U.S. It was rather the third one. The first one was passed in 1866. It was re-enacted in 1870 because many in Congress were concerned that the original law was not enforceable without the 14th Amendment. This was then overturned by the United States Supreme Court in 1883.

5. In 1999, Tiger Woods hit a tee shot that landed behind a boulder. The boulder was ruled a 'loose impediment' which allowed it to be moved. Several of Tiger's gallery and his caddie worked together to move the boulder, allowing Tiger to birdie the hole.

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6Ancient Lakes

Ancient Lakes

There are only 20 ancient lakes (defined as carrying water for more than a million years) in the world, with only 3 in North America (Tahoe, Tule, Pingualuk). Nearly all of them are tectonic (i.e. rift zones) in origin; however, 2 are from meteorite craters (Pingualuk in Canada, Bosumtwi in Ghana)

7. The popularity of "Doer" names for Boys, like Racer, Trooper, Charger, Wrangler, etc., rose by 1000% between 1980 and 2000. Since then it has largely stabilized at around 50,000 "Doer" named Boys per year.

8. The success of the 1975 movie Rollerball, led to promoters wanting to buy the rights to the in-film sport. The director, Norman Jewison, was outraged as the movie showcased the "sickness and insanity of contact sports and their allure."

9. In 1963, the Japanese government started awarding its centenarian citizens a commemorative silver sake cup on their 100th birthday. As years went by and more and more people were celebrating their 100th birthday, the size of the cup was shrunk and instead of it being silver, the cup was made with a silver-plated nickel alloy, which saved the Japanese government $1 million annually.

10. Steve Jobs offered Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux a job at Apple under the condition he stopped developing for Linux. He declined the job offer.

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11Enforcers Job Profile

Enforcers Job Profile

In ice hockey, there are unofficial "Enforcers" whose job is to deter dirty or violent plays by the opposition by responding with even more violence.

12. Some of the scenes for Gladiator, Band of Brothers, Children of Men, Thor, and Coldplay's 'The Scientist' were all filmed in the same woodland (Bourne Wood) in Surrey.

13. Of the 8 known polar bear and grizzly bear hybrids, all of them are descended from the same mother polar bear.

14. Francium is the second-rarest naturally occurring element on earth. Just as little as 20-30 g (1oz) of this element exists at any given time throughout the earth's crust. It's rare because it's unstable. Francium continually gets created as uranium and thorium decay, but its most stable isotope has a half-life of just 22 minutes.

15. Apart from identical and nonidentical, third type of twins also exist. When a single egg is fertilized by two sperms and the egg then splits in two, "Semi-identical" twins are created. If it doesn't split, it can lead to a non-viable triploidy pregnancy where the fetus has 3 sets of chromosomes.

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16Alarm Clocks

Alarm Clocks

Alarm clocks did exist before the snooze function, so there was already a standard gear setup that innovators had to work with. Getting the gear teeth to line up to allow for exactly ten minutes wasn't possible, so they chose to set it at nine minutes and a few seconds.

17. Pliny the Elder was a naturalist and author of the encyclopedia which is considered to be the scientific authority from Roman times through the Middle Ages. Most of his books on Natural History (around 37) were dictated by him in his spare time after work. He died trying to mount a boat to rescue his friends from the Pompeii disaster.

18. Amobi Okoye moved to the US at the age of 12 from Nigeria with no prior knowledge of American Football. He graduated at the age of 16 with All-state honors, turned down Harvard to play for Louisville, and went on to become the youngest NCAA, and eventually the youngest NFL player in history.

19. The 1986 Buick Riviera was the first car to come with a touch screen. Its display offered automatic climate control, AM/FM radio with optional graphic equalizer, trip calculations, gauges, and even the vehicle's diagnostic info. This included status of the powertrain, brake wear, and electrical system.

20. In 1926, a United States Marine Corps Sergeant named Faustin E. Wirkus stationed in Haiti was proclaimed "King of La Gonâve" by the inhabitants of the island after he saved their Queen from drowning. His reign ended when the USMC transferred him back to the US mainland in 1929.

21Village Idiot

Village Idiot

Nickelback originally started as a cover band named 'Village Idiot.'

22. René Just Haüy was a French priest who went on to be known as the "Father of Modern Crystallography". He discovered the science of crystallography after he accidentally broke a piece of calcite and discovered that they cleaved along straight planes that met at constant angles. He broke more pieces to confirm his discovery and developed the theory of crystal structure.

23. Contrary to what everybody thinks, if you park your car in a dark spot at night, the chances of theft are smaller because thieves don't like to use lights.

24. USA's 77th Division was nicknamed the "Lost Battalion" during World War 1 after they launched an attack in the Argonne forest under the idea that they were being supported by the French on the left and more US soldiers on the right. Ally support was stalled and they pushed their attack so far that they were cut off. They held their ground for six days; were surrounded by Germans, shelled by their own artillery, and therefore ran low on rations and ammunition. Only 194 out of approximately 544 men were successfully rescued.

25. On September 01, 1857, New York City held a parade to celebrate the laying of the first transatlantic telegraph cable. The project took four years to complete and the line failed just a month later. It was not until 1866 that transatlantic communication resumed after a third line was laid (the second line snapped at sea).

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