Random Facts Sheet #352 – Factopia Chronicles: 45 Tales of Surprising Knowledge

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1Tommy Manville's Marriages

Tommy Manville's Marriages

Tommy Manville, an heir to the Johns-Manville fortune, was promised $250,000 "when he married," under the provisions of the family trust. He then proceeded to wed a total of 13 times, each time giving his new wife a share of his wealth before immediately divorcing her.

2. Snuffleupagus is a character from "Sesame Street." At first, he was just Big Bird's imaginary friend, but it was later decided that he should be made real so that children would be more likely to talk about being abused.

3. Within its first year of release, Pac-Man earned $1 billion in quarters. In 1982, it made $6 billion in quarters, which was more than what was spent that year in Las Vegas casinos and US movie theaters combined.

4. "The Campaign for North Africa" has been called the world's longest board game because it is estimated to take about 1,500 hours to finish.

5. Excess calcium in dog meals throughout the 1970s and 1980s was linked to the white, dry dog feces that appeared on lawns during that time period. Since then, using commercial bone meal in dog food recipes has become increasingly rare.

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6Dogs vs Wolves Expressiveness

Dogs vs Wolves Expressiveness

Dogs have much more expressive faces than wolves. Dogs, in contrast to wolves, actively seek out human interaction and have far greater control over the movement of their eyebrows. Looking into a dog's eyes has the same effect as looking at a child.

7. In 1996, a couple named their son "Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb1116," claiming it was pronounced "Albin." They did this in response to a $740 fine for failing to register his name by his fifth birthday.

8. Van Gogh's painting "Café Terrace at Night" can be dated to within a day or two of when Van Gogh finished it because of how accurately he painted the stars.

9. Enrico Fermi accidentally split an atom for the first time in 1934. Instead of just striking uranium with neutrons, he was hoping to produce entirely new elements. In 1938, however, experts independently confirmed Fermi's findings.

10. In 1958, when Jewish comedian Groucho Marx was on tour in Germany, he climbed a pile of rubble that marked the spot where Adolf Hitler was killed and danced the Charleston for two minutes.

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11School of the Air

School of the Air

Due to the great distances between their houses, children in the Australian outback were listening to their classes on shortwave radio and sending their assignments by airmail for more than 50 years. Many kids' first exposure to the world outside their family was through "Schools of the Air," and the content was on par with or even better than what they'd get at a traditional school.

12. Sausage dogs, or Dachshunds, were created for the purpose of hunting European badgers. These dogs would burrow for hours in search of their prey before dragging them out by the face.

13. The New York Yankees have a strict appearance code that has been in place since 1976: "All players, coaches, and male executives are banned from wearing any facial hair other than mustaches, and scalp hair may not be grown below the collar." Long sideburns and muttonchops are permitted.

14. When NFL lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif received his medical degree from McGill Medical School in 2018, he attempted to have the letters "M.D." added to his nameplate, but the NFL rejected his request.

15. Over 300,000 oak trees were planted by the Swedish Navy in 1831 with the hope of using their lumber in ship construction 150 years later. Because contemporary battleships are made of metal, the Navy had little use for the trees after they learned that the trees had matured in 1975.

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16Heinz Meixner's Berlin Escape

Heinz Meixner's Berlin Escape

Heinz Meixner made one of the first efforts to get through the Berlin Wall in 1963. He took the windshield off a convertible and let the air out of the tires so they were as flat as possible. He concealed his future wife and her mother in the car, drove up to the boom barrier, and raced under it to freedom in West Berlin.

17. Lothar von Arnauld de la Perière was the most accomplished submarine captain in history. He only used 74 torpedoes during the course of his career, with 39 confirmed hits, yet he managed to sink 194 ships with a combined tonnage of 453,000 tons.

18. Due to Dickens's deep affection for cats, his sister-in-law turned one of his late cat Bob's paws into a letter opener to help ease the author's grief after Bob's untimely passing. This was always within Dickens' reach, and he used it first thing every morning to check his mail.

19. When someone on a NASA mission succeeds or contributes to the mission's success, they are awarded the Silver Snoopy. Charles M. Schulz, the creator of Peanuts, donated his time and art for the award since he was a huge admirer of the space program.

20. After 19 college students died playing American football in 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt threatened to ban the game. In response, 62 schools got together in New York to start what would become the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

21C4 Use During Vietnam War

C4 Use During Vietnam War

During the Vietnam War, C4 was used to start fires because it burns like wood and doesn't go off unless a blasting cap is used.

22. Fifa prevented the Mexican club Atlético Celaya from recruiting female player Maribel Dominguez in 2004 on the grounds that "there must be a clear division between men's and women's football," despite the fact that no such regulation prohibits women from playing football with a men's squad.

23. The "artificial intelligence" bot SmarterChild was introduced in 2000 on AOL Instant Messenger. It was one of the first openly accessible machine learning interfaces for consumers.

24. George Washington wouldn't go more than 25 miles from Mount Vernon to attend his nephew Lawrence Augustine Washington's wedding because he wanted to spend his retirement years close to his beloved estate.

25. American abolitionist Frederick Douglass was transferred to Baltimore as a child, where he learned the English alphabet from the mistress of the house. After the mistress' husband ended their lessons, Douglass bartered bread with the starving kids in the area for lessons in reading and writing.

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