Random Facts Sheet #356 – 45 Random Facts That Ignite Curiosity

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1Release of Bionicle

Release of Bionicle

Lego was flirting with bankruptcy, and the release of Bionicle, which accounted for 100% of their profits in 2003, saved them from going under.

2. Texas A&M University used to have an annual bonfire. In 1999, 12 students died when the Aggie Bonfire collapsed upon them during construction. The deaths led to the end of the tradition as the university faced a series of lawsuits and couldn't afford the expected $2 million in insurance per year for conducting the bonfire.

3. In 1794, George Washington signed the Slave Trade Act, which banned U.S. ships from participating in the Atlantic Slave Trade as well as the exportation of slaves for foreign sale. The United States government passed it as the first significant piece of anti-slavery legislation.

4. Henry Ford refused for years to make any significant improvements to the Model T. When his designers surprised him with a new prototype, he destroyed it in front of them with his bare hands.

5. Due to a lack of workers after the Black Death in England, peasants were able to negotiate better pay. In response, Parliament passed the Statute of Laborers 1351, which prohibited the soliciting of wages above pre-plague levels. This contributed to the English Peasants' Revolt of 1381.

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6Sea Urchins

Sea Urchins

Sea urchins are called sea urchins because hedgehogs used to be called urchins until about the 15th century. Sea urchins are, therefore, ocean hedgehogs.

7. The Higgs-Boson particle, aka "the god particle,", was actually called "the goddamn particle" by physicists because it was so difficult to detect. Publishers forced the renaming, resulting in a confusing tie to religion for the particle, which is nearly universally hated by physicists.

8. In Sweden in the Middle Ages, the lawspeaker was a respected official who knew all of the local laws by heart. They were chosen because they were wise and could communicate well, and it was their job to keep traditional Swedish laws and customs alive. Today, the position has evolved into a ceremonial role held by the speaker of the Swedish Parliament.

9. An area in Texas is called "The Texas Killing Fields." Since the early 1970s, roughly 30 bodies have been extracted from the fields, mainly young girls. The fields have been described as "a perfect place for killing somebody and getting away with it."

10. In 1554, a woman named Elizabeth Crofts hid in a wall in Aldersgate Street in London, where she pretended to be a heavenly voice. Supposedly 17,000 people came to listen to her give out anti-Catholic propaganda.

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11Last Words Database

Last Words Database

The state of Texas keeps a database of over 500 executed inmates' last words going back to the 1980s.

12. American cars in the 1980s were legally prohibited from showing speeds above 85 mph on the speedometer.

13. At the height of her fame, child actress Shirley Temple had to fight rumors that she was really a 30-year-old with dwarfism. This was because she was very physically coordinated and was never seen missing baby teeth. The rumors were so prevalent in Europe that the Vatican sent a priest to investigate.

14. The pajamas that we wear today actually have a story behind them. During the World War I air raids in England, people began donning pyjamas rather than nightgowns so that they would be ready to sprint outside and still look presentable.

15. When a cow has opposite-sex twins, the female twin is usually born intersex and infertile. This happens because the twins' blood supplies are linked, which exposes the female to male sex hormones.

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16WLW Radio Tower

WLW Radio Tower

The most powerful commercial radio station ever was WLW (700 kHz AM), which, during certain times in the 1930s, broadcast at 500 kW of radiated power. At night, it reached half the world, and people who lived near the transmitter could hear it through their pots, pans, and mattresses. A nearby hotel's neon sign never went dark due to the power of the transmitter, and farmers reported hearing the radio through their barbed-wire fences.

17. Grapefruits were invented in 1693. A man named Captain Shaddock shipped some pomelo seeds to the West Indies, and they were planted next to some orange trees. After some cross-pollination, the grapefruit was born.

18. Muhammad Ali insulted his British opponent, Henry Cooper, before their 1963 bout. Cooper proceeded to give Ali a punishing fight, knocking him down at one point. Afterwards, Ali conceded that Cooper had given him the fight of his life.

19. Babies have about 30,000 taste buds, while adults have only about 10,000.

20. Following the D-Day invasion, the USS Texas intentionally flooded part of itself to allow the ship's guns to fire further inland.

21No Wheelchairs Onboard

No Wheelchairs Onboard

Because passenger airflights aren't covered by the ADA, wheelchairs can't be brought onboard. They are regularly returned damaged to their users, who depend on staff for everything from boarding to using the bathroom to departing.

22. Lewis Carroll's nonsense poem "Jabberwocky" requires great creativity on the part of translators, as they need to invent nonsense words that evoke similar feelings to each made-up word in the English original.

23. Harold Urey was given the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for finding deuterium (also called "heavy hydrogen"), which is a part of "heavy water." However, he didn't go to the award ceremony in Stockholm because he wanted to be there when his daughter was born.

24. Dogs intentionally try to make humans laugh. They understand that laughter means play, and play is positive.

25. A cup of grape juice contains 33% more sugar than a cup of grape soda.

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