Random Facts Sheet #358 – Lesser-Known Universe: 35 Random Facts That Will Expand Your Horizons

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1Copper and Barnacle Prevention

Copper and Barnacle Prevention

Barnacles used to be a big problem for ships, but in the 18th century, the British Navy covered their ships' hulls with copper to stop barnacles from growing. This gave them a big advantage.

2. The late president of Nintendo, Hiroshi Yamauchi, owned the Seattle Mariners baseball team, despite never having attended a baseball game before buying the team. Despite owning the Mariners for over 20 years, he never once attended a single one of their games.

3. Hippos have a unique reflex mechanism that allows them to pop up, take a breath, and go back down without waking up so that they can sleep underwater.

4. Bothie the Polar Dog is the only dog to have traveled to both the North and South Poles. No other dog is expected to match Bothie's achievement after the Antarctic Treaty of 1994, which forbids dogs from going to the Antarctic continent.

5. Beethoven's 3rd Symphony was initially his tribute to Napoleon, whom he admired. However, when Napoleon crowned himself emperor in 1804, Beethoven angrily declared that Napoleon had become a tyrant and erased his name from the score's title page.

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6"Cried All the Way to the Bank"

The saying "cried all the way to the bank" is popularly attributed to Liberace, who famously wrote the phrase in a telegram after winning a libel suit against a reporter who had insinuated that Liberace was homosexual.

7. The Aristocrats joke gained public attention when Gilbert Gottfried told it in an attempt to win back the audience after his 9/11 joke at the Friar's Club was poorly received. This happened 18 days after the attack.

8. A special law was introduced in 1987 in the UK to ensure that the Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital would forever be able to collect royalties from stage performances, audiobooks, book releases, and other productions of Peter Pan in the UK. This is because JM Barrie gifted Peter Pan's rights to Great Ormond Street Hospital, and his copyright expired in 1987. This is the only work with an "exception" to copyright laws.

9. In 1988, Tom Cruise starred in two films, Rain Man and Cocktail, which received opposite critical receptions. While Rain Man won the Oscar for Best Picture, Cocktail was awarded the Razzie for Worst Picture. Cruise is the only actor to receive both distinctions in the same year.

10. In Chinese folk religion, a person could attain godhood not through a clergy's decision but by the sheer number of believers. People who achieved extraordinary feats could be canonized as gods, which pressured Confucian and Taoist clerics to legitimize their godhood.

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11Newborn Water Content

Newborn Water Content

At birth, a newborn baby is made up of 75% water, slightly more than bananas but slightly less than potatoes.

12. Walt Disney World was originally known as "The Florida Project." Walt Disney Productions used dummy corporations to purchase 27,000 acres of land to avoid speculation in the Orlando area. Early rumors speculated that NASA, Ford, the Rockefellers, and Howard Hughes might be involved in the project.

13. Caratacus led the fight against the Romans for ten years until he was betrayed and caught. But he gave an eloquent speech to Emperor Claudius that made him change his mind and let him go free.

14. For 15 years (2001-2015), several of Canada's largest grocery chains, including Loblaws, conspired to keep bread prices artificially high. During that time, bread prices rose by 96%, compared to overall food inflation of only 45%.

15. For over two centuries, Columbia personified the United States and was even an alternate name for the country. She gave rise to names like the District of Columbia and British Columbia. After World War I, Lady Liberty replaced her, and Columbia gradually faded from public memory.

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16William Bligh's Ousters

William Bligh's Ousters

William Bligh, who was overthrown as captain in the famous mutiny on the HMS Bounty, was also overthrown as governor of New South Wales in Australia's only military coup.

17. In the 1960s, benzodiazepines were first sold as a way to treat anxiety, stress, and insomnia. At the time, mostly women used them. The gendered cultural meanings of Valium, a well-known benzodiazepine, were cemented in the 1966 Rolling Stones' song "Mother's Little Helper."

18. Duck sauce was created in the US when Chinese restaurateurs realized that Americans preferred a sweeter sauce than the traditional Tianmian (sweet bean) sauce served with Peking duck.

19. According to a 10-year retrospective study at the University of Chicago Burn Center, over 30% of pediatric scald burns are caused by accidents involving instant ramen.

20. Margaret Knight (1838-1914) invented a machine for mass-producing flat-bottomed paper bags. After winning a lawsuit against a fraudster who copied her design, the patent was issued in 1871. Her first invention was created when she was only 12 years old and began working in a factory. In total, she had 87 patents.

21D'Angelo's Red Dead Redemption

D'Angelo's Red Dead Redemption

Musician and songwriter D'Angelo not only recorded a song for Red Dead Redemption 2 called "Unshaken," but he also served as a playtester during the video game's development due to his love of the series.

22. Honeycombs start out circular, and the surface tension of the beeswax pulls them into hexagons as it solidifies because it is the most energetically favorable conformation.

23. During the 17th century, coffeehouses were so popular in England that they were often referred to as "Penny Universities." For the price of a penny, one could buy a cup of coffee and engage in stimulating conversation on a wide range of topics, from politics to literature.

24. Pipedown is a British campaign group dedicated to removing piped music from public spaces.

25. In 1965-1966, a Scottish man named Agostino "Angus" Giuseppe A. Barbieri fasted for over a year (382 days) under medical supervision and lost 276 pounds. During that time, he only consumed vitamins, electrolytes, and yeast, as well as zero-calorie drinks. The only exceptions were small amounts of milk and sugar with his tea.

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