Random Revelations: Article #169- 40 Quirky and Captivating Random Facts to Enjoy

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1Scrabble players

Scrabble players

A lot of the world's best Scrabble players are Thai and cannot even speak English, despite them using English words. Players often memorize lists of words, but avoid learning their meaning, as understanding English is a disadvantage to them.

2. The first known recording of a human voice was made in 1860 but was only intended to show a sound wave visually, not to be played back. In 2008, it was optically scanned and converted to a sound file, revealing it to be a man singing "Au Clair de la Lune."

3. On the Mississippi River in the 1850s, the word "two" was often pronounced "twain." When leadsmen measured the depth of two fathoms, they shouted "mark twain!" The American writer Mark Twain, a former river pilot from Missouri, got his pen name from this phrase.

4. The chocolate midge is no bigger than the size of a pinhead. It is the only creature that can pollinate cacao trees, and therefore the production of chocolate is threatened by the collapse of the insect ecosystem.

5. People who look young for their age have a higher life expectancy than those who don't.

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6Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson

Ice cream, macaroni and cheese, French fries, and champagne were all popularized in or introduced to America by President Thomas Jefferson.

7. The Beatles would never have been seen on American TV but for the JFK assassination. CBS executives decided that America needed something light-hearted on the news to take the nation’s mind off the painful assassination and showed a brief clip. Ed Sullivan was unexpectedly watching.

8. Stalin hired people to edit photographs throughout his reign. People who became his enemy were removed from every photograph pictured with him. Sometimes, Stalin would even insert himself in photos at key moments in history or had technicians make him look taller in them.

9. Senator Mike Gravel of Alaska was instrumental in the release of the Pentagon Papers, using his seat on an obscure committee to force the Papers into Congressional record.

10. Ruth Coker Burks cared for hundreds of people dying of AIDS, abandoned by their families because of their "sin."

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11Nurse-Family Partnership

Nurse-Family Partnership

The non-profit Nurse-Family Partnership, which arranges for registered nurses to make regular home visits to first-time low-income or vulnerable mothers, reduced the number of babies or toddlers hospitalized for accidents by more than half and increased babies' IQ by 5 to 7 points.

12. Annie Kopchovsky was the first woman to cycle around the world and only learned how to ride a bike two days prior to setting off. She ended up accomplishing the trip in 15 months and won $10,000 for the feat.

13. The founders of Ben & Jerry’s learned how to make ice cream by taking a $5 correspondence course offered by Penn State because one of them couldn’t get into medical school and the other couldn’t sell enough pottery to make a living.

14. Piggy banks are not actually named after pigs. They date back to the Middle Ages when a type of clay – called ‘pygg’ – was used to make pots that could store money.

15. Having power actually reduces a person's ability to empathize neurologically. When given power, a person's ability to adapt their behavior to the behaviors of other people diminishes, which explains why people are often mean to their subordinates.

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16Spain stolen babies

Spain stolen babies

Doctors, nurses and Catholic clergy were involved in stealing approximately 300,000 babies during the Franco era in Spain which started in the 1930s and continued up until the 1990s. Children were moved from parents deemed "undesirable" and placed with "approved" families. Birth mothers were told their baby had died.

17. Ramanujan’s lost notebook which was discovered 56 years after his death, contained the mock theta functions that have been found to be useful for calculating the entropy of black holes. The unordered sheets contained over 600 mathematical formulas listed consecutively without proofs.

18. The green color of the Matrix films wasn't simply from a color filter. The costume designer (Kym Barrett) had all light colored fabrics put in a green dye wash to give everything a touch of green. The clothing actually did have a green hue in many cases.

19. Lightning hasn’t brought down a plane since 1967 because modern planes possess a fuselage that acts as a Faraday cage, which is a container that blocks electromagnetic fields. The charge instead runs around the outside of the craft and disperses from the tail.

20. In 2009 in a ‘David vs Goliath’ lawsuit, a small-time inventor won a $23 million lawsuit against Ford auto company for patent infringement.

21Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

The first public iPhone call was a prank call made by Steve Jobs himself. He called Starbucks and ordered 4,000 lattes then said just kidding and hung up.

22. For decades, artist Al Hirschfeld hid the name of his daughter Nina in his drawings for The New York Times and elsewhere. He'd add the number of times her name appeared to his signature, creating a game for readers, who would try and find each appearance.

23. Before settling with the name, British Comedy group Monty Python considered other names such as “Vaseline Review”, “The Toad Elevating Moment”, and “A Horse, a Spoon, and a Bucket”. Eric Idle proposed the name Monty, a stereotypically drunk Brit, while Python was chosen simply because it sounded slippery.

24. There was a species of dinosaur with extremely large leg muscles named Brontomerus, which literally means "thunder thighs."

25. In 1969, an experimental book named The Unfortunates by B.S. Johnson was published. It shipped as a 'book in a box' consisting of 27 unbound sections with the first and last chapter specified. The remaining sections range from a single paragraph to 12 pages in length and are designed to be read in any order.

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