100 Random Facts About Everything
It always feels good to drop a random fact or a little tidbit of knowledge on your friends. After all, it’s a wide, random world out there, and you’ve got to be equipped with the best trivia. From strange watermelons to accidental encounters, here are the most random facts on Earth.
1. Orange, in Fact
The fruit orange isn’t named after the color; it’s the other way around. Before the late 15th century, orange was considered a shade of red. That’s right: until the Renaissance, “yellow-red” was the only term the English language had for orange.
2. Random Advice Fact
Abraham Lincoln grew his iconic beard in part on the recommendation of an 11-year-old girl, who suggested it to him via fan mail.
3. A Fact Full of Hot Air
Here’s the most random of random facts: The first passengers to ever ride in a hot air balloon were a trio of sheep, duck, and rooster.
5. Random Facts About Poop
Wombats, furry little marsupials who live in Australia, are known to produce cube-shaped poop. They excrete up to 100 little cubes per day, and place them to on rocks and logs to mark their territory. The square shape is thought to have evolved so the poo pellets don’t roll away.
5. Random Side Interests
When he wasn’t busy fighting wars and serving as the Emperor of France, Napoleon Bonaparte found the time to write a romance novel, called Clisson et Eugénie. Because why not?
6. The Great Debate
Some scientists still argue the facts about whether corn is a vegetable or a grain—or maybe even a fruit! Who would have thought that something so harmless could cause such a controversy?
7. Real Men Wear Skirts
Ancient Greek men didn’t wear trousers, and they thought men from other cultures who wore them were barbaric and effeminate.
8. The Chance Case of the Curious Mummy
Found in 1991 in the Ötztal Alps, Ötzi “the Iceman” is the earliest natural human mummy ever found in Europe. Ötzi was alive from sometime between 3400 and 3100 BCE. The most surprising thing about him? He had tattoos! And not just a couple…researchers have identified a total of 61 different tattoos covering his body. That means he’s not only the oldest tattooed person ever found, but also (probably) one of the oldest ancestors to today’s Brooklyn hipsters.
The tattoo ink itself was produced from ash or soot and is believed to have been used as a form of pain relief.
9. How (Not) to Get Rich
You may have heard of a little Internet outfit called Google? They’re kind of a big deal. But the fact you probably don’t know is that in 1999, when Google was still little more than a search engine at the very beginning of the Internet, the founders offered to sell the company for one million dollars, to another company called Excite.
The geniuses at Excite saw the opportunity, considered the potential..and promptly turned it down. Good thinking there, fellas.
10. Luck of the Draw
In 1911, a Paris orphanage held a raffle where the prize was live human babies. Now that’s a dark fact.
11. Ferocious Females
When armadillos mate, the female armadillo can postpone her pregnancy until she feels she is in a safe, nurturing environment for her little one. And all this can be done with no harm to the little unborn critter, who stays (presumably) blissfully unaware. It’s an adaption known as “delayed implantation.” No more babies by accident!
12. Mmmm, Random BBQ Smell
If you could breathe in space without dying, it would in fact smell like barbecue, gunpowder, and diesel. These combined scents are created by dying stars.
13. Eat Your Vegetables!
During World War II, British intelligence spread the rumor that the Royal Air Force pilots enjoyed superior night vision because they ate copious amounts of carrots. The real purpose of the rumor was to keep German intelligence from discovering the Brits’ advanced use of radar. Of course, there’s just one little problem.
The fact is, while the vitamin A in carrots is good for eye health, it probably won’t help you detect enemy forces in the dark from an airplane.
14. The Perfect Mate
If life is getting you down at all, here’s a fact specifically designed to cheer you up: Seahorses are monogamous lifemates that travel in pairs while holding each other’s tails.
15. Fate or Random Chance?
Some things just aren’t meant to be, and sometimes that’s actually for the best. A New York woman decided to commit suicide by jumping off the Empire State Building’s 86th floor, only to be blown back safely onto the floor below by a strong wind. Let’s all hope she took advantage of this new lease on life that she was lucky enough to get!
After all, that’s the sort of freak occurrence that does tend to drive people to religion, or at the very least some kind of epiphany.
16. Random Access Boo-Yah
Here’s a fact for the ages: a singing birthday card has more computing power than the entire Allied forces had during World War II.
17. Take the Stairs
The entire state of Wyoming has only two escalators, both in the city of Casper. They’re so rare that some Wyoming residents visit these escalators just for the novelty of it, with one of them describing it as “like riding a tilt-a-whirl, but only slower.” Annnnd that it is the most adorably mid-Western statement ever made. No wonder we love the middle states.
18. A Recycled Fact
There is a swirl of garbage in the Pacific Ocean, roughly the size of Texas. It’s known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. While it’s often described as “an island of garbage,” the GPGP is more accurately seen as something like garbage soup: a massive portion of the ocean with a high concentration of plastics, sludge, and other debris.
It’s disgusting. But no reason to despair! There are a number of wildly innovative and interesting proposals to clean up the patch. Here’s hoping they work out!
19. Let It Go
A food fact for you: Emperor Claudius once issued an edict allowing farting at Roman dining tables after hearing that a man nearly died from holding in his flatulence. You don’t want to chance your life on a fart.
20. Good Samaritans
Switzerland has a law that forbids their citizens from owning a single guinea pig. If you want to have one of these critters as a pet, you are obliged to own at least two or more. Although this might seem like a bizarre law, it’s really heartwarming: Switzerland actually doesn’t want the furry little creatures getting lonely.
You see, guinea pigs are incredibly social animals, and they do much better with a partner by their side.
21. Dancing in the Dark
To many of us, the tango comes across as one of the classiest and most elegant styles of ballroom dancing. I mean, if you’re anything like me, the name itself conjures up an image of two dark and glamorous strangers pulling graceful moves in a dimly-lit, exotic club. But the origins of the dance are not exactly classy.
In the early days, the tango was often used by Argentinian prostitutes in order to seduce men into becoming clients.
22. Bear-ly Succeeding
The Polish army adopted a bear named Wojtek during World War II and gave it the official rank of private so that it could be transported around from place to place with them, carrying their equipment and helping to boost morale. After a few years around humans, Wojtek loved beer, cigarettes, and wrestling.
In fact, the army loved Wojtek so much that he was eventually promoted to corporal.
23. Random Flex, But OK
George Washington personally owned a flock of between 600-1,000 Hog Island sheep, a rare breed only found in Virginia. Today, curators at his Mount Vernon estate breed and care for their descendants.
24. A Fishy Fact
Once a year, in the Honduran city of Yoro, it rains fish. It’s aptly named the Lluvia de Peces (or Rain of Fish). In May or June every year, like clockwork, a torrential rainstorm rolls through town. In its wake, a mass of living fish can be found in the streets. The phenomenon was confirmed by a National Geographic team in the 1970s…
…but whether or not the fish are literally raining from the sky is still unknown. Some scientists believe the fish could be carried into town by waterspouts or water tornadoes, which drop their strange parcels over land when they run out of steam. Whatever the explanation, we hope the residents of Yoro like seafood.
25. Mr. First
From the late 1920s until the mid-1960s, a man by the name of Omero C. Catan became known as “Mr. First” in New York City. In what became an ongoing tradition, he was the first person to participate in over 500 openings in New York and beyond—including being the first person to skate on the Rockefeller Center rink.
He was also the first man to put a token in a parking meter, and the first man to drive through the Lincoln Tunnel. This seems impossible, but it’s a fact! Maybe he just got lucky.
26. A Cat by Any Other Name
The cougar goes by more names than any other animal. You might know it as a puma, mountain lion, panther, catamount, or one of another 40 English, 18 native South American and 25 native North American names.
27. Catchy Tune
When Kazakh gold medalist Maria Dmitrienko took the podium in Kuwait for the medal ceremony she had trained her whole life for, she was shocked to hear an unfamiliar song playing in place of her national anthem. It turned out that the song playing was the fictional Kazakh anthem from the satirical film Borat, which mocks her country of Kazakhstan.
The event’s staff had mistaken it for the country’s actual anthem. Needless to say, more than a few people watching were unimpressed.
28. Sting or Bite?
Here’s a biting fact: a mosquito has 47 teeth. These teeth are located at the end of their proboscis and are used not used to chew food like our teeth. They are used to cut through the skin or layers of protective clothes. Either way, they can buzz off.
29. Odd Acoustic Kitty
In the 1960s, the CIA tried to spy on the Kremlin and Russian embassies by turning cats into listening devices! The program, called Acoustic Kitty, involved surgically implanting batteries, microphones, and antennae inside cats. This would allow the CIA to listen remotely to any meetings that the cats could record and transmit.
The plan was scrapped after the CIA realized that you can’t train a cat to do much of anything. Now, that’s a real fact.
30. Easy, Breezy, Beautiful Cover Whale
Many expensive perfumes contain whale poop. More specifically they contain ambergris, which is a waxy substance produced in the intestines of sperm whales. The fragrance is iconic; some say it’s like bottling the smell of the ocean breeze through a 5-star hotel window.
31. Texas True Facts
The phrase “don’t mess with Texas” was originally an anti-littering slogan. Put that in your random facts notebook!
32. Oldest Joke in the Book
If anyone thinks that “your mom” jokes are solely within the domain of immature teenagers, internet memes, and wild comedies, think again—a 3,500 year-old one was found on an ancient Babylonian tablet in Iraq back in 1976.
33. Accidental Hero
Bao Xishun, a Mongolian herdsman and the current record holder for World’s Tallest Man, used his incredibly long arms to remove plastic from the stomachs of two dolphins, saving their lives. Bao stands 7 feet 8.95 inches tall and each arm extends over 3 feet long. All other attempts at saving the dolphins had failed.
34. Searching for Giants
The expedition of Lewis and Clark is famous for many reasons, but they had one goal you might not expect: Thomas Jefferson asked them to find a mammoth. Turns out, Jefferson had a thing for mammoths (or, more accurately, American Mastodons). He was completely enamored with the extinct behemoths, and held out hope that they continued to live many miles away in the west of America.
So when he sent Lewis and Clark out on their famous expedition, he told them to look for mammoths. What a discovery that would have been!
Looking for a new career path? Be glad you don’t live in Victorian times, where you might have wound up in the career of “pure finder.” Don’t be fooled by this profession’s inviting name—in fact, it consisted of collecting dog poop off the streets and selling it to leather manufacturers.
36. Fun Fact (Unless You’re a Whale)
The loneliest creature on earth is a whale that has been calling for a mate for two decades. Researchers identified the whale’s abnormally high call over 20 years ago. The unknown whale is called ‘lonely’ because it communicates at a frequency not used by any other whale in the North Pacific, and so far, it has never received a response.
37. Smells Like…Random Deodorant!
When he set out to write “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Kurt Cobain said that he was trying to write the ultimate pop song in the style of the Pixies. He came up with the title when a friend of his (Kathleen Hanna, the lead singer of Bikini Kill) wrote the phrase “Kurt Smells Like Teen Spirit” on his wall. Cobain thought the sentence had a certain poetic ring to it, and the rest is history.
Really though, Hanna just meant he smelled like Teen Spirit, a popular deodorant at the time.
38. A Not-So Random Name
Here’s a juicy fact. Watermelons may be delicious today, but they weren’t always. The melons originated in Africa and were first cultivated solely for their water content, not for taste—their flavor was very bitter.
39. Peel Me
Bananas share 50% of their DNA with humans. You’re looking a little yellow there.
40. The Random Followup
Everyone remembers Neil Armstrong’s famous declaration when he first set foot on the moon (“That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind). His next words were less dramatic (and far more fun). “The surface looks fine and powdery,” said Neil, presumably assuming his mic was turned off, “and I can pick it up loosely with my toe.”
Now we’ll admit, that line doesn’t quite have the same heady, poetic quality. But considering no one had actually felt the surface of the moon before, the description itself is pretty important.
41. Lie Back and Think of Yourself
Once upon a time, if they were dissatisfied with their men, Medieval women could take their husbands to impotence court.
42. On the Llam
Two llamas took the social media world by storm in 2015 when they went loose in a retirement community and ran around evading capture, all while on camera. Eventually, three onlookers were able to do what the professionals weren’t and catch the adorable creatures.
43. Gorgeous Ghosts
Did you ever hear the expression, “That gives me the willies?” Did you ever wonder what the heck “willies” are? It’s likely actually the name for heartbroken ghosts, Wilis, from Slavic folklore. The romantic ballet Giselle features these beautiful zombies prominently, and the description of these ghosts is absolutely terrifying.
In their long white dresses and wedding veils, the Wilis wander the moonlit forests in search of men to kill. They travel in packs, and their method of killing is to round up the victim and force him to dance until his heart gives out. Creepy, huh?
44. Oscar Who?
Oscar Hammerstein is the only person named Oscar to win an Academy Award or “‘Oscar.” Hammerstein won two Best Original Song awards in the 1940s.
45. Odd Eyes You’ve Got There
The eyes of Pharaoh Ramses IV, who died in 1149 BC, were replaced with a couple of small onions during the mummification process. Ancient Egyptians associated the onion with mysticism and though them to possess magic powers.
46. Not for All the Gold in the World
Almost 30% of the world’s gold reserves are held in a vault underneath the island of Manhattan. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York takes up a full block between Maiden Lane and William, Liberty and Nassau streets, and it holds the world’s largest gold depository. Only 5% of the USA’s gold reserves are kept there though—the rest belongs to international banks like the IMF.
47. May I Offer You a Night Cap?
Thomas Jefferson hated formal events, and he often greeted foreign dignitaries in his pyjamas.
48. Space Pharaohs
Scholars generally agree that the Ancient Egyptian empire lasted for thousands of years-which can be hard to wrap your head around. To put it in perspective, the Great Pyramid of Giza was built roughly between 2550 and 2490 BC, while Cleopatra took the throne in 51 BC. That’s a lot of facts and information, so let me put it into perspective for you:
That means that Cleopatra’s reign was closer in time to the freaking moon landing than it was to the building of the Great Pyramid.
49. Do Whales Have Irregular Heartbeats?
A Volkswagen Beetle is the same size as a Blue Whale’s heart. Its arteries are wide enough to swim through. That being said, we would advise you do not try to swim through a Blue Whale’s heart after reading this fact, just to see if this is true. Some things are better left undone.
50. Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
The “mirror test” is one of the key ways scientists determine the intelligence of a species. It involves placing an animal in front of a mirror to observe whether it can realize that the image it sees is a reflection of itself rather than a different animal, and many species fail. Nevertheless, some individual animals can stand out from the crowd.
For example, the late, beloved Koko the Gorilla passed this test, even thought the gorilla as species in general failed.
51. Get Your Peafowl Straight
Peacocks are all male. No, don’t fight us on this, it’s a fact. They’re actually a kind of bird called a peafowl, and the females are called peahens.
52. Sneaky System
Ukrainian pole Vaulter Sergei Bubka had it all worked out—he repeatedly and deliberately broke the world pole vault record by the smallest possible height so he could cash in on a Nike bonus with each new world record. In a two-year span between 1991-1993, he broke his own world record 14 times.
53. Bless You
You can’t sneeze in your sleep because the brain shuts down the reflex. That’s why you’ll never wake up from a great dream with a might sneeze. Anyone else wondering why we can’t just shut down that reflex all day?
54. Uncharted Territory
The Four Corners Monument in the southwestern United States has been a popular tourist attraction for years, pulling in many visitors. However, not everyone knows that it has a Canadian counterpart: a quadripoint connecting the provinces and territories of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Nunavut, and the Northwest Territories.
Unlike the US version, this one is far from a popular tourist attraction. It’s in such a remote location that there are no roads or railways around for hundreds of kilometers.
55. I Wonder if They Tried Honking
The biggest traffic jam of all time happened in 2010 in China. Mostly taking place on China National Highway 110, it affected cars for over 60 miles. The jam lasted for more than 10 days, and some people were trapped in their cars for five days straight.
56. This Seat Is Taken
The 1967 Outer Space Treaty bars any country from trying to own the moon.
57. Helpful Fellow
A dolphin named Pelorus Jack regularly guided ships in Cook Straight, New Zealand through treacherous waters between 1888 and 1912. He was so valued that he was officially protected by law and a popular country dance was even named after him.
58. Odd Man up
One of the most popular fads of the roaring ‘20s was called “pole sitting” and, like the name suggests, it consisted of sitting on top of flagpoles or other similar objects for as long as you could—often trying to outdo your friends in lengths of time spent up there. Interest in this fad continued throughout the decade until the Great Depression took people’s minds off it. I guess depressions will do that…
59. Take a Chance on This Coke Fact
There have been some random facts here, but this one might take the cake. Coca-Cola is maybe the most ubiquitous brand in the world. However, there are two countries where you won’t be able to find that familiar beverage with the red label: Cuba and North Korea.
60. A Girl’s Best Friend
It rains diamonds on Saturn and Jupiter. When storms form, the planets produce lightning like here on Earth. lightning causes methane in the atmosphere to decompose, producing hydrogen and elemental carbon. As the carbon falls towards the planet, it may bond together forming graphite, which is the building block of diamonds.
Then, as the pressure builds up closer to the planet’s core, that graphite may be compressed into diamond. So If you’re trying to save money on a wedding ring, I know a place.
61. Random Facts About Chess
It’s common knowledge that chess is a complicated game, but just how complicated is hard to imagine. In fact, there are so many different possible moves in a chess game that it isn’t even worth the huge amount of effort it would take to calculate it. But scientists can confidently say that there are far more potential chess games than there are atoms in the entire universe.
62. The Other Side
Charles Ponzi, father of the famous Ponzi scheme, appears to have had a soft side when he wasn’t busy ripping people off or serving jail time—he once donated his own skin to a dying nurse and saved her life.
63. Better Than Axe Deodorant
Tigers, jaguars and leopards all love the smell of Calvin Klein’s cologne “Obsession For Men.” The fragrance is even used to lure the large cats to cameras in the wild. In response to the cologne, the cats “would start drooling, their eyes would half-close, almost like they were going into a trance.” Not quite the same effect as it has on humans.
64. An Irregular Diet
A diet that was very popular in the late Victorian era was known as the “tapeworm diet,” and yes, it was as disgusting as it sounds. In order to lose weight, people literally swallowed tapeworms and other parasites in the hopes that they would do the work on their inner parts for them, letting dieters shed pounds almost effortlessly.
The worst part? The celebrity opera singer who was supposed to have sparked the fad is now believed never to have actually done it. So yeah, don’t spread rumors, people, only spread facts!
65. That Was Quick
At around 45 minutes, the Anglo-Zanzibar War of 1896 between Britain and the Zanzibar Sultanate is the shortest war ever recorded.
66. Random Facts About Magic
Until this year, Neil Patrick Harris, star of Doogie Howser, MD and How I Met Your Mother, served as president of the Magic Castle, a private club for magicians in Los Angeles. You can only attend the venue if you’re a member of the Academy of Magical Arts, a guest of a member, or a guest at the Magic Castle Hotel. Formal party attire is strictly enforced at the club and the only way to enter is by saying a secret password into a sculpture of an owl.
67. Chance Encounter
In the small Polish town of Zywkowo, the population of storks outnumbers the population of humans. Unsurprisingly, the residents there believe that being hospitable towards the large birds brings them good luck.
68. Sometimes Y
The word “facetious” contains all five vowels in alphabetical order. And if you insist on counting the letter “y” as a vowel, then the word “facetiously” contains all the six vowels in alphabetical order.
69. Greek to Me
The English idiom “Sounds like Greek to me,” indicating something incomprehensible, has several cognates from around the world. In the Venetian dialect, the phrase translates to, “This is Turkish to me.” In Turkish, the phrase is, “I’m French to the topic.” In French, speakers say “It’s Hebrew.” It doesn’t even end there.
In Hebrew, they say, “that is Chinese to me.” And finally, Chinese speakers say “That sounds like Martian language!” No word on if the Martians say “It’s English for all I know!”
70. Accidental Colonization
The coyote is the fastest growing and farthest reaching carnivore species in North America. Another one for the random facts bank.
71. Rare Find
In 1986, Romanian sewer workers accidentally discovered a cave which had been sealed for 5.5 million years. Movile Cave is filled with exotic and evolutionarily distinct creatures, including albino crabs and worms that feed off of sulfur-producing bacteria. In fact, to this day, less than 100 people have ever set foot in Movile Cave.
In case you’re wondering, that’s similar to the number of people who have walked on the moon.
72. A Chance Golden Ticket
Peter Ostrum starred as Charlie Bucket in the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. This would be the 13-year-old’s film debut. It would also turn out to be his last and only film role, as Ostrum decided against a full-time acting career. Instead, he became a veterinarian.
73. One Deep Fact
Did you know that New York City has an underground network of tubes? No, we’re not talking about the subway—until 1953, NYC had a pneumatic tube mail network that spanned 27 miles and connected 23 post offices. At its peak, the system moved 95,000 letters a day at speeds of 30-35 miles per hour.
74. I Think, Therefore I Am Not
A group of people known as “metaphysical solipsists” believe that nothing actually exists except for their own brains. Try dropping that fact at a dinner party!
75. Thicker Than Water
Coconut water—the liquid found inside coconuts, not to be confused with coconut milk, which is made of ground-up coconut flesh—is sterile, and has some other interesting properties. It contains electrolytes, making it ideal to rehydrate after a workout. But there are stories that suggest coconut milk might be far more magical than we even know.
Reportedly, some doctors used coconut milk during blood transfusions in wartime, such as during World War II, because it’s chemically similar to blood plasma. Other doctors are understandably dubious, but there is a story about a patient in the Solomon Islands being successfully given a direct transfusion of coconut water.
76. Where Am I?
There is a New York, Texas, as well as a Texas, New York. Technically speaking, that means that at any given moment, you could tell a friend that you’re in either Texas or New York, and they would have no idea where you actually were. I guess someone didn’t think that through before naming these places…
77. Below the Waist
“Pants” was considered a dirty word in Victorian England, and still means “underwear” there today.
78. Sacred Custom
Despite the two-term limit for any president of the United States seeming like a firm law since the country’s founding, for a long time it was just a tradition. The nation decided to make the limit mandatory only after Franklin Delano Roosevelt broke from tradition and served four terms.
79. A Chance Encounter Twice in a Lifetime
The brightly lit Halley’s Comet is only visible to the people of Earth about every 76 years. In fact, the comet appeared in the year Mark Twain was born in (1835) and the year he passed away (1910).
80. High and Low
Singapore has the world’s highest percentage of millionaires, with one out of every six households having at least $1,000,000 US in disposable wealth.
81. Time on Our Hands
Leading 20th-century philosopher Bertrand Russell introduced the world to the “Five Minute Hypothesis”—the idea that it is impossible to actually prove that the world is more than a mere five minutes old, since there’s no way of knowing that all of our memories weren’t just planted there artificially by some alien or other force.
Thanks, Bertrand. It’s not like I wanted to sleep tonight anyway.
82. Accolades for Love
The Polish government awards a “Medal for Long Marital Life” (Medal Za Długoletnie Pożycie Małżeńskie in Polish) to couples who have been married longer than 50 years.
83. Opposites Attract
Many different species have bizarre mating rituals, but few rival the case of the billy goat. When a male billy goat wants to impress a female, instead of dressing up in a suit and buying flowers, he urinates on his own head. Apparently, the smell drives the female goats wild. To each their own, I guess!
84. Good Luck
Each year, more than 1.5 million Euros are thrown into Rome’s famed Trevi fountain by tourists. The money is used to subsidize a supermarket for the needy, so at least some wishes are coming true.
85. Unfortunate Inspiration
During a trip to New York City, Samuel Morse received a letter that warned of his wife’s illness. Morse left for home, but arrived to find his wife already buried. Heartbroken that he had been unaware of his wife’s illness and death for days, he developed an interest into communication technology so that no one would feel what he felt.
Eventually, this lead to his research and patent of the telegraph, a way to transmit information across long distances instantaneously.
86. Noble Sacrifice
Larry Lemieux, a Canadian sailor at the 1988 Olympics, was about to win a silver medal when he abandoned the race to save two other competitors who had capsized. Lemieux lost out on his chances at an Olympic medal but was awarded the Pierre de Coubertin Medal for sportsmanship.
87. Stinky Bowls
Many gourmet cooking techniques can seem like they’re total bunk—rinsing a Martini glass with too little Vermouth to possibly taste in order to make a dry martini, for example. The biggest prank played on foodies was by a writer for the Saturday Evening Post in 1936. George Rector published a recipe for green salad in the French style. It was a complete prank:
The recipe called for a leafy salad served without dressing in a bowl that had been rubbed with garlic and then never washed. The myth lasted until the 1960s, when people figured out that the salads they were eating out of musty, stinky unwashed salad bowls were far grosser than those smothered in ranch dressing.
88. Random Facts of a Lifetime
In 1963, San Francisco Giants Manager Alvin Dark joked, “they’ll put a man on the moon before [Giants pitcher] Gaylord Perry hits a home run.” On July 20, 1969, less than an hour after Neil Armstrong’s historic moonwalk, Perry hit the first home run of his career.
89. Bogged Down
A “Bog Body” is a human cadaver that has been preserved by a bog. This natural preservation can be insanely effective. In 1952, researchers discovered a man who had live around 300 BCE that was so well-preserved that they could determine his cause of death: His throat had been slit.
90. Didn’t Understand the Food Chain
From 1958-1962, Chairman Mao Zedong of China launched the “Four Pests Campaign,” which would exterminate rats, flies, mosquitoes and sparrows. What they didn’t realize was that sparrows ate a large number of insects. Without the sparrows to eat them, locust populations grew, and helped to create an ecological imbalance that exacerbated the Great Chinese Famine.
This famine then resulted in 15-30 million deaths. That’s right, when Chairman Mao ordered the extermination of sparrows, he accidentally sentenced 15 million citizens to death, all because he didn’t realize that sparrows were mission critical for pest control.
91. Ah, Those Awkward Teenage Years
It was the 1970s, and Mattel decided they needed to really amp up Barbies. They ended up releasing the “Growing Up Skipper” doll, which was supposed to depict Skipper on the verge of adolescence. Naturally, then, when you turned Skipper’s arm, her boobs grew. What can I say, no one made it out of the 70s with their dignity intact—not even plastic dolls.
92. Alternate Universe
Orion Pictures originally proposed OJ Simpson to play the Terminator before the part went to Arnold Schwarzenegger. However, he was passed over for the role because he was “likable, goofy, kind of innocent”— this was of course before he was accused of his wife’s murder. Perhaps now he’d be considered ruthless enough to play the role?
93. Talk About Bad Luck
Japanese engineer Tsutsomo Yamaguchi happened to be in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the time of their respective atomic bombings during World War II. Yamaguchi was in Hiroshima on business, when American forces dropped the Little Boy atomic bomb on the city center. He sustained burns, temporary blindness, and ruptured eardrums in the blast.
Afterward, he returned to his hometown of Nagasaki, only to be witness to the dropping of the Fat Man atomic bomb. Yamaguchi is the only person recognized by the government of Japan to have survived both atomic attacks.
94. Hydrogen Is Flammable
The Hindenburg disaster marked the end of the airship era, killing 35 passengers, and one member of the ground crew. The airship caught fire because of a spark that ignited leaking hydrogen. As the Germans discovered, hydrogen is an extremely flammable and dangerous substance, and using it to fill airships perhaps wasn’t the smartest idea.
95. How Apt
The three main characters of the Harry Potter films were perfectly cast, even better than the casting directors knew: Before the filming of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, director Alfonso Cuarón had Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson write essays about their characters. The results were telling:
Watson turned in a 16-page essay, Radcliffe gave a single page, and Grint forgot to turn his in.
96. Mani/Pedi Takes on a New Meaning
A Memphis resident was given steroids for an allergic attack in 2009. Over the next three years, her body suffered one of the strangest allergic reactions in medical history. On the surfaces of her body which would normally grow hair, she started to grow nails, due to a change in the number of skin cells that were produced.
She is the only person of record to suffer from this rare disorder.
A 19th-century railroad worker named Phineas Gage had an iron rod rammed through his head—and survived. In one of the most bizarre medical anomalies in history, Gage lived another 12 full years despite having had his brain’s left frontal lobe mostly destroyed in the accident. His story does have another interesting twist to it, though.
Though he was technically still alive, his friends said that his behavior was virtually unrecognizable from this point on, describing him as “no longer Gage,” and claiming he was violent and moody. Nonetheless, researchers have since argued that these claims were exaggerated, and that the personality changes, though present, were not as remarkable as they’ve been made out to be.
His case has since been very popular for psychologists and neurologists to study, for obvious reasons. After examining his remains, scientists believe that the personality changes were not caused solely by the damage to his frontal lobe. Instead, modern researchers believe that Gage also damaged the white matter in his brain, which connects different parts of the neural system.
With this discovery, scientists posit that our personality is not located in just one part of our brain, but is more about how different parts of our mind interact with one another.
98. Victory After Death
In 1923, jockey Frank Hayes suffered a fatal heart attack in the midst of a race at Belmont Park in New York. His horse, named Sweet Kiss, finished first and won the race with his lifeless body still atop. Hayes became the first, and thus far, the only jockey to win a race after death. Hayes was only 35 at the time. The horse never raced again, having acquired the nickname “Sweet Kiss of Death” for the remainder of her life.
99. Some Like It Hot
Alcatraz used to be the only prison where the inmates got to take hot showers. This seems nice, but in fact, they didn’t want potential escapees to get used to the cold water in case they tried to swim to shore.
100. Is This a Dagger I See Before Me?
When King Tut’s tomb was unearthed, researchers found an iron dagger that was still remarkably sharp thousands of years later. Having a sharp dagger is not strange in itself, but the dagger’s origin is quite mysterious. Scientists have tested the metal and determined it came from a meteorite, and the ancient Egyptians most likely didn’t have the technology to craft a weapon from meteorite debris.
As a result, it either came from another more advanced civilization or, as some are convinced, it might have been left behind by aliens.
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