Random Fact Sheet #280 – 40 Electrifying Facts That’ll Leave You Speechless


1Edith Cavell

Edith Cavell

A British nurse named Edith Cavell helped treat soldiers regardless of their nationalities in World War 1. She also helped them escape from German-occupied Belgium. When caught, she refused to lie about her actions and was executed by firing squad.

2. The formal clothing of the Roman Citizen was the Toga. During Roman elections, those running for political office would rub their Toga with dazzling white chalk to stand out. Called Toga Candida (pure-white) this clothing was the origin of the word "candidate."

3. When Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon, guest-starred in The Simpsons, writers were concerned he would be offended by his line, "second comes after first," and offered an alternative- "first to take a soil sample." However, Aldrin preferred the original line, and it remained in the script.

4. The Diderot Effect states that obtaining a new possession often creates a spiral of consumption which leads you to acquire more new things. As a result, we end up buying things that our previous selves never needed to feel happy or fulfilled.

5. In 1900, a sealed cave was discovered in China's Gansu province containing 1,100 scrolls and 15,000 Buddhist texts. Believed to have been sealed around 1002, the last recorded date, the cave contained lost texts and the earliest dated printed book, a copy of the Diamond Sutra printed in 868.

6Princess Caraboo

Princess Caraboo

In 1817, a woman posed as the fictional Princess Caraboo of Javasu. She fooled a small British town for months into believing she was a princess who had been captured by pirates, jumped overboard in the British Channel and swam ashore. She was later recognised as a cobbler's daughter from Devon.

7. The filmmakers for ‘The Blair Witch Project’ saved money by returning the video camera to Circuit City after they were done filming.

8. Not only do bats make high-pitched sounds for echolocation, many bat species also sing. A team of scientists that analyzed one species’ song translated it as a sequence that opens with a hello, then a gender identification, then some geographic information, & then a "let's talk" section.

9. Outlaw Country Superstar Waylon Jennings once earned $25,000 during contract negotiations when he quietly walked out of the room to pee because the record company thought he had walked out in frustration.

10. Confucius' family tree is the longest recorded extant pedigree in the world. There are 2 million registered modern descendants, with major branches in Korea (where his family was invited by the Goryeo dynasty in 1351) and Taiwan (where family members fled during the Chinese civil war).



Windsocks are calibrated to visually show wind speed as well as wind direction. They are designed such that each inflated red/white stripe indicates a 3-knot increase in wind speed to a maximum of 15 knots.

12. Japanese pro wrestler Rikidōzan often went to the bar immediately after his matches, without treating his wounds first. When patrons asked him why his face was bloodied, he'd reply "I had a tough day at work."

13. Audie Murphy, the most decorated American soldier of World War 2, suffered from battle fatigue for the rest of his life. He endured chronic insomnia and recurring nightmares and kept a loaded pistol under his pillow. He eventually took to sleeping alone in his garage with the lights on.

14. Baskin Robbins used to serve the Chocolate Oreo Milkshake that contained 2600 calories, 1700mg of sodium, 135g of fat, and 263g of sugar. Unsurprisingly, Men’s Health Magazine dubbed it the worst food in the U.S.

15. Southern live oak was a secret weapon of the USS Constitution, one of America's first naval vessels. It was nicknamed “Old Ironsides” after so many cannonballs bounced off her hull because live oak wood is a super dense wood.



The Inka never developed writing but instead had a system of tying knots called khipu in which the color, direction, and structure of the knots communicated different information. While most of it is numerical, fully cracking the code reveals a phonetic khipu alphabet with records of history.

17. Friedrich Kellner’s diary titled “My Opposition”, consists of 10 volumes, 861 pages, and 676 individually dated entries from September 1939 to May 1945. His diary offers a glimpse at what an average German citizen might’ve known of during the height of Nazi Germany’s power.

18. Because the original Pac-Man game stores the level counter as an 8-bit integer, an overflow error occurs when reaching level 256. This causes the level map to only half load, rendering it unbeatable. Making it to level 256 was used as a mark of prestige amongst players.

19. Before Walt Disney opened Disneyland he ran out of cash and was unable to remove all the weeds and finish the landscaping. So he wrote the Latin names of the weeds on little signs giving them the appearance that they were intentionally planted there.

20. American silversmith Paul Revere never shouted the legendary phrase “The British are coming!” as he passed from town to town. The operation was meant to be conducted as discreetly as possible since scores of British troops were hiding out in the Massachusetts countryside.

21Alexander Shulgin

Alexander Shulgin

American chemist Alexander Shulgin personally tested hundreds of drugs, meticulously recording their effects in his lab notebooks. He is also credited with introducing MDMA to psychologists in the late 1970s.

22. Steven Schussler, the creator of the Rainforest Cafe chain first tested out the concept in his house. He decorated it with 45 birds, 9 fish tanks, and many plants. He even set up fake thunderstorms. His neighbors thought he was crazy.

23. Sony needed military export permits from the Japanese trade ministry for the export of PlayStation 2s. The PS2 was so good at processing high-quality images quickly that the Japanese government believed it was possible to adapt it for use in missile guidance systems.

24. George Lucas wanted to be a racecar driver when he was a teenager. In 1962, he suffered a terrible car accident when another driver broadsided him. He required emergency medical treatment. The incident caused him to lose interest in racing but inspired him to pursue other interests.

25. When Richard the Lionheart got married, he was busy with the Crusades, so his bride came to Cyprus for the wedding. Richard then deposed the ruler of Cyprus, claiming the island for England. Richard wrapped the ruler in gold and silver chains and presented him to the new queen as a wedding gift.