Random Fact Sheet #321 – Great Tapestry of Randomness: 30 Facts That Will Make You Appreciate the Unexpected

1Substitute King

Substitute King

When Assyrian priests saw a bad omen aimed at the King they used a ritual called The Substitute King. A commoner was found to replace the king while he went in hiding. The man lived as the king absorbing the evil spirits. When the omen passed the commoner was killed and the king returned.

2. In 1972, the Los Alamos National Laboratories patented a nuclear tunnel boring machine, claiming it could reach depths of 18+ miles. It uses molten lithium to melt through rock, leaving behind a tunnel with a glass-like finish.

3. The 9/11 Memorial’s brass panels, on which victims’ names are inscribed, have their own heating and cooling systems so that they are never too hot or cold to touch.

4. Aztec Emperor Montezuma realized that his own seers were all charlatans because they’d failed to see that the Spanish were coming.

5. In 1952, Stalin proposed German reunification under a “neutral and democratic” government but was turned down by the West. It is still debated whether the offer was a bluff, a trick, or a genuine missed opportunity for reunification.

6Janet Jackson’s Ban

Janet Jackson’s Ban

Janet Jackson was banned from MTV, VH1, and the Grammy's when Justin Timberlake tore her top on stage, but he was not.

7. “Operation Moolah” offered large cash rewards to North Korean pilots who defected with an intact MiG-15 jet fighter during the Korean War. However, the only defector who ever met the conditions, No Kum-sok, was unaware of the offer. He was still paid $100,000 ($967,289 in today's money).

8. The Veryovkina Cave in the country of Georgia is the world’s deepest cave. Since 1982, a team known as “Perovo-speleo” has been researching and going deeper and deeper. In 2021, at a depth of -1100m, they found the body of a tourist.

9. Researchers were able to predict whether or not a couple will stay together with extreme accuracy based on one partner’s reaction to things that excited the other. For example, if a wife says “look at that beautiful bird” and the husband blows it off, that’s a strong indication they’ll divorce.

10. Many birds do not breed very well in small flocks and this is why some zoos use mirrors to help increase reproduction.

11Playboy Mansion

Playboy Mansion

When Hugh Hefner died, the Playboy Mansion became the property of neighbor Daren Metropoulos who bought the estate in 2016 for $100 million. He reportedly struck a deal with Los Angeles officials that will permanently protect it from demolition, even from future owners.

12. Author Clive Barker supported himself early in his career by occasionally working as a male prostitute for rich and secretive clients. The experience inspired him to write, “The Hellbound Heart”, which was later adapted into the film, “Hellraiser.”

13. When St. Jerome translated the Bible to common Latin, he made the forbidden fruit an apple as a pun.

14. In the 18th century, the Catholic Church commissioned a statue of Lucifer to Joseph Geefs, who gave the statue an “unhealthy beauty.” They then commissioned a replacement to his brother, Guillaume Geefs, who made the statue even more attractive.

15. Queen Elizabeth II owns the largest clear-cut diamond in the world. ‘The Great Star of Africa’ is a 530 carats gem that was mined in South Africa back in 1905 and has an estimated worth of $400 million.

16‘No Time to Die’ Car Chase

‘No Time to Die’ Car Chase

In ‘No Time to Die’, the cobbled streets of Matera, Italy did not have sufficient grip for the film’s opening car chase. The crew got around this by pouring Coca-Cola all over the road, making it sticky, and allowing the drivers to perform the stunts.

17. St. Bernards are difficult to train and during the making of Stephen King’s “Cujo” (1983) they had a backup Labrador with a St. Bernard suit. They also had to tie down the tails for each dog used in the film because they kept wagging their tails and looked too happy during filming.

18. Dexter King, Martin Luther King’s son, publicly supported James Earl Ray’s efforts for a retrial as MLK’s family did not believe Ray to be responsible for his death. They instead believed the US Government conspired to assassinate MLK.

19. William Stewart Halsted is considered to be a father of the modern “residency” program for doctors. He invented the system for doctors to work unending hours per shift, believing that immersion in care would provide better outcomes. He also used cocaine and worked 100+ hours a week routinely.

20. In the 1950s, a researcher was designing army airplane seats for an ‘average’ pilot based on measurements from 1000s of airmen, only to discover this theoretical ‘average’ he’d derived wouldn’t fit any of them. This realization led to adjustable seats, foot pedals, helmet straps, and flight suits.

21Greek Sirens

Greek Sirens

The sirens from Greek mythology were never said to be beautiful, or even mermaids. Instead, they were strange human-faced bird creatures who lured men to their deaths by promising them wisdom and knowledge of the future.

22. When Michael Keaton was originally announced as Batman, 50,000 fans mailed letters to Warner Bros in protest and ripped up publicity materials at comic conventions

23. The entire Hard Rock Cafe company is owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

24. Silica gel packets aren’t poisonous. They are labeled “do not eat” because they are a choking hazard.

25. President Boris Yeltsin once on his visit to Ireland got so drunk on the airplane that it had to circle for an hour over the airport and when it finally landed Yeltsin would not come out of the plane to meet the Irish delegation.