Random Fact Sheet #297 – Beyond the Ordinary: 40 Astonishing Facts

1Little Brain

Little Brain

In 1991, it was discovered that human heart has its own “little brain” or “intrinsic cardiac nervous system.” This “heart brain” is composed of approximately 40,000 neurons that are alike neurons in the brain, meaning that the heart has its own nervous system.

2. Motts Tonelli was a Notre Dame fullback who ran in the winning touchdown against University of Sothern California in 1937. About five years later in 1942, he had his class ring confiscated during the Bataan Death March. A Japanese officer returned his ring, telling Tonelli that he was US-educated and recognized him from his time at USC.

3. Late wrestler Bam Bam Bigelow once saved three children from a burning house and 40% of his skin was left with second-degree burns forcing him to retire and being hospitalized for two months. Bam Bam said he had “no regrets” of his act of courage, as long as all three kids were safe.

4. In 882 A.D., Louis III of France mounted his horse in pursuit of a girl who was running to seek refuge in her father’s house. He then rode through a low door, hit his head on the lintel and fractured his skull. He died childless. He is one of two French kings to die from hitting a door lintel.

5. Lenny Kravitz was named after his uncle Leonard Kravitz, who died saving the lives of other Korean War soldiers in 1951. He was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2012 after Congress reviewed Jewish (and Hispanic) recipients of the Distinguished Service Cross who were denied the higher honor.

6Monkey mimics

Monkey mimics

In 2014, the Indian government employed 40 people to impersonate monkeys, to scare off real monkeys causing havoc around the parliament in Delhi. The men made screeching noises similar to those of black-faced langur monkeys, imitating their whoops and barks, to frighten red-faced macaque monkeys.

7. A doctor reviewed the injuries sustained by Marv and Harry in Home Alone 1 and 2, and concluded that 23 of the injuries would have resulted in death.

8. In 1963, Robert Kearns invented the intermittent windshield wiper, presented it to Ford Motor Co., and was hired. Ford fired him and took his technology. He sued Ford for patent infringement and after 12 years of litigation, at times without a lawyer, the court awarded Kearns $10.3 million.

9. David Bowie lured unknown Stevie Ray Vaughn to play on his 1983 album “Let’s Dance” by dangling an opening act on tour. However, after recording, Vaughn was relegated to a backup musician and wouldn’t be allowed to talk about his music. So, he quit, released “Texas Flood”, and became a superstar instead.

10. Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam smokes so much pot that he had a fireman’s pole installed in his home just so that he could get to his studio faster to avoid forgetting ideas for songs/lyrics he creates.

11Berkshire Hathaway

Berkshire Hathaway

Berkshire Hathaway was a failing textile business. The chairman at the time offered to buy Warren Buffet's stake but changed his offer last minute. Angered, Buffet bought more, taking control of the company and firing the chairman.

12. The Thirteen Colonies were used as a penal colony for English criminals between the 1600s to 1776. Historians estimate between 50,000 to 120,000 criminals were transferred. After America's independence the Brits tried to substitute America with Ghana and Senegal, ultimately deciding on Australia.

13. By the age of 18, 3rd century Roman emperor Elagabalus had been a high priest, consul, married four times, Roman emperor for four years, and the victim of an assassination devised by his grandmother.

14. B92 is a dissident radio station in Serbia that played Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” on repeat when they were banned from broadcasting news. The song became an anti-Milošević anthem in 1991.

15. Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky once had a cameo on the soap opera “The Young and the Restless.” As a huge soap opera fan in 1981, Gretzky made a cameo on the daytime show as a mafia boss. His one line was, “I’m Wayne from the Edmonton operation.”

16Cat media

Cat media

Research shows that viewing online cat media (i.e. pictures and videos) is related to positive emotions. It may even work as a form of digital therapy or stress relief for some users. Some feelings of guilt from postponing tasks can also be reduced by viewing cat content.

17. Graham Hill did not pass his driving test till the age of 24 and joined professional racing just a year later. He is the only driver to achieve the Triple Crown of Motorsport, an achievement defined as winning the Indianapolis 500, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the Monaco Grand Prix.

18. When filming “The Lost Patrol” in Arizona, the cast only worked in the early morning and late afternoon, to avoid the intense day heat. The producer wanted longer filming hours, and to prove his point, walked around in the open at midday. He soon collapsed from the heat, requiring hospital treatment.

19. Honeybees used in almond groves often die of pesticides, lack of biodiversity, arousal from dormancy early. To mitigate, growers split hives, put mail-order queens in new hives and feed bees fake pollen. The “Bee Better” program puts diverse flora in almond groves as natural pest control/bee food.

20. There are more than 1,300 stone rings across the British Islands and Stonehenge is only the most famous of them.

21Leonard Maltin

Leonard Maltin

After the film Gremlins came out, Entertainment Tonight critic Leonard Maltin gave it a negative review. The director was hurt by the initial review but later invited Maltin to film a cameo in the sequel, Gremlines 2. In it Maltin is attacked by the gremlins for his bad review.

22. Packhorse librarians that serviced the Appalachian communities (e.g., rural Kentucky) in the mid-1930s to early 1940s were mostly women who rode on horses or mules to deliver library books to remote communities during the Great Depression.

23. There was a book about a famous train leaving King’s Cross Station on a magical adventure, written in 1937 by Doris Crockford (the same name as a witch Harry Potter meets in the first book).

24. Before synthetic plastics were invented, a substance called Hemacite was widely used to make everything from roller skate wheels to doorknobs. Its ingredients were blood and sawdust.

25. Lover’s eye jewelry was popular in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Stylish aristocratic Englishmen and women often wore miniature portraits depicting their spouse or lover. Because the tiny watercolors revealed only the eye, the subject’s identity was kept secret.