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Fun Facts

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  1. Did you know that the saying ‘mad as a hatter’ originated with 17th century hat makes in France - poisoning occurred from the mercury used for hat felt. The ‘Mad Hatter Disease’ was marked by irritability, shyness and tremors that would give the appearance of being 'mad'.
  2. The probability of being born is the same as 2.5 million people each throwing a trillion-sided dice and getting exactly the same number! (Or there abouts!!)
  3. Cleopatra lived closer to the invention of the Internet than she did to the building of the pyramids. Cleopatra lived around 30 BC whilst the Great Pyramid was built circa 2560 BC.
  4. The game Twister was once considered by many too promiscuous to be considered a party game and early critics called it 'sex in a box'. Originally it was going to be called 'Pretzel' but this name was not legally available.
  5. If you was to have your picture taken by the very first camera, you would have had to sit still for 8 hours!
  6. Spanish painter Pablo Picasso's full name is Pablo Diego Jose Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso.
  7. If the whole history of Earth was on the scale of single year, modern humans would appear at 11:00pm on December 31st, and Julius Caesar would have been born about 13 seconds before midnight.

  8. In 2013, Zimbabwe's finance minister announced that after paying the country's civil servants Zimbabwe had a bank balance of just £138.
  9. In 'The Simpsons', God and Jesus are the only characters ever depicted with all 5 fingers.
  10. The first seven presidents were not American. The 8th President Martin Van Buren was the first president to be born an American citizen and all presidents before him were considered British subjects.
  11. The saying 'don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater' originated in the early 1500s when people only bathed once a year. They also bathed in the same water without changing it. Adult males would first bath, then the females, leaving the children and babies to go last. By the time the babies got in, the water was so filthy that mothers had to take care that their babies were really not thrown out with the bathwater.
  12. Neil Armstrong took a piece of the Wright Brothers’ 1903 'Wright Flyer' (the first successful heavier-than-air powered aircraft) with him to the moon – amazingly that flight was only 66 years before the Apollo 11 moon landing.
  13. In France it is legal to marry a dead person as long as you have proof the mariage was intended before the death.
  14. IKEA names sofas, coffee tables, bookshelves, and media storage after places in Sweden; beds and wardrobes after places in Norway; dining tables and chairs after places in Finland; and carpets after places in Denmark. It's the world's largest furniture retailer - founded in Sweden in 1943 by the then-17-year-old Ingvar Kamprad. The name IKEA is an acronym of the initials of his name Ingvar Kamprad, the farm where he lived as a boy called Elmtaryd, and his home town Agunnaryd.
  15. The name Red Square derives from the word 'krasnyi' which meant beautiful in Old Russian and later came to mean red - it has nothing to do with the crimson color of its numerous buildings or red being the colour associated with comunism!
  16. Kate Hudson's middle name is 'Garry', Billie Piper's is 'Paul', Kim Kardashian's is 'Noel', and Richard Gere's is 'Tiffany'.
  17. In North Korea citizens are forced to choose one of 28 government-approved haircuts. In 2015, it was reported that Korean dictator Kim Jong-un has ordered men to copy his hair style with growth limited to 2cm - anyone breaching the guidelines face having their head shaved by authorities. Universities, in particular, have been warned to watch out for any capitalist styles!
  18. Norman Wisdom was a cult figure in Albania where he was one of the few Western actors whose films were allowed in the country during the dictatorship of Enver Hoxha. He was made an honorary citizen of Tirana.
  19. In Bhutan many of the buildings and homes are adorned with phalluses in the belief that they ward off evil spirits and bad luck.
  20. Malaysia have banned the wearing of yellow coloured t-shirts since they were worn on mass in 2013 anti-government protests.
  21. It is a common belief that Fred and Wilma Flintstone were the first couple to be shown in bed together on American television. They were the first couple to sleep together in a cartoon, however, the little known 1947 sitcom Mary Kay and Johnny was the first American depiction of such sleeping arrangements. 'The Flintsones' was the first prime-time animated series on American television and was the first time an animated show addressed the issue of infertility.
  22. In 1913, the myth that piranhas can quickly devour a human body in seconds came from President Theodore Roosevelt’s visit to Brazil - piranhas were starved by local fishermen to impress the President. The myth has been dismissed through research and although piranhas may sometimes attack humans, particularly in low water levels, most attacks take the form of small bites and nips to extremities such as the hands and feet.
  23. The phrase 'give a cold shoulder' originated in medieval England where it was customary to give a guest a cold piece of meat from the shoulder of mutton or pork when the host felt it was time for the guest to leave.
  24. The first recorded use of the word ‘puke’ is from the famous ‘All the world’s a stage’ speech in As You Like It by William Shakespeare – which refers to ‘the infant, mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.’
  25. Artists must be under 50 to win the prestigious Turner Prize. It’s also only given to ‘a British artist’, which can mean an artist working in Britain or an artist born in Britain and working elsewhere. Damien Hirst's prices leaped by 27% immediately after he won the 1995 prize for his exhibit 'Mother and Child Divided' which featured a bisected cow and calf in formaldehyde. Tracy Emin has never won the prize but her 'My Bed' 1999 exhibition of a bed surrounded by bedroom objects in an abject state made her a household name.
  26. Oscars cannot be sold! Since 1950, the Academy has required all Oscar winners to sign an agreement that neither they nor their future heirs will sell their statuettes without first offering them to the Academy for one dollar.
  27. The phrase 'dead as a doornail' comes from practice of hammering nails through a door and then bending the protruding ends over to secure it. Nails were hand made and always re-used because of their expense, but the bending process would make the nail unusable.
  28. Is a Jaffa Cake a biscuit or cake? In the UK, VAT is payable on chocolate-covered biscuits but not on chocolate-covered cakes. Jaffa Cakes were always considered to be biscuits due to the fact that they were eaten like biscuits, their place in supermarket aisles, and their size and shape. The manufacturers (McVities) classified Jaffa Cakes as cakes at a 1991 VAT tribunal and the court ruled in McVitie's favour that the Jaffa Cake should be considered a cake for tax purposes, meaning that VAT is not paid. So there you have it, a Jaffa cake is definitely a cake and not a biscuit!
  29. Sahara translates as 'desert' in Arabic so the 'Sahara Desert' actually means 'Desert Desert'. And the 'D' in D-Day stands for 'Day', so in other words, 'Day-Day'.
  30. Since 1958, over 400 billion Lego bricks have been produced - there are about 62 Lego bricks for every person on the planet!
  31. Until the 18th century, 10 feet tall, 880 pound birds lived in Madagascar; they were called Elephant Birds.
  32. Did you know that the very first web page (August 6, 1991) is still on the World Wide Web to view. It was made by Tim Berners-Lee at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.
  33. Are carrots good for your eyesight? In WW2 the success rate of British pilots improved because of the new invention of radar. To keep this a secret, British propaganda made-out that the pilots successes were down to eating lots of carrots. Carrots do not give you good eyesight!
  34. Buzz Aldrin was the first man to urinate on the moon. Alan Shepard hit two golf balls on the Moon, exaggerating that his shot went for miles. However, scientists have concluded that it’s possible that his one-handed slightly pathetic shot could very well be the longest drive in history, realistically traveling over 400 yards due to the lack of gravity (1/6 of that on earth). Another funny fact is that Buzz Aldrin’s mother’s maiden name was Marion Moon!
  35. In 2005, the Royal Mail admitted that for 3 months Ascension Island in the South Atlantic had not received any mail. It had all been sent to Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay, by mistake.
  36. In 2009, a zoo in Gaza, Palestine, painted two donkeys with stripes in order to replace zebras that had died a year earlier. Paying visitors to the zoo were not fooled!
  37. The phrase 'Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Bride' was made up by an advertising company to sell Listerine mouthwash!
  38. The saying 'let one’s hair down' originated from the fact that upper class ladies of medieval times were always expected to appear in elegant hair-dos that were usually pulled up. The only time they could 'let their hair down' was when they relaxed at home.
  39. During the eighties, Russia thought that the heavily visited building at the center of the Pentagon was a top-secret meeting room and adapted their attack plans accordingly - it was a hot dog stand!
  40. Thomas Edison had patents covering virtually the entire movie making process and movie makers wanted to get as far away from his New Jersy base as possible - hence, Hollywood (on the west coast) was born! (It should be added that the Court of Appeals in California was also known to rule against patent claims.)
  41. Former world heavyweight boxing champion and Olympic gold medal winning boxer George Foreman named all five of his sons George Foreman.
  42. Octopuses have three hearts and blue blood.
  43. When you reach the age of 50 you have been born for 438,000 hours or just over 26 million minutes.
  44. Many Japanese schools don’t have cleaners - the school children are expected to do the cleaning daily as part of traditions that associate cleaning with morality.
  45. John Tyler, the 10th President of the US (1841-1845) had a child at 63 he named Lyon; Lyon had two children at 69 and 73. Amazingly, both these children are still live in 2016. So the 10th President of the US who was born in 1790, has two grandchildren who are alive three centuries later in 2016!
  46. The 1900 Olympics in Paris were the first Games where women competed. Swimming events were held in the muddied Seine river and included underwater swimming and an obstacle race which required both swimming underneath and climbing over boats. Live pigeon shooting was also a popular event.
  47. Working at the U.S. Antarctic research centre McMurdo Station comes with some unpleasant penalties - your wisdom teeth and appendix have to be removed first! From March to the end of September, McMurdo is completely isolated hence these peculiar precautions are taken because you cannot be evacuated or operated on at the station.
  48. It's impossible to sneeze with your eyes open.
  49. The word ‘maverick’ comes from the name Samuel Maverick, a Texan who went against convention by refusing to brand his cattle.
  50. The phrase 'bite the bullet' comes form the days before anesthesia was available - army surgeons would ask soldiers to bite down on a bullet to distract from the pain. The first recorded use of the phrase was in 1891, in Rudyard Kipling's first novel The Light that Failed.
  51. The word ‘muppet’ was invented by Jim Henson – it’s a combination of the words marionette and puppet.
  52. In 1957 'Bubble wrap' was a failed attempt to create a three-dimensional plastic wallpaper. The idea failed, but its inventors found it was very useful as a packing material.
  53. The phrase 'caught red-handed' originates from an old English law that ordered any person to be punished for butchering an animal that wasn’t his own. However, the only way the person could be convicted is if he was caught with the animal’s blood still on his hands.
  54. No piece of square dry paper can be folded in half more than 7 times - why not try it!

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