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100 Interesting Facts

  1. The pop group ABBA wore outrageous sequined jumpsuits, hopants and platform heels at the peak of their fame for tax purposes. Swedish law meant costumes could be deducted against tax so long as they were so outrageous they could not possibly be worn on the street.
  2. In 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated in a car with the number plate A 111 118. World War One started as a result of this act. Four years later, World War One ended with an Armistice on the 11-11-18!
  3. Did you know that human's have lived on Earth for only 0.004% of the planet's history?
  4. British soldiers John Parr and George Ellison are buried facing each other just 5 yards away in Belgium’s Saint Symphorien cemetery. Their final resting places are an extraordinary coincidence as they are the first and last British soldiers to die in combat during the First World War.
  5. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the second and third Presidents of the United States, and the Founding Fathers of the Decleration of Independence, died on the same day - July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of American independence!
  6. Circa 1864, Edwin Booth saved the life of a stranger who fell between a train and its platform in Jersey City. The stranger was Abraham Lincoln's son, Robert. A year later, John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theatre in Washington. Edwin was John Wilkes Booth's elder brother!
  7. 'Routes to anywhere in mainland Britain by road from Letchworth', 'Cremation practice and law in Britain' and 'The banana industry' have all been rejected as specialized subjects by Mastermind.
  8. In 1956 typist Bette Nesmith Graham invented the first correction fluid (liquid paper). She is the mother of musician Michael Nesmith of The Monkees.
  9. Actress Pamela Anderson's first press coverage came right after her birth. She was Canada's 'Centennial Baby', having been the first baby born on July 1, 1967, the 100th anniversary of Canada's official founding
  10. The earliest recorded use of the word 'baseball' in an English novel is in Northanger Abbey, written by Jane Austin in 1798-1799. Jane Austen was also the first writer to use the phrase 'dinner party' (in Mansfield Park, Chapter 41).
  11. Actor Jason Statham competed for England at the 1990 Commonwealth Games. He was a member of Britain's National Diving Squad for twelve years.
  12. If Yorkshire had been an independent country in the 2012 Summer Olympics it would have finished twelfth in the medal table. Athletes from Yorkshire won seven gold medals, two silver and three bronzes.
  13. Panama hats are made in Ecuador but were shipped to Panama on the way to the United States. The label on the boxes often had the shipping point for the products, which was Panama, and the rest is history!
  14. Ninety percent of the wildlife in Madagascar is found nowhere else on Earth. The land mass split from India around 88 million years ago, allowing native plants and animals to evolve in relative isolation.
  15. A rhinoceros's horn is not attached to its skull and is actually a compacted mass of hairs that continues to grow throughout its lifetime. An effort was made whereas their horns were cut off in an attempt to devalue the rhino to poachers. This turned out to be a failure as poachers tracking them would shoot the rhino without a horn so they did not waste time following their tracks again.
  16. There's no mention of the word 'tomato' in the works of Shakespeare, Jane Austen or the Bible. Charles Dickens uses the word six times in The Pickwick Papers, always followed by the word 'sauce'.
  17. According to a 2007 report, there are at least 70 non-contacted tribes living in Brazil.
  18. In 1895 there were only two cars in the entire state of Ohio; however, they managed to crash into each other.
  19. Liverpool FC's iconic football stadium Anfield was originally the home of Everton F.C. from 1884 to 1891, before they moved to Goodison Park after a dispute over rent.
  20. Musician Paul McCartney is an accomplished painter and has had over 70 paintings exhibited at the Walker Art Gallery. He's also had a remarkable 62 top 100 UK singles even though he twice failed auditions to be a choir boy.
  21. Ronald Reagan was credited with saving 77 lives during the seven summers he worked as a lifeguard at Lowell Park in Dixon (starting in 1926).
  22. Actor Woody Harrelson's father was a contract hitman who was arrested in 1979 for killing a Federal Judge. In 1985 Woody married Nancy Simon, daughter of playwright Neil Simon. They intended to divorce the next day, but the store front marriage/divorce parlour was closed when they returned and they remained married for ten months.
  23. Blackpool Tower's cast steel and iron frame is built in such a way that if it did ever collapse it would fall into the sea. It's built with 5 million bricks, 2,500 tonnes of iron and is 518 feet tall.
  24. The longbow was known as a 'super weapon' in Europe from circa 1300 to 1588. The arrow could penetrate armour at 60 yards, kill at 100 yards, and wound at 250 yards. Incredibly difficult to master, all English men between 12 and 65 were expected to regularly practice their archery and all other sports were banned on a Sunday. Men with an annual income of £2 or more were required to own a bow.
  25. The whole world uses the Celsius temperature scale except for the United States of America, Bahamas, Belize, Cayman Islands and Palau which use Fahrenheit.
  26. Every 500,000 years the Earth is hit by a huge asteroid measuring more than 1 km in width.
  27. The phrase 'winning hands down' originally referred to a jockey who won a race without having to whip his horse.
  28. It’s a mystery why Agatha Christie famously disappeared for 10 days in 1926 - eventually located in a Yorkshire health spa, she always refused to give an explanation.
  29. The time difference between when Stegosaurus and Tyrannosaurus rex walked the earth is greater than the time difference between Tyrannosaurus Rex and today!
  30. 80% of Russian males born in 1923 were not alive at the end of World War Two - just 22 years later.
  31. The first 'Tour de France' was organized in 1903 by a newspaper to increase its sales.
  32. Anthony Hopkins duplicated the voice of Laurence Olivier for additional scenes in Spartacus in its 1991 restoration. When the film was restored (two years after Olivier's death), the original dialogue recording of the famous bath scene was missing; it had to be re-dubbed. Tony Curtis, by then 66, was able to re-record his part, but Crassus' voice was an impersonation of Olivier by Hopkins.
  33. Actor Paul Newman drove in the 1979 '24 Hours of Le Mans', considered to be one of the most prestigious automobile races in the world, and finished in second place.
  34. In 2010, Unilever, the conglomerate which owns the Marmite brand, spent £15,000 on a 6ft-tall sculpture of a Marmite jar. The sculpture, nicknamed Monumite, now takes pride of place next to the main library in Burton-on-Trent.)
  35. In the 19th century 'Broughty Ferry' in Dundee, Scotland, was referred to as the 'richest square mile in Europe'. (It was home to wealthy jute barons.)
  36. Author Ian Fleming chose the name 'James Bond' because he wanted to find a name as mundane as possible. Bond’s namesake is actually the ornithologist Dr. James Bond, lifted from a bird watching book that Fleming had on a nearby shelf.
  37. Charlie Chaplin was exiled from the U.S. in 1953 because he refused to have American citizenship. Chaplin married Oona O'Neill, daughter of playwright Eugene O'Neill, when she was 18 and he was 54 - they had eight children together.
  38. World War One pilots often had to turn off their planes' engines to stop stalling when turning quickly in air. Restarting the engine midair sounded like a dog barking, hence the term 'dogfight'.
  39. George Orwell, author of Animal Farm, invented the term ‘cold war’ as a general term in his essay You and the Atomic Bomb, published in 1945 in the Tribune newspaper.
  40. The Titanic was never called ‘unsinkable’; it was actually called ‘practically unsinkable’. However, the press dropped the adverb to make the claim sound more exciting. The myth also grew after the disaster.
  41. Sir Winston Churchill enjoyed bricklaying and built several walls at his house at Chartwell. Also, the first known use of the term ‘OMG’ was in a letter to Sir Winston Churchill over 100 years ago.

  42. The phrase ‘turn a blind eye’ originated when British forces signalled for Admiral Horatio Nelson to stop attacking Danish ships - he held up a telescope to his blind eye and said, ‘I do not see the signal.’ He then attacked and won a major victory.
  43. Brazil is home to the biggest Japanese population outside of Japan. The first Japanese immigrants arrived in Brazil in 1908 seeking work in the coffee industry. As of 2000, there were 1.5 million people of Japanese descent in Brazil.
  44. In 1896, the Heavyweight Championship boxing match between famous British boxer Bob Fitzsimmons and American Tom Sharkey was refereed by famous wild west lawman Wyatt Earp. Sharkey was awarded the fight after Earp ruled that Fitzsimmons had hit Sharkey when he was down, but nobody witnessed this claim. Fight fans booed Earp's decision and suspected a betting fraud.
  45. The first morning of the Battle Of The Somme was the worst toll for a single day in British military history. On July 1, 1916, the British suffered 60,000 casualties with 20,000 dead – all for a six miles advancement.
  46. About 100 million sharks are killed each year, mostly for their fins which are often used to make soup. In other words, for every human killed by a shark more than two million sharks are killed by humans.
  47. When competing at the 1936 Summer Olympic Games for the first time, Liechtenstein discovered that their flag was identical to the flag of Haiti. A year later Liechtenstein added a crown, as seen in their current flag.
  48. More flag trivia! Denmark’s flag was designed in 1219 and is the oldest flag currently in use. From 1815 to 1830 the flag of France was just plain white. The present day flag of Mozambique features an AK-47 and is the only national flag of a UN member state to feature a firearm.
  49. With flocks that would blacken the sky for miles, the passenger pigeon went from one of the most copious birds in the world to extinct in a little more than a century. One flock in Canada, in 1866, took 14 hours to pass and was described as being 1 mile wide, by 300 miles long.
  50. Hiroo Onoda, a World War Two Japanese soldier, spent almost 30 years holding out in the Philippines. He would not surrender until his former commander travelled from Japan to personally issue orders relieving him from duty in 1974.
  51. In 2009, Spain petitioned the EU to relax laws on the disposal of dead livestock - why? It was because Spanish vultures were starving.
  52. Superglue was used during the Vietnam War as a quick fix to stem bleeding until soldiers could get to a hospital.
  53. Two thirds of the world's population have never seen snow.
  54. Queen of France Catherine de' Medici (1519-89) fancied spinach so much she insisted on it be served at every meal. To this day, dishes made with spinach are known as 'Florentine', reflecting Catherine's place of birth in Florence
  55. In the United States, brushing ones teeth did not become widespread until after the Second World War - soldiers were required to brush their teeth during their military service and continued the practise after the war. However, the modern toothbrush was developed by Englishman Thomas Addis in 1780, whilst in prison.
  56. Your heart beats over 100,000 times per day.
  57. The word 'dinosaur' was created in 1841 by English scientist, Sir Richard Owen. It derives from two greek words meaning 'terrible lizard'. Before 1841, the most common term in the english language used to describe a dinosaur or giant lizard was the word 'dragon'.
  58. The 1904 St. Louis Olympic Games lasted for only five days - of the 681 athletes involved, 525 were from the USA. The Games were such a disaster that the Olympic Committee was forced to hold an interim Olympic games in 1906 at Athens, in an attempt to revive the prestige of the flagging Olympic movement.
  59. By area, Carlisle is the largest city in the United Kingdom – it has an area of 402 square miles.
  60. Hitler’s name would have been ‘Adolf Schicklgruber’ – however, his father changed his name in 1877.
  61. By an astonishing coincidence, the sun and moon appear to be of the same size -the moon is 400 times smaller, but 400 times closer. This is what makes eclipses possible.
  62. It is generally believed that William Shakespeare was eight years younger than his wife, Anne Hathaway. This is because her gravestone states she was 67 when she died in 1623. However, the figures 1 and 7 are easily confused, so she might have been 61, only two years older and not eight!
  63. The 'Cat and Mouse Act' was an Act of Parliament passed in Britain in 1913 to combat suffragettes on hunger strike. They would now be released from prison as soon as they became ill, however, the Act allowed for the re-imprisonment of the hunger strikers upon their recovery.
  64. WD-40, developed in 1953 by Norman Larsen, gets its name from the term 'Water Displacement, 40th formula' - it was the result of Larsen's 40th attempt to create the product.
  65. In 1995, the number of television programmes in Britain watched by over 15 million people was 225; this had fallen to six, by 2004.
  66. The Defence Of The Realm Act 1914 stopped Britons from buying binoculars, talking on the phone in a foreign language, or hailing a taxi at night. Also, flying kites, starting bonfires, feeding wild animals bread, and discussing the military were not permitted. Alcoholic drinks were now watered down and pubs had to be closed by 10pm.
  67. Donald Duck is very popular in Nordic countries - in 2005 around one out of every four Norwegians read the weekly edition of Donald Duck & Co.
  68. The Vietnam War is known as 'the American War' in Vietnam.
  69. The Titanic had four funnels but only three were operational. Four funnels represented power, safety and prestige, so the Olympic-class ships had a 'dummy' fourth funnel in order to ‘look good’ against its competitors.
  70. In World War Two more Russians lost their lives in the Siege of Leningrad than all the WWII British and American soldiers combined.
  71. Donald Trump has a Scottish mother. His mother, Mary Anne MacLeod was from the Island of Lewis - she emigrated to the U.S. as an adult in the 1930s.
  72. Directors of the FBI are now limited to 10 years in office due to J. Edgar Hoover’s excessive abuse of power.
  73. The Dancing Plague of 1518 was an occurrence of dancing mania in Strasbourg. Around 400 people took to dancing for days without rest, and, over the period of about one month, some of those affected died of exhaustion, heart attacks, or strokes.
  74. The deadliest job in America is that of President. As of 2015, forty four men have held the post with four being assassinated in office - a rate of roughly one in ten killed on the job.
  75. The population of Ireland is still smaller than it was before the Great Famine of 1845.
  76. The five largest employers in the world are in order - The United States Department of Defence, The Chinese People's Liberation Army, Walmart, McDonald's, and the UK’s NHS.
  77. Historians do not know what happened to the last native Prince of Wales, Owain Glyndwr. He led the Welsh Revolt of 1400 against the rule of Henry IV. Glyndwr was never tempted by royal pardons, captured, or betrayed, but just simply disappeared.
  78. Texas was an independent nation from 1836 to 1845 – however, it is the only state to have the flags of 6 different nations fly over it. They are Spain, France, Mexico, Republic of Texas, Confederate States, and the United States.
  79. During the Vietnam War, an American POW managed to convey the truth by blinking the word ‘TORTURE’ in Morse code when forced to do a press conference saying he was being well treated.
  80. Woodpeckers have evolved tongues so long that they wrap around and cushion their brain to protect their heads while banging against trees.
  81. In 1752, Britons went to bed on September 2 and woke up on September 14 - 11 days were lost when the Julian Calendar changed to the Gregorian Calendar.
  82. In 1962, in Tanzania, 14 schools closed down - the cause was a laughing epidemic that affected over 1,000 people.
  83. Big Ben is not the name of London’s famous clock, it is the name of the bell inside the clock. The actual tower is called 'The Elizabeth Tower'.
  84. The US government is still paying for the Civil War. The American Civil War might have ended in 1865 but the government is still paying out veterans' pension. As of 2015, Irene Triplett still received a monthly pension from the government as the last living child of a Civil War veteran – her father was in his eighties when she was born. The financial promises President Abraham Lincoln made to Union soldiers are still being delivered today!
  85. Nicotine is named after Frenchman Jean Nicot who introduced tobacco to France in 1660. The first ‘No Smoking Day’ in 1984, and held on the second Wednesday in March each year, was on Ash Wednesday.
  86. One light year, the distance light travels in a year, is equivalent to 5,880 billion miles. Andromeda (the nearest major galaxy to the Milky Way) is three million light years away.
  87. In 2012, only 15 per cent of the UK population voted for their Police and Crime Commissioners - the lowest ever turnout at a UK election. And Tuesday October 27, 1931, was the last time a UK general election was not held on a Thursday - which was also the last time any party (Stanley Baldwin’s Conservatives) gained over 50 per cent of the vote.
  88. Madagascar, the world’s fourth-largest island, has been an island since about 88 million years ago when it split from India. Because of its isolation, more than 80 per cent of the animal and plant species found there are seen nowhere else on Earth.
  89. Trinity College, Cambridge has a total of 32 Nobel Prize winners. This is more than Canada, Russia, Italy or Japan.
  90. The saying ‘go the whole nine yards’ originated during World War II when fighter pilots were equipped with nine yards of ammunition. When they ran out, it meant that they had tried their best at fighting off the enemy with the very last of their ammunition.
  91. In 1900, one in every four girls in England and Wales were named Mary - in 2008, Mary was the 183rd most popular girl’s name. For 67 years, Mary was America's most popular name until Linda put it into second place in 1947.
  92. There is a 99.9% probability that somebody has the same birthday within a group of 70 people, and 50% probability with 23 people.
  93. The term ‘Third World Country’ did not originally reference the least developed countries. It referred to a country which was not aligned with either NATO (First World), or the Communist Bloc (second World), during the Cold War.
  94. During World War One ‘Zeppelin raids’ on Britain bombs were often dropped miles off target - Hull was once bombed in mistake for London.
  95. More Americans died in their Civil War than in World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War combined. Approximately 625,000 men died.
  96. Fahrenheit is only used as the official temperature scale of the United States, the Bahamas, Belize, Cayman Islands, and Palau. The rest of the world uses Celsius. On the Fahrenheit scale, the freezing point of water is 32 degrees and the boiling point is 212 degrees - the Fahrenheit and Celsius scales represent the same temperature at -40 degrees.
  97. An ancient Indian custom was to throw balls of clarified butter at statues of their gods to seek favour - hence, the term 'to butter someone up'.
  98. The Greek letter 'pi' was first introduced for the ratio of a circle’s perimeter to its diameter by the Welsh mathematician William Jones in 1706 - the world record for memorising the value of 'pi' was set by China's Chao Lu in 2005, correctly reciting its first 67,890 digits.
  99. The most published printed product in the world each year is thought to be the IKEA catalogue. Approximately 208 million copies were printed in 2013, that's more than double the number of Bibles printed in the same year.
  100. Although closest to the sun Mercury is not the hottest planet. Venus is the hottest planet. Mercury’s lack of atmosphere is the reason why it is not as hot as Venus. Venus’s atmosphere is mainly made up of carbon dioxide gas, which causes a greenhouse effect that does not allow the heat from the sun to escape back into space.
  101. An average cumulus cloud contains as much as 200 tonnes of water. Cumulonimbus clouds, which are denser and larger, can weigh upto one million tonnes.
  102. At the battle of Agincourt (1415) one thousand arrows were fired every second.
  103. The 442nd Infantry Regiment is the most decorated unit in U.S. military history. The regiment was composed of soldiers of Japanese ancestry who fought in World War II whilst most of their families were confined to internment camps.

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