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Fast facts


Photo
Illustration by Holly Randall
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
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Things you always never wanted to know

  • When the Portuguese historian Joao de Barros (1496-1570) wrote Decadas da Asia, his monumental history of the Portuguese Empire, King John III was so pleased that he gave him the whole state of Maranao in Brazil - an area of about 130,000 square miles.

  • The nickel-titanium alloy 55-nitinol can be fashioned at a high temperature into a complex shape, then cooled and crushed beyond recognition. It regains its original shape when it is reheated, "remembering" every curve and angle.

  • In terms of the resources he or she will use in his lifetime and the pollution he or she will cause, one U.S. citizen spends the equivalent of about 80 citizens of India.

  • Sally Hemings, the black slave who is thought to have been Thomas Jefferson's mistress for 25 years, was a blood relative of Jefferson's wife - she was Martha Jefferson's half sister.

  • For some languages, translations of the Bible are the first works, or even the only works, in their literature. The only notable work in Gothic, for instance, is the translation of the Bible by Ulfilas, who was converted to Christianity at Constantinople. It is said that Ulfilas even had to invent the alphabet he used.

  • Prior to World War I, fewer than 20 books per year published in England dealt with military science. In Germany, almost 700 books per year were being published on the subject.

  • Celebrated geneticist J.B.S. Haldane (1892-1964) predicted the U.S. population would level off at 145 million.

  • The skin of the human adult body has an average weight of six pounds.

  • In 1695, two scientists obtained a diamond from a rich patron and heated it by using a lens to focus light on it. The diamond disappeared. Diamond is made of carbon, and it burns just as coal will when it is heated strongly enough.


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