Fast facts

Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, March 23, 2005

  • Robert McDonald managed to stay awake for 453 hours and 40 minutes in his rocking chair before succumbing to slumber.

  • The esophagus of an octopus goes straight through its brain.

  • In 1792, when Thomas Jefferson was secretary of state, he had the honor of having a plant named for him, the Jeffersonia diphylla. The citation stated that, "in botany and zoology, the information of this gentleman is equaled by few persons in the United States."

  • Heavyweight boxing champion Gene Tunney lectured on Shakespeare at Yale University.

  • John Tyler, 10th president of the United States, later served as a member of the Confederate House of Representatives for a brief period before he died in 1862. He's the only president to renounce the Union.

  • Henry II, feuding with Archbishop Thomas Becket and incensed with the King of France for defending Becket, ordered English students home from the University of Paris. Most of the returnees settled at Oxford and started a university of their own. Thus, Oxford University was founded because a king quarreled with a saint.

  • The Ming Emperor Hung Wu (1368-1398) had so many people executed that midway through his reign, government officials got into the custom of saying their last goodbyes to their families if they were required at a morning audience and of exchanging congratulations with fellow officials if they survived until evening.

  • Reserpine, a drug only widely used since the 1950s to reduce high blood pressure, has been used for centuries in Africa and India as a cure for mental illness. It is one of the most active components of the tropical rauwolfia plant.

  • In 1917, Alden C. Flagg held ticket No. 258 in the military draft. His son, Alden C. Flagg Jr., of Boston, was holder of No. 158 in the U.S. peacetime draft lottery of 1940.

  • 4French archivists claim the first French soldier who was wounded in the Franco-Prussian War was also the last to be killed, six months later, in 1871.