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Fast facts


Photo
Illustration by Earl Larrabee
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
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taken weekly with a grain of salt

  • The skin of the human adult body weights six pounds on average.

  • The Greek playwright Aeschylus, according to some sources, was killed by a tortoise. The animal, it is said, was dropped from the claws of an eagle flying overhead, which mistook Aeschylus' bald head for a rock.

  • A sizable oak tree, during the typical growing season, gives off 28,000 gallons of moisture.

  • Human beings can neither smell nor taste a substance that is not soluble. On a dry tongue, sugar has no taste. In a dry nose, the smell of a flower would not be noticed. Anything to be smelled must float in the air.

  • Only about 1.6 percent of the water on Earth is fresh. Most of it is locked in the snow and the ice at the poles and on the peaks of the highest mountains.

  • The federal government keeps billions of dollars much of it in taxes collected by the Internal Revenue Service in bank accounts that draw no interest. Banks turn around and invest much of these deposits in U.S. Treasury bills, on which the government frequently pays more than 9 percent interest. Incredibly, the government is paying banks to borrow back its own money.

  • The father of Frederick the Great had a famous private guard company the Potsdam Grenadiers. He would bribe, buy or even kidnap tall men, close to seven feet in height, to get them for the Grenadiers. He made the giant men marry giant women so he could breed his own giants.

  • Rules for parties during the reign of Catherine I of Russia (1725-1727) declared that no gentleman was to get drunk before nine o'clock and that no lady was to get drunk at any hour. The Princess Elizabeth, Catherine's daughter, and the other young ladies of the court reveled in transvestite balls, thus enabling them to circumvent the rules.

  • Charlemagne, the Frankish Emperor (A.D. 742-814), never learned to write even though he practiced on tablets, he admitted he couldn't master the skill. He learned to read, however, and was ahead of nearly all other rulers of his time, who considered such skills beneath their dignity and left them to underlings and monks.

  • When the American Constitutional Convention was held in 1787, its deliberations were kept so secret that the public was not aware for 60 years of what had taken place. The public was merely presented with a fait accompli in the form of the finished Constitution, with no idea of how the final draft was arrived at.


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