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Fast Facts


Arizona Daily Wildcat
September 2, 2005
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Things you've always never wanted to know

  • Under certain conditions of moisture and heat, the flesh of a buried body will turn to soap. Known as adipocere, this strange substance is a chemical much like baking soda mixed with fat (and thus almost identical in composition to soap) and is called "grave wax" by undertakers. For years, the corpse of William von Ellenbogen, a soldier whose body turned to adipocere after he was killed in the Revolutionary War, was on display at the Smithsonian Institution.

  • Since its completion in 1937, more than 600 people have committed suicide by jumping off San Francisco's Golden State Bridge.

  • Henry IV of France (1553-1610) was exhumed nearly 200 years after his death so a death mask of his face could be made.

  • Donkeys kill more people annually than plane crashes.

  • A poodle fell from a balcony in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in October 1988. It killed three people - one was struck on the head, the second was run over by a bus while watching and the third had a heart attack after witnessing the event.

  • When Mary, Queen of Scots was executed, it took 15 whacks of the blade before her head was severed.

  • Some Chinese typewriters have 5,700 characters. The keyboard is almost 3 feet wide on some models, and the fastest one can type on such a machine is 11 words a minute.

  • An ostrich egg can make 11.5 omelets.

  • The Statue of Liberty's mouth is 3 feet wide.

  • A newborn China water deer is so small that it can be held in the palm of your hand.

  • Redwood trees sometimes grow to heights of 30 feet and produce bark that is more than a foot thick. They spring from a seed that is only one-sixteenth of an inch long. These seeds are so small that 123,000 of them weigh a pound.

  • In 1976, a pound of potato chips cost 200 times more than a pound of potatoes.

  • Doris Day's real name was Doris von Kappelhoff. Judy Garland's real name was Frances Gumm.

  • Daniel Webster, Abraham Lincoln, John Marshall and Stephen A. Douglas, four of the most famous lawyers the United States has ever produced, never went to law school.

  • Sound travels 15 times more swiftly through steel than through air.

  • "You sock-dologizing old mantrap" were the last words ever heard by Abraham Lincoln. They were spoken by an actor named Asa Trenchard in "Our American Cousin." The roar of laughter that followed this line drowned out the sound of the gunshots fired by John Wilkes Booth.

  • George Washington was so beloved by the French that when he died in 1799, Napoleon Bonaparte ordered 10 days of mourning.

  • For every hour one listens to the radio in the United States, one hears approximately 11,000 spoken words.


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