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Fast Facts


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Illustrated by Jennifer Kearney
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, September 23, 2005
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Things you've always never wanted to know

  • The daughters of a mother who is colorblind and a father who has normal vision will have normal vision. The sons will be colorblind, however.

  • When French literary critic Sainte-Beuve (1804-69) was challenged to a duel by a journalist a century ago, and thus, according to custom, was permitted the choice of weapons, he told his opponent, "I choose spelling - you're dead."

  • On the eve of World War II, the U.S. Army ranked, with reserves counted, 19th among the world's armed forces. This placed the U.S. behind Portugal but ahead of Bulgaria.

  • The purpose of the Great Wall of China, the monumental fortification separating China from Mongolia, was not especially to keep out the Huns from the north. The Huns could easily find places along the stretch that they could scale with ladders, but they couldn't get their horses across. Without their horses, they weren't effective conquerors.

  • King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud, who ruled Saudi Arabia from 1932 until his death in 1953, had 300 wives.

  • Queen Berengaria, married to Richard the Lion-Hearted in 1191, never lived in England before or during her reign as its queen.

  • King Alfonso of Spain, who reigned from 1886 to 1931, was so tone-deaf that he had one man in his employ known as Anthem Man. This man's sole duty was to tell the king to stand up whenever the Spanish national anthem was played, because the monarch couldn't recognize it.

  • If 80 percent of your liver were to be removed, the remaining part would continue to function, and within a few months the liver would have reconstructed to its original size.

  • At sea level, there are 2,000 pounds of air pressure on each square foot of your body area.

  • Victor Berger was elected a U.S. congressman by the state of Wisconsin in 1920, but the House of Representative refused to seat him by a vote of 328-6 because he was a socialist who had vigorously opposed U.S. participation in World War I.

  • The Amazon River pushes so much water into the Atlantic Ocean that more than 100 miles out to sea past the mouth of the river, one can dip fresh water out of the ocean and drink it.

  • While elephants and short-tailed shrews get by on only two hours of sleep a day, gorillas and cats sleep about 14 hours. Two to 14 hours seems to be the range of necessary nocturnal bliss.

  • Although an alligator can close its jaws with a force sufficient to break a person's arm, the muscles that open its jaws are so weak that it is possible for a man to hold the mouth of a full-grown alligator shut with only one hand.


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