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Fast Facts


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Illustration by Jennifer Kearney
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, September 26, 2005
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Things you've always never wanted to know

  • By the age of 25, he was expelled from the army and disgraced, despondent, without funds, apparently without a future and suicidal. The man was Napoleon (1769-1821). One year later, he was the youngest general in the French army and began winning victories with ragged troops who were at the point of starvation.

  • The speed of rotation of the Earth's surface increases steadily from zero at the poles to a bit more than 1,000 miles per hour at the equator.

  • Nearly 43 percent of convicted criminals serving prison sentences in the United States are rearrested within a year of being released from prison.

  • In England, there are about 500 Civil War buffs who congregate in the countryside on weekends, divide up into regiments - Union and Confederate - and re-enact the battles of Shiloh, Chickamauga, Gettysburg and others.

  • In 1705, John Smith, a condemned robber, fell through the drop at London's Tyburn gallows, and dangled at the end of the rope for about 15 minutes. Suddenly a courier came galloping up with a reprieve. The hanged man was cut down, found to be still breathing and resuscitated. He lived for some years after that and was called "Half-Hanged Smith."

  • Emperor Caligula's favorite consul and coregent of Rome, Incitatus, who was accorded honor at every turn, was a horse. Caligula's successor, Claudius, did not invite Incitatus in to dine, as had Caligula, but the horse still was decently treated, in his ivory manger, with a golden drinking goblet for partaking of wine.

  • "Welcome Stranger," weighing about 200 pounds, is the name of the largest gold nugget ever found. John Deason and Richard Oates discovered it near Ballarat, Australia, in 1869. Aside from its value as a unique specimen, its current value as gold alone is about $1,500,000.


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