Fast Facts

Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, December 1, 2005

Things you've always never wanted to know

  • The pigmy shrew, a relative of the mole, is the smallest mammal in North America. It weighs one-fourteenth of an ounce - less than a dime.

  • Vincent Van Gogh started to draw at age 27.

  • The U.S. Congress passed a law in 1832 requiring all American citizens to spend one day each year fasting and praying. For the most part, people ignored the law, and no effort was made to enforce the legislation.

  • Ninety percent of U.S. households have at least one remote control for the television, but eight out of 10 report losing one or more of them.

  • The largest movie theater in the world, Radio City Music Hall in New York City, opened in December 1932. It originally had 5,945 seats.

  • In Europe, the act of crossing one's fingers has several meanings, most commonly "protection" or "good luck." In Paraguay, the gesture may be offensive.

  • After high school graduation, Danny DeVito went to work in his sister's hair salon and was known as "Mr. Danny."

  • Theodore Roosevelt, a staunch conservationist, banned Christmas trees in his home, even when he lived in the White House. His children, however, smuggled them into their bedrooms.

  • Bacteria, the tiniest free-living cells, are so small that a single drop of liquid may contain 50 million of them.

  • In Portugal, the traditional Christmas meal (consoada) is eaten in the early hours of Christmas Day. Burning in the hearth is the yule log (fogueira da consoada). The ashes and charred remains of the yule log are saved; later in the year, they are burned with pinecones during Portugal's thunderstorm season. It is believed that no thunderbolt will strike where the yule log smoke has traveled.

  • Celebrities who were school dropouts include Lucille Ball, Glen Campbell, Jim Carrey, Cher, Carrie Fisher, Cary Grant, Billy Joel, Rod McKuen, Al Pacino and Peter Ustinov.

  • Los Angeles is more than one-third the size of the entire state of Rhode Island.

  • Many restaurants in Caracas, Venezuela, offer unusual cuisine for adventurous diners, including turtle pie, shrimp mixed with tropical fruit, lapa - a small tropical boar cooked in a rich red-wine sauce, and calamares en su tinta - squid served in its ink.

  • Hikers' biggest problem is dehydration, which leads to fatigue. This increases the possibility of injuring oneself. Hikers should avoid beverages with caffeine and alcohol, both of which can dehydrate the body.

  • To fight the Battle of Marne in World War I, Soldiers arrived not on foot or by military airplane or military vehicle but by taxi cabs. France took over all the taxi cabs in Paris to get soldiers to the front.