Fast facts

Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, September 30, 2004

Things you always never wanted to know

  • In medieval Japan, it was believed that there was a single hair somewhere on the tail of a cat that could restore life to a dead person. For this reason cats were brought into the room of a dying person and placed next to his or her bed. As a last resort, relatives sometimes had the dying person pluck a single hair from the cat's tail in the hope that this one would prove to be the magic strand.

  • Oscar Wilde's dying words were, "I am dying as I have lived, beyond my means." Henry David Thoreau's dying words were, "Moose ... Indian..."

  • Approximately three-thousandths of all the water on the surface of the globe evaporates each year.

  • The ruby-throated hummingbird (Archulochus colubris) moves its wings at a rate of 200 wingbeats per second.

  • At the height of its power, in 400 B.C., the Greek city of Sparta had 25,000 citizens and 500,000 slaves.

  • The oldest known books in the world were made of clay. Actually earthen tablets on which written symbols were imprinted and baked, these "books" were used for recording land deeds and business transactions by the Babylonians 5,000 years before movable type was invented in the west.

  • If the moon were placed on the surface of the continental United States, it would extend from San Francisco to Cleveland (2,160 miles).

  • Only five out of every 100 pounds of salt produced each year get to the dinner table. The rest is used for such diverse purposes as packing meat, building roads, feeding livestock, tanning leather and manufacturing glass, soap, ash and washing compounds.

  • In 1956 a white leghorn chicken belonging to a farmer in Vineland, New Jersey, laid an egg that weighed more than a pound. This is the largest chicken egg recorded to date.

  • Rhubarb is named after the Volga River. In Greek the name of the Volga is "Rha," and "barb" means "uncultivated." Rhubarb is thus a wild plant that grows along the Volga.