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Fast facts


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Illustration by Mike Padilla
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
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Things you always never wanted to know

  • In 1938, a coelacanth was found off the coast of Madagascar. Until that time, this primitive fish, a direct ancestor of air-breathing amphibians, was believed to have become extinct more than 60 million years ago.

  • Charles Dickens believed that a good night's sleep was possible only if the bed was aligned from north to south. In this manner, he thought, the Earth's magnetic currents would flow straight through the recumbent body.

  • Some dinosaurs were as small as hens.

  • The umbrella originated in ancient Egypt, where it was used by the royal family and nobles as a symbol of rank in a theocratic hierarchy. Practical use came later.

  • Howard University was named after its founder, Oliver O. Howard, a white Union general who was dedicated to the cause of black education. General Howard founded the university in 1867 and served as its president from 1869 to 1874.

  • Georges "Tiger" Clemenceau (1841-1929), twice premier of France, spent four years in the United States as a young man. He worked as a journalist, taught French at a women's college in Stamford, Conn., and married one of the students. They separated after seven years.

  • When Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, the fact of his authorship was known only to the Continental Congress and a few of his friends. The identity of the writer of the most famous document of the American Revolution was not generally known until it was published in a newspaper in 1784.


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