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Some Random And Remarkable Fun Facts

It's always a delight to learn something new. Here are an interesting handful of facts you may enjoy discovering.

Bodleian Library, Oxford
Bodleian Library, Oxford | Unsplash

Oxford University Is Older Than the Aztecs: As early as 1096, teaching had already started in Oxford. By 1249, the University of Oxford had grown into a full-fledged university, replete with student housing at the school’s three original “halls of residence” - University, Balliol and Merton Colleges. Oxford isn’t the oldest university, not by a long shot. India’s Nalanda University had already operated for hundreds of years and been burnt down by invaders before Oxford got its act together. But Oxford, as one of the oldest universities in continuous operation, doesn’t feel that old. It’s a product of our time. You can still enroll at Oxford. You can still go to Merton College. The Aztec civilization of central Mexico, on the other hand, feels like ancient history. But the origination of the Aztec civilization, marked by the founding of the city of Tenochtitlán by the Mexica at Lake Texcoco, didn’t come until 1325.

The Colour Purple: There are only two countries in the world that use the colour purple in their flag: Nicaragua and Dominica. Meanwhile, Nepal is the only country in the world that does not have a square or rectangular national flag. Nepal's national flag is triangular.

Tall Tale: A giraffe and a human have the same number of bones in their necks. Even though the neck of a giraffe can be eight feet long and weigh up to 600 pounds, they only have seven neck vertebrae - the same number of neck bones that humans have! But unlike our vertebrae, each of theirs can be up to 10 inches long.

Closest US State to Africa: It's got to be Florida, right? Actually, it's Maine. Specifically, a peninsula called Quoddy Head. It's quaint, little lighthouse, the Quoddy Head Light, is located at the easternmost point of the United States. It's also the point closest to Africa, about 3,154 miles (5,076 km) from El Beddouza in Morocco.

The Longest Fence in the World: If good fences make good neighbours, then humans and dingoes, the feral dogs of the Australian outback, must be the best neighbours of all. Most fences in our experience can be built over a weekend, or whitewashed by Tom Sawyer and his friends in an afternoon, but not the Dingo Fence of Southeast Australia which is 3,488 miles long. This one fence could stretch from New York City all the way to London.

A plane on 191st Street in NYC in 1956 after its wings were removed for shipment
A plane on 191st Street in 1956 after its wings were removed for shipment. The pilot landed the craft on St. Nicholas Avenue as part of a bar room bet | Credit: John Muravcki/The New York Times

Plane Crazy: Tommy Fitzpatrick stole a small plane in 1956 from New Jersey on a bet and then landed it on the narrow street in front of the bar where he had been drinking in Manhattan. Two years later, he did it again after someone didn't believe he had done it the first time.

Nintendo has existed since 1889: Fusajiro Yamauchi began manufacturing "Hanafuda" (flower cards) Japanese playing cards in Kyoto at the end of the 19th century. In 1959 the company started selling cards printed with Walt Disney characters, opening up a new market in children's playing cards and resulting in a boom in the card department and listed on the Kyoto Stock Exchange in 1962. Seven years later, the company changed its name to Nintendo Co., Ltd. and started manufacturing games in addition to playing cards. Since then, Nintendo has sold more than 5.5 billion video games and over 800 million hardware units globally.

Putting it to The Vote: There was a proposed Amendment to the US Constitution in 1916 that would put all acts of war to a national vote, and anyone voting yes would have to register as a volunteer for service in the United States Army.

Birthday Paradox: In a room of just 23 people there’s a 50-50 chance of at least two people having the same birthday. In a room of 75 there’s a 99.9% chance of at least two people matching. Don't believe it? Watch this explainer video.


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