Unusual triviaIn Jonathan Swift's book "Gulliver's Travels" have a look at chapter 3 of "A Voyage To Laputa". It reads : "They have likewise discovered two lesser stars, or satellites, which revolve about Mars, whereof the innermost is distant from the centre of the primary planet exactly 3 of his diameters, and the outermost 5". There is nothing unusual in that except Gulliver's Travels was published in 1726 and Mars' 2 moons were first discovered by US astronomer Asaph Hall in 1877!
Italian mathematician Geronimo Cardano published the laws of chance governing card & dice games. But he became most famous for his accurate horoscope predictions. He even predicted his own death in 1576 - even down to the exact hour. When the time came he was still healthy, so he killed himself rather than being proved wrong!
When Mark Twain was born on November 30, 1835, Halley's Comet was visible in the sky over Florida, Missouri. It did not pass very near to the earth that year, but its presence was enough to create a legend. Aware throughout his life that he was born when Halley's Comet was visible, Mark Twain predicted in 1909 that he would die when it returned: "I came in with Halley's Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it.... The Almighty has said, no doubt: 'Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.'" He was right. When Mark Twain died on April 21, 1910, Halley's Comet was once again visible in the sky.
Winston Churchill was not only a great speech maker, his wit was also legendary. In the House of Commons Nancy Astor MP, angry with Churchill, said 'If I were married to you, I'd put poison in your coffee'. Churchill replied 'Nancy, if you were my wife, I'd drink it'. Another female MP, Bessie Braddock when seeing Churchill intoxicated, said 'Winston you're drunk' to which Churchill replied 'Bessie you're ugly. And tomorrow I shall be sober'.
King Mithridates VI ruled in Asia Minor in the first century BC. He was so afraid of assassination by poisoning, he came up with a novel idea. He gave himself small doses of poison each day in the hope that he would naturally build up a resistance to poisons. It was so successful that when the Romans invaded in 63 BC, instead of being captured he tried to commit suicide, but the poison he took had no effect on him. Eventually the King ordered a slave to kill him with his sword!
After being killed during the celebrated Battle of Trafalgar, British Admiral Horatio Nelson was put into a large barrel of brandy to preserve his body during the voyage back to England. When the ship arrived back home Lord Nelson was removed from the barrel and the crew celebrated his achievements by drinking the remaining brandy!
Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England and scourge of the monarchists died peacefully on 3rd Spetember 1658. 18 months later the monarchy had been restored and the royalists wanted revenge for the regicide of King Charles I. Cromwell's corpse was exhumed from his tomb in Westminster Abbey and dragged through the streets of London to Tyburn. He was then given a symbollic hanging. 6 hours later his corpse was taken down from the gallows and beheaded by an executioner. His head was then paraded through the streets before being stuck on an iron spike and displayed atop Westminster Hall.
In the late 1950s Lincoln City Football Club had a centre half named Ray LONG who was over 6 foot tall, and a left winger called David SHORT, who was only 5ft 4. Another piece of football trivia, the great strikers Dixie Dean and Jimmy Greaves, were both aged exactly 23 years 290 days, when they both scored their 200th league goals!
In July 1981, a tortoise was sentenced to death for murder. Tribal leaders in an eastern Kenyan village formally condemned the tortoise because they suspected it of causing the deaths of six people by magic. However, because none of the villagers was prepared to face the tortoise's wrath by carrying out the execution, it was chained to a tree instead. The tortoise was later freed after the government promised an inquiry into the six deaths.
After the death of her husband, poet Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley (author of Frankenstein) kept his heart wrapped up in silk until she died.
The cruise liner Queen Mary, now at harbour in Los Angeles, was originally meant to be known by a different name. A director of Cunard - the ship's owners - met King George V intending to name the ship Queen Victoria. He asked if the vessel could be named after 'the greatest Queen this country has ever known'. The King replied 'That is the greatest compliment ever paid to my wife. I'll ask her'. Hence, the ship became the Queen Mary.
The shortest war in history was between Zanzibar and Great Britain in 1896. Zanzibar surrendered after 38 minutes.
In 1994 Los Angeles police arrested a man for dressing as the Grim Reaper - complete with scythe - and standing outside the windows of old people's homes, staring in.
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