In any given year, the dates 4/4, 6/6, 8/8, 10/10, and 12/12 fall on the same day of the week.
(Also 9/5, 5/9, 7/11, and 11/7.)
Jimi Hendrix and George Frideric Handel lived in adjoining houses.
Handel lived at 25 Brook Street in London from 1723 until his death in 1759.
210 years later, Hendrix moved in at number 23.
(Image: Wikimedia Commons)
The Mona Lisa has no eyebrows.
The shortest line that can be drawn on the earth’s surface, one end of said line being at the mouth of the Rio Grande river in the Gulf of Mexico, and the other end at Pekin, in China, will cross Behring’s Strait. If you doubt it, take a large terrestrial globe and some thread and convince yourself. This truth may be of far greater value than we now know. What say you, gentlemen? Shall we begin the Pekin and Denver road at its Asiatic terminus, and so let the road bring along the labor that is to build it?
– Bizarre Notes & Queries, April 1886
Reportedly the world’s shortest play is The Exile, by Tristan Bernard.
The curtain rises on a mountaineer in a remote cabin. An exile knocks on the door.
EXILE: Whoever you are, have pity on a hunted man. There is a price on my head.
MOUNTAINEER: How much?
The curtain falls.
The shortest decisive tournament chess game ever played was Dordevic-Kovacevic, Bela Crkva 1984:
1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5 c6 3. e3
3. … Qa5+ wins the bishop. Dordevic resigned.
History’s 10 deadliest natural disasters:
- Yellow River flood, China, summer 1931: 1 million to 2 million dead
- Yellow River flood, China, September-October 1887: 900,000 to 2 million dead
- Bhola cyclone, East Pakistan, Nov. 13, 1970: 500,000 to 1 million dead
- Shaanxi earthquake, China, Jan. 23, 1556: 830,000 dead
- Cyclone, Coringa, India, Nov. 25, 1839: 300,000 dead
- Kaifeng flood, China, 1642: 300,000 dead
- Indian Ocean earthquake/tsunami, Dec. 26, 2004: 283,100 dead
- Tangshan earthquake, China, July 28, 1976: 242,000 dead
- Banqiao Dam failure, China, August 1975: 231,000 dead
- Aleppo earthquake, Syria, 1138: 230,000 dead
Six of the 10 occurred in China. See also Death Tolls.
At the Panama Canal, the Pacific is east of the Atlantic.
More nouns of assemblage:
- a business of ferrets
- a cartload of chimpanzees
- a coalition of cheetahs
- a congress of baboons
- a gang of elk
- a huddle of penguins
- a kaleidoscope of butterflies
- a labour of moles
- a prickle of porcupines
- a quarrel of sparrows
- a romp of otters
- a tiding of magpies
- a tower of giraffes
- a ubiquity of sparrows
- a whiteness of swans
- a zeal of zebras
My sources insist that a group of gnus is called an implausibility. Should I believe them?
(Image: Wikimedia Commons)
Countries with the lowest high points:
- Maldives: 2 meters
- Tuvalu: 5 meters
- Tokelau: 5 meters
- Cocos (Keeling) Islands: 5 meters
- Marshall Islands: 10 meters
- Cayman Islands: 43 meters
- Turks and Caicos Islands: 49 meters
- The Gambia: 53 meters
- The Bahamas: 63 meters
- Anguilla: 65 meters
The Maldives may eventually disappear altogether — sea levels have risen about 20 centimeters in the last century.
(Image: Wikimedia Commons)
“Formosa” is both a province in Argentina and the former name of Taiwan.
Curiously, those locations are on precisely opposite sides of the earth. Noon at one is midnight at the other, and midwinter at one is midsummer at the other.
Men per woman:
- Northern Mariana Islands: 0.77
- Russia: 0.86
- Puerto Rico: 0.92
- United States: 0.97
- Canada: 0.98
- United Kingdom: 0.98
- Australia: 0.99
- Iceland: 1
- India: 1.06
- Greenland: 1.12
- Qatar: 1.87
The world average is 1.01.
When asked his age, mathematician Augustus De Morgan used to offer a clue: “I was x years of age in the year x2.” (He was 43 in 1849.)
That quirk puts De Morgan in a pretty exclusive club. Other members include Charles Atlas (who was 44 in 1936) and Jake Gyllenhaal (who will be 45 in 2025). Next up: Babies born in 2070 will be 46 in 2116.
The border between Delaware and Pennsylvania is a perfect curve.
It’s the arc of a circle centered on the cupola of the courthouse at New Castle.
It’s the only such boundary in the territorial United States.
A force of 1 newton is about the weight of an apple.
Twelve percent of people dream only in black and white.
Reno, Nevada, is farther west than Los Angeles.
Picasso’s full name was Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Clito Ruiz y Picasso.
The first day of a new century can never fall on a Sunday, a Wednesday, or a Friday.
It’s a quirk of the Gregorian calendar.
Maine is the only state with a one-syllable name.
The 1933 a thoroughbred stallion named Brokers Tip won the Kentucky Derby.
It was the only win of his career.
New York’s Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is the largest suspension bridge in the United States.
Its towers are 1-5/8 inches farther apart at their tops than at their bases — to accommodate the curvature of the earth.
The U.S. dime does not state its value. It’s labeled simply “one dime.”
John Cazale is not a household name, but he should be. When the actor died at age 42, he’d made only five films, but every one of them was nominated for best picture:
- The Godfather
- The Conversation
- The Godfather Part II
- Dog Day Afternoon
- The Deer Hunter
That alone would have made him unique in Hollywood history, but he added a hat trick. In 1990, 12 years after his death, Francis Ford Coppola used archive footage to include Cazale in The Godfather Part III (as Fredo Corleone).
That too was nominated for best picture.