Completely Random Facts of the Week – Issue 60

May 16, 2016

randomfacts60The weekly collection of random and fun facts.  In this week’s edition: An Earth Twin, Why Cats Can’t Be Vegan, A World Record Roller Coaster Ride, Dolly Parton’s Marriage, and Maryland’s Strange State Sport.

NASA kepler earth like planetOn July 23, 2015, NASA found the 1st near earth-like planet using the Kepler Space Telescope named Kepler-186f. It’s 60% bigger than Earth, 5% farther from its star than Earth is to the sun, 1.5 billion years older than the sun, it orbits its star every 130 days, and its temperature may be similar to Earth, depending on its atmosphere.

Other planets have been discovered in the “habitable zone”, which is the distance from a star where liquid water could exist in liquid form on a planet, but these planets were usually much larger than Earth.

Kepler-186f is in the Kepler-186 system which is about 500 light-years away from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. The star the planet orbits is a red dwarf and about half the mass and size of the our sun. There are four other planets in the system but Kepler-186 is the most earth-like. Source

cat on couchCats, unlike dogs, cannot be vegetarians. They cannot produce the amino acid taurine and must get it from meat and fish. The deficiency of this amino acid can led to blindness and death. Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they must get their nutrition from meat. Cats can’t get the nutrition they need from plants, nor can they digest them properly.

Taurine is one such amino acid cats can’t get from plants, and they don’t have the capability to turn proteins from plants into the amino acids they need like humans can. Taurine is found mainly in heart and liver and the absence of this amino acid can result in blindness or disease of the cardiovascular system for a cat. Source

big dipper
Stephen Sweeney/

In 2007, Richard Rodriguez rode the roller coasters Pepsi Max Big One and Big Dipper in Blackpool, England at Pleasure Beach for 17 straight days and nights with only a five-minute break every hour to use the bathroom or shower.

Rodriguez had some competition from other marathon roller coaster riders during this record-breaking attempt who were trying to break the record in Canada at the same time. They had to eventually stop because of dehydration. Rodriguez broke his previous riding record of 549 hours that was set in 1994 after this attempt.

Rodriguez had to eat, drink, and sleep while on the roller coaster. The area where he was riding was fitted with side panels to keep his personal possessions from falling out, and for every hour he rode on the coaster, he got five minutes of rest time. He used this time to take a shower and eat a hot meal, and safety crews used the time to complete safety checks. To sleep at night he pulled a canvas over his head, used foam rubber to secure himself, and put in ear plugs. The ride raised money for diabetes research since Rodriguez was himself an insulin-dependent diabetic. Source, Source

dolly partonDolly Parton has been married to her husband, Carl Dean, for 49 years even though numerous tabloid reports at different times seemed to indicate they were always getting a divorce. One reason may be because Dean has shunned any publicity through the years. In fact, Dolly’s husband has seen her perform only one time. But the rumors about them breaking up have always been untrue, and Parton is set to renew her vows for the couple’s 50th wedding anniversary on May 30, 2016.

Dean runs an asphalt business in Nashville and the couple has only been photographed 20 times together throughout their many years. It’s reported he’s scheduled to appear with her on stage at their 50th anniversary. Parton’s god daughter, Miley Cyrus, is even scheduled to be with her at the party. Source, Source

joustingThis one is hard to believe, but the official state sport of Maryland is jousting. It became the official sport in Maryland in 1962 and was the first state to adopt an official sport. Why jousting you may ask? Tournaments for jousting have been held in Maryland since colonial times but increased in popularity after the Civil War.

The jousting in Maryland isn’t the same as what was done in Medieval times. The jousting tournaments are called ring tournaments where the rider goes through an 80-yard course where rings are suspended. They then have to spear each ring along the course in 8 seconds with a lance. The rings vary in their diameter depending on the skill level of the rider, and the riders get points for how many they spear. Source

That’s it for this week’s edition. Give everyone a thrill with your new knowledge.

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About the author 

Daniel Ganninger - The writer, editor, and chief lackey of Knowledge Stew, the author of the Knowledge Stew line of trivia books, and editor of Fact World and the Knowledge Stew sister site on Medium, our ad-free subscription sites (you can find out how to join below). I hope you find things here to annoy those around you with your new found knowledge.

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