In this week’s facts edition: A Lot of Air, Broken Hearts Do Exist, Where It’s Not Illegal to be in Organized Crime, Two Disappointing Mountains, and Walmart’s Number One Selling Item.
A Lot of Air
Circular breathing is a technique used by wind instrument players to play continuously without taking a breath. They do it by taking air into the nose which is then blown out through the mouth using air that is stored in the cheeks. The world record for holding a single note using the technique went to Kenneth Gorelick, better known as famed saxophonist Kenny G, when he held an E-flat note on a saxophone for 45 minutes and 47 seconds in 1997. Kenny G’s record stood until famed afrobeat saxophonist and Grammy nominee Femi Kuti broke the record on May 7, 2017 by holding a note for 46 minutes 38 seconds. But Kuti found out soon after his would-be record that another saxophone player named Vann Burchfield had broken Kenny G’s 1997 record on a video in February 2000. Kuti had stopped his playing at the time because he had already broken what he thought was the record, saying that he would have gone longer if he had known. Undiscouraged, Kuti returned to break the record again only a week later. He ended up playing for 51 minutes and 38 seconds. Source, Source
Broken Hearts Do Exist
When someone has said that a person is suffering from a broken heart, they could be, in fact, telling the truth. It’s called stress cardiomyopathy, or “broken heart syndrome”, takotsubo cardiomyopathy, or apical ballooning syndrome. Physical stress and intense emotions can cause a rapid weakening of the heart muscle which resembles the symptoms of a heart attack. But unlike a heart attack, the heart cells aren’t killed off during “broken heart syndrome”, they are instead stunned by the rapid release of adrenaline and other hormones. Luckily, the heart is not damaged during “broken heart syndrome” and recovers within a few weeks. The long-term prognosis for those diagnosed with “broken heart syndrome” is very good and only 5-10% of patients have a recurrence at some later time. Source
Where It’s Not Illegal to be in Organized Crime
The Yakuza is the powerful organized criminal syndicate in Japan that traces its roots back to the Samurai of the 17th century. The Yakuza is like the Mafia with the exception that members don’t hide their association in the organization. There’s a reason they don’t. Membership in organized crime is not illegal in Japan. There are some ordinances that prohibit companies from knowingly doing business with the Yakuza, but there is no law prohibiting the existence of the gang. The belief is that criminalizing the gang would send their activities underground, and police feel that the criminal syndicate can be better regulated when there isn’t a law against it. Police have been able to have members surrender to police for breaking laws by simply calling the crime boss. The current number of members of the Yakuza is just over 53,000. Source, Source
Two Disappointing Mountains
Mount Disappointment is a 2,600 foot mountain in southern Australia. It didn’t get its name, however, because it was a tough mountain to climb or was associated with some terrible event. In 1824, British explorers Hamilton Hume and William Hovell were running an expedition to find new grazing land in the southern part of the colony in Australia and also to find where the rivers of New South Wales flowed. When they climbed one particular mountain, they were disappointed that the dense growth of trees prevented them from seeing Port Phillip Bay, where Melbourne was located, from the summit . In addition, Hume suffered a groin injury that required a five-day rest for the party that probably helped solidify their choice in names for the new mountain.
But this isn’t the only Mount Disappointment. There is also a Mount Disappointment in the San Gabriel Mountains in Los Angeles County, California. This particular mountain got its name when two United States Geological Survey surveyors viewed it from the Santa Susana Mountains in 1894. They thought it was the highest point in the area and that it could be used as their next triangulation point. But when they climbed the 5,963 feet to the top, they discovered that the San Gabriel peak to the east was actually higher. That’s when they named it Mount Disappointment. Source, Source, Source
Walmart’s Number One Selling Item
Walmart is known for moving a large amount of merchandise, but what is the item that sells the most at Walmart? It’s the banana. According to Business Insider, the banana has topped the list for the most sold product at Walmart. In 2015, the company sold 1.5 billion pounds of bananas. Let’s say a tractor trailer held 40,000 pounds of bananas. It would take 37,500 tractor trailer trips to equal the number of bananas sold by Walmart. In addition, the bananas are kept at 56 degrees Fahrenheit as they travel from seven different Latin American countries on a journey that lasts from two to three weeks before making it into one of Walmart’s 4,000 U.S. stores. Source
That’s it for another edition of the Random Facts of the Week. Check out more fun facts here, or these past issues: