Completely Random Facts of the Week – Issue 90

May 5, 2018

randomfacts90In this week’s facts edition: A Good Thing to Know For Those With Red Hair, The History of the Hawaii State Flag, The Largest Employers in the World, Protecting the Space Shuttle, and Why Blue Birds Aren’t Really Blue.


A Good Thing to Know for Those With Red Hair

A 2004 study in the medical journal Anesthesiology found something that could be very important for people with red hair. The researchers looked at the difference in the anesthesia requirement between women with red hair and those with brown and black hair, and they found that redheads required 19% more anesthesia than those women with brown or black hair.

Anesthesiologists had provided anecdotal evidence that redheads required more anesthesia for surgery, but no one had tested the reports to see if it was true. Researchers set out to test the hypothesis that redheads did, in fact, require more anesthesia than people with other hair colors. While the exact reason is not known, researchers concluded that red hair is a distinct phenotype, or a description of a person’s actual physical characteristics, which can be linked to their anesthesia requirement. Going even deeper, they concluded that the reason for the need for increased anesthesia could be from what makes a person’s hair red in the first place; a mutation of the melanocortin-1 receptor gene, one of the key proteins that regulate hair and skin color. In short, it’s probably not a bad idea for a redhead, of either gender, to confirm how much anesthesia they are going to get if they have to have a surgical procedure. Source

hawaii flag

The History of the Hawaii State Flag

The Hawaii state flag is one of the more interesting flags of the fifty states. It has the Union Jack of Great Britain in the left corner, and the rest of the flag is made up of red, white, and blue stripes. How did the flag of the state become so unique? The story starts with King Kamehameha, the man who united the Hawaiian Islands in 1810 into one kingdom after many conflicts and warfare. In the late 1700s, Kamehameha flew a British flag over his home given to him as a sign of friendship by King George III. When the War of 1812 came about, however, an American flag was flown over Kamehameha’s home to appease American interests. This didn’t sit well with British officers who were in the King’s court. To satisfy both sides, Kamehameha had a new flag made which was designed by an officer in the Royal Navy and incorporated bits of each nation’s flag. Stripes were made to appease the Americans, and the Union Jack was put in the left corner to appease the British. The eight stripes of the flag represent the major islands of Hawaii just like the thirteen stripes on the American flag represent the original thirteen colonies. Source


The Largest Employers in the World

The four largest employers in the world in order are the U.S. Department of Defense, China’s People’s Liberation Army, Walmart, and McDonald’s. The U.S. Department of Defense has 3.2 million employees and is comprised of active servicemen and women, reservists, national guard, and civilians representing the four services. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army is second and has 2.3 million employees in its five branches of service as well as its reservist branch. Walmart is number three with 2.1 million employees and is the largest private employer in the world, and McDonald’s is number four with 1.7 million employees. Source

space shuttle

Protecting the Space Shuttle

The iconic pictures of the space shuttle taking off from its launchpad appeared to show massive amounts of smoke pouring from the engines as they ignited, but much of the smoke was not exhaust, but was, in fact, steam. The shuttle was launched from the Mobile Launcher Platform, and it sat over the Water Sound Suppression System, a 290-foot-high water tank filled with 300,000 gallons of water. The purpose of the system was to protect the shuttle and its payload from damage by acoustical energy reflected by the Mobile Launcher Platform during a launch of the space shuttle.

Seven seconds before liftoff, 16 nozzles opened and allowed water to pour into the water tank and on top of the pad’s flame protectors. The tank would empty in only 41 seconds during launch. Most of the white cloud of smoke that appeared during launch was the exhaust from the rocket boiling away vast quantities of water and turning it into water vapor. The Water Sound Suppression System reduced the sound pressure by half and was first implemented after it was discovered that sound energy from the Mobile Launcher Platform was causing minor damage to the shuttle’s Solid Rocket Boosters. Source

blue bird

Why Blue Birds Aren’t Really Blue

Although they look blue, there is really no such thing as a blue bird. Birds get the color of their feathers from the food they eat. These foods contain pigments called carotenoids, but no bird can make the color blue from these pigments. The blue we see on birds is the result of how light waves interact with the arrangement of keratin in the bird’s feather. Keratin is the protein structure that makes up hair, nails, skin, and feathers, just to name a few. When light strikes a feather, red and yellow wavelengths of light are canceled out, and the blue wavelengths of light are reflected and amplified back to a person’s eye. The keratin structure reflects light in different ways because of its shape, and our eyes perceive these minute differences as different shades of blue. Source

That’s it for another edition of the Random Facts of the Week. Check out more fun facts here.

Previous Issue of the Random Facts of the Week:

Issue 89
Issue 88
Issue 87

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. I hope you learn many new things here that add to your knowledge.

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