Completely Useless Facts of the Week – Issue 14

Daniel Ganninger
December 13, 2014
uselessfacts headerIn this week’s issue: The First Marathon, A Stolen Bridge, Dr. Seuss, NASA Radio, and The Jeep.  Dive into the facts behind the facts.
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A later modern marathon

Spiridon Louis, a Greek shepard, won the first modern marathon at the 1896 Athens Olympics. The marathon originated because of the legend of Pheidippides.  It was said that in 490 B.C., after running the distance from Marathon to Athens with news the Greek had defeated the Persians at the Battle of Marathon, Pheidippides collapsed and died.  The first marathon commemorated this event and had a field of 25 men ready to compete at the 1896 Olympic Games.  Louis was not a runner or an athlete, his job was to transport fresh water to Athens.  He qualified for the event by finishing a preliminary race in which he placed fifth.  Louis took the lead in the Olympic marathon after about 20 miles.  He got so far ahead that he even stopped during the race to have a glass of cognac at an inn before continuing.  He finished in 2 hours, 58 minutes, and 50 seconds.  This year’s New York Marathon was finished by the fastest runner in a time of 2 hours, 10 minutes, and 59 seconds.  Not bad for a guy that never trained to run the marathon.  Spiridon Louis never ran another race after that one, but why would you need to?   Source, Source

poland 84252 1280In 2012, a gang in the Czech Republic stole a 10-ton metal bridge as well as 650 feet of railroad track to sell for scrap metal. The gang arrived in Slavkov with forged documents saying the bridge was to be removed to make way for a new cycle route.  By the time anyone checked on the gang, the thieves had dismantled the bridge and took it away.  The take was estimated to be worth about $6,300, but it will cost the railway companies millions to replace.  But type of thing isn’t isolated to the Czech Republic.  In 2013, in the Kocaeli province of Turkey, a 22-ton bridge was stolen, as was half a bridge in India.  The India bridge theft involved forty thieves who spent three days dismantling it.  They had told a guard they were working for the public works department.  Source, Source

Dr. Suess had a bet with his publisher, Bennett Cerf, that he couldn’t complete a book with only 50 words. Dr. Seuss won when he wrote “Green Eggs and Ham”.  Theodore Seuss Geisel published it in 1960. The 50 words in Green Eggs in Ham, in alphabetically order are: a, am, and, anywhere, are, be, boat, box, car, could, dark, do, eat, eggs, fox, goat, good, green, ham, here, house, I, if, in, let, like, may, me, mouse, not, on, or, rain, Sam, say, see, so, thank, that, the, them, there, they, train, tree, try, will, with, would, you.  The bet was for $50.  Source 

800px ISSpoststs131NASA has a radio station, and all they play is alternative rock.  The station is called “Third Rock Radio”, with the tagline, “You’ve landed on the Space Station”.  David Weaver, associate administrator for the Office of Communications at NASA said, “NASA constantly is looking for new and innovative ways to engage the public and inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.”  I must admit they play some pretty good stuff.   You can check it out hereSource

800px Sheikh Hamad bin Hamdan Al Nahyan with largest model Willys jeep 2009

The name “Jeep” was derived from the abbreviation the army used for the “General Purpose” vehicle, or G.P.  The first Jeeps were the Willys MB jeeps that were made in 1941.  They were offered commercially in 1945.  The origin of the name Jeep has widely been held that the military designation of GP, for Government Purpose or General Purpose, is how the Jeep got its name.  The letters were slurred together to get Jeep, but there are other theories on its origin.  The word jeep had been used early around 1914 by U.S. Army mechanics in reference to new test vehicles.  Tractors supplied to the Army in 1937 also used the word, and the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress was known by the word jeep.  One thing is for certain, the Jeep has stood the test of time.  When it was first introduced, Willys-Overland, the company making the vehicle, drove up the steps of the U.S. Capitol to demonstrate its incredible four-wheel drive capability.  An interesting note about the picture above.  This jeep was created by Sheikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan, a member of the Abu Dhabi Royal Ruling Family.  It is the largest motorized model of the Willys World War II Jeep, and it’s on display at the Emirates National Auto Museum.  Source

That’s it for another issue of the Useless Facts of the Week.  Remember to annoy those around you with your new found knowledge.