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Unplanned World Records

November 19, 2015

These people made it into the Guinness World Records and probably wish they hadn’t. (This article was originally published in Uncle John’s Weird Weird World EPIC.)

Halifax Explosion Harbour View

Farthest-Flying Human Projectile (involuntary)

On December 6, 1917, a ship loaded with munitions exploded in the harbor at Halifax, Nova Scotia, killing more than 1,900 people and destroying the entire Richmond district of the town. It was the largest man-made explosion of the pre-nuclear age, estimated at 2.9 megatons. One man, William Becker, was lucky: He was in a rowboat about 300 feet away from the ship when it exploded, propelling him 1,600 yards—the length of 16 football fields—across the harbor. He swam to safety and lived until 1969.

Shortest Marriage

On September 11, 1976, 39-yearold Robert Neiderhiser dropped dead at the altar just after he and his fiancée, Naomi Nicely, were pronounced man and wife at a Presbyterian church in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.

Worst Student Driver

On August 3, 1970, Miriam Hargrave, 62, of Yorkshire, England, finally passed her driving test…on her 40th attempt. After so much effort, she still couldn’t drive. After spending so much money on her driving lessons—$720 was a lot of money in 1970—she couldn’t afford to buy a car.

Oldest Surgery Patient

James Henry Brett Jr. was 111 years and 105 days old when he had hip surgery in Houston in November 1960. He died four months later (from old age, not from the surgery).

Slowest-Selling Published Book

In 1716 the Oxford University Press printed 500 copies of a book titled Translation of the New Testament from Coptic into Latin, by David Wilkins. It took 191 years to sell them all.


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