by Bryan Johnson
Guinness World Records is a reference book that contains a collection of world records. It is the best-selling copyrighted series of all time. It is also one of the most frequently stolen books from public libraries in the United States. Before there was Listverse and other popular websites that display historical facts, people turned to the Guinness Book of World Records for bizarre and interesting information. Currently, a man named Ashrita Furman holds the record for “the most Guinness World Records by a single individual.” There are thousands of notable records in the book. This article will examine ten unique cases.
Rod Stewart at Copacabana Beach
Record: The largest music concert in history.
Rod Stewart is a British singer who has sold over 100 million records. In the UK, Stewart has released 31 different songs that have entered the Top 10. He has six #1 singles and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. On December 31, 1994, Rod Stewart performed at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro in front of an estimated 3.5 to 4.2 million people. The event became the largest free concert in recorded history. It was produced by MTV and performed on New Year’s Eve.
Copacabana Beach has always been a popular spot for huge concerts. In 2006, The Rolling Stones attracted a crowd of 1.5 million people to the beach. In 1994, Stewart was an international superstar and performed sold-out concerts on a regular basis, but the Copacabana event was different. It was one of the largest peaceful gatherings in history, which makes for a great party. The concert ranks around 25th for the largest gatherings. However, most entries on the list include religious sites.
Currently, the largest peaceful gathering in history occurred at the World Expo 2010 when 73 million people came together in Shanghai, China. Some other notable events include the largest anti-war rallies in history, which took place in London and Rome on February 15, 2003 in opposition to the U.S led invasion of Iraq. During the event, 3 million people lined the streets of London and 3 million in Rome. The largest peaceful gathering in the United States occurred in Boston when 3 million people attended a parade to celebrate the Red Sox’s victory on October 30, 2004.
Record: The most valuable arcade machine.
Blaster is an arcade game that was developed by programmer Eugene Jarvis and released by Williams in 1983. It is a 3D shooter game set in outer space. The objective is to shoot enemies and avoid obstacles in order to reach paradise. At the time of its release, Blaster contained advanced graphics with scaled sprites to give the impression of three dimensional worlds and asteroid fields. The game is noted for being the most valuable of all arcade machines. It was made around the time of the 1983 video game crash, so only limited Blaster arcade machines were produced.
In total, only three sit down machines and a few Blaster Duramold cabinets were developed. The cabinets are black and have yellow graphics on the control panel and marquee. The game uses an optical joystick and has two buttons, fire and thrust. It has been estimated that the Duramold Blaster arcade machine is worth approximately $15,000. It is the rarest arcade game in the world unless you find a Polybius. Polybius is the name of a supposed arcade game and urban legend. According to the story, Polybius appeared in Portland, Oregon in the early 1980s and was a shooter game.
In 1981, Polybius became popular, but players soon complained of intense stress, horrific nightmares, amnesia, and even suicidal tendencies. It was also reported that mysterious men in black regularly visited the machine and collected some unknown data by testing responses to psychoactive stimuli. In 2011, a Polybius machine was allegedly found in a Newport, Oregon storage locker, but it soon vanished. The machine is recognized by its “name on the side of what looks like an old Pac-Man game.” If the existence of a Polybius is confirmed, it would become the most valuable arcade game in the world.
Record: The most time on the FBI Most Wanted Fugitives list.
In 1950, the United States FBI officially released the first Ten Most Wanted list to target dangerous fugitives in America. By the summer of 2012, 497 fugitives have been listed with 466 (94%) being captured. Only eight women have been included and the person who has been on the list longer than anyone is Víctor Manuel Gerena, who was added in 1984. In 1958, Gerena was born in New York to a family from Puerto Rico. At a young age he moved to Hartford, Connecticut and was a good student. Gerena was a talented wrestler and served on the student council. After a short stint in college, Gerena became a security guard at a Wells Fargo armored car depot in West Hartford.
At some point, members of the Boricua Popular Army in Puerto Rico learned about Gerena’s history and job at the bank. The men flew to Hartford and recruited him into the Los Macheteros terrorist group. On September 12, 1983, Gerena handcuffed and tied up two of his co-workers and injected them with an unknown non-lethal substance to disable them. He then stole $7.1 million dollars and fled the country. The FBI believes that Gerena traveled to Cuba via Mexico City and has been hiding out in Havana. There is currently a $1 million dollar reward for information leading to the arrest of Victor Manuel Gerena. He has evaded capture for 28 years.
Record: The first MLB player to publicly acknowledge his homosexuality.
In 1952, Glenn Burke was born in Oakland, California. At the age of 18, he was voted Northern California’s High School Basketball Player of the Year, but soon turned his attention to baseball. He was drafted by the Dodgers and described as the next Willie Mays. Burke made his MLB professional debut for the Dodgers on April 9, 1976. He was openly gay with his teammates and management. During his time with the Dodgers, General Manager Al Campanis offered to pay for a lavish honeymoon if Burke agreed to get married. Burke refused to participate in the sham and responded with the question, “to a woman?”
Glenn Burke also befriended manager Tommy Lasorda estranged gay son, which didn’t sit well with management. In 1978, the Dodgers traded Burke to the Oakland Athletics for Billy North. When Burke arrived in Oakland, manager Billy Martin introduced him as a “faggot” in front of his teammates. After the 1979 season, Burke was cut by the A’s and never played in the MLB again. He is noted for being the first and only Major League Baseball player to have been out to his teammates and owners during his professional career.
Glenn Burke has also been recognized for inventing the high five. In 1977, Burke ran onto the field to congratulate his Los Angeles Dodgers teammate Dusty Baker (current Cincinnati Reds manager) by raising his hand over his head as Baker jogged home from third base. Not knowing what to do with the hand, Baker slapped it, thus inventing the high five. After retiring from baseball, Burke used the high five as a symbol of gay pride. In 1995, Glenn Burke died from AIDS-related causes. He is quoted: “They can’t ever say that a gay man can’t play in the majors, because I’m a gay man and I made it.”
Record: The ultimate adventurer.
David Hempleman-Adams is a British adventurer that holds dozens of world records. He was the first person in history to reach the Geographic and Magnetic Poles without dogs, snow mobiles, or air supplies. In 1998, Hempleman-Adams became the first to climb the Adventurers Grand Slam, which included all the highest mountain peaks in seven continents. In total, he has made thirty different Arctic expeditions and reached the Poles 14 times.
Hempleman-Adams was the first person to fly a balloon over the North Pole. In 2003, he took an open wicker basket rozier balloon over the Atlantic Ocean. In 2004, Hempleman-Adams flew a single engine Cessna from Cape Columbia to Cape Horn, covering 11,060 miles (17,799 kilometers). In 2005, he staged the world’s highest formal dinner party with Bear Grylls. The men ascended to 24,262 feet (7,395 meters) in a hot air balloon and then climbed down to a dinner table suspended in the air 40 feet (12 meters) below the balloon. They ate asparagus, salmon, and summer fruits, before parachuting down to earth.
In 2007, Hempleman-Adams broke the altitude record for a small sized hot air balloon by ascending to 9,906 meters (32,500 feet) over Alberta, Canada. In 2005, his daughter (pictured with her father) became the youngest person to stand on the North Pole. In 2009, Hempleman-Adams broke the endurance record for the smallest man-carrying helium balloon. He has conducted numerous expeditions to Everest and raised millions of dollars for charity. Currently, David Hempleman-Adams holds a total of 47 different Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Records. The FAI is the governing body for air sport, aeronautic, and astronautic records.
Record: The first U.S. pledge salute.
In 1891, a man named Francis Bellamy was hired by the Youth’s Companion, which was a children’s magazine that sold American flags to public schools. In 1892, the magazine sold flags to approximately 26,000 schools. Once the market was dried up, Youth’s Companion looked for another way to incorporate flags into schools. Francis Bellamy came up with the idea to use the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus reaching the Americas to bolster the movement. For the event, Bellamy wrote the Pledge of Allegiance and designed a flag salute for the children.
The Pledge was first published in the September 8, 1892, issue of Youth’s Companion. It read: “I pledge allegiance to my flag and to the Republic, for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty, and justice for all.” To accompany the Pledge, the children used the Bellamy salute and stood in attention to the flag. The Bellamy salute involved stretching the arm out towards the flag in a manner that resembled the later Nazi salute. In the 1920s, Italian fascists adopted the salute to symbolize their devotion to ancient Rome. It was then copied by the Nazis. During World War II, the similarity between the Bellamy salute and the Nazi salute caused confusion and controversy.
In one famous case, aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh was photographed using the Bellamy salute, which was mistook for the Nazi salute. In order to prevent controversy, the United States Congress adopted the hand-over-the-heart gesture on December 22, 1942. Many people are still unclear why it took so long for the U.S. to ban the Bellamy (Nazi) salute. Five days before the ban, the British House of Commons learned about the mass executions of Jews by the Nazis. At this time, the U.S. declared that those crimes would be avenged. In 1954, the Pledge of Allegiance was changed to include the words “under God,” which has since caused legal issues between the separation of church and state.
Record: The only seafood jubilee that occurs annually.
Jubilee is a natural phenomenon that occurs sporadically in Mobile Bay on Alabama’s Gulf Coast. During the event, many species of crab, shrimp, flounder, eels, and other fish will leave deeper waters and gather in shallower coastal areas. The jubilee is well known to local residents in Alabama, who have gathered for decades to collect free seafood. The phenomenon is unpredictable and occurs because of the unique wind direction, surface temperature, salinity, and tidal variation of the area.
A collection of studies have been carried out in the bay and it has been determined that the creatures swim to the shore because of low-oxygenated water. In addition to the large amount of animals present during a jubilee, harvesting them is made easier because of the oxygen deprivation. The animal’s behavior has been described as “depressed and unnatural.”
Once a jubilee begins, word quickly spreads and hundreds of local residents flock to the water. The food is communal and there is usually more than enough for everyone. The amount of available seafood has declined in the last couple years since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which is not fully contained and continues to leak into the ocean. In the early 2000s, the food was so abundant in Mobile Bay that people would take home hundreds of flounder and crab. The seafood jubilees are most common on the upper eastern shore of the bay from June to September. They always occur when the wind is blowing from an eastern direction with an incoming tide.
Record: The first man to survive three execution attempts.
In 1780, Joseph Samuel was born in England. At the age of 15 he was arrested for stealing and sentenced to the penal settlement of Sydney Cove, Australia, at the age of 21. Samuel then escaped from the prison and was implicated in the murder of a wealthy woman. He was sentenced to death by hanging. In 1803, Joseph Samuel and another man were driven to Parramatta where hundreds of people gathered to watch their execution. In the event, nooses were fastened securely around the men’s necks from the gallows and a cart was driven from their feet. It was not until the end of the 19th century that the British used the drop method, which breaks the neck.
In the execution, the ropes were made of five cords of hemp, which enabled one to hold 1,000 lb (450 kg) for up to five minutes without breaking. After Samuel was dropped by the executioner, the rope snapped and he fell to his feet. The other man was slowly killed, so the executioner tied a different rope around Samuel and tried again. This time the noose slipped off his neck and Samuel’s boots were able to touch the ground. The executioner was sure to have fastened the noose, but it didn’t work. At this point the crowd was getting angry and they called for Samuel to be freed.
The executioner decided to try one more time and tied the noose around Samuel’s neck and drove the cart away. Once again, the rope snapped and Samuel survived. The crowd turned into frenzy and began to demand Samuel’s release, so the governor was called to the scene. It was decided that the event was a sign from God, so Joseph Samuel was granted a full reprieve and released. It was the first time that a person had survived three execution attempts. In 1885, a man named John Babbacombe Lee survived three execution attempts. However, in his case, the trapdoor of the scaffold failed to open despite being tested, which is different from surviving three separate droppings like Joseph Samuel. The first person to survive an execution attempt in the electric chair was a 17 year-old boy named Willie Francis.
Remains of Yehohanan
son of Hagakol
Record: The only physical evidence for crucifixion.
Crucifixion is an ancient method of execution where the person was tied or nailed to a large wooden cross and left to hang until death. It was practiced among the Seleucids, Carthaginians, and Romans for approximately 1000 years. In 337, Emperor Constantine I abolished crucifixion in the Roman Empire out of respect for Jesus Christ, who is the most famous victim. Today, a crucifix, which displays Jesus Christ on the wooden cross, is a major religious symbol across the world. Crucifixion is well documented in historical manuscripts, but there is only one piece of physical evidence on the archaeological record.
Givat HaMivtar is a Jewish neighborhood in northern Jerusalem that is located on a huge round hill. Numerous excavations in the area have found important ancient Jewish tombs and war artifacts. The hill was a stronghold for centuries and the location of an important battle during the Six Day War in 1967. After many archaeological digs, one of the most famous tombs contained the remains of Yehohanan, the son of Hagakol, which showed evidence of crucifixion. Research discovered that one of Hagakol’s heel bones had a nail driven through it from the side. The tip of the nail was bent, which might have occurred because it hit a knot in the upright beam when hammered. After that, the nail could not be extracted from the foot.
At this time in history, most people that were crucified were left on the cross to decay, so it is rare to find remnants of the process. Yehohanan’s feet were nailed to the cross separately and his body showed evidence that he was probably executed at eye level. His legs were broken and a piece of acacia wood was placed on the nail to keep his foot from sliding over the nail. His wrists did not show proof of crucifixion, which has caused some to speculate whether he was actually executed in this manner. The discovery remains the only physical evidence for crucifixion.
Record: The oldest person in the world.
In 2011, Besse Cooper became the world’s oldest living person following the death of Maria Gomes Valentim. On August 26, 2012, Cooper turned 116 years old. She is the eighth verified person to reach the mark and the only verified living person born in 1896. There is nobody left from 1895. In total, it has been estimated that there are 300-450 people in the world living over the age of 110 (supercentenarians). However, only 70 of these individuals have been verified. Of the 70, there are 66 women and only 4 men.
Besse Cooper was born in Sullivan County, Tennessee, on August 26, 1896. She graduated from East Tennessee State Normal School in 1916 and worked as a schoolteacher. In 1963, Besse’s husband Luther died at the age of 68. She was married to Luther for 39 years and never remarried. When asked how she does it, Besse attributed her longevity to “minding her own business” and avoiding junk food. She is currently the 10th oldest person in recorded history. The oldest was a French woman named Jeanne Calment who lived to be of 122 years, 164 days. If Besse survives to be 118, she will be the third oldest person in history. In 2012, a bridge in Georgia was officially named Besse Brown Cooper Bridge.