Humankind has always been fascinated by the extreme, and Guinness World Records has been documenting incredible achievements since the 1950s.
It has been gathering the best, the weirdest and the most extreme in life, including everything from the heaviest weight lifted by a human beard to the most apples crushed with the bicep. Records are set, then beaten, again and again, however, there are some records that have stood the test of time. Some records have never been broken since they were first set - and it is likely they never will be.
Most world records
Most people could only dream of holding the title of a world record, but one man has broken more than 700. Ashrita Furman has spent over 30 years breaking record after record and has even bagged himself the title of most records held at the same time by an individual.
Not all of his records are still in place, with many being broken since, but that does not diminish his efforts and achievements. His achievements are broad and varied, stretching from the longest continuous distance travelled with a milk bottle on his head, to the most hopscotch games completed in 24 hours. To break this man’s record someone will have a long journey ahead of them, and a lifetime of work to catch up with.
World’s longest fingernails
Shridhar Chillal from India won the title of the longest fingernails on a single hand in 2014 for his nails that had not been cut in over 60 years. At the time, the nails on his left hand measured between 164.5 cm to an extreme 197.8cm.
The nails understandably caused him a fair amount of pain and inconvenience, so were eventually cut off and put on display at New York’s Ripley’s Believe it or Not! museum. Anyone hoping to break his record will need a lot of commitment and many years to achieve the lengths he grew.
World’s tallest man
The tallest man ever recorded was Robert Wadlow, who achieved the title in 1940 when he measured in at an incredible 2.72m, or 8ft 9in. He was born to average-size parents in 1918, but began growing at a rapid rate when he was a child.
At age eight he overtook his 5ft 11in father, and towered above kids of the same age. The incredible height caused a number of medical issues for Wadlow, which only got worse as he got older and taller. Doctors diagnosed that Wadlow’s extreme growth was caused by hyperplasia of his pituitary gland, which causes an abnormally high level of the human growth hormone.
Sadly Robert died prematurely at just 22 years old, due to a septic blister on his ankle that was caused by a poorly fitted brace. Those with Robert’s conditions are now able to undergo medical treatment that has advanced significantly since Robert's time, and can have surgery to halt the production of the growth hormone.
Most lighting strikes survived
This record would be pretty hard to beat considering it is somewhat accidental and would more-likely end up in death. One man, ex park-ranger Roy C. Sullivan, managed to survive being struck by lightning an incredible seven times.
He was first struck in 1942, which caused him to lose his big toenail, and suffered many more times before his seventh and final strike in 1977, where he suffered chest and stomach burns. It is unlikely that anyone would be struck by lightning eight times and survive to break the record, so it seems likely that Sullivan will hold on to that title for a while.
World’s highest-grossing movie
Rising cinema ticket prices mean most top-grossing films of all time are recent movies. However, once the total amount grossed has been adjusted for inflation, one film from 1939 shoots to the top of the list.
Gone with the Wind took just $393.4 million at the international box office at the time, but once adjusted for inflation it comes to a total gross of $3.44 billion, making it the highest-grossing movie ever.
World’s strangest diet
Michel Lotito currently holds the world record for the strangest diet, thanks to his taste and craving for indigestible objects. Throughout his lifetime Lotito consumed 18 bicycles, 15 supermarket trolleys, seven TV sets, six chandeliers, two beds, a pair of skis, a Cessna light aircraft and a computer.
Gastroenterologists x-rayed his stomach and described his ability to consume 900g of metal a day as unique. He said that other food, such as bananas and hard-boiled eggs made him sick, so instead would feast on metal and glass. Don't try that at home!
World’s worst pandemic
While the Covid-19 pandemic may be the worse pandemic experienced during many of our lifetimes, the world’s deadliest pandemic occurred between 1347 and 1351. The pneumonic form of plague, also known as the Black Death, ravaged Europe killing a quarter of its population.
Around 75 million people were killed worldwide due to the disease, making it the deadliest and worst global pandemic ever. The disease still affects between 1,000 to 3,000 people a year, but can now be cured. Let’s hope this record is never broken.
World’s largest office building
The Pentagon currently holds the title of the world’s largest office building. The building impressively consists of over 6 million square feet, of which over half of the space is used for offices.
That’s even more square footage than the Empire State Building.
Read Also: Five Guinness World Records held by Kenya
Most aircraft models flown
Captain Eric Brown, a British Navy test pilot, holds the record for the largest number of different types of aircrafts flown. It is unlikely that anyone will ever break Brown's record of 487 types of aircraft flown, as Brown managed to achieve the high figure thanks to his role in WW2.
Brown was a test pilot during the six-year conflict, which was a period known for testing a large number of aircraft models in rapid succession. Brown worked in this role for many years, which explains how he was able to achieve such a high number.
It is unlikely that anyone else would find themselves in the same position where they would have the opportunity to fly as many different planes as Brown has achieved.
Most atomic blasts survived
This is not a record anyone would be rushing to beat, but one man was given the title after surviving both atomic bombs dropped on Japan in WW2. Tsutomu Yamaguchi was on a business trip to Hiroshima when the United States dropped the first nuclear weapon used in the war on the Japanese city. Yamaguchi miraculously survived and returned to his hometown Nagasaki, which would tragically see the second bomb dropped by the US. Once again the man managed to survive the attack that killed so many and lived to tell the tale.