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8 of the Most Bizarre Coincidences Throughout History

Updated: May 29, 2024

There are a lot of fake "coincidences" out there. But have no fear, these eerie stories are absolutely true.

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A mushroom cloud rises moments after the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, southern Japan. On two days in August 1945, U.S. planes dropped two atomic bombs, one on Hiroshima, one on Nagasaki, the first and only time nuclear weapons have been used. Their destructive power was unprecedented, incinerating buildings and people, and leaving lifelong scars on survivors, not just physical but also psychological, and on the cities themselves. Days later, World War II was over

The man who survived two atomic bombs

On August 6 and 9, 1945, the United States detonated two nuclear bombs over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, respectively. The blasts, and the radiation they caused afterward, killed nearly 90,000 people. But in 2009, the Japanese government confirmed that there was at least one man who was in each city on the days of the bombings, and lived to tell the tale. On August 6, Tsutomu Yamaguchi was in Hiroshima on a business trip. “As I was walking along, I heard the sound of a plane, just one,” he told a British newspaper. “I looked up into the sky and saw the B-29, and it dropped two parachutes. I was looking up into the sky at them, and suddenly … it was like a flash of magnesium, a great flash in the sky, and I was blown over.” By August 9, he had returned home to Nagasaki, only to experience the trauma for a second time. Despite the double radiation exposure, Yamaguchi lived to be 93. He passed away in 2010 from stomach cancer. Man-made bombs like this one have wreaked havoc across the pages of history. We’re a bit more excited about these times weather changed history.

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MILAN, ITALY - 24 FEBRUARY 2018: people at the street before fashion show of Ermanno Scervino during Milano Fashion Week.
Polina Shestakova/Shutterstock

The twins named Jim

In 1979, a set of twins was reunited at age 39. They had been separated at four-weeks-old, and for 37 years, hardly knew of each other’s existence. So when they met, there were a few surprises: both boys had been named Jim by their adoptive parents, both loved math and carpentry, and both pursued careers in security. Even eerier, they each married women named Linda, divorced, and remarried women named Betty, writes People. As for their kid’s names? James Allan and James Alan. It was a fascinating reunion, to say the least. Check out these other bizarre sibling stories you won’t believe are true.

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Liverpool, England, June 16, 2012, A grave marked with the name of Eleanor Rigby in the churchyard of St. Peters Church, where John Lennon and Paul McCartney first met
Jon Nicholls Photography/Shutterstock

All the Eleanor Rigbys

In 1957, John Lennon and Paul McCartney met at a party at St. Peter’s Church in Woolton. It was a fateful meeting—one that no doubt changed the course of musical history—but that’s not the coincidence here. Just yards away from their meeting place was the grave of Eleanor Rigby. Nine years later, McCartney wrote the song “Eleanor Rigby.” He claimed he named the character after the actress Eleanor Bron, and a store in Bristol named Rigby & Evens Ltd. Later, he admitted that the grave may have played a subliminal part in his song’s namesake, writes the BBC. Regardless, the deed to Ms. Rigby’s grave was auctioned off but failed to sell. Poor thing, nobody went to her funeral, either. Find out some of the biggest lies in history.

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Professor Stephen Hawking
Roger Askew/Oxford Union/Shutterstock

Stephen Hawking’s death

As Stephen Hawking himself would tell you, time is relative. But that doesn’t quite explain why his death occurred on what many consider a fairly significant day: Einstein’s 139th birthday, Galileo’s 300th death-day, and Pi Day (March 14, when the date reads 3.14).  Learn more about mind-blowing historical connections like this one.

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Photograph of the RMS Olympic, sister ship to the Titanic, arriving in New York after her maiden voyage. Dated 1911 (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty images).
Universal History Archive/Shutterstock

Don’t let her aboard

As a ship stewardess, you’re bound to see some strange sites on the high seas. But to experience two of the most infamous sinkings and one collision? Well, that’s just bad luck. Fortunately for Violet Jessop, she survived all three. Jessop was aboard the RMS Titanic when it sunk in 1912 (she was aboard lifeboat 16 and handed a baby to look after), as well as its sister ship, the HMHS Britannic, when it sunk in 1916 (her lifeboat was nearly sucked under the boat’s propellers, but she jumped out and survived). She was also aboard the third of the sister ships, the RMBS Olympic, when it collided with a British warship in 1911 (there were no fatalities in this one).  Jessop died at 83 of congestive heart failure in 1971. Learned about this one in history class? Just be sure you don’t believe everything you learned. Here are lies from history you never learned in school.

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The Hoover Dam (boulder Dam) Nevada Usa circa 1936

The family that built the dam

According to official records, there were 96 fatalities attributed to the building of the Hoover Dam. One of the first fatalities was John Gregory Tierney, who drowned during a flash flood in the violent Colorado River on December 20, 1921. Fourteen years later, on the same day, December 20, 1935, another man died: it was Tierney’s only son, Patrick William Tierney, writes the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Patrick was the last fatality attributed to the dam. He fell to his death from one of the intake towers on the Arizona side of Black Canyon. It’s one of the few legends about the building of the dam (no, there are no workers buried in the concrete) that is actually true. Don’t miss the strangest unsolved mysteries.

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Novelist Mark Twain
Ewing Galloway/Shutterstock

Mark Twain’s meteoric birthday

Every 76 years, Halley’s comet soars past Earth, where it’s visible to the naked eye. Mark Twain was born on one year of its passing, in 1835. By 1909, he predicted he’d die the next year, when the comet passed again. ”The Almighty has said, no doubt, ‘Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together,” the New York Times quotes him as saying. His prediction was correct. The writer died one day after the comet’s closest approach in 1910. This one is recorded in the books, but you may also find these historical moments that never happened in a textbook.

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Archduke Franz Ferdinand Heir to the Austrian Empire Nephew of Franz Joseph Assassinated in 1914 1863 - 1914

The sandwich that shaped the modern world

While you might have learned that World War I was caused by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, your history teacher could have left out the fact that the assassination was made possible because the assassins stopped for a sandwich. You see, their original attempt to kill the archduke failed miserably: their bomb hit the car behind Ferdinand’s, and he escaped the scene unscathed. Obviously, the assassins were angry about this, and one of them stopped to get a sandwich at a nearby cafe. Meanwhile, the archduke dashed off in his car, happy to be alive. Unfortunately, his driver made a wrong turn, and passed right by the cafe where his attacker had stopped for a bite to eat. The man saw him, shot the archduke and his wife, and sent the world into a tailspin. The assassination is said to have been the launch point for World War I. Next, learn about these wild conspiracy theories that turned out to be true.


  • CNN: “Man who survived 2 atom bombs dies”
  • People: “Two Ohio Strangers Find They’re Twins at 39—and a Dream to Psychologists”
  • BBC News: “The Beatles: What really inspired Eleanor Rigby?”
  • Review Journal: “Father and son died on the same day, 14 years apart while working on Hoover Dam”