Weird Universe Blog — August 16, 2017

Hair Care During Nuclear Attack

Prompted by the recent threats from North Korea, Guam's Office of Civil Defense recently issued guidelines on what people should do in the event of a nuclear emergency. It included the advice that you should wash your hair with shampoo or soap. However, you shouldn't use conditioner "because it will bind radioactive material to your hair."

Interesting and potentially useful to know.

More info: Guam Civil Defense Fact Sheet,

Posted By: Alex - Wed Aug 16, 2017 - Comments (1)
Category: Atomic Power and Other Nuclear Matters, Baths, Showers and Other Cleansing Methods, Hair and Hairstyling

Mystery Illustration 54

Who was this eminent personage?

The answer is here.

And after the jump.

More in extended >>

Posted By: Paul - Wed Aug 16, 2017 - Comments (0)
Category: Celebrities, Couples, 1930s

August 15, 2017

Supergeared Bicycle

Are supergeared bicycles that will ride at super fast speeds an actual thing? Or did this guy just build a complicated derailleur system?

News Herald - Oct 5, 1953

Another better quality image from Popular Mechanics (July 1954).

via Modern Mechanix

Posted By: Alex - Tue Aug 15, 2017 - Comments (3)
Category: Bicycles and Other Human-powered Vehicles, 1950s

The William Stillman Award

Dr. William O. Stillman (1856-1924) was an early advocate of humane treatment to animals. He created "Be Kind to Animals" week in 1915.

Find an obituary and tributes here.

His name is also connected to an award which, oddly, can go to either animals or humans.

Here, the award is given to a brave dog who helped humans.

Source of article.

And again.

A pig won in 1984.

A cat won the award in 1997, the latest date I can find for the presentation.

Finally we see the award given to a brave human who helped an animal!

I like that any species of creature is eligible for the award.

However, the point might be moot, since I can find no evidence that the award is still given nowadays.

Posted By: Paul - Tue Aug 15, 2017 - Comments (2)
Category: Animals, Contests, Races and Other Competitions, Twentieth Century

August 14, 2017

Self-Lighting Cigarettes

Self-lighting cigarettes seem to be an idea that inventors keep dreaming up, not realizing that the idea has already been tried. The basic problem with them is identified in this thread on the Guardian. Either the head of the cigarette rips off as you try to light it, or it doesn't light and you're left with a smashed-up cigarette.

Also, although I'm not a smoker, it seems like a problem that doesn't need a solution. I get the sense that smokers like the ritual of lighting their ciggies.

Muncie Evening Post - May 21, 1929

Des Moines Register - June 28, 1951

Deca self-lighting cigarettes were sold in the UK in the 1960s. Image via Flickr.

"1972: South Korean inventor Whang Kyu-bong invents the self-lighting cigarette."

Posted By: Alex - Mon Aug 14, 2017 - Comments (3)
Category: Inventions, Smoking and Tobacco

August 13, 2017

Paid to teach empty classroom

An early example of the "teacher paid to do nothing" phenomenon. Nowadays we've got the Rubber Room.

Portsmouth Daily Times - Jan 16, 1926

Posted By: Alex - Sun Aug 13, 2017 - Comments (0)
Category: School, 1920s

16 Old Ladies Locked in the Lavatory

The artist.

Posted By: Paul - Sun Aug 13, 2017 - Comments (3)
Category: Humor, Hygiene, Excrement, Music, 1940s

August 12, 2017


The Infraphone, invented by Douglas Reddan circa 1960, used infrared light to allow people to communicate wirelessly at distances of several hundred yards. You had to aim your infraphone at another infraphone, which you did by looking through a sight on top of the unit. Then you could talk into the device, just like using a phone.

It's an interesting idea, but I can't really think of a situation when this would provide an advantage over using a radio walkie talkie. Maybe because the signal can't be intercepted as easily? But then there's the awkwardness of having to aim the device. Articles about it frequently suggested it could be used as a wireless intercom.

Eugene Guard - Nov 14, 1960

Palm Beach Post - June 4, 1961

Popular electronics - Feb 1961 (via RF Cafe)

Posted By: Alex - Sat Aug 12, 2017 - Comments (3)
Category: Inventions, Telephones, 1960s

Miss Beverly Hills 1960

In our continuing annals of oddball beauty contests, this 1948 event must qualify as exceptional.

Newspaper coverage here.

Posted By: Paul - Sat Aug 12, 2017 - Comments (1)
Category: Beauty, Ugliness and Other Aesthetic Issues, Contests, Races and Other Competitions, Children, 1940s

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All original content in posts is Copyright © 2016 by the author of the post, which is usually either Alex Boese ("Alex"), Paul Di Filippo ("Paul"), or Chuck Shepherd ("Chuck"). All rights reserved. The banner illustration at the top of this page is Copyright © 2008 by Rick Altergott.

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