Weird Universe Blog — September 16, 2019

Strange Self-Experiments

I just added a top 10 list of strange self-experiments to the site.

This is more material that I wrote a while ago, but which no longer has a home. So I'm relocating it permanently to WU.


Posted By: Alex - Mon Sep 16, 2019 - Comments (1)
Category: Science | Experiments

The Show Won’t Go On


I haven’t read the book yet, but the topic sounds like it would be of interest to WUvies. It's described as the first comprehensive study of the phenomenon of performers who died onstage:

From the comedy magician who dropped dead on live television to the amateur thespian who expired during a play called The Art of Murder, the book is a celebration of lives both famous and obscure, as well as a dramatic and accurate recounting of events leading to the moments they died "doing what they loved."


Amazon link.

The website for the book includes some examples of recent deaths while performing.


Posted By: Alex - Mon Sep 16, 2019 - Comments (0)
Category: Death | Books

Douglas Bader, the Legless Ace



The Wikipedia page.

Bader joined the RAF in 1928, and was commissioned in 1930. In December 1931, while attempting some aerobatics, he crashed and lost both his legs. Having been on the brink of death, he recovered, retook flight training, passed his check flights and then requested reactivation as a pilot. Although there were no regulations applicable to his situation, he was retired against his will on medical grounds.[3]

After the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, however, Douglas Bader returned to the RAF and was accepted as a pilot. He scored his first victories over Dunkirk during the Battle of France in 1940. He then took part in the Battle of Britain and became a friend and supporter of Air Vice Marshal Trafford Leigh-Mallory and his "Big Wing" experiments.

In August 1941, Bader baled out over German-occupied France and was captured. Soon afterward, he met and was befriended by Adolf Galland, a prominent German fighter ace.[4] Despite his disability, Bader made a number of escape attempts and was eventually sent to the prisoner of war camp at Colditz Castle. He remained there until April 1945 when the camp was liberated by the First United States Army.


He even featured in a comic. (Use link for readable copy of image below.)





Posted By: Paul - Mon Sep 16, 2019 - Comments (1)
Category: Accidents | War | Air Travel and Airlines | 1940s | Differently Abled, Handicapped, Challenged, and Otherwise Atypical

September 15, 2019

The History of Nuking Hurricanes

The idea of nuking hurricanes has been in the news lately. Which made me wonder: how soon after learning of the existence of atomic bombs did people start to speculate about dropping them into hurricanes?

The answer seems to be, immediately. I found the article below about nuking hurricanes, dated Aug 8, 1945 — a mere two days after the bombing of Hiroshima.

Interestingly, the article speculates that the idea may have been inspired by earlier legends about using cannons to dispel waterspouts:

Talk of bombing hurricanes stems from stories of waterspouts being dissipated in the South Seas with cannon or rifle shot, Norton said. He doubts the truth of these yarns.


The Miami News - Aug 8, 1945

Posted By: Alex - Sun Sep 15, 2019 - Comments (4)
Category: Atomic Power and Other Nuclear Matters | 1940s | Weather

Remco Monkey Gun

Nerf missiles? For wimps!



Posted By: Paul - Sun Sep 15, 2019 - Comments (2)
Category: Destruction | Toys | 1960s | Weapons

September 14, 2019

Death by helicopter

Parachuting onto the whirling blades of a helicopter is both an unusual and a horrific way to die. It's definitely the worst kind of parachute accident I can imagine. It happened to one young woman — her first time parachuting — back in August 1987.

The Guardian - Aug 10, 1987



Paula Goodayle “who was hacked to death when she fell through the whirling blades of a helicopter during her first jump.”



The Sport Parachutist magazine (Oct 1987) offered some details into the subsequent investigation of the incident. The basic conclusion seems to have been that it was a colossal screw-up to have had students continue to parachute when a helicopter was in the area.

Miss Goodayle was despatched on the second pass, being the third parachutist to exit the aircraft, the parachute deployed normally, the descent was normal until just prior to landing when there was a collision between the parachutist and a helicopter approximately 430 yards from the target cross.

The conclusions of the Board of Inquiry were that Drop Zone Control or Air Traffic Control failed to suspend parachuting when the helicopter was in the area and that the helicopter pilot failed to take avoiding action or clear the area when parachiting was in progress. The Board could see no reason why parachuting was not suspended or why the helicopter was in the area whilst parachuting was taking place.

The recommendations of the Board were that whenever a student parachute programme is in operation, the Drop Zone Controller must have radio communication with parachuting aircraft for the purpose of suspending parachuting.

Posted By: Alex - Sat Sep 14, 2019 - Comments (0)
Category: Death | Flight | 1980s

Mystery Illustration 85



This female figure was intended to represent something very tangible: ie, not "virtue," "justice," etc.

What was the thing she represented?

The answer is here.

Or after the jump.

More in extended >>

Posted By: Paul - Sat Sep 14, 2019 - Comments (8)
Category: Statues and Monuments | Nineteenth Century

September 13, 2019

Velvet-Lined Bathtub

Back in 1936, interior decorators predicted a popular future for velvet-lined bathtubs.

I can only imagine they would have been a nightmare to clean.

Pottsville Republican and Herald - Dec 4, 1936



Emery County Progress - Nov 27, 1936



Update: Thanks to our knowledgeable readers, Floormaster Squeeze and KDP, for pointing out that Steve Martin had a line in one of his routines about buying a fur-lined sink. I found the clip on YouTube (audio only, unfortunately). The fur-lined sink reference occurs less than a minute in.

Posted By: Alex - Fri Sep 13, 2019 - Comments (7)
Category: Bathrooms | Baths, Showers and Other Cleansing Methods | 1930s

Glen Falls Sequence




Creator's Wikipedia page here.

Posted By: Paul - Fri Sep 13, 2019 - Comments (3)
Category: Art | Surrealism | Stop-motion Animation | 1930s

September 12, 2019

Nun in a miniskirt

November 1969: The fact that Sister Joann Malone of the Order of Loreto was protesting wasn't particularly big news, but the fact that she was wearing a miniskirt as she did so was front-page news.

Sydney Morning Herald - Nov 21, 1969

Decatur Herald - Nov 20, 1969



Her superior, Sister Rose Maureen Sanders, head of the St. Louis province of the Sisters of Loreto, wasn’t too happy about the fashion decision. From a follow-up article:

Sister Rose said she feels that Sister Joanne, from her earnings on speaking engagements, could have paid to purchase a longer skirt.
“I regretted the photo when I saw it in newspapers here and thought her wearing a miniskirt was ridiculous,” said the provincial superior.
“It’s an aberration on her part. Many, many sisters are wearing modern clothes but would not choose a miniskirt. Why do the newspapers print things like that?”

Posted By: Alex - Thu Sep 12, 2019 - Comments (5)
Category: Fashion | Religion | 1960s

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