Weird Universe Blog — April 2, 2020

Do Beavers Rule on Mars?

In the May 1930 issue of Popular Science magazine, Thomas Elway advanced the unusual hypothesis that Mars was inhabited by a race of beavers. His idea was subsequently reported in many newspapers.

As far as I can tell, Elway wasn't actually a scientist. He was a journalist. So perhaps one shouldn't attach too much weight to his opinion. Still, he gets points for creativity.

Semi-Weekly Spokesman Review - Oct 12, 1930



Elway's argument was based on the assumption (widespread at the time) that there was plant life on Mars. Therefore, animal life was also considered possible. His reasoning then proceeded as follows:

So far, everything runs strikingly parallel with evolution on earth. It is probable that it will be found to have run parallel farther still and that animal life on both planets, too, has been similar — for at least part of the evolutionary story. But during all the years of earnest and competent research not one clear sign of manlike life on Mars has been detected. Professor Lowell's famous Martian "canals," which for a long time were considered a probable sign of the intelligent direction of water, are now believed to be wide, shallow river valleys.

This lack of manlike life is precisely what a biologist would expect. Man and man's active mind are believed to be products of the Great Ice Age, for that time of stress and competition on earth is what is supposed to have turned mankind's anthropoid ancestors into men. The period of ice and cold over wide areas of the earth was caused, at least in part, by the elevation of continents and mountain ranges. On Mars, no mountain ranges exist, and it probably never had an Ice Age.

It is on these hypotheses that science bases its assumption that there is no human intelligence on Mars, and that animal life on the planet is still in the age of instinct. The thing to expect on Mars, then, is a fish life much like that on earth, the emergence of this fish life onto the land, and the evolution of these Martian land-fishes into retilelike creatures. Finally, animals resembling the earth's present rodents like rats, squirrels, and beavers would make their appearance.

The chief reason to expect this final change of Martian retiles into primitive mammals lies in the fact that on earth this evolution seems to have been forced by changeable weather. And Mars now possesses seasonal changes like those on earth.

Pure biological reasoning makes it probable, therefore, that the evolution of warm-blooded animals may have occurred on Mars much as it did here. There seems no reason to believe that Martian life has gone farther than that. Mars is a relatively changeless planet. Biologists suppose that the rise and fall of mountains, the increase and decrease in volcanic activity, and the ebb and flow of climate forced life on earth along its upward path. Martian life of recent ages seems to have lacked these natural incentives to better things.

Now, there is one creature on earth for the development of whose counterpart the supposed Martian conditions would be ideal. That animal is the beaver. It is either land-living or water-living. It has a fur coat to protect it from the 100 degrees below zero of the Martian night.

The Martian beavers, of course, would not be exactly like those on earth. That they would be furred and water-loving is probable. Their eyes might be larger than those of the earthly beaver because the sunlight is not so strong, and their bodies might be larger because of lesser Martian gravity. Competent digging tools certainly would be provided on their claws. The chests of these Martian beavers would be larger and their breathing far more active, as there is less oxygen in the air on Mars.

Such beaver-Martians are nothing more than pure speculation, but the idea is based upon the known facts that there is plenty of water on Mars; that vegetation almost certainly exists there; that Mars has no mountains and could scarcely have had an Ice Age; and that evidences of Martian life are not accompanied by signs of intelligence.

Herds of beaver-creatures are at least a more reasonable idea than the familiar fictional one of manlike Martians digging artificial water channels with vast machines or the still more fantastic notion of octopuslike Martians sufficiently intelligent to plan the conquest of the earth.

Posted By: Alex - Thu Apr 02, 2020 - Comments (4)
Category: Aliens | Animals | Science | 1930s

Horse

Posted By: Paul - Thu Apr 02, 2020 - Comments (0)
Category: Animals | Body Modifications | Cartoons

April 1, 2020

April Fool’s Day

It's April Fool's Day, which, for me, means it's the day when I receive requests by the media to pontificate about the history of foolish things. You can read some of my most recent musings in USA Today:

Should you still celebrate April Fools' Day amid coronavirus?

I'll also be on Midnight in the Desert Radio tonight (Art Bell's old show), from 9-11 pm (PST).

Posted By: Alex - Wed Apr 01, 2020 - Comments (0)
Category: Holidays | Alex

National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Month

The month of April has been set aside to celebrate a variety of random things. For instance, April is simultaneously:

  • National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Month
  • National Frog Month
  • National Straw Hat Month
  • Brussels Sprouts and Cabbage Month
  • National Facial Protection Month
  • STD Awareness Month
  • National Welding Month
  • National Kite Month
  • National Fresh Celery Month

In the 1990s, Pepsi tried to get people to think of April as "Uh Huh Month," but that failed to stick.

Posted By: Alex - Wed Apr 01, 2020 - Comments (1)
Category: Holidays

Unauthorized Dwellings 13

Posted By: Paul - Wed Apr 01, 2020 - Comments (0)
Category: Unauthorized Dwellings

March 31, 2020

Let’s try to stop smoking!!!!!!

Capitol Records released this album in 1964, on the heels of the Surgeon General's report detailing the harmful effects of smoking. Apparently that report inspired a fad for anti-smoking records. (See our earlier post about the 1964 album Music To Help You Stop Smoking).

The Capitol Records release claimed to help listeners kick the smoking habit by hypnotizing them. The hypnotist was said to be a doctor, but for reasons of professional ethics he didn't reveal his identity, instead using the pseudonym Scott Gordon.

Discogs.com notes, "The title has one exclamation point on the back of the jacket and spine, no exclamation point on the label, and 6 on the front of the jacket."



Although I couldn't find any audio clips from the record online, I did come across this video posted by a British dance company in which they perform to a brief excerpt of Scott Gordon hypnotizing listeners.

Posted By: Alex - Tue Mar 31, 2020 - Comments (2)
Category: Smoking and Tobacco | 1960s

Odor-based Alarms

Alex's recent run of Weird Patents reminded me of the attempts to base an alarm device on smells.

Here's one that seems to have gone nowhere.



And another.



Posted By: Paul - Tue Mar 31, 2020 - Comments (4)
Category: Annoying Things | Inventions | Twenty-first Century | Smells and Odors

March 30, 2020

Regained sight after fall

Another case of an improbable cure.

Eugene W. Phillips, 60, had been blind for 16 years. Then, in August 1972, he fell off his back porch, puncturing his back with a stick and hitting his head on the ground. But he also partially regained sight in one eye. His doctor concluded that the fall had jarred loose a membrane that had been covering the optic nerve.

Bonham Daily Favorite - Aug 8, 1972



Provo Daily Herald - Aug 9, 1972



Related:

Posted By: Alex - Mon Mar 30, 2020 - Comments (0)
Category: Health | 1970s | Eyes and Vision

Blaze, the Dog That Flew First Class



In the year 1945, a dog named Blaze, while being shipped on Army Transport planes, bumped off several traveling soldiers, causing a national controversy.

Read about it here.

A funnier account was composed by James Thurber, viewable after the jump.



More in extended >>

Posted By: Paul - Mon Mar 30, 2020 - Comments (0)
Category: Government | War | Scandals and Controversies | Air Travel and Airlines | Dogs | 1940s

March 29, 2020

Sardine-Flavored Ice Cream

In 1994, the Japanese Patent Office granted Sato Shigeaki a patent for sardine-flavored ice cream. In his patent application, Shigeaki explained that his intention was to to promote the fishing industry by encouraging children who don't like fish to eat them. He also provided the basic recipe for his sardine ice cream. It involved cooking the sardines with onions, soybeans, rice wine, and walnut paste. Then adding this concoction to a base of chocolate ice cream.

This patent enjoys a somewhat unusual distinction. In 1997, European patent examiner Bernard Delporte revealed that it was the most common search request received by his office. He added, "No one believes that it actually exists until they've called it up and seen it themselves."



However, further research reveals that sardine ice cream was just the tip of the iceberg of Sato Shigeaki's grand vision. Apparently he imagined using oddball ice cream flavors to boost a broad range of different industries. As seen by the other patents he was granted:

Patent JPH08275731A: White Cedar Ice Cream
PURPOSE: To enable sales of an ice cream in different types of industries such as the lumber industry and the paper-manufacturing industry, to promote activation of enterprises and to sell the ice cream as a prescribed commodity as a local product by combining white ceder as a tree with ice cream to develop an epoch-making food.
CONSTITUTION: This ice cream is obtained by mixing a naturally extracted edible white ceder spice with an ice cream, mixing a pie dough with an edible white ceder spice, baking the mixture to give a pie, grinding the pie and mixing the flour with an ice cream or combining these ice creams with a designed cake forming a leaf or a twig of white ceder.

JPH06233656A: Sunflower Ice Cream
PURPOSE: To obtain an ice cream of sunflower as a local product.
CONSTITUTION: An ice cream base comprising honey of sunflower is mixed with a sunflower paste prepared by making seeds of sunflower into a paste to give an ice cream. The ice cream is topped with a material obtained by mixing seeds of sunflower roasted by an oven with caramel to give the objective ice cream of sunflower.

JPH11137180A: Salmon Ice Cream
PROBLEM TO BE SOLVED: To obtain salmon-contg. ice cream by mixing salmon in ice cream, and to provide a method for producing the above dessert, intended to offer a new commodity using salmon in the districts noted therefor and accomplished by proposing a technology to lower the freezing temperature of salmon and a second technology to remove the fishy smell inherent in salmon.
SOLUTION: This salmon-contg. ice cream is obtained by mixing salmon flesh boiled with alcohol during ice cream production process followed by chilling (freezing) the resultant mixture.

JPH06217700A: Chinese noodle seasoned with miso ice cream
PURPOSE: To provide a tasty ice cream-based Chinese noodle seasoned with miso intended to activate the relevant market as well as furnish consumers with joyfulness.
CONSTITUTION: Raw noodles are boiled with cow milk and then put into chilled cow milk and cooled. The resultant cooled noodles are boiled with a liquor comprising 80wt.% alcohol, 10wt.% miso and 10wt.% pig bone soup and infiltrated with the alcohol followed by cooling again. The resultant noodles are mixed with an ice cream base which has been separately prepared by incorporating an ice cream base with miso, followed by chilling, thus obtaining the objective ice cream-based Chinese noodles seasoned with miso.

JPH06217699A: Chinese noodle seasoned with soy ice cream
PURPOSE: To provide a tasty ice cream based Chinese noodle seasoned with soy intended to activate the relevant market as well as furnish consumers with joyfulness.
CONSTITUTION: Raw noodles are boiled with cow milk and then put into chilled cow milk and cooled. The resultant cooled noodles are boiled with a liquor comprising 80wt.% alcohol, 5wt.% of soy and 15wt.% seasoned shark fin soup and infiltrated with the alcohol followed by cooling again. The resultant noodles are mixed with an ice cream base which has been separately prepared by incorporating an ice cream base with a seasoned shark fin soup, followed by chilling, thus obtaining the objective ice cream-based Chinese noodles seasoned with soy.

JPH0998722A: Silk ice cream
PROBLEM TO BE SOLVED: To produce silk-contained ice cream perceivable by tongue and eyes that the ice cream contains silk by mixing silk, which is good for health, into ice cream and the unbaked dough of pie, and further spraying silk powder over the baked pie to lay it on the ice cream.
SOLUTION: Silk powder is added and mixed into ice cream base commercial or originally blended which has been sterilized by heating and cooled. Pie dough is also compounded with silk powder, and it is formed into a shape of a silk worm or a cocoon and baked. The pie is placed on ice cream. Silk powder is sprayed over the pie. This enables one to clearly perceive that the pie has silk and to directly taste the silk powder.

JPH08277399A: Cypress flavor for food
PURPOSE: To obtain a cypress flavor for food, having excellent deliciousness, taste and palatability and useful for the preparation of a cake, etc., by adding water to cypress wood chips, heating the chips to distill out a liquid component and removing the water from the liquid by evaporation.
CONSTITUTION: This cypress flavor is produced by adding water to cypress wood chips preferably mixed with false arborvitae wood chips, heating the chips to distill out a liquid component and removing water from the liquid by evaporation.

JPH06233655A: Beer ice cream
PURPOSE: To obtain an ice cream of beer taste having a mellowness and pleasantness to the palate.
CONSTITUTION: The alcohol degree of beer is weakened and mixed with a fresh cream, whole powder milk and a stabilizer so as to prevent the beer from becoming a sherbet state and blended with an ice cream base to give a beer ice.

JPH06343397A: Japanese rice wine ice cream
PURPOSE: To obtain a tasty ice cream having the taste of Japanese rice wine.
CONSTITUTION: The ice cream is obtained by adding SAKE (Japanese rice wine) lees to an ice cream base composed of sugar, cow's milk, an egg, fresh cream, skim milk powder, glucose and a stabilizer and cooling the resultant mixture.

Posted By: Alex - Sun Mar 29, 2020 - Comments (3)
Category: Food | Inventions

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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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