Weird Universe Blog — January 10, 2022

Acoustic Skulls

When excavating medieval and early-modern buildings in northern Europe, archaeologists sometimes find horse skulls buried beneath them. One theory is that the skulls were placed there for magical, ritualistic reasons. Another possibility is that they served an acoustic purpose.

Sonja Hukantaival discusses this in her 2009 article "Horse Skulls and 'Alder-Horse': The Horse as a Building Deposit".

The practical, non-ritual, reason given for horse's skulls concealed in buildings is that they are placed under floors to create an echo. This has been suggested both in the British Isles and in Southern Scandinavia... Ceramic pots have also been concealed in buildings for acoustic reasons. The acoustic skulls were placed in churches, in houses and in Scandinavia especially in threshing barns.

In churches the acoustics were very important, of course. And in houses were people danced and music was played, but why in threshing barns? It was considered important that the sound of threshing carried far. Could this have some magic purpose? It is well known that in many cultures loud noises are considered to expel evil forces. So this "practical" custom of acoustic skulls may not be contradictory to magical and symbolic acts at all. One question to consider is also why horses' skulls were preferred. One would presume that the skulls of cattle would be available more often than those of horses, and possibly just as suitable for acoustics.

More info: IAC Archaeology

Posted By: Alex - Mon Jan 10, 2022 - Comments (0)
Category: Death | Medieval Era | Archaeology

Lily & Maria

"I knew the shape of thirsty flowers..."

Their Wikipedia page.

Posted By: Paul - Mon Jan 10, 2022 - Comments (0)
Category: Eccentrics | Bohemians, Beatniks, Hippies and Slackers | Fey, Twee, Whimsical, Naive and Sadsack | Music | 1960s

January 9, 2022

Formaldehyde Hunger

According to medical student lore, the smell of formaldehyde while dissecting bodies stimulates the appetite. This phenomenon is known as 'formaldehyde hunger'.

It was mentioned in a 2020 article by Amalia Namath in the Georgetown Medical Review, and that's the earliest reference to it I've been able to find:

A few years had passed since I had last been in the anatomy lab, but the smell immediately brought me back. With the smell came a flood of memories—meeting my 4 lab mates and bonding as we spent hours hunched over our cadaver. Often, we would share our favorite recipes as the lab would wind down, in part because of the aptly named "formaldehyde hunger" and to find common ground.

An article on disputes the reality of the phenomenon, noting, "there is some self-reported evidence of formaldehyde actually having the opposite effect — constricting hunger, rather than inducing it."

My guess is that med students just naturally build up an appetite during the long hours they're dissecting a cadaver. After all, they're presumably not snacking while they're doing this. The formaldehyde has nothing to do with their hunger. But it makes a better story to attribute their food cravings to the formaldehyde.

Posted By: Alex - Sun Jan 09, 2022 - Comments (1)
Category: Food | Science | Fables, Myths, Urban Legends, Rumors, Water-Cooler Lore

Secret Shoulder Straps


Posted By: Paul - Sun Jan 09, 2022 - Comments (2)
Category: Body Modifications | Fashion | Inventions | Nineteenth Century

January 8, 2022

Cemetery Honey

Our Forest Home Cemetery & Arboretum apiary has produced delicious honey made from our tree pollen. It's got a light, nutty flavor and comes raw and unfiltered.

You can buy it, in person, at Forest Home Cemetery. Or you can purchase it online from Fairy Garden Hives. For an extra $12 you can get the "Friday the 13th Limited Edition" cemetery honey.

Posted By: Alex - Sat Jan 08, 2022 - Comments (3)
Category: Death | Food

Andy Saunders and his Custom Cars

His homepage.

Posted By: Paul - Sat Jan 08, 2022 - Comments (3)
Category: Hobbies and DIY | United Kingdom | Cars

January 7, 2022

USB Wine

Since this is French, it probably won't work in the U.S.

More info:

Posted By: Alex - Fri Jan 07, 2022 - Comments (5)
Category: Humor | Inebriation and Intoxicants | Internet

A Wild Man of Alabama

Society does not tolerate outsiders and hermits very well.

Source: The True Democrat (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania)16 Mar 1853, Wed Page 2

Posted By: Paul - Fri Jan 07, 2022 - Comments (5)
Category: Regionalism | Vigilante Justice | Hermits | Dogs | Nineteenth Century

January 6, 2022

The Microsoft Hinged Box

Microsoft received its first patent in 1986 (Patent No. 4,588,074). By this time it was already a huge company, having released Microsoft Windows the previous year. But its first patent wasn't for anything related to computers or software. Instead, it was for a kind of hinged box designed to store and support books and articles.

It then didn't receive any more patents for another two years.

I'm curious about the backstory of this hinged box. What inspired its invention? Did Microsoft ever attempt to manufacture or sell it? And why did the company feel compelled to patent it?

Posted By: Alex - Thu Jan 06, 2022 - Comments (2)
Category: Inventions | Technology | 1980s

Page 3 of 19 pages  < 1 2 3 4 5 >  Last ›
Custom Search
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.

Go to top