Weird Universe Blog — January 24, 2023

Sidney Cornell’s Geyser Relays

Over the years there have been a lot of ideas proposed to solve Southern California's water shortage. One of the more unusual, from back in the early 1950s, was Sidney Cornell's geyser relays.

His idea was that, instead of moving water from Northern to Southern California by means of pipelines or canals, one could use hydrocannons to shoot it through the air.

He envisioned a series of powerful hydrocannons each positioned a mile apart. A geyser of water would be blasted from a cannon, a mile through the air, and collected in a funnel at the next pumping station. It would then be blasted to the next station in the chain, continuing like this for four-hundred miles.

Durham Herald-Sun - Jun 17, 1951

Mechanix Illustrated - Oct 1951 (via California WaterBlog)

San Pedro News-Pilot - Aug 8, 1951

The idea seems so harebrained that it's hard to understand how Cornell thought it could be even remotely possible. I'm guessing he was persuaded by the phenomenon of laminar flow, by means of which it's possible to get a jet of water to remain tightly focused, with minimal turbulence or scattering. See the video below for an example.

But even so, I'm sure that winds would push the water off-course, despite Cornell's claim that this wouldn't happen. And the cost would be significant.

Posted By: Alex - Tue Jan 24, 2023 - Comments (8)
Category: Engineering and Construction | Crackpots | 1950s

Coconuts:  Production, Processing, Products

Every now and then, WU strives to find a video or book or practice so boring that it merges into true weirdness. I think 311 pages on the humble coconut might qualify. Learn about the ten different cuts of coconut meat, and so much more!

Posted By: Paul - Tue Jan 24, 2023 - Comments (3)
Category: Boredom | Food | Industry, Factories and Manufacturing | Books

January 23, 2023

Cologne Drunkards

In the late nineteenth century, a brief moral panic emerged about the alleged existence of "cologne drunkards" — society women who inebriated themselves by means of sugar cubes soaked in cologne.

Seems like an expensive way to consume alcohol, but I guess it's plausible that some women really did this.

Good Health magazine - Apr 1885

Philadelphia Times - Feb 7, 1893

Posted By: Alex - Mon Jan 23, 2023 - Comments (1)
Category: Inebriation and Intoxicants | Nineteenth Century | Perfume and Cologne and Other Scents

Mystery Gadget 104

What's so special about this glass brick? What was its origin and use?

The answer is here.

Or after the jump.

More in extended >>

Posted By: Paul - Mon Jan 23, 2023 - Comments (1)
Category: Technology

January 22, 2023

Welsh translation

2008: Since all official road signs in Wales are bilingual, transportation officials emailed the English text of a new sign to a translator and promptly received back a response in Welsh, which they placed on the sign. And the sign went up on the road.

Welsh speakers later pointed out that the Welsh text read, "I am not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated."

According to Google Translate, the correct Welsh text should have been: "Dim mynediad i gerbydau nwyddau trwm. Safle preswyl yn unig."

More info: BBC News

Posted By: Alex - Sun Jan 22, 2023 - Comments (0)
Category: Mistranslations

Follies of the Madmen #553

In 1970, everything was psychedelic, including kids' vitamins. The subtext of handing out groovy pills could not be denied.

Posted By: Paul - Sun Jan 22, 2023 - Comments (1)
Category: Advertising | Children | Nutrition | Psychedelic | 1970s

January 21, 2023

‘The Girl With Whom I Would Most Like To Go Skiing For Two Weeks in the Cairngorm Mountains’

Dec 1966: Instead of simply being called 'Miss Cairngorm Mountains,' or something similar, June Fletcher was awarded the oddly specific title of 'The Girl With Whom I Would Most Like To Go Skiing For Two Weeks in the Cairngorm Mountains'.

Lincolnshire Echo - Dec 2, 1966

Posted By: Alex - Sat Jan 21, 2023 - Comments (0)
Category: Awards, Prizes, Competitions and Contests | Sports | 1960s

January 20, 2023


Read it here.

Posted By: Paul - Fri Jan 20, 2023 - Comments (0)
Category: Body | Science | Psychology | Self-help Schemes | 1950s

Midwatch In Verse

A new book explores the obscure poetic tradition of sailors in the U.S. Navy writing the first deck log of the new year in verse. As explained by the NW Arkansas Democrat-Gazette:

For the average person, the deck logs of the U.S. Navy are what Dave Johnson would call mind-numbing and indecipherable.
The records, quasi-legal documents, were a requirement of each ship to note various bits of technical information -- ship speed and direction, even the number of propeller rotations and other things that would only be useful or make sense if you were in the Navy.
But one time of year, sailors were allowed to deviate from the benign record keeping and exhibit creativity with brief storytelling. During the first watch of the New Year, from midnight to 4 a.m., the Officer of the Deck could record in verse.

No one is sure when, or why this tradition began. The earliest known example (reproduced below) dates back to 1926, but the tradition was apparently already well established by then.

More info:

I stand on the deck at midnight
As the clocks are striking the hour
And I’ll keep the watch until morning
To the best of my humble power.
We are anchored in Pedro harbor
Tho there isn’t much of a lee
And why they call it a harbor
Is something I never could see
But our hook is in hole A seven
And our center anchor chain
Has forty-five in the hawse pipe
And a very gentle strain.
When we anchored our trusty leadsman
Made a very careful cast
Finding eight and a half good fathoms
As the bugler blew the blast.
And down below in the fire rooms
Which the black gang ought to man
The steam is blowing bubbles
In number seven can.
All the battleship divisions
Swing nearby on the blue
Except the West Virginia
And the Mississippi too.
The Senior Officer Present
Floats peacefully in his sleep
On the good ship California
The guardian of the deep.
At one fifteen Roskelly
A pill rolling pharmacist’s mate
Returned from his leave on schedule
He’s lucky he wasn’t late.
That’s all the dope this morning
Except, just between us two
If the Captain ever sees this log
My gawd what will he do?

E.V. Dockweiler,
Ensign, U. S. Navy

Posted By: Alex - Fri Jan 20, 2023 - Comments (4)
Category: Military | Books | Poetry

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