The latest from artist Jonathon Keats: a "cosmic welcome mat" to greet visitors from outer space. The mats will be placed at various locations around the Bedford Park campus of Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, to coincide with the 68th International Astronautical Congress that will be taking place nearby. The mats will be examined periodically to check for signs of extraterrestrial visitation.
From a press release:
"Years ago, Fermi famously questioned the existence of intelligent life throughout the universe," says experimental philosopher Jonathon Keats. "Fermi asked, 'Where is everybody?' Maybe the reason we've never encountered aliens is that they never felt invited. From an outsider's perspective, human behavior can appear pretty unfriendly, and that impression has some truth to it."
To counter the hostility of his species, and to communicate hospitality to aliens, Mr. Keats enlisted the most welcoming of human inventions. His cosmic welcome mat, developed in consultation with Flinders space archaeologist Alice Gorman, translates the concept of welcomeness into a visual language that all sentient beings can potentially comprehend.
"In fact, the mat comes in four different versions," says Dr. Gorman. "Since we can't make any assumptions about beings we've never encountered, and certainly can't assume that they're versed in human culture, it's important to present them with different options built on different premises." For instance, one version of the mat expresses welcomeness in terms of geometric fit, while another does so by biological analogy, evoking room for growth.
Dr. Gorman and a team of Flinders students will rigorously monitor use of the intergalactic doormats, employing standard archaeological sampling techniques. The carpeting will be regularly vacuumed for sediment. Comparison of sedimentary deposits can provide important data about how effectively welcomeness has been communicated by each design. These data will inform future iterations of the mat, slated for distribution worldwide, and potential future deployment on the International Space Station.
The concept reminds me of the various UFO landing ports that have been constructed throughout the world, such as the one in Lake City, PA. Also relevant is Douglas Curran's book, In Advance of the Landing, about objects built by people in anticipation of the arrival of extraterrestrials.
The bad-acid-trip Good Fairy of Canned Vegetables talks about marketplace disruptions and paradigm shifts, and serves as Cupid. Be sure to enjoy the suicidal tomatoes plunging to their canned goods deaths.
May 1978: Random House issued a recall of a cookbook, Woman's Day Crockery Cuisine, after realizing that one of the recipes "could cause a serious explosion."
The recipe in question was for "Silky Caramel Slices." The problem was that it instructed people to heat an unopened can of condensed milk in a crockpot for four hours. A statement from Random House noted, "If the recipe is followed, the condensed milk can could explode and shatter the lid and liner of the crockery cooker."
What the recipe neglected to mention was that you should add water into the crockpot surrounding the can. Initially I thought you should open the can also, but my wife (who's heard of this technique of cooking condensed milk on a stove top) corrected me. You keep the can closed so that the milk doesn't boil out of the can.
Marilynn Marter, writing in the Chicago Tribune (May 25, 1978) explains:
The recipe in question was for Silky Caramel Slices and called for heating a can of sweetened condensed milk in a crockpot. Because of an unfortunately elusive line that should have instructed folks to fill the pot with water, following the recipe appears to have resulted in some unintentional pop-top cans and badly damaged crockpots...
The conditions that have made this underground recipe successful and therefore popular, especially with children, are water and temperature. By being heated in boiling water, the temperature of the can and milk do not exceed the boiling point. After a few hours of this, the sugared milk turns to a caramel pudding. In the Crockpot, however, especially without water, the temperature can build up rather like a pressure cooker. That was the most immediate cause of the problem.
Back cover The 'exploding' recipe (Silky Caramel Slices) is listed third from bottom, right-hand column.
Books Selected and endorsed for Pure Weirdness by Your WU Team
Who We Are
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction books such as Elephants on Acid.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.
Our banner was drawn by the legendary underground cartoonist Rick Altergott.