Weird Universe Blog — December 6, 2023

The One-Way Mission to the Moon

1962: Fearing that the Soviets were going to beat the United States to the moon, two engineers from Bell Aerosystems Company, John Cord and Leonard Seale, proposed a way to make sure America got there first. Their idea was to send an astronaut on a one-way mission to the moon. After all, it's a lot easier to send a man to the moon if you don't have to worry about bringing him back.

They presented their idea at the meeting of the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences in Los Angeles and also published it in the Dec 1962 issue of Aerospace Engineering.

Read the entire article (pdf)

Their plan was for NASA to first land a series of unmanned cargo vehicles on the moon that would contain all the necessities for a lunar base. An astronaut would then make the journey to the moon and, after landing, assemble the base. Every month NASA would send a new cargo vehicle to resupply the astronaut with essentials — food, water, and oxygen. This would continue until NASA figured out a way to bring him back.

NASA, perhaps sensing that the public would perceive a one-way mission as an admission of defeat rather than a sign of victory, ignored the proposal.

Base for a one-way lunar mission

Although NASA ignored Cord and Seale's plan, it caught the attention of science-fiction writer Hank Searls, serving as the inspiration for his 1964 novel, The Pilgrim Project. Hollywood developed Searls' book into a 1968 movie, Countdown, directed by Robert Altman and starring James Caan and Robert Duvall.

In both the book and movie, NASA succeeds in landing an astronaut on the moon. The astronaut then discovers that the Soviets got there first — but all died.

Posted By: Alex - Wed Dec 06, 2023 - Comments (0)
Category: Spaceflight, Astronautics, and Astronomy | Space Travel | 1960s

December 5, 2023

The bank robber who waited

June 1997: When a bankrobber demanded money, the teller told him to wait while she got it. She kept him waiting for 20 minutes, until the police arrived.

I'm pretty sure banks now instruct their employees to give robbers the money, rather than trying anything like this.

Miami Herald - June 10, 1997

Posted By: Alex - Tue Dec 05, 2023 - Comments (1)
Category: Stupid Criminals | 1990s

Follies of the Madmen #583

In 1969, everything had to relate to drugs.


Posted By: Paul - Tue Dec 05, 2023 - Comments (0)
Category: Drugs | Food | Advertising | 1960s

December 4, 2023

Gladys Sellew’s 15-cents-a-day diet

Back in the 1930s, sociologist Gladys Sellew decided to find out if it was possible to survive spending only 15 cents a day on food. I think, in today's money, that would be about $3/day.

She used herself as a test subject and, five years later, reported that not only was it possible, but she actually only spent an average of 13 cents a day on food.

She said she was going to remain on her frugal diet for the rest of her life.

Austin American Statesman - June 3, 1942

The headline below claimed that she gained weight on her diet, but in the picture above it sure doesn't look like she had any extra weight on her.

Hartford Courant - Feb 24, 1941

A typical day's meal plan:

Austin American Statesman - June 3, 1942

By way of comparison, here's a more recent version of an experiment in frugality: "Spending $5 a day on food. Is it possible?"

Posted By: Alex - Mon Dec 04, 2023 - Comments (0)
Category: Food | 1940s | Dieting and Weight Loss

Miss Tall International

Instead of "Miss Tall International," I prefered the old name for this contest, per this 1952 entry.

"Miss California Tip Topper of '52": Sonia Smevik, 18, 6'1 3/4" crowned by Actor John Hubbard. L to R background: Peggy Mcconnell; Pat Hostetter; Marlize Schrad; Toby Guthrie; Joan Wark; Pat Hart; Phyllis Foresberg".

Posted By: Paul - Mon Dec 04, 2023 - Comments (0)
Category: Awards, Prizes, Competitions and Contests | Beauty, Ugliness and Other Aesthetic Issues | Excess, Overkill, Hyperbole and Too Much Is Not Enough | Human Marvels | Twentieth Century | Twenty-first Century

December 3, 2023

Hand Waving and Heart Disease

Back in 1997, Dr. Alan N. Rennie reported in the British Medical Journal a correlation between arm movement and heart disease. People who moved their hands and arms around a lot while talking seemed more prone to heart disease. Rennie offered this possible explanation:

The most obvious explanation of these findings is that type A personalities are prone both to gesticulation and to coronary heart disease. It is possible that people with coronary heart disease move their arms more because they are otherwise physically inactive or their disease causes them to become agitated. However, my own suspicion is that arm movements over a lifetime may be a factor–combined with other known factors–in the development of coronary heart disease.

Good to know that my lazy lack of movement actually has a health benefit.

Chicago Tribune - Jan 10, 1997

Posted By: Alex - Sun Dec 03, 2023 - Comments (0)
Category: Health | Disease

Gorey by Grimes

There are other tracks from this album on YouTube, but this cut should give you the general idea.

Tammy Grimes on Wikipedia.

Edward Gorey on Wikipedia.

Posted By: Paul - Sun Dec 03, 2023 - Comments (1)
Category: Death | Literature | Music | Vinyl Albums and Other Media Recordings | Children

December 2, 2023

The Psycho-Expander

Expand your inner psycho.

Popular Mechanics - June 1924

Posted By: Alex - Sat Dec 02, 2023 - Comments (1)
Category: Advertising | 1920s

Telescoping Fish Knocker

Not being a fisherman or sportsman of any sort, I had no idea until now that there existed a special tool for whacking your caught fish on the noggin: the fish knocker or fish bat. You can buy a variety of modern ones, as seen here. But I like the patent on a collapsible model.

Full patent here.

Posted By: Paul - Sat Dec 02, 2023 - Comments (5)
Category: Sports | Tools | Lakes, Ponds, Rivers, Streams, Swamps and Other Bodies of Fresh Water | Patents | 1950s

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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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