It's good to see that the spirit of invention is alive and well among the nation's youth, as evidenced by the "Lice-Anator," the winning invention of this year's Toshiba/National Science Teachers Association ExploraVision program. The invention (or rather, sketch of an invention... no working prototype was required) was submitted by first graders Maggie Huerta, Mackenzie Greco, and Nina Kaiser. The gadget is "a computerized hairbrush that uses special bristles and processors that not only detect the presence of the creepy crawlers [lice], but also kills them with tiny on-board lasers." Cool! [chicagoparent.com]
In 1979, when Henri Gugelmann debuted his "rat circus" in downtown Bern, he claimed it was the first of its kind in the world. And maybe it was also the last, because I don't know where one would go today to see performing rats.
His trained rats jumped over ropes, ran through burning rings, and crawled along in a "rat race" while Gugelmann, dressed as a clown, directed the show. That sounds like quality entertainment! [Google News: Victoria Advocate, Aug 9, 1979]
Back in 1955, a mysterious phenomenon was reported. Garden hoses started to spontaneously burrow their way into dirt. It began in the garden of California resident George Di Peso. His 12-year-old daughter stuck the nozzle of a hose into the dirt to make the job of watering the garden easier, and then the hose (with the water running) started to burrow downwards. Over 20 feet of the hose disappeared into the earth.
The same phenomenon was then reported in Minnesota, Michigan, New York, Florida, Ontario, and Kansas.
Geologists speculated that the rapid flow of water was creating a vacuum at the nozzle causing the hoses to slide downward into the earth. The burrowing could be stopped by turning off the water. But Di Peso never did recover the 20 feet of hose lost in the earth. He eventually cut the hose off where it went into the earth, saying "I couldn't stand it any longer. This thing was getting out of hand. My life has been made a big mess."
Fritz von Opel was one of those early-20th-century rocket-besotted guys who pioneered this exotic means of propulsion. Just look at his rocket car go in the film clip above! (Narration in German, but not necessary to comprehension.)
But von Opel's innocent excitement had its darker side. I give you the 1929 newspaper article below. Specifically, the enlarged sentence.
Nine Circles never entered a recording studio and performed only once, at a Dutch radio station in 1982. Unbeknownst to them the engineer recorded the session and over the years it was bootlegged over and over becoming a Flexipop cult track. [The singer] never found out about this until I rang her up [in 2011].
Slingshots taken from young vandals, May 1952. If the police hadn't stopped them, the kids probably would have been building full-sized trebuchets next.
"Salem, Mass., May 8 — Police Lt. Walter Broderick tests one of two huge slingshots confiscated after boys had broken 60 windows in two local factories. Police said the giant weapons could hurl a five-pound rock more than 200 yards."
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.
Chuck is the purveyor of News of the Weird, the syndicated column which for decades has set the gold-standard for reporting on oddities and the bizarre.
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