Weird Universe


The Coldest Case

It appears that the 126 year old cold case of Jack the Ripper has been solved by DNA testing. A shawl that was alleged to have been found next to Catherine Eddowes, one of the Ripper's victims, carries mitochondrial DNA profiles from both Eddowes' line and the familial line of one of the Ripper suspects. Polish immigrant Aaron Kosminski, who subsequently spent his later years in mental asylums, lived in the area of the killings, and was a suspect, left his DNA behind on a bloody shawl. That shawl turned out to be a time capsule for justice.
Posted By: patty | Date: Fri Sep 19, 2014 | Comments (9)
Category: Crime, Death, Evil, Science, Historical Figure, Seventeenth Century, Blood

Zinjanthropus Blues

More songs here.

Posted By: Paul | Date: Tue Jul 15, 2014 | Comments (7)
Category: Music, Science

Kate Smith, the flag-raising rat

Kate Smith was a rat trained to raise a small American flag. It was trained by Kelly Buckwalter of Santa Barbara High School as "an experiment in operant conditioning" for her chemistry and psychology classes.

Do kids still get to do experiments like this in high school? Somehow I doubt it. Source: The Tuscaloosa News - May 22, 1976.
Posted By: Alex | Date: Sat May 24, 2014 | Comments (4)
Category: Animals, Science, Experiments, Psychology, 1970's

Operation Ranger and Operation Buster-Jangle

What a crazy old world that was. "Mutually Assured Destruction." But we just thought it was normal at the time.
Posted By: Paul | Date: Thu May 22, 2014 | Comments (3)
Category: Death, Destruction, Dreams and Nightmares, Science, Technology, War, Armed Forces, Weapons, Documentaries, 1950's

The Pythagoras Cup

Astound your friends.

Full info here.

Posted By: Paul | Date: Fri Jan 10, 2014 | Comments (8)
Category: Science, Europe


A show on space exploration and UFOs, from the1950s, when such things seemed very weird indeed.

It's amazing to see what they get right, and what they get wrong. "Space telescope? Nah, never happen!"

Posted By: Paul | Date: Fri Dec 27, 2013 | Comments (9)
Category: Science, Television, 1950's

Dead mice dropped from helicopters

Over in Guam, researchers are dropping dead mice out of helicopters. The idea is that the mice, which have been doped up with acetaminophen, will land in trees and be eaten by snakes. The snakes will then die, because acetaminophen is poisonous to them. It's an experiment to see if this method will work at reducing the snake population, which is growing out of control. The video shows some of the mice falling from the skies. [NPR]

Posted By: Alex | Date: Mon Dec 16, 2013 | Comments (12)
Category: Science, Experiments

Holographic Universe

The idea that the universe is a hologram, initially presented in 1997, has been mathematically proven by Japanese researchers. And apparently the checked their work. So, perhaps Poe was right and 'all that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream' or to quote Churchill it's all 'a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma' on a hologram.
Posted By: patty | Date: Sat Dec 14, 2013 | Comments (3)
Category: Science

The man who proved by mathematics that World War II couldn’t happen

Back in 1938, Lewis F. Richardson worked out a mathematical system for predicting war. He presented his findings at a meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. His conclusion: no chance of war in Europe!

The New York Times reported his findings on Aug 23, 1938:

No Sign of War Seen
Before the section on psychology, Lewis F. Richardson of Paisley arrived at the encouraging conclusion that there is no sign of war — at least no mathematical sign. For the professor reduced to beautiful differential equations general tendencies common to all nations — resentment of defiance, the suspicion that defense is concealed aggression, response to imports by exports, restraint on armaments by the difficulty of paying for them, and, last, grievances and their irrationality. The psychologists were bewildered and amused.

Mathematically, Professor Richardson treated love and hate as if they were forces that could be designated by the usual X and Y. The forces make possible two opposite kinds of drifting, one leading to suspicion, the other leading from cooperation to united organization.

The balance of power, Professor Richardson holds, is best maintained by countries of different sizes rather than by a few countries of the same size. When he concluded from his mathematical analysis that there was no chance of war at present he remarked:

"I never would have accepted this unless I proved it to myself by mathematics."

His hearers left with the feeling that Europe's feverish preparation for war is only a declaration of peace to the knife.

It's worth noting that Richardson wasn't just some random crackpot. As wikipedia notes, he's the guy who came up with the idea of weather forecasting by solution of differential equations, which is the method used today.
Posted By: Alex | Date: Thu Oct 10, 2013 | Comments (6)
Category: Science, 1930's
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All original content in posts is Copyright © 2008 by the author of the post, 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.