Category:
1970s

Effect of Gamma Rays on Marigolds

Paul Zindel's play The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1971. It inspired Paul Newman to make a film of the same name the next year.

And in 1974 it inspired 13-year-old Danny Kleiner of Philadelphia to wonder what the effect of gamma rays on marigolds would be. So he made that his school science project. He used cobalt radiation to produce the gamma rays. Unfortunately, I don't know what the results of his experiment were.

I haven't read or seen Zindel's play so I don't know if a similar experiment is featured in the book. I'm guessing it must be. I wonder how many high school students were inspired by Zindel's play to do similar experiments?


Danny Kleiner examining his gamma-ray-exposed marigolds
via Temple University Library

Posted By: Alex - Sat Oct 14, 2017 - Comments (4)
Category: Theater and Stage, Experiments, 1970s

Temporarily Blind

May 1974: Three students at Northeast High School in Philadelphia participated in a medical experiment in which for five days they experienced what it was like to be blind.

I'm guessing this kind of experiment would never be allowed nowadays in a high school.





Source: Temple University digital collections (image one, image two)

Posted By: Alex - Mon Oct 09, 2017 - Comments (2)
Category: School, Experiments, 1970s

Statehood for Lake Michigan

Back in 1975, Federal Administrative Judge Edward McCarthy briefly tried to promote the idea of granting statehood to Lake Michigan. He figured that if the lake itself was a state, then all the surrounding states wouldn't be able to exploit its resources as easily. As for the oddness of a lake being a state, he reasoned, why not? "After all," he noted, "it's a piece of real estate on which a body of water rests."



Waukesha Daily Freeman - Mar 10, 1975




Posted By: Alex - Sun Oct 08, 2017 - Comments (1)
Category: Geography and Maps, 1970s

Chickens as traffic control

1975: Rather than installing expensive signs or speed bumps, Napa, California experimented with using chickens to slow down motorists on one of its streets — Streblow Drive, bordering Kennedy Park. They simply let 85 chickens roam the park and street at will. Said park superintendent Bob Pelusi, "Only occasionally does an errant driver charge through the flock. In the nine months we've had the chickens on the job, we've lost 12 of them — gone in the line of duty, so to speak."

Tampa Times - Apr 11, 1975

Posted By: Alex - Sat Oct 07, 2017 - Comments (3)
Category: Animals, Highways, Roads, Streets and Traffic, 1970s

State of Rhode Island

I'm encroaching on Paul's territory here, but I just learned a weird factoid about Rhode Island geography so I thought I'd share. And I'm sure many of you will also know this, but if it was new to me I'm hoping it may be new to a few of you as well.

The factoid: Most of Rhode Island is not Rhode Island. It's the Providence Plantations.

Rhode Island's full name is "The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations," which makes it the longest state name in the U.S. But technically, Rhode Island is just a single island in Narragansett Bay. The island is also known as Aquidneck Island. The mainland part of the state is the Providence Plantations.

In 1975, State Sen. Ambrose Campbell introduced a bill to officially shorten the name to "The State of Rhode Island," but the bill didn't pass. So the full, long name remains.

Minneapolis Star Tribune - Apr 10, 1975



Santa Cruz Sentinel - Jul 17, 1975

Posted By: Alex - Tue Oct 03, 2017 - Comments (3)
Category: Geography and Maps, 1970s

Eight Minutes of 1979 Commercials



Talking dogs, dancing housewives, magical cleansers--plainly, we were all insane.

Posted By: Paul - Sat Sep 30, 2017 - Comments (3)
Category: Advertising, Products, 1970s

Naked Chicken Research

1976: Drs. William Johnson and Robert Truax of Louisiana State University raised and studied featherless chickens.

Aside from the physical problems, the chickens have social problems and psychological hangups, Johnson said.

"I guess 'embarrassed' is as good a word for it as any. You put one of them in with a flock of normal birds, and it huddles off in a corner by itself. The other birds won't have anything to do with it until they get used to it," he said.

"And then they're just not as active sexually. They will court and strut much more than the normal bird, but they don't mate as readily."

The story reminds me of the old urban legend about KFC raising mutant, featherless chickens. Maybe this is where the story started.

Argus Leader - Aug 31, 1976



Salisbury Daily Times - Aug 31, 1976

Posted By: Alex - Fri Sep 29, 2017 - Comments (4)
Category: Animals, Science, Psychology, 1970s

The Love Machine

Created in the late 1960s by Hollywood auto customizer George Barris, who's best known as the designer of the original Batmobile.

The Love Machine featured velvet upholstery, a revolving circular bed, psychedelic lights, entertainment console, mirrored ceiling, and a crystal chandelier. It did the rounds at auto shows until the mid-1970s, where it was promoted as the "world's first x-rated car."

via lastgasp.com





Hillsdale Daily News - Mar 17, 1972



In the late '70s, the Love Machine was rebranded and it went on to have a career in Hollywood. From Hemmings Daily:

Barris, ever the opportunist, managed to get the Love Machine cast as the lead vehicle in the 1977 vansploitation flick SuperVan. To do so, he simply gave the Love Machine a repaint and redid the interior with even deeper plush carpeting. Though technically known as Vandora in the movie, the Super Van moniker stuck, thanks to Barris’s promotional efforts.

Nor would SuperVan be the van’s only screen appearance. It also showed up in the 1986 made-for-TV movie Condor, repainted gold and black; then in 1989’s Back to the Future II as a Hill Valley Transit bus, painted green; in the 1990 movie Solar Crisis, painted white; and then on an episode of the 1990s TV show SeaQuest DSV, still painted white. Then, in about 2003, the Guild of Automotive Restorers began a restoration on the van that brought it back to its Super Van configuration.




via vanning.com



You can check out more of Barris's creations in the recent book King of the Kustomizers: The Art of George Barris.

Posted By: Alex - Tue Sep 26, 2017 - Comments (5)
Category: Motor Vehicles, Bus, 1970s

The Exploding Recipe

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.


Front Cover



Back cover
The 'exploding' recipe (Silky Caramel Slices) is listed third from bottom, right-hand column.



The Tennessean - May 9, 1978

Posted By: Alex - Thu Sep 21, 2017 - Comments (3)
Category: Food, 1970s, Weapons

Wraparound Headphones

The Jecklin Float electrostatic headphones. They were non-adjustable. So they either fit, or they didn't. But apparently the sound quality was pretty good.

Popular Mechanics - Dec 1973



via Stereophile.com

Posted By: Alex - Tue Sep 12, 2017 - Comments (3)
Category: Headgear, 1970s

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Alex Boese
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.

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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.

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