August 1973: Jean Roth sat in the lobby of a building at Southern Illinois University with signs that read: "I must be married by August 15th for inheritance purposes."
She explained to anyone who asked that she would give $50,000 to any man who agreed to marry her for a year. Many men immediately volunteered to help her. In addition, "Scores of men called the campus newspaper to get the girl's telephone number."
But it turned out, not surprisingly, that the offer was bogus. It was all just a sociology experiment dreamed up by Dr. James M. Henslin, the teacher of a Sociology of Deviant Behavior class that Jean was enrolled in. Explained Dr. Henslin: "In this [class], we deal with deviance from the norm or deviance from what is expected of people. It was an experiment to create a form of deviance and look at the reactions."
So it sounds like it was one of those breaching experiments that became all the rage in sociology classes around that time (late 60s/early 70s).
The class had chosen Jean to be the heir in need of a hubby and had then coached her on how to respond to potential questions. In fact, Jean was already married. Her husband, also a student at the university, reportedly thought the experiment "was stupid."
Ogden Standard-Examiner - Jul 29, 1973
It reminds me of the Dormitory Escape Plan of 1967 that I posted about a couple of months ago, in which a young woman had advertised for a husband as a way to escape from the all-female dormitory that she hated living in.
RHEUMATISM CURE FATAL
Charles Werly, 52-year-old Swiss inventor, called in a group of specialists Saturday to demonstrate his new electric-wave apparatus for curing rheumatism.
Werly fitted the machine on himself, switched on the current — and died. The watching doctors said he was killed by a 220-volt charge passing through his body.
I'm not quite sure what's going on here. This photo (sourced to AP Wirephoto) ran in various papers (such as here) on June 26, 1963. It had the following caption:
The inmates watch curiously as a Ueno Zoo employee tries a cagey experiment in the lions' den in Tokyo. Completely guarded by iron framework for his physical well-being, the man rides a gasoline-driven engine in an experiment to study the reaction of the lions.
And that's it. I've been unable to find out anything else about this strange experiment. But I'd like to know why exactly the zoo was curious about how lions would react to a guy driving around in a motorized cage?
Advances in photographic technology that occurred in the 1860s and 70s led to the invention of plates that had exposure times of a fraction of a second. This allowed for "instantaneous photography," as it was called at the time. Moving objects could be frozen in time by the camera.
Researchers immediately used this technology to study bodies in motion. Most famously, Eadweard Muybridge in 1878 took a series of images to study the galloping of a horse. Similarly, neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot used instantaneous photography to study the muscular movements of his human patients.
A more unusual application of the technology took place on June 6, 1881, when Mr. Van Sothen, photographer in charge at the United States School of Submarine Engineers in Willett's Point, New York, took an instantaneous photograph of a mule having its head blown off by dynamite. The mule was apparently old and was going to be put down anyway, so it was decided to "sacrifice the animal upon the altar of science."
On the 6th of June, 1881, an instantaneous view was taken, by your direction, of the execution of a condemned mule belonging to the Engineer Department. A small bag containing 6 ounces of dynamite and a fuse was fastened on the mule's forehead, the wires from the fuse connecting with a magneto-electric machine. The camera was placed at a distance of about 47 feet from the mule and properly focussed; the drop shutter was held up by a string, fastened to another fuse, which was placed in the same circuit with the first, so that both were fired simultaneously and the shutter allowed to drop. The result was a negative showing the mule in an upright position, but with his head blown off. This photograph has excited much interest and comment in the scientific world. A very narrow slit was used in the shutter, and as nearly as can be estimated the time of exposure was about 1/250 of a second. A 10 by 12 gelatino-bromide instantaneous Eastman dry plate was used, with a 4 D Dallmeyer lens, using the full opening.
After the publication of Elephants on Acid (around 2007), I decided that it would be a good idea to have a website to help promote the book. Something where I would feature some content from the book, as well as post new stuff related to weird science.
Most of the good domain names (including, at the time, ElephantsOnAcid.com) were already taken. So I ended up creating a site at MadScienceMuseum.com.
I added some content to the site, and then, after a while, I stopped. The site lay dormant, without updates, and largely without visitors.
Fast forward to the present. It recently occurred to me that it was stupid to keep paying to keep MadScienceMuseum.com online when hardly anyone visits it, and all the content on it would be perfectly appropriate for WU, which does have visitors.
So I'm getting rid of the "Mad Science Museum" and migrating all the content over to WU. It'll be a slow process, but if you notice me doing additional posts about weird science stuff, that's the reason.
At the George Stevens Academy in Blue Hill, Maine, a Twinkie has been kept on display for 40 years.
Back in 1976, chemistry teacher Roger Bennatti placed the Twinkie on top of the class blackboard in response to a student question about the legendary shelf-life of Twinkies. Eventually, the Twinkie was moved into a glass display box, but it remains at the school as a perpetual experiment on Twinkie immortality. More info: abc news.
June 1988: Australian researcher Peter Hepper reported in the medical journal The Lancet that fetuses often appeared to learn to recognize the theme tune of their mother's favorite soap opera. As a newborn baby, hearing this tune would then calm them down.
He tested this hypothesis by playing the theme tune of the Australian soap "Neighbours" to a group of newborns whose mothers watched the show. Upon hearing it, he reported, six of the seven babies promptly adopted a "quiet alert state."
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.