Rural electrification brought many benefits. But one of its stranger effects occurred on the Kentucky farm of Albert Clark in 1939. One of his hens stared and stared at the new light bulb hanging in the hen house, as if hypnotized by it. Then she laid an egg shaped like a light bulb. Clark sent the egg to the Rural Electrification Administration in D.C. as proof of what had occurred. This was big news in 1939.
I never did understand why cows and beauty contests are often linked. It's probably a throwback to ancient pagan fertility rites. Below are the six young women who hoped to become the 1975 Kern County Cattle Princess. I don't know who won.
Ballydrum Celsius Betty recently won the Northern Ireland "Long Life Cow Award" -- for the fourth time. When I first saw this, I assumed it meant she was an extremely old cow, and I thought it was odd there was an annual cow longevity contest. But no, it seems that the Long Life Cow Award is more like a lifetime achievement award for cows, given to cows who consistently produce a large amount of high-quality milk.
Ballydrum Celsius Betty is only 15 yrs old, which isn't even particularly old for a cow, since cows often reach the age of 20. Apparently the oldest cow on record is Big Bertha, who lived to be 49. After her death she was stuffed and is now on display somewhere in Beaufort, County Kerry.
Although modern science has been able to send a man to the moon, it has not been able to make cows poop on command. An effort to solve this shortcoming is described in a recent issue of Applied Animal Behaviour Science.
The thing is, it would be really nice, for the purpose of general hygiene, if farmers could convince cows to stop pooping wherever they felt like it. So researchers devised a series of tests to see if prompts such as walking through a footbath, or being exposed to blasts of air or water, could stimulate bovine defecation. No such luck. The researchers concluded, "None of our tests reliably stimulated defecation, which seemed to occur most when cows were exposed to novelty."
Invented in 1937 to control cannibalism among chickens. Apparently chickens have a natural instinct to peck each other, but the sight of blood intensifies this instinct. So much so that if one chicken has blood on its feathers, all the others in the flock will peck it to death. This was a real problem for farmers until these rose-colored chicken sunglasses came along, which made it hard for the chickens to see the sight of blood. Nowadays, farmers must have other solutions to the problem of chicken cannibalism, because these glasses are no longer manufactured and are considered collector's items. (National Band and Tag via Feathered Forager)
Scientists have a history of accomplishing what was once thought impossible, be it walking on the moon, splitting the atom or alleviating pain and disease. But now they may have discovered something that will eclipse all that has come before; scientists are on the verge of making chocolate better! A team lead by Dr. Siela Maximova from Pennsylvania State University has pieced together the genetic code of the cacao tree, and not just any cacao tree but the Criollo variety that is widely recognised to produce the very best chocolate. Because of its poor disease resistance, Criollo is almost entirely ignored in favour of hybrid varieties that yield more – if inferior – beans, but Maximova et al hope their work will enable the development of new, elite strains of cacao (News.com.AU).
Meanwhile, here is someone who is taking the chocolate maker’s art way too literally. Jean Zaun of Fredericksburg in Pennsylvania uses a mixture of dark and white chocolate, food colouring and confectioner’s glaze to recreate famous works of art, including the frames, in a deliciously edible form. Her subjects have included the works of Van Gogh, Munch and Da Vinci, as well as a portrait of Ozzy Osborne commissioned by his wife. While the chocolate artworks are edible, Zaun believes they should be souvenirs rather than snacks. “They are meant to be consumed by the eye, not the stomach.” Zaun Explained (Daily Mail).
And the misuse of materials won’t stop there, at least not if Dr. Peter Eisner of the Fraunhofer Institute gets his way. Concerned that meat consumption is both unhealthy and bad for the environment, Dr. Eisner has started looking for ways to supplement or replace animal products with vegetable equivalents. His first success is a milk substitute derived from lupins that can even be used to make cheese, meanwhile co-worker Daniela Sussmann has extracted a protein from the seeds gives low-fat sausages more of the sensation of their unadulterated competition. Eisner reckons that our ever growing appetite for meat could one day be disastrous, arguing that the resources needed to produce 1 kilo of meat could instead yield 80 to 100 kilos of fruit or vegetables (Softpedia).
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.