Freeze-Dried Human Bodies

Philip Backman's 1978 patent describes a process for freeze-drying human bodies.

The problem with freeze-drying any large animal is that there's not enough surface area to allow for rapid freeze-drying. So, to increase the surface area, Backman explained that it would first be necessary to freeze the body and then smash it into small pieces in a hammer mill. Once the body had undergone this "surface enhancement," it could be rapidly freeze-dried, which would remove the water in the body, reducing its weight by 95%. The resulting remains could be kept in an urn, just like cremated remains.

Backman argued that his freeze-drying process had all the advantages of cremation (in terms of reducing the body to a compact size), but cost less. However, the funeral industry apparently didn't like the idea of running bodies through a hammer mill.

Posted By: Alex - Sun May 31, 2020 - Comments (5)
Category: Death, Inventions, 1970s

Tuberosity Meter

In 1960, Thomas Scoville received a patent for a device for measuring tuberosity. He explained that the purpose of measuring tuberosity was to improve the fit of chairs:

the chief object of the present invention is to provide a novel apparatus which will provide a visual and instantaneous indication when a chair under test is properly dimensioned to fit any given person.

Even after looking up the meaning of the word 'tuberosity' in the dictionary, it took me a while to figure out what exactly Scoville's device was measuring, and what it possibly had to do with chairs. Because the dictionary simply defined tuberosity as a 'rounded swelling.' Some more googling revealed that Scoville must have been referring to the Ischial tuberosity, or 'sitting bone'. As defined by wikipedia, this is:

a large swelling posteriorly on the superior ramus of the ischium. It marks the lateral boundary of the pelvic outlet. When sitting, the weight is frequently placed upon the ischial tuberosity. The gluteus maximus provides cover in the upright posture, but leaves it free in the seated position. The distance between a cyclist's ischial tuberosities is one of the factors in the choice of a bicycle saddle.

Posted By: Alex - Sun May 24, 2020 - Comments (1)
Category: Body, Furniture, Inventions, 1960s

Frederick Newbery’s long-distance milk pipes

Frederick Newbery envisioned pipes transporting milk underground from farms directly into cities. He received a patent for this idea in 1874 (No. 148,620). Though as far as I know, his long-distance milk pipes were never put into practice.

Posted By: Alex - Sun May 17, 2020 - Comments (3)
Category: Inventions, Nineteenth Century

Exercise Wings

Richard Burgess's 1941 patent (No. 2,244,444) describes a pair of feathered wings that could be attached to the arms of an individual, who would then flap the wings up and down. This, claimed Burgess, would create a sense of buoyancy, while simultaneously providing physical exercise. In particular, it would "develop the chest, back, arm and leg muscles, while also tending to create accelerated breathing and thus general physical tone." It would do all this, he said, while also being "very diverting and accordingly attractive."

How did this product never take off?

Posted By: Alex - Sun May 10, 2020 - Comments (0)
Category: Exercise and Fitness, Inventions, 1940s

Water-Dispensing Furniture

Thomas Mullenaux of San Pedro, CA was recently granted a patent (No. 10,626,581) for furniture that gathers water from the air via a dehumidifier, collects it in a built-in reservoir, and then allows a person to drink it through a retractable hose.

However, in his patent application, Mullenaux never explains why anyone would want or need 'water-dispensing furniture'. I guess it might be useful for those who are too lazy to walk to their kitchen to get a glass of water.

The water dispensing system for furniture includes a water dispensing system that is built into or attached onto an item of furniture. Water is stored within a reservoir within a water system housing and may be pumped through a first filter to one of two retractable hoses. The water is provided via a dehumidifier and second filter that draw moisture from the air and purify the resulting water. At least one retractable hose is provided, and includes a mouthpiece. When the at least one retractable hose is released, said hose is pulled back into the item of furniture to stay out of the way. When not in use, the retractable hoses are wound around spring-loaded reels.

Posted By: Alex - Sun May 03, 2020 - Comments (2)
Category: Furniture, Inventions

Informative Swimwear

In 2005, Robert Dickey and Ruth Stephens filed a patent application for "swimwear as information device." Their idea was to make a line of swimwear that displayed maritime signal flags. This would allow people to communicate messages to those around them via their swimwear. They explained:

By using the appropriate international Signal flag or combination of international signal flags, different meanings can be communicated depending on the intentions of the wearer. For example, and individual could be wearing a covering garment (e.g. a jacket or Sweatshirt or the like) that prominently displays the international Signal flag "X-Ray', communicating the message "Stop carrying out your intentions and watch for my signals'. When the wearer sees someone with whom he or she would like to communicate with, the covering garment could be removed, revealing another article of apparel (e.g. a Swimsuit) displaying a Second international Signal flag "Kilo', communicating the message "I wish to communicate with you'.

The possible messages one could send seemed limitless, but they were never granted a patent. Perhaps the idea of messages on clothing was deemed too obvious.

There's also the limitation that only people conversant with maritime signal flags could decode the messages, which would make the various 'stay away' messages somewhat pointless.

Posted By: Alex - Sun Apr 26, 2020 - Comments (3)
Category: Boats, Fashion, Inventions, Languages, Double Entendres and Nudge-Nudge, Wink-Wink

Five Weird Bikes

Narration not in English, but unnecessary for enjoyment.

Posted By: Paul - Sun Apr 26, 2020 - Comments (0)
Category: Bicycles and Other Human-powered Vehicles, Inventions

Canned Sunshine

The idea of using sunlight to kill viruses inside the body has recently been in the news. That made this old invention I posted about last month seem topical.

Edward W. Boersteler, of Watertown, MA, was the inventor of the ‘Curay Light Applicator,’ aka ‘Canned Sunshine.’ Back in the 1920s and 30s, he marketed it as a cure for the common cold. It emitted ultraviolet light, which people were supposed to shine down their throats, killing the germs.

In the selection of text below (taken from an article in the Chilicothe Constitution Tribune - Oct 16, 1925), I didn't correct any of the misspellings. In particular, I wasn't sure whether the phrase "ultra violent light" was a mistake, or intentional.

“Previous cure has ben hampered by the inability to get directly at the germs in these darkened passages, but in the new invention the curative rays are played directly onto the germs, being transmitted through a smal rod of the marvelous substance known as fused quartz.

“Fused quartz transmits ultra violent or invisible light without loss, whereas ordinary window glass shuts out ultra violent light which is the curative agent in sunshine.

“In the Curay Light aplicator,” Boerrsteler continued, “we have produced a source of radient energy closely approximating concentrated sunlight in the upper altitude, with an equivalent ultra violent content. Though it is a potent germ killer, it is harmless to the cels of the body.

image source: Harvard University Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments

Chilicothe Constitution Tribune - Oct 16, 1925

Posted By: Alex - Fri Apr 24, 2020 - Comments (4)
Category: Health, Inventions, 1920s

Left-Foot Accelerator

Deadly crashes guaranteed, or your money back!


Posted By: Paul - Wed Apr 22, 2020 - Comments (1)
Category: Death, Inventions, 1950s, Cars

The Tummy Tutor

It also went by the name "Belly Beeper". The idea was that if you slouched or let your stomach out, it would start beeping. Supposedly this would train you to always keep your stomach muscles tensed and not slouch.

Either that or it would train you to avoid wearing it.

The Miami Herald - Oct 7, 1973

Posted By: Alex - Tue Apr 21, 2020 - Comments (2)
Category: Inventions, 1970s, Dieting and Weight Loss, Stomach

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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, science-themed books such as Elephants on Acid and Psychedelic Apes.

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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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