Category:
Science

Making a silk purse from a sow’s ear

Back in 1921, the chemist Arthur D. Little took it upon himself to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Or rather, he figured out a way to produce a silk-like thread out of sows' ears and wove a purse from this.

Actually, he made two purses. The Smithsonian has one of them. MIT now has the other. (Little was an MIT grad).

The picture of the purse (below) looks nothing like the illustration of it. I wonder what happened. Did the dye fade, or something?

More info: MIT Museum, MIT Library







Pittsburgh Press - Dec 28, 1975

Posted By: Alex - Sun Aug 19, 2018 - Comments (0)
Category: Animals, Science, 1920s

Chilling big toe cures runny nose

As reported by Israeli scientists Dr. Menahem Ram and Aladar Schwartz at a 1971 joint meeting of the Society for Cryobiology and the International Conference of Refrigeration:

Sudden temporary chilling of the big toes almost immediately brings about a lowering of the normal body temperature within the nose because, they said, the big toes and the nose are nervous system "reflectors" of one another in their response to external stress. And this nasal temperature-lowering—along with humidity-lowering—"dries up the nostrils," thereby "curing" the cold, they said.


Newport News Daily Press - Sep 3, 1971

Posted By: Alex - Thu Aug 16, 2018 - Comments (6)
Category: Mad Scientists, Evil Geniuses, Insane Villains, Medicine, Science, 1970s, Feet

Does seltzer water help plants grow?

In 1980, Canfield's natural seltzer launched a campaign to promote its product as being great for watering house plants. It printed on its labels: "We recommend our natural seltzer for house plants."

Could there have been any truth to this claim? Is seltzer water actually good for plants? Well, the only vaguely scientific study I can find addressing this claim (after, admittedly, only a brief search) was a student project conducted at the University of Colorado Boulder in 2002. The student researchers concluded, "Plants given carbonated water not only grew faster but also developed a healthier shade of green in comparison to plants given tap water."

So, maybe Canfield's was onto something. However, if you're thinking of treating your plants to some seltzer water, I imagine you'd want to use water at room temperature, not refrigerated. Cold water might shock their systems.

Marysville Journal-Tribune - June 9, 1980



Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer - May 19, 1980

Posted By: Alex - Thu Jul 19, 2018 - Comments (12)
Category: Nature, Science, Environmentalism and Ecology, Experiments, 1980s

Urine crystal bling

Fashion student Alice Potts has hit on the idea of adding some bling to clothes by embellishing them with crystals formed from bodily excretions such as sweat and urine. She says, "Instead of using plastic accessories to maybe embellish garments ... we can start like growing onto our garments these new materials and more natural materials."

Her website: http://www.alicepotts.com
More info: Huff Post





I'm assuming she must have made the crystals using a technique similar to the one outlined in the video below. She just added urine or sweat in addition to the other ingredients.

Posted By: Alex - Wed Jul 11, 2018 - Comments (2)
Category: Fashion, Science

Lawyer consumption rates of Tyrannosaurus rex

A science question inspired by the scene in Jurassic Park in which the T rex ate the lawyer:

How many lawyers would it take to properly feed a captive T rex for an entire year?

The answer: if the T rex is warm-blooded it will need to eat 292 lawyers a year. If cold-blooded, only 73 lawyers.

From The Complete Dinosaur, edited by James Orville Farlow, M. K. Brett-Surman.





The Complete Dinosaur

Posted By: Alex - Tue Jan 23, 2018 - Comments (3)
Category: Law, Science, Dinosaurs and Other Extinct Creatures

Service for smiles

Given an equal choice, will a store clerk first serve a smiling or a frowning customer?

Science provides the answer. Clerks go toward the smiler.

Maybe this is why it's so hard to ever get help in Home Depot. I need to be grinning more.

Elmira Star Gazette - Dec 11, 1972

Posted By: Alex - Thu Nov 30, 2017 - Comments (3)
Category: Science, Psychology, Shopping

A Is for Atom PSA



Dr. Atom is a hideous abomination of nightmare fuel.

Posted By: Paul - Wed Nov 29, 2017 - Comments (2)
Category: PSA's, Science, 1950s

Circulatory effects of trumpet playing

"Circulatory Effects of Trumpet Playing" (British Medical Journal - 1959) details a self-experiment by a professional trumpet player to determine the best position in which to play the trumpet to avoid blacking out while playing high loud notes. He determines that laying down flat offers the most blackout protection.

Another curious detail from the article: his suggestion that trumpeters in orchestras could avoid blackout by wearing pressure suits "which could be surreptitiously inflated by a switch on the conductor's desk."



It is well known among professional trumpeters that playing high loud notes for more than a few seconds may cause dizziness or occasionally 'black-out.' Indeed, many leading orchestras carry an assistant or 'mate' to take over from the first trumpet in prolonged difficult passages...

Apart from the discomfort of occasional dizzy sensations or black-outs, trumpet players are not likely to come to any harm. Vasodilation from heat or previous hyperventilation will exaggerate the effects of a given intrathoracic pressure. It is better to sit than stand, but the strict supine posture, which would be better still, seems hardly feasible. For orchestras in severe financial difficulties it might be possible to dispense with the assistant or 'mate' if the trumpeter wore a pilot's pressure-suit, which could be surreptitiously inflated by a switch on the conductor's desk.

Posted By: Alex - Tue Nov 28, 2017 - Comments (3)
Category: Music, Science

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

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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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