Weird Universe Blog — July 21, 2021

Square-Wheeled Tank

In 1957, Albert Sfredda secured a patent (No. 2,786,540) for a square-wheeled tank. He explained:

A vehicle equipped with square wheels of the type contemplated by my invention gives better traction and a smoother ride when used on rough terrain than one having circular wheels. Following are the reasons: the sides of a square wheel constitute large flat surfaces for bridging ruts and cavities in the ground whereas a circular wheel follows the surface of the ground and enters many ruts; and the sides of a square wheel provide a large contacting area with the ground when they lie parallel thereto, and, hence, afford better pushing effect, whereas a round wheel affords only a small pushing area, which often results in causing a digging effect.

Sfredda was correct that square wheels would provide better traction on rough terrain than circular wheels would. The video below explains why. But the problem, of course, was that his tank would have difficulty moving on a regular, flat road.

Along similar lines, Macalester College has had a square-wheeled bicycle on permanent display since 1997. More info:

image source:

Posted By: Alex - Wed Jul 21, 2021 - Comments (2)
Category: Motor Vehicles | War | Weapons | 1950s

A Dummy Goes to Africa

Unfortunately, the book is not digitized, and original copies go for big bucks. But you can see more pics and read an account of the tale at the link.

Posted By: Paul - Wed Jul 21, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Puppets and Automatons | Religion | Books | 1960s | Africa

July 20, 2021

Vamp puffer

Designer xalamander is selling a "Vamp puffer" that's "stitched with intricate muscle detailing." Price tag: $660.00.

Posted By: Alex - Tue Jul 20, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Body | Blood | Fashion

Unauthorized Dwellings 18

Posted By: Paul - Tue Jul 20, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Business | Family | Unauthorized Dwellings

July 19, 2021

Chorus girl slang from the ‘40s and ‘50s

  • Blast: a drink. As in, "What'll it be? A small blast or a large blast?"
  • Cream cheese: "a fresh, beautiful young girl."
  • Endsville: "When a gal gets away from all this madness and marries and has a fine home."
  • Give me a bell: call me.
  • He's ill: "He's an incurable night-lifer. Home is not where he hangs his hat but where he'd hang himself if he had to go there."
  • Idget: "an idiot, junior grade."
  • Iron: "a big rich auto." Also known as "a nice piece of tin."
  • Revolving Eyeballs: a guy who "drools at the practically undressed pretties."
  • Seppo: "a guy separated; he and wife are in 'Splitsville'."

Camden Courier-Post - Mar 14, 1951

Posted By: Alex - Mon Jul 19, 2021 - Comments (2)
Category: ShowBiz | Slang

X-Radium Cooking Utensils

Here is a fascinating short monograph (a PDF) about the Radium craze, including a discussion of the product above.

Posted By: Paul - Mon Jul 19, 2021 - Comments (6)
Category: Death | Domestic | Really Bad Ideas | Twentieth Century

July 18, 2021

Concret PH

A 1958 composition by Iannis Xenakis. Some info about it from YouTube:

Concret PH, the title being a reference to the architectural design and construction material, is a crackling two minutes of pointillistic sounds. Xenakis recorded the sound of burning charcoal, then layered and transposed the recordings to create evolving densities and ranges of snaps, crackles, and pops. This piece, along with Varèse's Poème électronique, remains a classic of the electroacoustic genre.

It has the virtue of being short. But he should have titled it 'Music to eat Rice Krispies by'.

Posted By: Alex - Sun Jul 18, 2021 - Comments (1)
Category: Music | 1950s

Balloonfest ‘86

From Wikipedia:

Balloonfest '86 was a 1986 event in Cleveland, Ohio, United States, in which the local chapter of United Way set a world record by releasing almost one-and-a-half million balloons.[2] The event was intended to be a harmless fundraising publicity stunt, but the balloons drifted back over the city, Lake Erie, and landed in the surrounding area, causing problems for traffic and a nearby airport. The event also interfered with a United States Coast Guard search for two boaters who were later found drowned.[1] In consequence, the organizers and the city faced lawsuits seeking millions of dollars in damages,[1] and cost overruns put the event at a net loss.

Posted By: Paul - Sun Jul 18, 2021 - Comments (4)
Category: Charities and Philanthropy | Disasters | Noises and Other Public Disturbances of the Peace | Urban Life | Air Travel and Airlines | 1980s

July 17, 2021

The Scent of Gasoline

Ford has collaborated with fragrance firm Olfiction to create a scent called "Mach-Eau" that smells like gasoline. Or, as they put it, the fragrance has "smoky and rubbery accents reminiscent of the petrol smell so many love." They've done this, they say, for the sake of owners of electric cars who miss the smell of gasoline.

However, it seems that Ford isn't actually selling this fragrance. So we have to take their word for it that they really did create it.

More info: Ford Europe, CarScoops

Posted By: Alex - Sat Jul 17, 2021 - Comments (4)
Category: Cars | Perfume and Cologne and Other Scents

Fifty Years in the Magic Circle

Life for a Victorian magician wasn't always easy, with the audience using live ammunition.

Read the whole thing here.

Posted By: Paul - Sat Jul 17, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Magic and Illusions and Sleight of Hand | Books | Nineteenth Century

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All original content in posts is Copyright © 2016 by the author of the post, which is usually either Alex Boese ("Alex"), Paul Di Filippo ("Paul"), or Chuck Shepherd ("Chuck"). All rights reserved. The banner illustration at the top of this page is Copyright © 2008 by Rick Altergott.

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