Weird Universe Archive

August 2022

August 31, 2022

No makeup or men for five years

When British dentist Philip Grundy died in 1974, he left the bulk of his estate, slightly over $400,000, to Amelia Whaite, the receptionist at his practice. But with some unusual conditions. He forbid her from wearing lipstick or makeup, or going out with any men, for five years.

$400,000 in 1974, adjusted for inflation, would be over $2,000,000 today. So a nice chunk of money.

However, Grunday also made Whaite the sole executor of his estate "with the responsibility to see the will's conditions are kept." So if she didn't follow the conditions was she supposed to self-report herself?

Atlanta Constitution - Mar 17, 1974

I found a forum where residents of Leyland, Lancashire (where Grundy worked) recalled going to his practice. Seems that, in addition to the money, he left behind a lot of traumatized patients. Some typical comments:

There were two doors in the dentists room one in and one out, so no one ever saw the end result of his work I swear I've given birth twice and it didn't hurt as much as that butchers work on my mouth.

My worst horror story was when I had to have 2 teeth pulled and complained about the gas, Grundy did'nt bat an eyelid and promptly yanked them out without anything. I did'nt get a vote, and never complained again, I was 14 at the time.

GRUNDY'S! there was a trail of blood from the door, past the bus stop and round the corner; You couldn't get out of the waiting room once you were in as the door only opened inwards- some brave souls escaped when someone was entering, nearly knocking them over. Waiting room full of smoke and old copies of The Beano in yellowed celluloid covers; view of a sad square of lawn; anyone escaping by the usual way out had to go past, and be accosted by a Forbidding Receptionist.Some sort of liaison here, as Grundy left her all his money, on condition that she never wear lipstick!

Some more info about Grundy and Whaite from a 1974 Associated Press article:

In July 1962, a special dental court found Grundy and Miss Whaite guilty of conspiring to defraud the state-run National Health Service by charging unjustified fees. Both were fined.

Four years later, Grundy was accused of addiction to inhaling anesthetic gas and was forbidden to practice for five years.

He resumed his practice in 1971 and built it into a flourishing enterprise with a staff of 14. . .

Miss Whaite now runs the practice, still with a 14-member staff.

Grundy sounds like he was a real piece of work.

Posted By: Alex - Wed Aug 31, 2022 - Comments (5)
Category: Law, 1970s, Teeth

Artwork Khrushchev Probably Would Not Have Liked 46

Two links to the Wikipedia pages of the Themersons, husband and wife team of avant-gardists.

Small essay here.

Posted By: Paul - Wed Aug 31, 2022 - Comments (0)
Category: Art, Avant Garde, Surrealism, Movies, Twentieth Century

August 30, 2022

Moving the Solar System

In the late 1960s, Caltech astronomer Fritz Zwicky proposed a novel method of space travel. Instead of using spaceships to go to neighboring stars, he imagined moving the entire solar system.

His idea was that if we could make one side of the sun release more energy than the other, then we could direct the course of its motion. We could steer it towards whatever destination we wanted, with the Earth in tow. He calculated that we could reach Alpha Centauri in 2500 years.

Details can be found in his 1969 book Discovery, Invention, Research Through the Morphological Approach:

Journeys to the Nearest Stars In the Tow of the Sun

For the purpose of traveling to the nearest stars, Alpha Centauri for instance, at a distance of four light years, rockets do not suffice. A very much more exciting possibility offers itself, however: We remain on the Earth and travel with it as the space vehicle, either alone or with the whole solar system towards our goal. During this journey we may enjoy and use the light from the Sun as always, or if we wish to leave it behind, we can keep warm and provide all of the necessary small and large-scale illumination through the proper use of nuclear fusion energy. Traveling at a speed of 500 km/sec through space, relative to the surrounding stars, we might reach the neighborhood of Alpha Centauri in about 2,500 years.

All of this will become possible once we have mastered nuclear fusion ignition of common materials on the Earth and on the Sun. Physicists in many countries have been attempting during the past fifteen years to induce nuclear fusion reactions in extremely concentrated and high-energy ionic plasmas, without making any use of the release of nuclear fission energy from uranium as it is being used in H-bombs.

Even if these efforts should be successful they would not provide us with any readily usable means for the acceleration of the Sun or of the Earth to velocities of the order of 500 km/sec. I have therefore suggested another approach striving to produce small solid particles with velocities of up to 1,000 km/sec. It is not possible here to go into any details of how this is going to be done. I emphasize only that no fundamental difficulties stand in the way. Particles impacting on dense matter with velocities of the order of 1,000 km/sec will generate the desired temperatures of hundreds of millions of degrees, at which all light elements will be ignited to nuclear fusion reactions.

Launching ultrafast particles against the Sun, local regions on it could be ignited to nuclear fusion. As a consequence of the tremendous release of energy by such reactions, matter would be ejected with velocities of the order of 50,000 km/sec, while the resulting forces of reaction would propel the Sun in the opposite direction. If such processes were applied for a long time, the Sun could eventually be accelerated to the desired velocity with a sacrifice of only a small per cent of its total mass.

Since the planets are held in rein by the Sun's gravitational field, they and the Earth would be carried along on the distant journey. In principle the process and propulsion described could be applied to the Earth alone, which then would detach itself from the solar system and start out on its solitary voyage to the nearest stars.

One of the few analyses of Zwicky's idea that I could find online is at The author, Oliver Knill, quickly concludes that the idea is completely nuts:

Even if it would be possible to redirect the entire solar wind which ejects 1017 kilogram per year into one direction, this would displace the Sun only 1 meter in one year. On the other hand, the radiation energy produced by the Sun is 4 1033 erg/sec and could in principle be used to accelerate the Sun to a velocity of 100 m/sec in one year, when considering the energy only. By heating and cooling different parts of the Sun and redirect the radiation asymmetrically, a fraction of this energy could in principle be available. But even if the entire radiation could be redirected into one direction, the force would accelerate in one year the Sun only to a speed of 10-3 cm/sec. The reason for this low value is that photons do not carry a lot of momentum.

But even if Zwicky's idea could be made to work, what would happen once our solar system reached the vicinity of Alpha Centauri? How close could our sun approach Alpha Centauri before the two systems became gravitationally bound to each other? What kind of chaos would that wreak on the planets and asteroids within our solar system?

Posted By: Alex - Tue Aug 30, 2022 - Comments (3)
Category: Spaceflight, Astronautics, and Astronomy

Moving Advertisements for Devices and Vehicles

Are you tired of screens at the gas pumps that flash ads? Or perhaps screens on buses and taxis that display same? You can perhaps blame Elias Atherton Lyon, who patented such a notion in 1910.

Posted By: Paul - Tue Aug 30, 2022 - Comments (0)
Category: Inventions, Patents, Advertising, 1910s

August 29, 2022

Knee-Cleaning Foam

They should sell this stuff at home improvement stores, because whenever I do a DIY project I somehow always end up with filthy knees.

The Minologi Hizaawana Foam Clear Pack will form a bubbly layer over your knees and elbows and work its magic for 10-15 minutes. After that you just peel it off and discover what the real color of your skin was underneath those pesky dirt particles. You'll never feel cleaner!

Available from Japan Trend Shop.

via Book of Joe

Posted By: Alex - Mon Aug 29, 2022 - Comments (3)
Category: Hygiene, Baths, Showers and Other Cleansing Methods, Skin and Skin Conditions

The Nine LaFalce Brothers

There have been any number of family singing groups. Many pop bands feature two brothers. The Beach Boys added cousins. Sister groups were popular in the forties and fifties. And finally, the famous Trapp Family featured ten children and two parents. But I do not believe any other act than the now-forgotten LaFalces had nine brothers onstage together.

Posted By: Paul - Mon Aug 29, 2022 - Comments (2)
Category: Family, Music, Twentieth Century

August 28, 2022

Fuel from hazelnut shells

Back in 2000, Dr. Murat Dogru of the University of Newcastle demonstrated that it was possible to extract significant amounts of hydrogen fuel from hazelnut shells.

I'd like to imagine that the world of tomorrow will be powered by hazelnut shells and poop gas.

Boston Globe - Dec 26, 2000

I wonder if there's something special about hazelnuts? Or can most nut shells similarly be converted into fuel?

More info: Newcastle University

Posted By: Alex - Sun Aug 28, 2022 - Comments (1)
Category: Power Generation

Screaming Roomba

Here's an oldie but goodie (24 million views) that you might not have seen before, inspired by Alex's Atomic Vacuum Cleaner post.

Caution: many, many swears.

Posted By: Paul - Sun Aug 28, 2022 - Comments (0)
Category: Anthropomorphism, Domestic, Inventions, Swears

August 27, 2022


Theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson envisioned our Solar System being explored by "Astrochickens." As described in his 1992 book From Eros to Gaia:

Probably both nanotechnology and genetic engineering will have an important role to play in space science. The two technologies are likely to grow together and ultimately merge, so that it will be difficult to tell which is which. In the end, nanotechnology will give us scientific instruments having the alertness and agility of living creatures, while genetic engineering will give us living creatures having the sensitivity and precision of scientific instruments. The spacecraft of 2018 may well be a hybrid, making use of nanotechnology for its sensors and communications, genetic engineering for its legs, wings, and brain.

Here is a rough sketch of one possible shape that the 2018 spacecraft might take. I call this model the Astrochicken because it is about as big as a chicken and about as smart. It is a product of genetic engineering. It does not look like a chicken. It looks more like a butterfly. It has wide and thin solar sails instead of wings, and a high-resolution spectroscopic imaging system instead of eyes. With its solar sails it flies around the inner solar system as far as the main belt of asteroids. At any one time there will be hundreds of such birds flying, programmed to make specialized observations of Earth, Moon, Sun, planets, and asteroids as well as of the heavens beyond. Other cousins of the Astrochicken will have legs for landing and hopping around on asteroids, or solar-powered ion-jet engines for exploring the outer solar system as far as Pluto.

Wikipedia notes: "As a noted author of essays on the possibilities of science in the future, Dyson's theories, such as the Dyson sphere and the Dyson tree, have become popular in the scientific and science fiction communities. The more whimsically named 'Astrochicken' has not achieved this same level of fame."

Posted By: Alex - Sat Aug 27, 2022 - Comments (1)
Category: Spaceflight, Astronautics, and Astronomy, Yesterday’s Tomorrows

The Pickle Brothers

Their Wikipedia page.

Posted By: Paul - Sat Aug 27, 2022 - Comments (0)
Category: Television, Pickles, 1960s, Comedians

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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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