Weird Universe Archive

April 2023

April 25, 2023

The Tumpline Hypothesis

The great houses of Chaco Canyon (New Mexico) were built around 1000 years ago, using the wood of over 200,000 trees. However, the trees were about 70 miles away from the houses. So how did the Chacoans get the wood to the construction site? There's no archaeological evidence the wood was dragged, and the Chacoans had no draft animals or wheels.

According to the Tumpline Hypothesis, the Chacoans used tumplines, which are straps that go over the head and can be used to carry heavy weights. From Ars Technica:

To test that hypothesis, co-authors Rodger Kram and James Wilson spent the summer of 2020 training until they could haul a heavy log some 15 miles using tumplines. "Some people baked sourdough bread during COVID," said Kram, an emeritus professor of integrative physiology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. "Instead, we carried sand and heavy logs around using our heads."

Posted By: Alex - Tue Apr 25, 2023 - Comments (1)
Category: Science, Anthropology, Experiments

Music Out of the Moon

I was very excited to discover that the first album of Les Baxter--prince of space-age exotica--had been digitized for our enjoyment. From 1947, before there even was a Space Age!

Wikipedia entry here.









Posted By: Paul - Tue Apr 25, 2023 - Comments (1)
Category: Debuts, Christenings, Launches and Reboots, Space-age Bachelor Pad & Exotic, 1940s

April 24, 2023

Symphony of Factory Sirens

I'm sure Khrushchev would have approved of this music, even if he didn't like it. I made it about two minutes in before I bailed.

Info from 120 Years of Electronic Music:

The Russian avant-garde composer and theorist, Arseny Mikhailovich Avraamov is probably best known for his "Simfoniya Gudkov" or "Symphony of Sirens" (November 7, 1922, Baku, USSR – an epic production which involved a score that coordinated navy ship sirens and whistles, bus and car horns, factory sirens, cannons, the foghorns of the entire Soviet flotilla of the Caspian Sea, artillery guns, machine guns, seaplanes, a specially designed "whistle main," and renderings of Internationale and Marseillaise by a mass band and choir.)


More info from Sirens by Michael Bull:

Arseny Avraamov... in 1922 performed his 'Symphony of Factory Sirens' in Baku in order to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the October Revolution in Russia. The symphony, not recorded, used a wide variety of sirens together with a renditioning of the International and Marseillaise sung by choirs and the public. Avramov rejected any distinction between performers and listeners, expecting everybody to play a part either singing or in making other industrial noises. . .

Avraamov himself pursued a self-conscious course of social and economic liberation, which he perceived embodied all Russians since the October Revolution, in this ideology sirens were seen as an ideal replacement for church bells in the Russia of the 1920s as church bells were seen as bourgeois as against the industrial and proletarian sound of sirens.

Posted By: Alex - Mon Apr 24, 2023 - Comments (2)
Category: Music, Industry, Factories and Manufacturing, 1920s

April 23, 2023

The Morrison Table Shelter

The Morrison Table Shelter was a steel bomb shelter that could double as a dining room table. During the Blitz, the British government distributed thousands of them.

The idea of your dining room table also being a bomb shelter seems a bit odd nowadays, but apparently they saved many lives. So they were weird, but practical.

More info: No Tech Magazine



London Daily Telegraph - Feb 12, 1941

Posted By: Alex - Sun Apr 23, 2023 - Comments (3)
Category: War, 1940s

Loma, A Citizen of Venus

Read it here.

"Long narrative on a cosmic germ theory of evolution. A Venusian comes to earth to educate the male fetus of an unwed mother so that the fetus will become the apostle of Venus's ideal culture. On Venus clothes are considered ugly and unsanitary, all human faculties are developed and 'balanced,' and social status is determined by a network of interpersonal relations among strangers, acquaintances, associates, brothers, sisters, lovers, and consorts -- the more of the latter three, the higher the status."




Posted By: Paul - Sun Apr 23, 2023 - Comments (5)
Category: Eccentrics, Gonzo, Demento, Kooky, Wacky and Out-there, Science Fiction, Nineteenth Century, Pregnancy

April 22, 2023

Fish Full of Freight

It's the 21st century and we don't have flying cars. Nor do we have atomic-powered submarine freighters towing underwater barges.

However, this did remind me of the Russian scheme to use nuclear submarines as oil tankers.

Fortune - Feb 1959

Posted By: Alex - Sat Apr 22, 2023 - Comments (1)
Category: Boats, Oceans and Maritime Pursuits, Atomic Power and Other Nuclear Matters, Transportation, 1950s, Yesterday’s Tomorrows

How To Keep Your Husband Happy



Alas, you will listen in vain for anything risque.



Posted By: Paul - Sat Apr 22, 2023 - Comments (1)
Category: Exercise and Fitness, Innuendo, Double Entendres, Symbolism, Nudge-Nudge-Wink-Wink and Subliminal Messages, Television, Husbands, 1960s

April 21, 2023

Burned by a belch

In 1890, Dr. James McNaught of Manchester reported in The British Medical Journal the strange case of a 24-year-old factory worker whose burp caught on fire while he was holding a match, badly burning his face and lips. McNaught managed to replicate the burning belch with the man in his office, confirming it really did happen. He diagnosed the problem as the "eructation of inflammable gas" from the man's stomach.

McNaught concluded that the man suffered from a disorder that caused food to ferment in his stomach and produce flammable gas, instead of being digested. He advised the man to eat foods that would pass more quickly out of his stomach, to avoid the fermentation.

More info: British Medical Journal, "A Case of Dilatation of the Stomach Accompanied by the Eructation of Inflammable Gas"

Posted By: Alex - Fri Apr 21, 2023 - Comments (3)
Category: Health, Stomach, Smells and Odors

Mystery Gadget 105

What special materials went into the composition of this blade and handle?

The answer is here.

Or after the jump.





More in extended >>

Posted By: Paul - Fri Apr 21, 2023 - Comments (3)
Category: Technology, Tools

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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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