Category:
Health

A Man with Vision

This is definitely one of those "why hasn't someone thought of this before?" type inventions. Back in March of 1985, Josh Silver, a physics professor at Oxford University, had a conversation with a colleague about optical lenses and the sort of specialized equipment needed to adjust them. And in that moment, he had an idea that will affect the lives of billions - a pair of glasses that can be almost instantly adjusted by the person wearing them. No visits to the eye-doctor. No money spent. The concept relies on the principle that the fatter a lens is, the more powerful it becomes. (Remember the kid in fourth-grade who had glasses thick enough to be from the bottom of a coke bottle?) These glasses consist of hollow plastic lenses, inside which are two clear sacs filled with fluid. Using a small syringe, the person wearing the glasses can add or remove fluid, thus changing the power of the lens. Silver's team has already started to distribute the spectacles. You can read more about these amazing glasses, and the man behind them, here.

Posted By: Nethie - Sat Dec 26, 2009 - Comments (8)
Category: Body, Health, Inventions, Science

Dreaming Of A Weird Christmas!

Christmas is nearly upon us, so the time is at hand where every mall has a Santa in residence, waiting for America’s boys and girls to sit on his knee and make their demands known. But while our own little angels are of course clean and fragrant, who knows what those grubby urchins in front of you are spreading! So this year several professional Santa associations are calling for hand-sanitizer to be installed at grotto entrances and have asked congress to put “Santa” on the priority list for H1N1 vaccinations. After all, you have to look after your elf (Telegraph).

Not requiring a flu jab, but in need of a facelift, was the 66’ fibreglass Santa that has been the centrepiece of Auckland, New Zealand’s Christmas pageant for nearly 50 years. With a droopy winking eye and a gesturing mechanical finger, the jolly red giant was beginning, in the words of one local, to “look a little creepy.” But not anymore, as NZ$100,000 have been spent refurbishing the big guy ahead of this Sunday’s grand unveiling (Reuters).

Someone definitely not in need of a facelift is the recently announced “Hunky Santa of 2009.” Los Angeles mall the Beverley Center first introduced their hunky Santas nine years ago, swapping abs and pecs for the beard and britches. This year north-pole toting poseur is James Ellis, who hopes to encourage people to live more healthily and wants to be a role model for kids by parading his festive physique in a fur-trimmed red vest (LA Times).

All of which is not the sort of thing you’re likely to see during Raleigh, North Carolina’s Christmas parade. So worried are parade organisers that the little ones might be confused by two people dressed in red that they have banned “Mrs. Claus” from participating in costume. They have even asked attendees not to wear Santa-hats in case it distracts attention from the “real” St. Nick (WXII12).

And further killjoyery (?) this week from the Employers Forum on Belief, which has advised company bosses that to close their office over Christmas might be construed as discriminatory, since non-Christian employees must use annual leave for their religious holidays. Instead of emphasising the holiday’s religious nature, say the EFB, management should focus on the cost-effectiveness of the closure as a majority of staff would be absent anyway (ILM).



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Posted By: Dumbfounded - Tue Nov 24, 2009 - Comments (2)
Category: Business, Exercise and Fitness, Feminism, Health, Holidays, Hygiene, Law, Religion, Bodybuilding

About Faces



When was the last time you thought about your teeth!?!

Posted By: Paul - Thu Aug 20, 2009 - Comments (5)
Category: Body, Health, Disease, Documentaries, 1940s

So Weird It Hurts?

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Not @%#&?! likely! But this post is on a subject close to my heart, pain (must see a doctor about that).

Cartoon expletives aside, a bit of invective can do you the world of good, or so said scientists recently. A research team from from Keele University asked volunteers to hold their hand in freezing water for as long as they could manage while repeating either an innocuous word or the swear-word of their choice. The swearers held out for an average of two minutes, while non-swearers managed only 1 minute 15 seconds. But while Rohan Byrt of the Casual Swearing Appreciation Society claimed the study demonstrated the benefits of swearing, team leader Richard Stephens warned that everyday swearing would lessen its painkilling effects. "Swearing is emotional language" he explained, "but if you overuse it, it loses its emotional attachment" (BBC News).

From this week, pregnant women throughout Britain considering "letting it out" to help with the pain might also want to direct their curses towards Dr Denis Walsh, associate professor of midwifery at Nottingham University in England. In an article in the journal Evidence Based Midwifery, Dr Walsh claimed last week that the pain of childbirth was useful and a "timeless rite of passage", and women should not be trying to avoid it with epidural anaesthesia. Walsh based his statement on the fact that the use of epidurals has almost doubled in the past two decades, claiming that in 20% of cases, the procedure was unnecessary. While some, like Dr. Justin Clarke of the Birmingham Women's Hospital, rejected Walsh's data, saying it was wrong to characterise modern women as "less stoical", others supported him, such as Mary Newburn of the National Childbirth Trust who spoke of there being an "epidural culture" (Telegraph).

But perhaps women might be convinced to trade in the needle for a fancy rubber suit? Baltimore company Under Armour has developed a hi-tech, full length bodysuit that is said to allow athletes recover more quickly after strenuous activity. Under Armour's "Recharge" range gently squeezes the athlete's body forcing excess fluid out of the muscles and back into the bloodstream over a period of hours after a workout, reversing the "pumped" effect of the exercise. Research by the University of Connecticut showed that doing so resulted in subjects feeling less soreness and swelling of the muscles and recuperating faster (Journal Gazette).



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Posted By: Dumbfounded - Tue Jul 14, 2009 - Comments (3)
Category: Exercise and Fitness, Frauds, Cons and Scams, Health, Injuries, Medicine, Obscenity, Science, Experiments, Stupid Criminals, Weddings

Swine Ebola - No Joke!

As if "swine flu" wasn't bad enough, Scientific American is reporting that the Ebola virus has been detected in domestic pigs in the Philippines. The particular strain of the virus, Reston ebolavirus, is not known to cause fatal haemorrhagic fever in humans, but is still rated a class 4 pathogen by the US Center for Disease Control (it's highest rating) because of the extreme fatality rate and absence of effective treatment of the disease caused by other Ebola viruses. One farmhand who worked with the pigs has also tested positive for R.ebolavirus, but is asymptomatic.

In this case it seems like most likely that the pigs caught the disease from the human rather than the other way round. However that pigs can catch and potentially pass on the organism to humans is an unexpected, and worrying, development. Michael McIntosh of the Department of Agriculture expressed concern not only that the Reston strain might mutate into something more deadly in its new host, but that the other disease-causing strains might also be using pigs as a reservoir. "What is the level of risk?" said McIntosh, "We really don't know" (Scientific American Article) (Paper in Science).

Posted By: Dumbfounded - Sat Jul 11, 2009 - Comments (8)
Category: Agriculture, Animals, Armageddon and Apocalypses, Food, Health, Disease

A Little More Light Weirdness

Just some un-themed oddities that caught my eye:

Plans to chop down a tree to make way for a roundabout in Jaslo, Poland have revealed that the oak was in fact planted to commemorate Hitler's birthday when the town was occupied during World War 2. The town's mayor, Maria Kurowska, called the choice between traffic improvements and the living memorial "simple," but not everyone agrees. "It's a historic curiosity," said local Kazimierz Polak, who was present at the planting ceremony as a child 67 years ago, adding, "It's not the tree's fault" (Reuters).

Two Bengal white tigers in a zoo in South Africa have given birth to a tiger cub that's not only white, but stripe-less (London Paper). Surely that's just called a lion?

A spiritual "healer" in Puerto Rico may want to re-read the manual today, after accidentally dropping a lit candle into the bath of alcohol he had instructed he lady patient lie in. The victim, who was suffering financial and marriage issues, can now add 50% burns to her list of problems (Metro).

The Swiss state of Appenzell went the whole of the second world war without a single German invader, so was perhaps unprepared to come under sustained assault by German hikers dressed in nothing but their socks and boots. Naked hiking, which has become a popular Alpine pastime apparently, has generated a stream of complaints from Swiss locals, and the authorities of the Outer and Inner Rhodes provinces of Appenzell have responded by imposing stiff fines of 200CHF ($175) on anyone caught without clothes, though where they expect the hikers to produce the money from is not explained (Cape News). To publicise the ban, the Swiss officials have ordered signs banning nude hiking, to the surprise of designer Dan Walter, who originally drew the sign as a joke (Metro).

Posted By: Dumbfounded - Tue Jul 07, 2009 - Comments (6)
Category: Accidents, Goofs and Screw-ups, Animals, Government, Regulations, Health, History, Historical Figure, New Age

A Miracle or a Freak of Nature?

Sixteen year old Brooke Greenberg doesn't age. She doesn't grow, physically, or get sick, like everyone else. In fact, the only parts of Brooke that grow normally are her nails and her hair. She can't speak, but uses the sounds that a toddler might use to vocalize what she wants. She must also have a tube in her stomach in order to eat, since her esophagus hasn't developed to handle "grown up" foods. Her doctors are baffled but her family believes she is here to help us answer the questions of mortality. You can read more about Brooke here.

Posted By: Nethie - Fri Jun 26, 2009 - Comments (7)
Category: Family, Health, Medicine, Science

A Third Helping of Food Related Weirdness

A UK school has banned students from including bananas in their lunchboxes, because one teacher has a severe allergy to them. The teacher from the Plymouth school is said to have a "potentially fatal" reaction to bananas (so is presumably also unable to visit supermarkets or parks), causing her council employers to recommend the fruit be excluded from her work environment (Mirror)

Somewhere that teacher may want to cross off her list of holiday destinations is Wilmington, Ohio as the town has just held its 15th annual Banana Split Festival in honour of the supposed invention of the dish, in Wilmington, in 1907. The festival also features the "Banana Split Master’s Competition", now in it's 5th year, won this year by Pete Kramme for his "Sweet and Salty Banana Split", which adds cream cheese and pretzels to the traditional recipe (Wilmington News Journal).

Speaking of odd flavours, here's a two-fer. First up, the Double-Down Saloon is offering two-for-the-price-of-one on it's 'eye watering' bacon-vodka martini on Jun 19th, in celebration of National Martini Day (Examiner). Also, a UK barman hopes to beat the credit-crisis this summer by selling beer flavoured ice-cream. The barman, David Wardleworth, is keeping the exact recipe a secret beyond saying that is does include "Thwaites Original" British cask ale. Despite a historic reputation for liking their beer warm, the ice-cream is apparently proving popular with the British public (Burnley Express).

And it turns out weird flavours are not the only way the recession is impacting the world of ice-cream. The poor economy, combined with lower gas prices, has apparently fuelled a boom in ice-cream trucks, whose drivers stand to make from $100 to $200 a day. And it's not just the money and the lure of being your own boss that drivers find rewarding, according to driver John Jones "You get to see a lot of happy people, you get a lot of smiles." (Wichita Eagle).

And the ice-cream business certainly looks about to boom in Linden, NJ, where police are preparing to hand out tickets for free ice-cream to any kids they see wearing a helmet when cycling; the tickets will also include information about a recent law change, that makes helmets compulsory for under-17s. Even better, no child will be left out as the Brain Injury Association of New Jersey is supplying free cycling helmets for children, also available from those friendly boys in blue (My Central Jersey).



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Posted By: Dumbfounded - Tue Jun 16, 2009 - Comments (9)
Category: Food, Health, Jobs and Occupations, Politics, Robots

Inventions of Buckminster Fuller, Part 5: Dymaxion Sleep

This was more a concept than an invention. It is also known as polyphasic sleep, meaning sleeping at more than one interval during a day. Although not really invented by Fuller, he did popularize it and gave it a catchy nickname. Bucky claims to have slept only 30 minutes every 6 hours and did not suffer any ill effects. You can read a story about it in Time Magazine's archives.

Posted By: fyshstyxx - Wed Jun 10, 2009 - Comments (7)
Category: Health, Science, Sleep and Dreams, 1940s, Brain

Medical Weirdness

In a "stimulus package" of their own devising, Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer have announced they are going to provide 70 drugs, including Viagra, free to America's recently dis-employed. Sadly, what might have been cure for those recession blues is limited to people who had already been prescribed one of the drugs prior to being laid off (New Scientist).

And ladies, with all that free Viagra about to hit the streets, now would be a good time to look your best. So what better way to rejuvenate your skin and cast off unsightly wrinkles than though injections of a compound derived from babies' foreskins. In what is, amazingly, not a joke, a British company has developed, and received UK approval for, a treatment called "Vavelta" that contains live fibroblasts harvested from the bits of baby boys left over after a circumcision. Each vial of the drug is only enough to revive less than a square inch of skin, and costs $1000. But you'll have to travel to get it, the FDA have yet to approve its use in the US (Scientific American).

Of course, it's not just your looks that needs tending as you get older, your mind needs attention too. Fortunately researchers have just announced that increased vitamin D is just the thing to keep us thinking flawlessly. Vitamin D, you will remember, comes to us mainly through eating oily fish and from exposure to the sun. So start saving for that Miami condo now (Telegraph).

Meanwhile, in a case of medical irony, one little spoken of casualty of the strategic arms treaties and test bans has been the availability of medicinal isotopes such as those used in radiography and some cancer treatments. Today, all isotopes for the Americas are supplied by just one facility, the MAPLE facility in Ontario, also the world's oldest operating nuclear reactor. Only now, it's shutting down over safety concerns, and there's no replacement ready (National Post).

Finally, as an irony supplement, researchers have discovered that Down syndrome, a genetic condition that causes a host of physical and mental problems, also protects against some forms of cancer. Down syndrome is caused by having an extra copy of one chromosome, and it is through having an additional copy of one of the genes on that chromosome, which interferes with the formation of blood vessels, that sufferers from DS are less susceptible to many 'solid tumor' cancers. It's hoped that this discovery might lead to better ways to fight cancer in the future (Science).

Posted By: Dumbfounded - Thu May 21, 2009 - Comments (6)
Category: Babies, Health, Medicine, Brain

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Who We Are
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.

Paul Di Filippo
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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