1927: Scientist W.E. Bailey predicted that, in the far future, our descendants may have only "one large, central, cyclopean eye".
Of course, who knows what humans may look like in a million years (if there are even any of us still around), but his argument sounds plausible enough to me (with my limited knowledge of neuroscience). Basically he argued that, over the past several million years, our brains have devoted more space to speech, and less to vision. Extrapolating that trend into the future, he concluded that the eventual merging of our eyes into one would be a more efficient use of the brain's resources, and so will probably happen.
Minneapolis Star Tribune - Dec 4, 1927
The gradual merging of man's two eyes into one may come about through the process of evolution, according to the predictions which W.E. Bailey makes in the Scientific American.
"Man's field of view," writes Mr. Bailey, "will become smaller and smaller. This, because his need of a wide field is growing less and less. This I say with full realization that we live in an age of automobiles, and that these vehicles render desirable a wide field of view. The automobile is probably a very transitory phenomenon. I even believe that, in the course of countless ages, the two human eyes will come closer together, the bridge of the nose will further diminish and sink (just as the animal snout, in man's line of descent, has been doing for vast aeons of time) and, finally, man's two eyes will again become one—just one large, central, cyclopean eye.
"It is likely that the merely servient (left) eye will shrink away (as the pineal eye has already done) so that the right eye will become the cyclopean. Certain it is that the left eye, even today, is being used less and less continually. Man's binocular and stereoscopic visions are being destroyed. That is the price he pays for his speech center.
"The great cyclopean eye, however, will regain stereoscopic vision by developing two maculae in the one eye, just in the fashion in which many birds have stereoscopic vision in each eye now. Although the field of view will then be narrower than now, the eye will probably be microscopic and telescopic; it will be exceedingly acute for colors, for motion, and for form; and finally, most important of all, it will probably be able to perceive as light many forms of energy which now produce in human eyes no sort or kind of perception.
"Because of the development of a speech center in man, there has come about what is called dominancy and serviency in human eyes, a phenomenon not found in other mammals. This means that, in the human, the brain does most of the seeing through one eye, even when both eyes are open. Dr. Thomas Hall Shastid, ophthalmologist of St. Luke's Hospital, Duluth, has found that from 95 to 100 per cent of the detail of any object comes through the right eye if the person be right-handed; while if the person be left-handed the left eye as a rule, but not always, takes up the major part of the detail. This condition, which he has been unable to observe in any other animal, may eventually result in consequences of vast importance to humanity."
Useless Superpower: In the 1970s, Chinese researchers investigated reports of children who had the unusual ability to read with their armpits. The kids supposedly could describe what was written on folded pieces of paper tucked beneath their armpits. And not just their armpits. Some kids could see with their ears, hands, or feet.
After careful study, the researchers concluded that, yes, the children did seem to have this ability.
Wang Qiang and Wang Bin sat in the middle of the room and the observers sat in front and behind them. The lamp in the room was not very bright. They began with pieces of paper that had been written on before the test. They were placed in the ears of Wang Qiang and Wang Bin and the two girls were allowed to hold it in with their hands. After a little while, both girls said that there was no image and wanted to test it under their armpits.
Therefore, other pieces of paper were written on in another room by Shen Hanchang and Zhu Chiayi. The papers were folded twice and squeezed through the shirt from the backs of the subjects and placed under their armpits. The two girls held the sample against them with their hands. Besides the two writers, no one else in the room knew what was written on the paper.
After 2 minutes 40 seconds, Wang Qiang said that she "recognized" it. Everyone told her not to speak but to write it down on the side. She wrote a "3" and also wrote "blue". They opened the paper and found there was a "3 6" written with a blue ball point pen. The "3" and the "6" were separated some distance and thus she had recognized one half.
I jokingly referred to armpit reading as a useless superpower, but the Chinese researchers would disagree. They concluded their study with this remark:
Research on this type of special physiological phenomenon will not only have a deep and far reaching influence on medical science but will also influence the semiconductor industry.
At an August 1938 meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, Professor Lewis F. Richardson attempted to use mathematics to predict the likelihood of war:
The professor reduced to beautiful differential equations general tendencies common to all nations — resentment of defiance, the suspicion that defense is concealed aggression, response to imports by exports, restraint on armaments by the difficulty of paying for them, and, last, grievances and their irrationality.
He concluded there was "no chance of war," which proved to be a somewhat inaccurate prediction.
Richardson viewed war instead in Tolstoyan fashion, as a massive phenomenon governed by forces akin to the forces of nature, over which individuals have little or no control. Accordingly, he ignored all those intricacies of diplomatic-strategic analysis usually pursued by political historians and turned his attention to quasi-mechanical and quantifiable processes which, he assumed, govern the dynamics of the international system of sovereign states.
Despite the eccentricity of his mathematical war-prediction model, Richardson was apparently quite influential in the history of mathematics. Wikipedia notes that he did pioneering work in mathematical techniques of weather forecasting, as well as in the study of fractals.
Imagine the insults suffered by the dweeb forced by well-meaning parents to carry this lunch pail to school.
The objects children take to school can communicate messages. In the 1970s, the U.S. government encouraged more general use of the metric units of weight and measure, units that had been adopted in almost all other nations. To teach children about metric units, some parents purchased this lunch box.
The hot chocolate effect, also known as the allassonic effect, is a phenomenon of wave mechanics first documented in 1980 by Frank Crawford, where the pitch heard from tapping a cup of hot liquid rises after the addition of a soluble powder. It was first observed in the making of hot chocolate or instant coffee, but also occurs in other situations such as adding salt to supersaturated hot water or cold beer.
The frequency of multiple human births follows an apparent statistical "rule of 87." Twin births in the U.S. and European countries happen once in 87 confinements. Triplets are born once in 872 (87x87) or 7,569 confinements, quadruplets once in 873 (87x87x87) or 658,503 and quintuplets once in 874 (87x87x87x87) or 57,289,761. Though the rule cannot be proven for quintuplets, U.S. statistics otherwise follow it remarkably well.
This "Rule of 87" may have been true in the mid-twentieth century, but I'm guessing that the rise of fertility drugs played havoc with it.
When you clean bugs off your car's windshield, think of Detroit researcher Clark Wells who spent his career figuring out how best to do this.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Mar 22, 1953
WINDSHIELD-SPATTERING WITH A PURPOSE
The curious actions of Frederick Brownell (left) and Clark Wells at Detroit are in the interests of science. They are using pea-shooter and slingshot to shoot bugs against a windshield at squashing velocity so that Wells, a chemist, can then test fluids to be used in wiper spray to remove them. For his experiments, Wells buys such insects as bumble bees, June bugs, fish flies, deer flies and other of the more succulent species from collectors for amounts up to a dime each.
Huntsville Times - June 20, 1954
Inventor Clark Wells, of Fraser, Mich., lacked the bugs he needed to test out a windshield wiper fluid he was perfecting, so he placed a Classified Ad in a Detroit paper, soon had an adequate supply of bumblebees, June bugs and other insects.
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.