In 1970, biologist Richard Wassersug conducted a study to determine what different kinds of tadpoles taste like. More specifically, whether some taste worse than others. He convinced 11 grad students to be his tadpole tasters.
The standardized tasting procedure included several steps. A tadpole was rinsed in fresh water. The taster placed the tadpole into his or her mouth and held it for 10-20 sec without biting into it. Then the taster bit into the tail, breaking the skin and chewed lightly for 10-20 sec. For the last 10-20 sec the taster bit firmly and fully into the body of the tadpole. The participants were directed not to swallow the tadpoles but to spit them out and to rinse their mouths out at least twice with fresh water before proceeding to the next tadpole.
The most distasteful tadpole was Bufo marinus, while the most palatable ones were Smilisca sordida and Colostethus nubicola.
This confirmed his hypothesis that the most visible tadpoles were the least palatable. Their bad taste deterred predators from eating them, whereas the better tasting tadpoles relied on concealment to avoid being eaten.
In his 1972 documentary, Can You Speak Venusian?, the British astronomer Patrick Moore examined the astronomical theories of various "independent thinkers" — otherwise known as kooks. It's probably now the only footage of most of these odd folks, talking about their odd ideas. Moore released an accompanying book of the same name.
My favorite of his independent thinkers is John Bradbury and his 15-lens telescope, viewable at around the 15:30 mark. His basic idea was that if two lenses are good, then fifteen must be even better. Bradbury claimed his telescope was so powerful that it could show "the actual background casing of the universe."
Black Hole Symphony, which was penned by composer David Ibbett and is due to be performed by an orchestra at the Museum of Science in Boston, Massachusetts, blends real science into the creative mix.
The work cleverly translates cutting-edge research on black holes into an electro-symphonic score with five movements and includes visuals based on images taken by scientific instruments, including the Event Horizon Telescope, a large array made from a global network of radio telescopes, which took the first image of a black hole.
The research study "Anthropometry of Airline Stewardesses" consists of detailed body measurements of 423 stewardess trainees. It was paid for by the FAA and released in March 1975. The trainees were from the American Airlines Stewardess Training Academy in Fort Worth, Texas.
The justification for the study was that knowing the body measurements of stewardesses might help engineers design better seats and safety equipment for them. But what the study really seems to demonstrate is that in the early 1970s airline stewards were expected to be young, thin, female, and single. None were older than 28. None weighed more than 145 lb. Only 26 were divorced. The rest had never been married.
The study attracted the scorn of Senator William Proxmire. Details from a Reuters article in The Calgary Herald (Aug 21, 1975):
A $57,800 study has told the government that stewardesses all stack up differently — from nose widths to knee fits and various areas in between.
Senator William Proxmire says the disclosures neither enlighten nor amuse him.
The Wisconsin Democrat said today the report, with detailed measurements on 423 stewardess trainees for American Airlines, was another case of taxpayers' money spent on discovering the obvious. "It seems like a bust to me," he said...
Seventy-nine individual body measurements were taken as part of the study, and some, the senator said, seemed unnecessary or irrelevant.
"Detailed measurements were made of body features such as the skinfold of the upper arm and the posterior calf, the vertical height of the sphyrion, the popliteal length of the buttocks, the transverse distance between the centres of the anterior superior iliac spines, the knee-to-knee breadth while sitting, the maximum horizontal width of the jaw across the gonial angles, and the height of the nose," he said.
There were too many deviations among even general measurements of young trainees to help designers of airline equipment, he argued.
Their weights ranged from 94 to 145 pounds, heights from five feet one inch to six feet one inch, busts from 29 to 37.5 inches and waists from 21 to 28 inches.
The senator concluded: "About all that can be said to aircraft designers is that stewardesses are young women with the body measurements of young women."
I realize that the indentations on top of bricks are called 'frogs', but why were actual frogs being placed inside bricks?
As far as I can tell, it must have been an experimental demonstration of the 'pressed frog phenomenon' — this phenomenon being that one can place a living frog inside a brick as its being made, apply thousands of pounds of pressure to the brick to mold it, and the frog will survive. The frog won't be happy about the experience, but it won't burst. Whereas the same pressure applied to a frog that isn't in a brick will definitely cause it to burst.
Obviously the brick hasn't been heated in a kiln, because that would definitely cook the frog.
The article below from 1925 explains the science of why a frog in a brick doesn't burst. The key part of the (overly long) explanation is this sentence:
when the pressure was exerted gradually there was a tendency for the particles of clay around the body to "wall up" the body by the grains of clay moving instead of a tendency of the body "bursting" by the particles of the body moving.
However, this doesn't solve the mystery of who first decided to put a frog in a brick.
The non-fiction book Shadows in the Sun by Wade Davis contains the following passage:
There is a well known account of an old Inuit man who refused to move into a settlement. Over the objections of his family, he made plans to stay on the ice. To stop him, they took away all of his tools. So in the midst of a winter gale, he stepped out of their igloo, defecated, and honed the feces into a frozen blade, which he sharpened with a spray of saliva. With the knife he killed a dog. Using its rib cage as a sled and its hide to harness another dog, he disappeared into the darkness.
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.