The weird science blog posts are getting close to catching up with my weekly tweets! Another week and everything will be in sync.
The twitter #weirdscifacts for October 10-October 23 are below the fold…
212. Oct 11: In 1821, Augustus Granville lit a public lecture about a mummy’s dissection with candles made from the mummy’s fat. Granville thought the wax was part of mummification, and didn’t know it was body fat that had turned to soap by the process of saponification. I did a post about another ghastly saponification story recently, if you haven’t seen it.
213. Oct 12: c. 1661, mathematician Blaise Pascal initiated what may have been the first bus line in Paris. It is somewhat remarkable how many early scientists and mathematicians were groundbreaking in more than one field of endeavor.
214. Oct 13: The 1945 Trinity nuclear test was initially covered up with a press release about an ammunition dump explosion. I find it hilarious that such a story worked; I suppose that it didn’t have to stand up to scrutiny for very long, though.
215. Oct 14: Sixth paper ever published in a journal, in 1665: “An Account of a Very Odd Monstrous Calf.” The earliest journals were a hodgepodge of scientific insight, folk remedies for a variety of problems, and random observations. Another favorite is a paper on how to keep ships from being worm-eaten.
217. Oct 16: Physicist G.W. Richmann was killed by ball lightning in 1753 attempting to reproduce Ben Franklin’s lightning rod experiment. Richmann was struck in the head by the ball, which left a red mark; his shoes were also reportedly blown open. He is considered the first known person in history to die performing electrical experiments.
218. Oct 17: In the Revolutionary War, the best shape of a lightning rod- pointed or round- was a political issue of England v. Colonies. The shape of your home’s lightning rod was considered an indication of your political affiliation because Benjamin Franklin, a Revolutionary, had championed the pointed rod. h/t ThonyC.
219. Oct 18: Physician Alexander Bogdanov (1873-1928) gave himself over 11 blood transfusions — and died from contaminated blood. Bogdanov believed that transfusions led to partial rejuvenation — but he took the blood of a tuberculosis/malaria victim. It is thought that he might have in fact been committing suicide in a particularly icky way.
220. Oct 19: Tutankhamen’s tomb lay undiscovered for so long in part because it was buried under the debris from other tomb construction. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure! A worker’s camp was also built over the site of the tomb; the debris and camp likely helped keep the site pristine and protected until Howard Carter discovered it.
221. Oct 20: In 1883, high school student P. Zeeman published a paper in Nature on the aurora — and was referred to as “professor”. The editor praised “the careful observations of Professor Zeeman from his observatory in Zonnemaire”.
222. Oct 21: Sir David Brewster (1781-1868), optical scientist, also invented the kaleidoscope!