Weird science facts, December 8-December 14

Here are the Twitter #weirdscifacts for December 8th through December 14th!

270. Dec 08: Amazing trip of Isabel Godin des Odonais c. 1769 through the Amazon in search of her naturalist husband! (via@DrBondar‘s interview w/ Dr. Frederickson.)  Isabel’s husband had traveled the length of the Amazon to make preparations for their joint return to France, but political forces kept him from returning to her and they were separated for 20 years.  In 1769, she joined a 42 person party to travel in search of him, and all members save Isabel ended up dying along the way.  She wandered alone for nine days before being rescued by a group of natives; the couple was finally reunited in 1770!

271. Dec 09: The pen-tailed tree shrew consumes approx. 10-12 glasses of wine/night in nectar equivalent.

272. Dec 10: John Parsons (1914-1952) — CalTech rocket propulsion researcher and occultist. Before each test launch, Parsons would chant Aleister Crowley’s hymn to Pan.  He ended up blowing up himself in 1952 working on chemicals in his home laboratory.

273. Dec 11:  Astronomer William Herschel (1738-1822) used horse manure to make molds for his telescope mirrors. (via @allinthegutter)

274. Dec 12: Percy Spencer invented the microwave oven in 1945 when a magnetron melted a candy bar in his pocket.

275. Dec 13: Janet Parker, the last person to die of smallpox… in 1978. Smallpox is one of the few diseases that was able to be eradicated from all natural sources, making it essentially extinct by the 1970s.  However, labs still contained specimens, and Janet Parker worked above such a lab and caught the illness through the ventilation system.  The head of the microbiology department in charge of the smallpox later killed himself evidently because of guilt.

276. Dec 14: Solar powered hornets???

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2 Responses to Weird science facts, December 8-December 14

  1. thonyc says:

    Astronomer William Herschel (1738-1822) used horse manure to make molds for his telescope mirrors.

    This is not quite correct, the Herschel’s used sieved horse manure (prepared by Caroline and not William) to bed the cast mirrors for polishing! If you’re ever in Bath in West England I recommend a visit to the Herschel museum.

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