Twitter Weird Science Facts, Volume 9

Been a rough couple of weeks for me personally, and I haven’t had the time or the energy to write some solid science posts.  In the meantime, please take a look at the latest weird science facts posted on twitter.

Let’s see what the last two weeks of weird science facts on twitter have revealed!  Click below the fold to learn more about wombat poo than you probably ever thought you would want to know.


155. (June 4). The strange theory that King Tut’s body underwent “spontaneous” combustion after burial. Of course, I put “spontaneous” in quotes, because that word implies that there wasn’t a cause.

156. (June 5). Circa 1930, a volcanologist Frank Perret survives in the path of a pyroclastic flow.  This is especially terrifying considering a pyroclastic flow from the same volcano had killed a city of 30,000 people in an instant.

157. (June 6). Biologist Élie Metchnikoff drank sour milk every day; he believed lactic acid prolongs life.  A depressing number of scientists end up with eccentric, even awful, views as they grow older. I’ve asked people to smother me with a pillow if it happens to me.

158. (June 7). Female monkeys indulge in synchronized sex. This turns out to be a great evolutionary strategy.  Evolution leads to many odd behaviors.

159. (June 8). The pitch drop experiment: running continuously for some 87 years.  There are several biology experiments that have lasted longer, but the various pitch drop experiments are definitely the longest running physics experiments.

160. (June 9). Returning from the Moon, Apollo 11 astronauts had to fill out customs forms!  This was more or less a joke at the time.

161. (June 10). Actual 1965 patent: using centrifugal force to aid in childbirth.  The fact that it was granted does not speak well for the patent office.

162. (June 11). A case of scientific illiteracy: the Charlotte amoeba panic of 1965!  I can’t help wonder if this joke was not only inspired by Welles’ “War of the Worlds,” but also the 1958 movie “The Blob.”

163. (June 12). Project Chariot: the 1958 proposal to create new ship harbors with nuclear explosions.  There were a lot of strange ideas for “peaceful” uses for nuclear weapons in that era, as a way to justify their production and maintenance.  Many of these ideas were championed by the hydrogen bomb “visionary” Edward Teller, who was not a little out of his mind, IMHO.

164. (June 13). Sir Edmond Halley, of Halley’s Comet, also pioneered the use of diving bells.  One of my blog posts! Halley’s work on diving bells had a huge impact on diving for a surprisingly long period of time.

165. (June 14). The amazing long-running scientific swindle of geologists. (1884-1891).  Another blog post of mine, and one of my favorites, as it was original research on my part that uncovered this apparently long-forgotten story.

166. (June 15). The second detection of gravitational waves has been announced!

167. (June 16). Actual medical condition: “The Jumping Frenchman of Maine Disorder”.  This is not, in fact, a Monty Python sketch.

168. (June 17). Common wombats have *cube-shaped* poo!  When your poo is round, it rolls around, making it hard to mark territory.  Evolution came up with this solution.

169. (June 18). 1783: a lawsuit involving concerned neighbors demanding the removal of a lightning rod!  New scientific discoveries have, throughout history, been met with resistance by a fearful public that doesn’t understand them.

170. (June 19). Stubbins Ffirth (1784-1820) drank undiluted vomit to try to prove yellow fever not contagious.  I have not been able to find a picture of Ffirth, and I am really disappointed. I need to see what a person looks like who is willing to do such things.

Check in several week from now for more facts!

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