RSS

Tag Archives: fact

199. Fighting Tuberculosis and Embarassment

Listening to a patient for tuberculosis

Near the dawn of the 19th century medicine advanced inwards. Doctors began once more to diagnose problems with the heart and lungs by placing their ears against the bodies of patients and listening intently. This practice had been used since the time of the Greeks but recent advances had returned to frequent usage. This new body of science was in its infancy and doctors had great trouble listening to internal problems and keeping abreast of developments in the understanding of the human interior. Then it was improved by chance and embarrassment.

The Doctor René Theophile-Hyacinthe Laënnec was busy at work in the nineteenth century, doing nineteenth century things when he was presented with a chest problems. It was a young and rather plump lady, who was followed by her family. They lined the room as the young lady told of her suffering. For a decent diagnosis, he needed to listen to her lungs.

Under the watchful gaze of the family and the pressure of nineteenth century sensibilities he felt suddenly aware of how uncomfortably close he would have to place his head to her bosom, so he improvised. He grabbed a nearby piece of paper and rolled it up into a tube and placing the paper purposefully on her skin. To his shock when he listened, the sounds were much clearer. The lazy lungs breathing and the nervous heart beating.

That day, in 1816, the stethoscope was invented. Over time they became less papery and more trumpet-like. So it was until 1851 when a binaural stethoscope, one allowing the use of both ears, was introduced. Designs similar to the ones still used today, or so I hear.

Further Reading:

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 30, 2012 in Articles

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

178. Bat Bombs

–This Article comes courtesy of my good friend Jack Evans.–

In 1942,  American dental surgeon Lytle S. Adams was contemplating bats. As World War II raged on around him he looked into bats as a possible weapon, some kind of animal attack that could no doubt be harnessed in the fight, specifically the Empire of Japan. Four potentially useful biological features of bats were noted, each of which was essential to producing one of the least known, yet most deadly products of the war.

Firstly, they could be found in huge numbers in Texas. This would mean they could easily be ‘mass produced’ as a weapon. Secondly, they could carry more than their own weight in-flight – females can even fly whilst carrying twins. Thirdly, bats can hibernate and during this do not need food or indeed any kind of sustenance or maintenance. If this could be harnessed, they could be made dormant and stored for large lengths of time, then awakened and unleashed on an unsuspecting enemy. Lastly, they fly in darkness and seek out buildings in the day time, meaning that they are both a stealth weapon and would home in on vulnerable buildings. Along with this, bats held other natural advantages. They could defy conventional detection systems. They were difficult to destroy using existing air defences and could easily navigate the confines of cities. With these advantages, he came up with the perfect way to weaponise bats; and so he created the bat-bomb.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 5, 2011 in Articles

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

175. The Great Saharan Eye

In a remote section of the Sahara Desert, Mauritania specifically, there lies this most mysterious formation, the ‘Eye of the Sahara,’ also known as the Richat Structure. Those passing over the large flat dome on the ground do not notice anything particularly out of the ordinary, but when viewed from space it stands out.

The eye of the Sahara is 50km in diameter and when viewed from above it does bear a resemblance to the human eye. Especially when one considers that it is actually a low dome, like a large eyeball peering out of the desert and gazing up into the sky. Its bizarre appearance and considerable size have led to great speculation as to how it ever came to exist. It used to be that no-one understood its formation and even now it has been extensively studied few believe that we are in possession of the truth yet. I suppose we shall have to wait, and see.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 22, 2011 in Articles

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

173. The Great Rolling Hotel and the Sahara

Subsaharan Africa is an inhospitable place at best, life maintains a tenuous grasp on that hot and arid landscape. It has long presented a great challenge to travelers, expeditionaries and nomads alike. Crossing  the Sahara even today is quite an undertaking. In 1969 humanity first set its footprints into the lunar dust, in the Shara another frontier was being broken. Overshadowed by the moon landing but still deserving of its own plaudits. For in 1969, humanity also first crossed the Sahara, in a bus. Well I say bus, really it is more than that. Not so technically advanced as the space shuttle but something equally as novel. It was ROTEL.

ROTEL is a simple concept from Germany, a hotel on wheels. Check in, tour the world then check out. To this day ROTEL still runs, operating tens of buses visiting over 150 countries. Touring from Baghdad, Bali, Scandinavia, the Arctic circle to just about any other country. For over 40 years ROTEL has provided the lazy explorer with the world. All in relative comfort, not decadence but at least from a position most unique. Where else after all, does the room itself take you to your destination?

Read the rest of this entry »

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 12, 2011 in Articles, Trivia

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

172. The Dead Art of Self-Mummification

Sokushinbutsu is the name, a practice no longer observed or condoned by any Buddhist sect, self-mummification requires patience, dedication and a steely determination. Preparing for and living through your own death is an unpleasant process, truly a suicide slow.

It begins with 1000 days of withering. For just under three years only nuts and seeds are eaten, stripping any person of their body fat. Combined with this was a punishing exercise regime. After the initial thousand days the next stage was employed.

The next thousand days saw a shift, the only permitted solid consumption was a mixture of bark and roots. Then came a new tincture, the sap of the Urushi tree. A substance used to lacquer bowls. When ingested it is poisonous, causing rapid evacuation of their bellies and bowels. This was not the main purpose though, whilst it did test fortitude there was a practical use. Three years of imbibing that deathly sap would spread poison through the whole body, tainting all reaches. The aim was to make the body so poisonous that no maggot or other animal would consume it after death. In turn, preventing any rot or deterioration after death.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
2 Comments

Posted by on July 11, 2011 in Articles, Trivia

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

171. So Many Flags

The 15 stripes flag

For the majority of its life, the United States flag has had far less than 50 stars. In fact the number tends to move a lot, since its inception the United States flag has changed 26 times.

The original was only 13 stars and 13 stripes, that lasted for 18 years. The Vermont and Kentucky joined, the flag was changed, increasing the number of stripes to its maximum. 1975 to 1818 America managed to have 15 stars and 15 stripes. then more states joined and someone, namely President James Monroe, decided to take away the two extra stripes and just add a new star for each state.

Thanks to the rapidly increasing number of states, the United States did run through flags very quickly, in fact there have been nine flags in total which have only been in use for a year before being phased out. Unlike Denmark which has had the same flag for at least 500 years.

In this vein, one can praise the United States for being prepared; in case some new states are suddenly added the United States Army Institute of Heraldry has ready-designed flags with up to 56 stars. The current American one has lasted 50 years, nothing compared to Denmark, but a long time for the U.S. In fact it is their flag with the longest ‘lifespan’ so to speak. Maybe it’s time to change it. Possibly add a state here, or take one away, the possibilities are endless.

Bonus Fact : There are 6 U.S. flags on the moon, that’s more flags than any other nation – for the moment at least.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

170. Have a House

The beautiful house pictured above belongs to Icelandic singer Bjork, who got it for free.

It is on an island called Elliðaey near Vestmannaeyjar, a small archipelago off the south coast of Iceland. It was a gift from her motherland, as a form of thanks for finally putting Iceland on the international map.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on July 9, 2011 in Trivia

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,