Links, curiosities & mixed wonders – 1

Almost every post appearing on these pages is the result of several days of specific study, finding sources, visiting the National Library, etc. It often happens that this continuous research makes me stumble upon little wonders which perhaps do not deserve a full in-depth analysis, but I nonetheless feel sorry to lose along the way.

I have therefore decided to occasionally allow myself a mini-post like this one, where I can point out the best bizarre news I’ve come across in recent times, passed on by followers, mentioned on Twitter (where I am more active than on other social media) or retrieved from my archive.

The idea — and I candidly admit it, since we’re all friends here — is also kind of useful since this is a time of great excitement for Bizzarro Bazar.
In addition to completing the draft for the new book in the BB Collection, of which I cannot reveal any details yet, I am working on a demanding but thrilling project, a sort of offline, real-world materialization of Bizzarro Bazar… in all probability, I will be able to give you more precise news about it next month.

There, enough said, here’s some interesting stuff. (Sorry, some of my own old posts linked here and there are in Italian only).

  • The vicissitudes of Haydn’s head: Wiki page, and 1954 Life Magazine issue with pictures of the skull’s burial ceremony. This story is reminiscent of Descartes’s skull, of which I’ve written here. (Thanks, Daniele!)
  • In case you missed it, here’s my article (in English) for Illustrati Magazine, about midget pornstar Bridget Powers.
  • Continuing my exploration of human failure, here is a curious film clip of a “triphibian” vehicle, which was supposed to take over land, water and the skies. Spoiler: it didn’t go very far.

  • In the Sixties, the western coast of Lake Victoria in Tanzania fell prey to a laughter epidemics.
  • More recent trends: plunging into a decomposing whale carcass to cure rheumatism. Caitlin Doughty (whom I interviewed here) teaches you all about it in a very funny video.

  • Found what could be the first autopsy ever recorded on film (warning, strong images). Our friend pathologist says: “This film clip is a real gem, really beautiful, and the famous Dr. Erdheim’s dissecting skills are remarkable: he does everything with a single knife, including cutting the breastbone (very elegant! I use some kind of poultry shears instead); he proceeds to a nice full evisceration, at least of thoracic organs (you can’t see the abdomen) from tongue to diaphragm, which is the best technique to maintain the connection between viscera, and… he doesn’t get splattered at all! He also has the table at the right height: I don’t know why but in our autopsy rooms they keep on using very high tables, and therefore you have to step on a platform at the risk of falling down in you lean back too much. It is also interesting to see all the activity behind and around the pathologist, they were evidently working on more than one table at the same time. I think the pathologist was getting his hands dirty for educational reasons only, otherwise there would have been qualified dissectors or students preparing the bodies for him. It’s quite a sight to see him push his nose almost right into the cadaver’s head, without wearing any PPE…”

  • A long, in-depth and thought-provoking article on cryonics: if you think it’s just another folly for rich people who can’t accept death, you will be surprised. The whole thing is far more intriguing.
  • For dessert, here is my interview for The Thinker’s Garden, a wonderful website on the arcane and sublime aspects of art, history and literature.

Brevetti bizzarri

Il sito PopSci offre una vasta galleria di brevetti storici che (chissà perché…) non decollarono mai. Offriamo qui qualche piccolo assaggio di geniali invenzioni che purtroppo fallirono sul mercato.

Ecco la Dynasphere, veicolo brevettato nel maggio 1932. Il guidatore sedeva su una piattaforma che rimaneva orizzontale anche quando la ruota girava, e per sterzare doveva sporgersi utilizzando il suo peso per bilanciare l’automezzo.

È del 1936, invece, questo modello di “salvagente” munito di propulsori.

La “Palla Rotante” è descritta in un brevetto del settembre 1936, ed era considerata il futuro delle imbarcazioni a lunga percorrenza. La palla galleggiava sull’oceano, e conteneva motori diesel che la facevano “rotolare” sulla superficie dell’acqua. I passeggeri se ne stavano comodi comodi nella vettura superiore, che ricorda vagamente un aereo senza ali.

Agosto 1951: perché torcersi continuamente il collo per leggere l’ultimo bestseller? Perché non utilizzare questi occhiali prismatici che consentono una visione dirottata di 90°?

Nel giugno del 1933 un ventiquattrenne inventò un sottomarino a posto singolo. Questo gioiellino poteva immergersi per mezz’ora fino a 30 piedi di profondità (circa 11 metri).

Nel 1973 venne creata una vela da bicicletta. Secondo il suo inventore, la velocità della bici ne guadagnava grandemente. Ma guai a mettersi controvento.

Oggi il problema del petrolio è sotto gli occhi di tutti. Se i brevetti per le macchine elettriche sono, come sostengono alcuni, stati comprati e passati sotto silenzio dalle grandi compagnie petrolifere, potremmo sempre tornare all’idea avuta nel 1880 da un ingegnere francese: la Cinosfera, ovvero la macchina a cani… niente più vita sedentaria per Fido!

E, per ultima, ecco l’invenzione che avrebbe potuto cambiare la storia del Ventesimo Secolo, se il pubblico non ne avesse decretato l’insuccesso. Febbraio 1920, mese del bacio igienico.

Scoperto via Dark Roasted Blend.