|The Best Dangerous Science Jobs
Since manned spaceflight began in 1961, 24 US astronauts have died in astro-action — 10 during launch, six during training flights, and seven on reentry. In 1971, three Soviet cosmonauts suffocated when a malfunction caused the oxygen to leak out of their ship. Then there’s that whole riding-an- explosion-into-space thing. And we haven’t even found aliens yet.
2. Biosafety Level 4 Lab Researcher
BSL-4 labs handle the deadliest diseases on Earth. In 2004, a Russian scientist died after accidentally sticking herself with an Ebola-laced needle. The death occurred only months after a US scientist at the Army’s BSL-4 lab at Fort Detrick in Maryland made the same mistake… and survived.
3. Hurricane Hunter
The Air Force’s 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron crew members are the daredevils of meteorology. They fly WC-130s into a hurricane’s eye wall, 10,000 feet up, to locate the storm’s pressure center and measure its wind speed. Not surprisingly, some get a little turned around. Even on the ground, they’re not safe — Hurricane Katrina destroyed the squad’s home base.
4. Doctors Without Borders Mobile Lab Tech
Testing blood for sleeping sickness — an infectious disease transmitted by flies that causes brain swelling, heart failure, insomnia, and an uncontrollable urge to sleep — is dangerous enough. Now just imagine doing it at an outdoor mobile lab in the middle of the ongoing genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region.
5. Propulsion Engineer
Turns out, the people who ground-test rocket engines don’t actually worry about explosions. When you work with cryogenic oxygen and gases pressurized up to 300 psi, you’re far too busy worrying about “cold burns” and other trauma to really give proper consideration to what might happen should one of the buggers completely ignite.
6. Grad Student
Even the most mundane job in science is hazardous if you don’t know what you’re doing. Grad students in labs around the world are in constant danger of, well, screwing up. In 2004, a Texas A&M student, for example, was cleaning up a laboratory when a jar of chemicals he was handling suddenly exploded, leaving him with severe lacerations and burns.
Active volcanoes blow enough ash to bury a city the size of, oh, Pompeii. No wonder many volcanologists don’t come back from their helicopter visits to hell. In 1991, three were killed by Japan’s Mount Unzen. In 2001, one died after falling off a 985-foot-high caldera rim, and in 2005, four Filipino researchers died in a chopper crash while inspecting landslide areas.
Animal research can lead to more than an allergic reaction. Being bitten, scratched, or exposed to “secretions” can be deadly. For example, at least 70 percent of captive adult macaque monkeys are infected with herpes B. In 1997, a 22-year-old researcher died after contracting the virus from some “biologic” monkey material that got in her eye.
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|Now That’s A Good Neighbor
This is Traute Soupolos, whose husband could not get her pregnant:
You just can’t make stuff up like this.
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|Top Secret Rosies: The Female Computers of World War II
In 1942, when computers were human and women were underestimated, a group of female mathematicians helped win a war and usher in the modern computer age. Sixty-five years later their story has finally been told through LeAnn Erickson’s documentary Top Secret Rosies.In early December 1941, Betty Jean Jennings was a freshman completing her first semester at a rural Missouri college. In Philadelphia, Doris and Shirley Blumberg were seniors at Girl’s High and Marlyn Wescoff was completing a minor in business machines at Temple University. In an era of limited career opportunities for women, these bright students anticipated low paying careers as schoolteachers or bookkeepers. But on Sunday, December 7, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and changed these young women’s lives forever. With Pearl Harbor suddenly drawing the US in to WWII, the Army launched a frantic national search for women mathematicians.
The women of Top Secret Rosies were plucked from high schools and colleges to work at the University of Pennsylvania in the 1940s. They moved into dorms and apartments and went through a rigorous introduction to ballistics calculations in order to do the job. It paid well, and the women were close. They played bridge, shared dinners and danced together in the university gardens when the war in Europe ended.
Still, they struggled with the knowledge that their calculations — so precise they measured whether an enemy soldier was standing up or lying in a trench — were used at war.
Top Secret Rosies Trailer from LeAnn Erickson on Vimeo.
“‘It is hard to overstate the significance of the contribution of these women to the Allied victory in World War II, a fact that few people are aware of.”
“These women were given scanty credit for their achievements and shared a single certificate of commendation. In fact, they later learned that when they demonstrated how ENIAC worked, the military officers in attendance thought they were just models brought in to make the [computer] look good. ”
|We're Not The 'Lost Generation'
by Tami Larsen
If you were born between 1967 and 1977 (give or take a year or two), you will certainly enjoy this as much as I did. Don’t skip a line, read this when you have time to take it all in.
I am a child of the 70′s and 80′s. That is what I prefer to be called. The 90′s can do without me. Grunge isn’t here to stay, fashion is fickle and “Generation X” is a myth created by some over-40 writer trying to figure out why people wear flannel in the summer.
• When I got home from school, I played Atari 2600.• I spent hours playing Pitfall or Combat or Breakout or Dodge’em Cars or Frogger.• I never did beat Asteroids.• Then I watched “Scooby Doo.” Daphne was a Goddess, and I thought Shaggy was smoking something synthetic in the back of the mystery machine. I hated Scrappy.• I would sleep over at friends’ houses on the weekends.• We played army with G.I. Joe figures, and I set up galactic wars between Autobots and Decepticons.• We never beat Rubik’s cube, unless you count taking off the stickers.• I got upon Saturday mornings at 6 a.m. to watch bad Hanna-Barbera cartoons like “Captain Caveman” and “SpaceGhost”. In between I would watch “School House Rock” (“Conjunction junction, what’s your function?!”)• On Friday Night Daisy Duke was my future wife. I was going to own the General Lee and shoot dynamite arrows out the back. Why did they weld the doors shut?• Did your dad turn from mild-mannered Bill Bixby into “The Incredible Hulk” when he got upset?• At the movies the Nerds got revenge on the AlphaBetas by teaming up with the Omega Mu’s.• I watched Indiana Jones save the Ark of the Covenant, and wondered what Yoda meant when he said, “No, there is another.”• My family took summer vacations to South Florida and collected “Muppet Movie” glasses along the way. (We had the whole set)• I listened to John Cougar Mellencamp sing about Little Pink Houses for Jack and Diane.
• I was bewildered by Boy George and the colors of his dreams, red, gold and green. I was a “Wild Boy” Duran Duran. MTV played MUSIC videos. Nickelodeon played “You can’t Do That On Television” and “Dangermouse”
• Does anyone remember the “Banana Splits”?
• I drank Dr. Pepper. “I’m a Pepper, you’re a Pepper, wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper too?” Shasta was for losers. TAB was a laboratory accident. Capri Sun was a social statement. Orange Juice wasn’t just for breakfast anymore.
• My Mom put a thousand Little Debbie Snack Cakes in my Charlie Brown lunchbox and filled my Snoopy Thermos with Grape Kool-Aid. I got two thousand cheese and cracker snack packs.
• I went to school and had recess. I went to the same classes everyday.
• Some weird guy from the 8th grade always won the science fair with the working hydroelectric plant that leaked on my project about music and plants.
• Field day was bigger than Christmas, but it always seemed to rain just enough to make everybody miserable.
• Rubber band fights were cool.
• A substitute teacher was a marked woman. Nobody deserved that.
• I went to Cub Scouts. I got my arrow-of-light, but never managed to win the Pinewood Derby. I got almost every skill award but don’t remember ever doing anything.
• The world stopped when the Challenger exploded.
• Half of your friend’s parents got divorced.
• People did not just say “no” to drugs.
• AIDS started, but you knew more people who had a grandparent die from cancer.
• Somebody in your school died before they graduated.
• We are the ones who played with Lego Building Blocks when they were just building blocks and gave Malibu Barbie crew cuts with safety scissors that never really cut.
• Big wheels and bicycles with streamers were the way to go, and sidewalk chalk was all you needed to build a city.
• Imagination was the key. It made the Ewok Treehouse big enough for you to be Luke. And the kitchen table and that old sheet, dark enough to be a tent in the forest.
• Your world was the backyard and it was all you needed.
• With your pink portable tape player, Debbie Gibson sang back up to you and everyone wanted a skirt like the Material Girl and a glove like Michael Jackson’s.
• Today, we are the ones who sing along with Bruce Springsteen and The Bangles perfectly and have no idea why.
• We recite lines with Ghostbusters and still look to the Goonies for a great adventure.
• We flip through T.V. stations and stop at the A-Team and Knight Rider and Fame, and laugh with The Cosby Show and Family Ties and Punky Brewster and “What you talkin’ bout Willis?”
• We hold strong affections for The Muppets and why did they take the Smurfs off of the air?
• After school specials were about cigarettes and step families.
• The Polka Dot Door was nothing like Barney, and aren’t the Power Rangers just Voltron reincarnated?
• We are the ones who read Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, The Bobbsey Twins, Beverly Cleary, and Judy Blume.
• Friendship bracelets were ties you couldn’t break and friendship pins went on shoes preferably hightop velcro Reebok. And pegged jeans were in, as were unit belts and layered socks and jean jackets and JAMS and charm necklaces and side pony tails and just tails.
• Rave was a girl’s best friend; braces with colored rubber bands made you rad.
• The back door was always open and Mom served only red Kool-Aid to the neighborhood kids. You never drank the New Coke.
• Entertainment was cheap and lasted for hours:
• All you needed to be a princess was high heels and an apron
• The Sit’n’Spin always made you dizzy but never made you stop
• Pogoballs were dangerous weapons
• Chinese Jump Ropes never failed to trip someone
• In your underoos you were Wonder Woman, Spider Man, or Robin
• In your tree house you were king.
• Star Wars was not only a movie.
• Did you ever play in a bomb shelter?
• We didn’t start the fire Billy Joel.
• We had neighborhoods where in the day we could play kick-the-can, “guns” and all of the things that made us grow up.
• There was always that one field” that could be used for either baseball, football, homerun derby, or just a place to hang out. That was my field of dreams Mr. Costner.
• At night we would play flashlight tag. Just like we could trick-or-treat at night without the fear of being shot and killed.
• Our guns had caps or “lasers”. If we didn’t have the Jessie James guns we could just get a rock and smash the caps on the ground!
• We loved those orange race tracks…that was until our mother realized she could smack us with them.
• We too collected football and baseball cards but it was because we wanted to be the first in the neighborhood to have the “complete” set.
• In our neighborhoods we played with He-man and Skelator.
• Going to get a Happy Meal on Saturday with Dad or Mom was worth waiting the other six days of the week.
• How many people melted their army figures that were given to them by their parents?
• Was Green Latern the Coolest Super Hero or Aquaman? “Wonder twin powers activate!”
• How’s about coming home at night and separating your Halloween candy into: The cool stuff, the homemade stuff, and the pennies… how’s about the candy that came in that awful orange and black wax paper? Did you ever try it?
• Do you remember the one house that had a sign in the candy bowl that said, “Take One”. How many did you take if you liked it?
• Were you desperate one year and as a teenager you trick-or-treated?
• Our generation had character and heart. We played with real baseballs and “Putt Putt” for the fun-of-it.”
• “Hey, my Mom will take us if your Mom picks up!”
• Could you ever really beat Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom?
• Did you have sliced oranges or grapes for your half-time treat? How about the hot dog and coke after each football and baseball games? Star Crunches? Whippy Dip? Twinkies? Ho-ho’s?
• No, we are the furthest thing from a lost generation. Does — going to arcades on Saturday, getting car pooled to football with your best friend, eating fruit roll-ups, having birthday parties at McDonalds or Chuck E Cheeses pizza or Noble Romans where you could make your own pizza — express you are lost?
|The Conceptual Mind
This is a bit different, there are numerals for letters; yet, the mind reads it.
Let’s see how many lines you’d go before you get the hang of it and start really reading. Try it!
7H15 M3554G3 53RV35 7O PR0V3 H0W 0UR M1ND5 C4N D0 4M4Z1NG 7H1NG5! 1MPR3551V3 7H1NG5! 1N 7H3 B3G1NN1NG 17 WA5 H4RD BU7 N0W, 0N 7H15 LIN3 Y0UR M1ND 1S R34D1NG 17 4U70M471C4LLY W17H 0U7 3V3N 7H1NK1NG 4B0U7 17, B3 PROUD! 0NLY C3R741N P30PL3 C4N R3AD 7H15.
PL3453 F0RW4RD 1F U C4N R34D 7H13
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|Radar-Evading Navy Ship For Sale In Public Auction|
|From a Recon Marine in Afghanistan
From the Sand Pit, it’s freezing here. I’m sitting on hard, cold dirt between rocks and shrubs at the base of the Hindu Kush Mountains, along the Dar ‘yoi Pomir River , watching a hole that leads to a tunnel that leads to a cave. Stake out, my friend, and no pizza delivery for thousands of miles.I also glance at the area around my ass every ten to fifteen seconds to avoid another scorpion sting. I’ve actually given up battling the chiggers and sand fleas, but the scorpions give a jolt like a cattle prod. Hurts like a bastard. The antidote tastes like transmission fluid, but God bless the Marine Corps for the five vials of it in my pack.
The one truth the Taliban cannot escape is that, believe it or not, they are human beings, which means they have to eat food and drink water. That requires couriers and that’s where an old bounty hunter like me comes in handy. I track the couriers, locate the tunnel entrances and storage facilities, type the info into the handheld, shoot the coordinates up to the satellite link that tells the air commanders where to drop the hardware. We bash some heads for a while, then I track and record the new movement.
It’s all about intelligence. We haven’t even brought in the snipers yet. These scurrying rats have no idea what they’re in for. We are but days away from cutting off supply lines and allowing the eradication to begin.
I dream of bin Laden waking up to find me standing over him with my boot on his throat as I spit into his face and plunge my nickel-plated Bowie knife through his frontal lobe. But you know me, I’m a romantic. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: This country blows, man. It’s not even a country. There are no roads, there’s no infrastructure, there’s no government. This is an inhospitable, rock pit, shit hole, ruled by eleventh century warring tribes. There are no jobs here like we know jobs.
Afghanistan offers two ways for a man to support his family: join the opium trade or join the army. That’s it. Those are your options.
I’ve been living with these Tajiks and Uzbeks, and Turkmen and even a couple of Pushtuns, for over a month-and-a-half now, and this much I can say for sure: These guys, all of ‘em, are Huns…actual, living Huns. They LIVE to fight. It’s what they do. It’s ALL they do.
I’m freezing my ass off on this stupid hill because my lap warmer is running out of juice, and I can’t recharge it until the sun comes up in a few hours. Oh yeah! You like to write letters, right? Do me a favor, Bizarre. Write a letter to CNN and tell Wolf and Anderson and that awful, sneering, pompous Aaron Brown to stop calling the Taliban ‘smart.’ They are not smart. I suggest CNN invest in a dictionary because the word they are looking for is ‘cunning.’ The Taliban are cunning, like jackals and hyenas and wolverines. They are sneaky and ruthless, and when confronted, cowardly. They are hateful, malevolent parasites who create nothing and destroy everything else. Smart. Pfft.
They’ve spent their entire lives reading only one book (and not a very good one, as books go) and consider hygiene and indoor plumbing to be products of the devil. They’re still figuring out how to work a Bic lighter. Talking to a Taliban warrior about improving his quality of life is like trying to teach an ape how to hold a pen; eventually he just gets frustrated and sticks you in the eye with it.
OK, enough. Snuffle will be up soon, so I have to get back to my hole. Covering my tracks in the snow takes a lot of practice, but I’m good at it. Please, I tell you and my fellow Americans to turn off the TV sets and move on with your lives The story line you are getting from CNN and other news agencies is utter bullshit and designed not to deliver truth, but rather to keep you glued to the screen through the commercials. We’ve got this one under control.
Recon Marine in Afghanistan
“Freedom is not free…but the U.S. Marine Corps will pay most of your share”.
|6 Reasons People Love Zombie Flicks
28 Days Later. Resident Evil. Land of the Dead. Deadgirl. Army of Darkness. The Walking Dead. Fido. Dead Snow.Planet Terror. Evil Dead 2. Dawn of the Dead. Zombieland. Shaun of the Dead — the list just goes on and on. Everybody seems to LOVE zombie films — but, why? What exactly is so intriguing to people about the idea of being stalked by dead people who want to eat their brains after a worldwide apocalypse? Simple: zombie movies cater to a whole range of deeply rooted human desires. It may be an apocalypse for the world, but for the moviegoer picturing himself in the middle of it all, it’s finally his chance to shine.
1) You can plausibly be the hero. The problem with most action flicks is that the average person has trouble picturing himself as the hero. He doesn’t have special training or powers. He’s not a CIA operative, a Navy SEAL, a gunfighter, or a mutant. So, the idea of taking on a gang of Die Hard style terrorists or fighting with a sword against the medieval equivalent of Chuck Liddell in a film like Gladiator is completely outside of his reality.
On the other hand, zombies are most often portrayed as extremely slow and stupid, yet still dangerous. That makes zombies an enemy that the average restaurant manager or accountant feels like he could realistically handle. Every man, in his heart, wants to be a hero. He wants to be John Wayne, he wants to be Rambo, he wants to be Bruce Lee. In a world filled with zombies, that’s an achievable goal.
2) You can have that cool stuff you’ve always wanted. Even if you’re not materialistic, you still have to admit that there are some really cool toys in the world — picturesque mansions, exotic cars, opulent yachts, submarines, and 10,000 bottle wine cellars! Who wouldn’t like to drive a tank through a wall or bunk down in a house with a bathroom so big you could shoot hoops in it?
Well, after the zombie apocalypse, all the people who owned that nifty stuff are going to be dead and their toys are just going to be waiting there for you to grab. Then, once you’re done, you can hop in whatever car you want and swing by the mall, the gun store, and Wal-Mart to loot anything else your heart desires. No cashiers, no police, no store owners — just everything you can carry with no consequences whatsoever as long as you can dodge zombies in the process.
3) The playing field has been completely leveled. In a world full of zombies, there’s no more “keeping up with the Joneses” because the Joneses are dead. That means there are no more bosses, billionaires, star athletes, or celebrities who’re ahead of you in the game of life. Sure, everybody who’s left is dodging zombies and hoping there are still some baked beans that haven’t been looted from the local grocery, but at least you don’t have to feel like you’re a loser compared to everyone else while you’re doing it.
4) You can get the girl. That model who would normally never talk to you because she’s too busy laughing at a CEO’s jokes? The homecoming queen who would normally be trying to catch the eye of the pro-baseball player? Guess what? Their options just narrowed considerably. The most attractive man to women like that suddenly becomes the guy who’s nearby, who can feed her and protect her from zombies. To a lot of men, this is very appealing. Of course, they’re also just assuming they’ll somehow end up in a small group with a hot woman, just like they assume they’ll be one of the tiny fraction of humanity that survives a zombie apocalypse. In reality, they’d be much more likely to end up dead or stuck in a small group where the only two eligible women are scrubby-looking 50 year old grandmas, but there are a lot of details about the awfulness of a post-apocalyptic world that get smoothed over in these movies, so why should the dating pool be any different?
5) It makes life simpler. Throughout most of human history, life was extremely simple. You were a child, you got old enough to work, you got married and had kids, farmed, and then eventually you died. There’s still a certain appeal to that kind of lifestyle. That’s part of the reason movies like Avatar are popular and Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden; or Life in the Woods” is still considered a classic.
Zombies would make the world very simple again. Instead of worrying about global warming, Social Security, and getting the latest Apple product, life would be back to the same pattern it followed throughout almost all of human history….well, except for the dead people who want to eat you.
6) There are no more rules. There are a lot of rules you have to follow in life. Your parents tell you what to do when you’re a kid, your teachers make you study, your boss insists that you do it his way, and the government will arrest you if you don’t obey its laws. It’s all very tedious. But, in zombieworld the only law is your gun. You get up when you want to get up, you go to bed when you want to go to bed, and no one tells you what to do — well, at least until the warlords inevitably rise up and take over, but who thinks that far ahead? Being able to shoot zombies in the head, take what you want, destroy what you want — it’s the complete freedom to do as you please for as long as you want as long as you’re not eaten.
|10 Celebrities Who Spied On The Side
For some of these big-name personalities, spying taught them the skills that made them famous; for others, being famous made them the perfect spies.1. Roald Dahl: The Ladies’ Man Who Fell in Love with Writing
Long before he wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl was a fighter pilot for the British Royal Air Force during World War II. But after sustaining several injuries in a horrific crash in 1940—including a fractured skull and temporary blindness—Dahl was rendered unable to fly. In 1942, he was transferred to a desk job at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C. Dahl quickly charmed his way into high society and became so popular among D.C. ladies that British intelligence came up with a whole new role for him: seducing powerful women and using them to promote Britain’s interests in America.It wasn’t all fun and games, though. Clare Booth Luce, a prominent U.S. Representative and isolationist who was married to Time magazine founder Henry Luce, was so frisky in the bedroom that Dahl begged to be let off the assignment. In the end, however, his work with the ladies paid off. Dahl managed to not only rally support for Britain at a time when many prominent Americans didn’t want the country to enter the war, but he also managed to pass valuable stolen documents to the British government. Dahl’s stint in D.C. also helped him realize his talent for writing; it was a skill he discovered while penning propaganda for American newspapers.
2. Ian Fleming: The Armchair Spy
Despite being a desk jockey, Fleming did get to witness one active operation—a break-in at the Japanese Consul General’s office at Rockefeller Center. As Fleming watched, British operatives sneaked into the office, cracked a safe, and made copies of the Japanese codebooks. Fleming later used the incident for Bond’s assignment in his first 007 book, Casino Royale.
3. Lucky Luciano: The Mobster with the Heart of a Patriot
The story goes like this: In 1936, Luciano was convicted on 62 counts of “compulsory prostitution” and sentenced to 30 to 50 years in prison. But while he was incarcerated, the government discovered that it needed his help. In 1942, a French ocean liner, the Normandie, was being converted into a troop transport ship when it suddenly caught fire and sank. American officials suspected sabotage. But the dockworkers, who were under the Mafia’s thumb, refused to spill any information. The government needed an in, and Luciano was the key.
In many ways, Luciano felt an intense loyalty to America; after all, it’s where he’d earned his fortune. So, he used his influence to urge the dockworkers to cooperate with authorities. In exchange, the mobster enjoyed unsupervised visits from friends and associates for the rest of his time in prison. It was a sweet deal for the U.S. government, too; in a matter of weeks, eight German spies were caught and arrested for the destruction of the Normandie.
Luciano continued to help American forces for the remainder of World War II, using his contacts on the docks to feed information to the Office of Naval Intelligence. Later, as the Allies were planning their invasion of Italy, Luciano, who also had strong ties to the Sicilian mob, offered invaluable information on where to counterattack.
As a reward for his help, Luciano was released in 1946 after serving only 10 years in prison. However, the terms of his release required that he be deported to his birthplace of Italy and never allowed back into the United States. Luciano died in exile in 1962. Before he passed away, he told two biographers that he’d had his own men set fire to the Normandie as part of a creative plot to pressure the government to release him. But as The New York Times noted, Luciano was “known to exaggerate his own cleverness.”
4. Julia Child: The Chef with a Taste for Adventure
How did Child keep busy before that? By performing equally inventive work as an employee at the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the U.S. government’s precursor to the CIA. Child joined the spy outfit in 1942 after discovering that the Women’s Army Corps had a height limit; at 6’2”, she was too tall for military service. Luckily, the OSS ended up being a perfect fit. One of Child’s earliest assignments was to cook up a shark repellant that would protect underwater explosives from being set off by curious underwater creatures. By all accounts, she excelled at her work. Following a stint in the OSS lab, Child was sent to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and then to China, where she worked as Chief of the OSS Registry. As such, she enjoyed top security clearance and even a little danger. (The CIA remains mum about exactly what she did.)
Working at the OSS also turned out to be a recipe for love. In Ceylon, Julia met and fell for another OSS officer, Paul Cushing Child. After the two got hitched in 1946, Julia quit her job while Paul continued to work for the government. Within two years, he was transferred to the U.S. State Department in Paris, where Julia took up cooking to occupy her time. The rest is culinary history.
5. Noël Coward: The Playwright Who Knew How to Play Dumb
But when the war broke out, Coward abandoned his theatrical work and set up a propaganda bureau for the British Secret Intelligence Service. Before long, he was sent to the United States to drum up support for the Allied cause. Coward used his celebrity to gain access to America’s elite and to deliver top-secret information to the most influential people in the country, including President Franklin Roosevelt. He also made the most of his vapid playboy image. As Coward explained in his diary, “I was to go on as an entertainer with an accompanist and sing my songs and on the side doing something rather hush-hush … My disguise would be my own reputation as a bit of an idiot.”
Coward actually possessed a formidable memory, and he did his job so well that he reportedly earned a place on the Nazi Black List—individuals Hitler wanted executed once Germany invaded Britain.
6. Robert Baden-Powell: The Boy Scout with a Merit Badge in Sneakiness
The story begins in South Africa in 1899, when Baden-Powell made a name for himself during the Second Boer War. Stationed there with a poorly-armed outfit of only 500 soldiers, Baden-Powell faced a 217-day siege by a Boer army of 8,000 men. To defend the territory, he used everything at his disposal, including props, cunning, and deception. He ordered his men to plant fake mines on the edge of town and had them pretend to avoid barbed wire to throw off the enemy. And because he was short on troops, he enlisted all of the young boys in town to act as guards. Somehow, he managed to protect the territory until British reinforcements finally arrived.
The story made Baden-Powell a war hero in England, and after returning home in 1903, he used his newfound fame to kick-start the scouting movement. Soon, he was helping people across the globe set up Boy Scout troops. All the while, Baden-Powell remained active in the military, working as a spy in the countries he toured.
In 1915, after he retired from duty, Baden-Powell wrote My Adventures as a Spy. In it, he relayed stories about his love for the craft—reveling in the time he pretended to be an American in order to probe German sources, and proudly discussing how he once caught three spies on his own. All told, Baden-Powell painted a rather rosy image of the profession: “A good spy—no matter which country he serves—is of necessity a brave and valuable fellow.”
7. James Hart Dyke: The Artist Who Framed MI6
At first, Hart Dyke thought the assignment was an elaborate joke. He received a mysterious phone call, followed by an equally mysterious meeting in which he was asked to infiltrate MI6 as an artist. Still, he took the job. Hart Dyke was given complete access to MI6 and the lives of its employees, on the condition that he wouldn’t reveal any identifying characteristics about them. “As far as possible, I was ‘one of them,’” he told The Guardian. “Of course, I often saw people wondering what I was really up to … I saw officers looking at me as I sketched away and they seemed to be thinking, oh yes, an artist, are you? A likely story.”
One of the things Hart Dyke tried to convey through his paintings was the thick fog of suspicion and claustrophobia that permeates a spy’s life. As a result, his works possess a dreamy, half-realized quality. And while the subject matter is seemingly everyday—a street corner, a hotel room, a woman carrying a big purse—it always leaves the viewer wondering if something more nefarious is going on.
Hart Dyke also wanted his paintings to expose the boredom and the strain of the work—the in-between times of waiting and doing nothing that strip the job of its glamour. As a member of MI6, the painter experienced both the tedium and anxiety of traveling to shadowy locations and the strain of keeping the gig secret from everyone but his wife. While the artist-turned-spy no doubt enjoyed the experience, he felt pure relief at the end of his stint. As he told reporters in 2011, “I’ll be glad to get back to ordinary life … though I doubt I’ll ever do anything quite as fascinating as this again.”
8. Harry Houdini: The Magician Who Spied His Way to Stardom
At the start of his career in the late 19th century, Harry Houdini gained notoriety by waltzing into police stations and demanding that officers lock him up. It was a great publicity stunt. Every time he ditched the cuffs, he bolstered his reputation. But the stunts didn’t just make headlines—they also caught the eye of several influential people at the American and British intelligence agencies. According to a biography released in 2006, both the American Secret Service and Scotland Yard hired Houdini to sneak into police stations across Europe and Russia and gather information for them.
In return for his services, Houdini knew exactly what he wanted. The magician reportedly would only help the intelligence agencies if they agreed to further his career. William Melville, head of Scotland Yard, had to get Houdini auditions with London theater managers before he’d consent to a little spy work.
9. Marcel Petiot: The Serial Killer Who Was a Little Too Good at Keeping Secrets
One of the organization’s most prolific sources for Nazi intelligence was a Parisian doctor named Marcel Petiot, who used his position to gather information and gossip about German military operations. But Petiot wasn’t who he claimed to be. A former mental patient, Petiot used his doctor’s office as a kind of fake Underground Railroad. In exchange for 25,000 francs, he promised patients safe passage to Argentina. Petiot’s victims would come to the basement of his Paris townhouse, where he would give them an injection, ostensibly of vaccines. Instead, Petiot dosed his victims with cyanide. He would then incinerate the bodies in an old water-boiler or let them decompose in a pit of quicklime.
Ironically, Petiot’s killing spree ended in 1943, when the Gestapo picked him up on suspicion that he was running an actual escape route. He was held for seven months before being released without charges. Two months later, Paris police got wind of the bodies in Petiot’s basement and arrested him again. The remains of 26 victims were found in his apartment, although he’s suspected of murdering as many as 63. When the war ended, Petiot was convicted and guillotined.
10. Moe Berg: The Player Who Covered a Lot of Bases
By 1926, Berg had been traded to the Chicago White Sox, but that didn’t stop him from keeping up with his studies. Three years later, he passed the New York State bar and then accepted a position with the law firm Satterlee and Canfield—all while still playing ball.
Berg was eventually traded to the Washington Senators, where he was a hit both in the bleachers and on the social scene. Good-looking and witty, a lawyer and a pro ballplayer, Berg was quickly integrated into the D.C. dinner-party circuit, where he soon caught the eye of the U.S. government. Berg did his first spy work while touring Japan in 1934 as part of the American All-Star team. While overseas, he took home movies of Tokyo Harbor, military installations, and industrial areas.
By some accounts, however, the ballplayer wasn’t exactly a natural-born spy. One biographer claimed that Berg made some laughable mistakes early on, including getting caught by his foreign handler while he was trying to break into an aircraft factory. Even so, he was sent on relatively dangerous missions, including one in 1944 to collect intelligence on Germany’s efforts to build an atom bomb. If Berg believed the Germans were close to developing nuclear weapons, he had orders to shoot the lead physicist, Werner Heisenberg. Fortunately, Berg concluded that the Germans were years away from a breakthrough.
|11 Things You Might Not Know About the U.S. Air Force
When most people think of the Air Force, they think of fighter jets and Adam Baldwin’s character from Independence Day. From its inception however, the Air Force has “aimed higher” than the stratosphere. Here are a few things you might not have known about the Air Force.1. If you’re a weatherman in the Air Force, you’re probably a battle-hardened commando.
Before the Air Force sends squadrons of $150 million aircraft into areas, it likes to know what kind of environmental conditions are waiting for them. But the kinds of places where it sends such aircraft aren’t exactly friendly or hospitable to U.S. military operations. To gather meteorological and geological intelligence, the Air Force sends in Special Operations Weather Teams—commando forces with special training to read the environment and report back. To join such an elite fighting force, these men endure a punishing training pipeline that tests their mental and physical limits. The airmen who make it through earn the coveted gray beret and crest, and are trained to jump out of airplanes, climb mountains, snake through jungles, blow things up, and use small unit tactics in hostile territory.2. For a while there, North Dakota could have annihilated all human life.
During the 1960s and 1970s, the vast majority of nuclear weapons in the United States were located in North Dakota. Minot Air Force Base was a major Strategic Air Command facility, hosting intercontinental ballistic missiles, bombers, and refueling planes. (In other words, everything you need to start the apocalypse.) Accordingly, had North Dakota seceded from the United States it would have become the third-largest nuclear power in the world.3. George Bailey was a one-star general.
When the Army drafted Jimmy Stewart, he failed to meet the height and weight requirements and was turned away. Undaunted, he later tried enlisting in the Army Air Corps, but again missed the weight mark. He had to persuade his recruiter to run more agreeable tests, which he somehow passed. Once in uniform, the Army wanted to use him to make promotional films, but he balked and worked to get an assignment to a combat unit. (Indeed, he spent his entire career shunning publicity, preferring to serve as an Air Force officer and not as a celebrity recruitment tool.) By 1943, he was flying bombing runs over Germany, and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross. (The first of two.) By the end of the war, he was a full-bird colonel, and joined the Air Force Reserve, eventually retiring as a Brigadier General.4. Air Force One isn’t the name of the plane.
When the president isn’t on board one of the planes we think of as Air Force One—yes, there are two of them—the Boeing VC-25s are simply known as 28000 or 29000. “Air Force One” is the air traffic control designation for any plane on which the president is a passenger. (To wit, when President Nixon resigned, his plane took off as Air Force One, and by the time it landed, was called SAM 27000.) Air Force One is considered a “protection level one” asset—the security equivalent of a nuclear weapon—and airmen are permitted to use deadly force on unauthorized personnel. So don’t try to charge it.
5. The Air Force shares a birthday with the CIA.The National Security Act of 1947 completely reorganized the national security apparatus of the United States. It separated the Army Air Forces from the Army, and made it an equal branch of the military—the U.S. Air Force. The bill also created the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the National Security Council, and the Central Intelligence Agency. Notably, Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947 into law on what would become the first plane to be designated as Air Force One.
6. You’ve heard of a few former airmen.
• Super-stud pilot and octogenarian brawler Buzz Aldrin flew 86 combat missions (including the shooting down of two enemy aircraft) while serving in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War. He earned a Doctor of Science—considered a “higher doctorate”—in 1963. He was not only the second man on the moon, but the first to perform a sacred rite on a heavenly body—he took communion in the lunar module.
• George Carlin was an Air Force radar technician. He was thus possessed of the same training as Morgan Freeman, who actually turned down a drama scholarship from Jackson State University to serve as an Air Force radar tech.
• In 1932, Ray Cash and Carrie Cloveree couldn’t think of a name for their son, so they named him “J.R.” When J.R. tried to enlist in the Air Force, the recruiters wouldn’t allow initials to be used as a proper name. J.R. thus adopted a new name—John R. Cash—but would become better known in the music industry as Johnny Cash.
• Star Trek is largely informed by Air Force culture. Gene Roddenberry, its creator and the “Great Bird of the Galaxy,” flew combat missions in the Pacific during World War II. By the time he left the Air Force, he’d flown eighty-nine missions and had earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal. He would also have outranked Airman DeForest Kelley, who served in the Air Force before later serving in Starfleet.
• Airman First Class Hunter S. Thompson’s superiors recommended him for an early, honorable discharge. “Airman Thompson possesses outstanding talent in writing. He has imagination, good use of English, and can express his thoughts in a manner that makes interesting reading.” That said, “This Airman, although talented, will not be guided by policy or personal advice and guidance. Sometimes his rebel and superior attitude seems to rub off on other airmen staff members. He has little consideration for military bearing or dress and seems to dislike the service and want out as soon as possible… Consequently, it is requested that Airman Thompson be assigned to other duties immediately, and it is recommended that he be earnestly considered under the early release program.”
The present mission of the U.S. Air Force is to “fly, fight, and win” in “air, space, and cyberspace.” It has plenty of planes and plenty of rockets and missiles; what it needs are a few good cyber weapons. Earlier this year, the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center put out a request for “Cyberspace Warfare Operations” technology designed for the “employment of cyberspace capabilities to destroy, deny, degrade, disrupt, deceive, corrupt, or usurp the adversaries ability to use the cyberspace domain for his advantage.” The likely model for such weapons is Operation OLYMPIC GAMES, the joint U.S.-Israel cyber attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
An “ace” is a pilot who has shot down five or more enemy aircraft. The top jet ace in U.S. Air Force history is Joseph C. McConnell, a “triple ace” who shot down sixteen MiG fighters during the Korean War. He did this over a four-month period in 1953—including downing three MiGs on his last mission before returning to the United States. For his actions in combat, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the Silver Star. In 1954, he was killed while test piloting an F-86H fighter-bomber. His record as top jet ace still stands.
9. Chuck Norris didn’t join the Air Force. The Air Force joined Chuck Norris.
Today, the Air Police career field of which he was a part is known as Security Forces, and qualified airmen are trained in both military policing and airbase ground defense. Their pipeline is held at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, and the U.S. Army’s Camp Bullis in Bexar County, Texas. 22% of Air Force casualties in Iraq were Security Forces airmen.
10. The U.S. Air Force has two presidents to its credit.
In 1968, George W. Bush joined the Texas Air National Guard of the U.S. Air Force and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He trained as a fighter pilot, and flew Convair F-102 Delta Daggers with the 147th Reconnaissance Wing. In 1973 he transferred to the Air Force Reserve, and was honorably discharged at the rank of first lieutenant the following year.
According to Air Force Doctrine Document 3-14.1, we must “be prepared to deprive an adversary of the benefits of space capabilities when American interests and lives are at stake. Space superiority ensures the freedom to operate in the space medium while denying the same to an adversary and, like air superiority, cannot be taken for granted… Counterspace operations have defensive and offensive elements, both of which depend on robust space situation awareness.” Phrases like “space control” and “space force projection” sound a lot like something Wedge Antilles would be familiar with. Here’s hoping.
You get a call that you need to go clean out Aunt Martha’s storage garage because she died. And, you are told to bring a trailer. Sounds like a pain in the rear but out of respect for your Aunt Martha, you comply. Later you send the following letter to your boss.Dear Boss:
I’m resigning effective immediately!
The reason for my resignation is that I cleaned my aunt’s garage this morning before coming to work, and realized I don’t feel like working anymore.
See for yourself…
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|The Real Miss America
This 19 year old ex-cheerleader now an Air Force Security Forces Sniper, was watching a road in Pakistan that led to a NATO military base when she observed a man digging by the road. She engaged the target (she shot him).
It turned out he was a bomb maker for the Taliban, and he was burying an IED that was to be detonated when a U.S. patrol walked by 30 minutes later. It would have certainly killed and wounded several soldiers.
The interesting fact of this story is the shot was measured at 725 yards. She shot him as he was bent over burying the bomb. The shot went through his rectum and into the bomb which detonated; he was blown to pieces. The Air Force made a motivational poster of her. (Folks, that’s a shot 25 yards longer than seven football fields) and the last thing that came out of his mouth … was his ass!
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|The 15 Most Fascinating Accidental Inventions
Most inventors strive for weeks, months, or years to perfect their products. (Thomas Edison tried thousands of different light bulb filaments before arriving at the ideal mixture of tungsten.) But sometimes, brilliance strikes by accident. Here’s a salute to the scientists, chefs, and everyday folk who stumbled upon greatness – and, more important, shared their mistakes with the world. Let’s roll through the 15 best accidental inventions.15. Potato chips
The first potato chips were meant as an insult.Hotel chef George Crum enjoyed a wonderful knack for cooking. From his kitchen at Moon’s Lake House near Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Mr. Crum could “take anything edible and transform it into a dish fit for a king.” That skill came in handy – the upscale Lake House attracted customers who were used to being treated like kings.In 1853, a cranky guest complained about Crum’s fried potatoes. They were too thick, he said. Too soggy and bland. The patron demanded a new batch.Crum did not take this well. He decided to play a trick on the diner. The chef sliced a potato paper-thin, fried it until a fork could shatter the thing, and then purposefully over-salted his new creation. The persnickety guest will hate this, he thought. But the plan backfired. The guy loved it! He ordered a second serving.Word of this new snack spread quickly. “Saratoga Chips” became a hit across New England, and Crum went on to open his own restaurant. Today, that accidental invention has ballooned into a massive snack industry.
14. X-ray images
German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen discovered one of these invisible powers by accident.
Röntgen experimented with cathode-ray tubes, basically glass tubes with the air sucked out and a special gas pumped in. They work kinda like modern-day fluorescent light bulbs. When Röntgen ran electricity through the gas, the tube would glow. But something strange happened after he surrounded the tube with black cardboard. When he turned on the machine, a chemical a few feet away started to glow. The cardboard should have prevented any light from escaping, so what caused this distant glow?
Little did he know that the cathode-ray tube had been sending out more than just light. It shot out invisible rays that could pass right through paper, wood, and even skin. The lab chemical that lit up – the one that tipped off Röntgen – reacted to these rays. He called the phenomenon X-rays. The X stood for “unknown.”
Röntgen went on to capture the first X-ray images, including a shot of his wife’s hand (pictured, above). Upon seeing this skeletal image, she exclaimed, “I have seen my own death!”
Before Sweet’N Low and diet sodas, there was a plucky researcher studying something completely different: coal tar.
In the 1870s, Russian chemist Constantin Fahlberg worked in the lab of Ira Remsen at Johns Hopkins University. Remsen’s team experimented with coal-tar derivates, seeing how they react to phosphorus, chloride, ammonia, and other chemicals. (Not exactly the most appetizing profession.)
One night, Fahlberg returned home and started to chow down on dinner rolls. Something was off. The rolls tasted curiously sweet. The recipe hadn’t changed, so what was going on here? He soon realized that it wasn’t the rolls. It was him. His hands were covered with a mystery chemical that made everything sweet.
“Fahlberg had literally brought his work home with him, having spilled an experimental compound over his hands earlier that day,” writes the Chemical Heritage Foundation in its history of saccharin. “He ran back to Remsen’s laboratory, where he tasted everything on his worktable—all the vials, beakers, and dishes he used for his experiments. Finally he found the source: an overboiled beaker.”
Fahlberg had actually created saccharin before, but since he never bothered to taste-test his concoctions, the chemist had no idea. In fact, a modern chemist probably would have never discovered saccharin. Nowadays, people thoroughly wash their hands before leaving the lab. If Fahlberg had followed the normal rules of cleanliness, the world would be without this zero-calorie artificial sweetener.
When the DuPont chemist was only 27 years old, he had a big idea. Plunkett wanted to combine a specific gas with hydrochloric acid. He gathered the desired gas (tetrafluoroethylene) but wasn’t quite ready to start experimenting. So he cooled and pressurized the gas in canisters overnight. But when he returned the next day, the gas was gone. The canisters weighed the same amount as when they were full, but nothing came out. Where did all the gas go?
Confused, Plunkett cut the canisters in half. The gas had solidified on the sides, creating a slick surface.
“Rather than discard the apparent mistake, Plunkett and his assistant tested the new polymer and found that it had some very unusual properties: it was extremely slippery as well as inert to virtually all chemicals, including highly corrosive acids,” writes DuPont in its corporate history. “The product, trademarked as Teflon in 1945, was first used by the military in artillery shell fuses and in the production of nuclear material for the Manhattan Project.”
While Plunkett invented Teflon, he didn’t come up with the idea of using it for cooking. About a decade after Plunkett sawed those canisters in half, a French engineer named Marc Grégoire introduced “Tefal” pans, the first to be lined in Teflon. The idea came from his wife. Before Tefal, Grégoire used Teflon on his fishing tackle to prevent tangling. But his wife realized that the nonstick surface would be perfect for cookware.
Before World War II, coal was commonly used to heat homes, which left soot stains on walls. Noah and Joseph McVicker of Kutol Products, a Cincinnati-based soap manufacturer, created the doughy material to rub the soot off wallpaper. However, after the war, natural gas became a more common heat source. As coal was phased out, few people needed Kutol’s cleaning product. The company faced bankruptcy.
In the early 1950s, Joseph McVicker learned that his sister, a schoolteacher, used the material in her classroom as modeling dough. And thus, Play-Doh was born. The McVickers decided to market their nontoxic creation as a children’s toy. In 1955, they tested their product at nurseries and schools. A year later, they created the company Rainbow Crafts.
The “Play-Doh smell” came from the McVickers trying to hide the original cleaning aroma. Many ingredients of Play-Doh are not publicly known, but it is said that the McVickers added an artificial almond scent to the recipe.
In 1956, Play-Doh was first sold at Woodward and Lothrop, a department store in Washington, D.C. It came in only one color – off-white. Colored Play-Doh came out the following year and was sold at more department stores, such as Macy’s in New York. The McVickers became millionaires as Play-Doh ads were broadcast on kids’ shows such as “Captain Kangaroo,” “Ding Dong School,” and “Romper Room.”
In 1856, Perkin was an 18-year-old student at the Royal College of London. He attempted to create artificial quinine, an anti-malaria drug derived from tree bark. He was unsuccessful. However, his curiosity spiked when his failures resulted in a thick, purple sludge.
The color caught his eye. The sludge, made with a carbon-rich tar from distilled coal, took on a unique shade of purple, a very popular color in the fashion world at the time. Perkin was able to isolate the compound producing the color, which he named “mauve.” Perkin had created the first-ever synthetic dye.
Perkin dropped out of school and his father, George, used his entire life savings to build a factory that produced mauve-colored items. Within a few years, the family became extremely wealthy.
Perkin’s dye was quite vibrant and didn’t fade or wash out, but that’s not the only good thing that came from Perkin’s new color. Mauve helped kick-start a chemistry revolution. Experiments from other labs soon resulted in thousands of useful carbon compounds, such as an actual artificial quinine.
Coover first came across cyanoacrylates (the chemical name for these überadhesives) in World War II. His team tried to use the material to create plastic gunsights. Too bad the cyanoacrylates kept sticking to everything. Coover dismissed the chemical and tried different approaches.
He came across the material again in 1951. This time, Kodak experimented with cyanoacrylates for heat-resistant jet airplane canopies. Again, the stickiness got in the way. But then Coover had an epiphany.
“Coover realized these sticky adhesives had unique properties in that they required no heat or pressure to bond,” writes the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in a column from 2004. “He and his team tried the substance on various items in the lab and each time, the items became permanently bonded together. Coover – and his employer – knew they were on to something.”
While Coover’s original patent called the new invention “Superglue,” Kodak sold the adhesive under the less-evocative name “Eastman 910.” “Later it became known as Super Glue, and Coover became somewhat of a celebrity, appearing on television in the show ‘I’ve Got a Secret,’ where he lifted the host, Garry Moore, off the ground using a single drop of the substance,” writes MIT.
8. Silly Putty
The eraser-colored goo was not intended to become one of America’s favorite childhood toys, but actually a synthetic substitute for rubber during World War II. Rubber – used for tires, gas masks, life rafts, and boots – was essential for the war. With Japan attacking many rubber-manufacturing countries in Asia, America was in a pickle. Citizens were asked to donate any old tires, rain boots, coats, and anything else made of rubber.
But it still wasn’t enough. The government reached out to companies to invent a synthetic rubber with similar properties.
In 1943, James Wright, an engineer working for General Electric, entered the scene. Wright just happened to combine boric acid and silicone oil in one of his test tubes, creating the goo that would eventually fill hours of playtime.
The goo could rebound and stretch more than traditional rubber, had a very high melting temperature, and did not collect mold. Although the “nutty putty” didn’t contain the properties needed to replace rubber, Wright hoped there would be some conventional use for it.
However, the government was not interested. Wright sent samples of it to scientists around the country and they, too, were not interested. However, partygoers found the goo very entertaining.
In 1949, a second character entered the scene: the unemployed Peter Hodgson, who saw an opportunity. He borrowed $147 to buy the rights from GE and began producing the goo, which he renamed Silly Putty. He packaged it in plastic eggs because it was close to Easter.
Soon children across the country wanted Silly Putty. Kids could stretch and distort their favorite comic book heroes by slapping the putty down on printed pages. It became one of the fastest selling toys in America’s history.
7. Corn Flakes
In 1894, John was the chief medical officer of Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan, which was run based on Seventh-day Adventist health principles of a vegetarian diet. Will worked at the sanitarium as a bookkeeper and manager, but under the guidance of his brother, he became very interested in health and nutrition. He eventually helped John search for new, wholesome diets for patients. The two brothers were in search of an easily digestible bread substitute, which led them to boiling wheat to make dough.
But it never turned into dough. They let the wheat boil for far too long. When Will rolled out the wheat, it separated into large, flat flakes. After baking and tasting, the brothers decided it was a delicious, healthy snack worthy of their patients. “Granose” flakes received rave reviews and patients pleaded for more after they left the sanitarium.
While John started the shipment process, Will had an idea: Try the process with corn instead of wheat. It was a touch-down play. In 1906 alone, the Kelloggs’ company, Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flakes Company, shipped 175,000 cases of Corn Flakes, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The brothers experimented with more ingredients, creating Bran Flakes and Rice Krispies. After Will decided to add sugar to some recipes, John left the company, believing that it went against their initial goals. Will renamed the company W.K. Kellogg Company in 1922
After James watched it re-coil itself and stand upright on the floor, a light bulb went off in his brain.
James showed the stepping spring to his wife, Betty, and said he could make a children’s toy out of it. Because the Navy was unresponsive to the springs, James spent the next couple of years perfecting his toy idea. Betty came up with the name “Slinky” and the couple first demonstrated its toy at Gimbels Department Store in 1945. In just 90 minutes, they sold 400 Slinkys.
Within 50 years, James Industries sold more than a quarter of a billion Slinkys worldwide and the slinking toy is still finding its way into American pop culture.
But not Swiss electrical engineer, George De Mestral, who, after taking a walk in the woods with his dog, was fascinated by the cockleburs’ ability to cling to his clothes and his dog’s fur.
Under a microscope, De Mestral examined the tons of tiny hooks that line cockleburs and discovered they could easily attach to the small loops found in clothing and fur. He experimented with different materials to make his own hooks and loops form a stronger bond. In 1955, De Mestral decided nylon was perfect and thus Velcro was invented.
Velcro, the combination of “velvet” and “crochet,” was showcased in a 1959 fashion show held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. However, it didn’t receive positive reviews from fashion enthusiasts.
Velcro wasn’t widely used until NASA made it popular in the early 1960s. Apollo astronauts used it to secure items that they didn’t want escaping in their zero-gravity environment. Hospitals and athletic companies eventually used Velcro after realizing the practicality of the material. In 1968, Puma was the first to use Velcro on shoes – Adidas, Reebok, and others followed suit.
4. Vulcanized rubber
Charles Goodyear spent years trying to overcome rubber’s problems, and he only succeeded by mistake.
Goodyear tried various powders to dry up the stickiness, but to no avail. Everything kept melting. These expensive experiments pushed his family into debt and resulted in jail time. Yet even in prison, Goodyear was undeterred from his goal. Some called him a mad man.
According to a biography of Goodyear in Reader’s Digest, he walked into a general store in Woburn, Mass., to show off his rubber products. This time the rubber had sulfur in it to act as a drying agent. Goodyear got so excited that the rubber flew out of his hands and landed on a hot stove. When he examined it, he noticed that it did not melt, but instead charred black. After poking and prodding, Goodyear also noticed that it still had the springy surface texture of rubber, the “gum-elastic” it was known for. Goodyear had made rubber weatherproof.
Another tale tells a different story: Goodyear absent-mindedly turned out the lights to his makeshift lab and spilled his vials and test tubes containing sulfur, lead, and rubber onto a still-hot stove. The result was the same, a charred rubber-like substance that didn’t melt in the extreme heat. After testing in freezing temperatures, Goodyear finally succeeded in reaching his goal, and it only happened because of a careless mistake.
After many patent battles, Goodyear died still in debt. He didn’t start the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. – the American company was instead named in his honor.
“Life,” Goodyear wrote, “should not be estimated exclusively by the standard of dollars and cents. I am not disposed to complain that I have planted and others have gathered the fruits. A man has cause for regret only when he sows and no one reaps.”
In 1905, Frank Epperson from San Francisco invented the Popsicle purely by accident. Epperson made a fruit-flavored soda drink out of powder and water, a popular concoction back then. However, one evening, he never finished making the soda and left it outside overnight – with the stirring stick still in the cup. It was a cold night, and he discovered in the morning that the drink had frozen around the stick. He popped it out of the cup and licked it.
At first, Epperson didn’t realize what he had stumbled upon. Seventeen years later, he served the frozen lollipops to the public at a fireman’s ball. (Surprisingly, no one else had come up with the idea yet). They were a huge hit. A year later, he enjoyed even more success after serving them at Neptune Beach, an amusement park in Alameda, Calif., which closed in 1939.
Epperson finally applied for the patent in 1923 and began producing even more fruit flavors. He sold the frozen pops on birch wood sticks and called them “Eppsicles.” They sold for just a nickel apiece.
Epperson’s children apparently didn’t like the name “Eppsicle.” They preferred “Popsicles.” Epperson eventually agreed with his kids, and the name has stuck ever since.
2. Chocolate chip cookies
Wakefield and her husband, Kenneth, owned Toll House Inn in Whitman, Mass. Wakefield prepared the recipes and cooked for the inn’s guests.
One day in 1930, Wakefield had a problem. She was out of baker’s chocolate for her scrumptious Butter Drop Do cookies. Surely, her guests would be upset. Wakefield had to quickly come up with a chocolate substitute and broke up a bar of Nestle’s semisweet chocolate into tiny chunks and mixed them into the batter. She assumed that the chocolate would melt, spread into the dough as it baked, and create a chocolate-flavored cookie.
That, of course, didn’t happen. When Wakefield took the cookies out of the oven, she noticed that the chocolate chunks only melted slightly, holding their shape and forming a creamy texture. The guests loved them.
Wakefield’s chocolate chip cookies began attracting people from all over New England. After her recipe appeared in a Boston newspaper, Nestle gained a huge spike in sales. Everyone wanted Nestle’s semisweet chocolate bars to make Wakefield’s cookies.
And so a marketing deal was struck. Andrew Nestle agreed to give Wakefield a lifetime supply of the chocolate in return for her recipe printed on every Nestle semisweet chocolate bar.
1. Microwave oven
Several years prior to Raytheon’s first attempt at the microwave oven, a scientist, Percy Spencer, experimented with a new magnetron, a vacuum tube that releases energy to power radar equipment.
Radar was vital during World War II. It allowed for easier detection of enemy planes and ships, especially German U-Boats. Raytheon scientists looked for new ways to improve the magnetron and increase productivity during a time of great need.
Cooking a TV dinner was not on their to-do lists. It was only by chance – and after the war had ended – that one scientist finally noticed one of the magnetron’s other possible uses.
While working with the device, Spencer noticed that the chocolate bar in his pocket started melting. He attributed it to the microwaves and, like any good scientist, conducted more tests.
First, Spencer tried corn kernels. After they successfully popped, Spencer tried heating more foods. The results led engineers to attempt to contain the microwaves in a safe enclosure, the microwave oven.
The countertop microwave oven that’s in almost all American kitchens today was first introduced to the public in 1967 by the Amana Corporation (acquired by Raytheon in 1965).
|New Medicine Cabinet
It’s taken me many, many months of my retirement time but I have just finished building my new Medicine Cabinet…….
|10 Strange And Dangerous Uses For Lasers
We all know that lasers hold tremendous potential for all kinds of useful gadgetry. However, they can also be used for dangerous weapons and bizarre, pointless devices — and few are more pointlessly dangerous than ones featured in this list.
Saw blade crossbow
Working Star Trek phaser
While you probably can’t set this modified toy Star Trek phaser to “kill,” it could probably blind a target or give them some nasty burns. Plus, it looks really impressive if your Enterprise has a fog machine. Nerd Approved
In the video above Scott Stevenson pops 100 balloons with a Spyder III 750 mW Krypton laser. It’s kind of like the high-tech version of domino toppling. My only wish is that 100 clowns were holding the balloons because each time they popped it would make a clown sad. Stupid clowns. CubicleBot
Courtesy of Nerd Approved
Predator helmet with tri-lasers
Portal turret replica
OPMOD battle mug
Laser popcorn maker
Courtesy of Nerd Approved
Sharks with frickin’ lasers
|Military and Aviation Historical Information
This is some great information for people that have served in the military. Even if you are not into this sort of thing, you might want to pass this on to others who are.
The Rambo Granny of Melbourne, Australia
The Aussie’s are nuts if they punish her. Read thru to end. Especially the stats about Australia.
Must be a good shot!! OUCH!!
Gun-toting granny Ava Estelle, 81, was so ticked-off when
two thugs raped her 18-year-old granddaughter that she tracked the unsuspecting ex-cons down … And shot off their testicles.
“The old lady spent a week hunting those men down and, when she found them, she took revenge on them in her own special way,” said Melbourne police investigator Evan Delp. Then she took a taxi to the nearest police station, laid the gun on the sergeant’s desk and told him as calm as could be: “Those bastards will never rape anybody again, by God.”
Cops say convicted rapist and robber Davis Furth, 33, lost both his penis and his testicles when outraged Ava opened fire with a 9-mm pistol in the hotel room where he and former prison cell mate Stanley Thomas, 29, were holed up.
The wrinkled avenger also blew Thomas’ testicles to kingdom come, but doctors managed to save his mangled penis, police said.
“The one guy, Thomas, didn’t lose his manhood, but the doctor I talked to said he won’t be using it the way he used to,” Detective Delp told reporters. “Both men are still in pretty bad shape, but I think they’re just happy to be alive after what they’ve been through.”
The Rambo Granny swung into action August 21 after her granddaughter Debbie was carjacked and raped in broad daylight by two knife-wielding creeps in a section of town bordering on skid row.
“When I saw the look on my Debbie’s face that night in the hospital, I decided I was going to go out and get those bastards myself ’cause I figured the Law would go easy on them,”‘ recalled the retired library worker.
” And I wasn’t scared of them, either – because I’ve got me a gun and I’ve been shootin’ all my life. And I wasn’t dumb enough to turn it in when the law changed about owning one.”
So, using a police artist’s sketch of the suspects and Debbie’s description of the sickos, tough-as-nails Ava spent seven days prowling the wino-infested neighborhood where the crime took place till she spotted the ill-fated rapists entering their flophouse hotel.
“I knew it was them the minute I saw ‘em, but I shot a picture of ‘em anyway and took it back to Debbie and she said sure as hell, it was them,” the oldster recalled.
“So I went back to that hotel and found their room and knocked on the door,
Now, baffled lawmen are trying to figure out exactly how to deal with the vigilante granny. “What she did was wrong, and she broke the law, but it is difficult to throw an 81-year-old woman in prison,” Det. Delp said, “especially when 3 million people in the city want to nominate her for Mayor.”
HONG KONG — What do you do if your roads are congested and polluted? Try designing a vehicle that takes up no road space. And make it partly solar powered.
A rendering of the “straddling bus,” which requires neither elevated tracks nor extensive tunneling.
Rendering of the bus on the road. The vehicle would run on a combination of solar power and municipal electricity.
A company in the southern Chinese town of Shenzhen has done just that. To address the country’s problems with traffic and air quality, Shenzhen Huashi Future Parking Equipment has developed a decidedly odd-looking, extra-wide and extra-tall vehicle that can carry up to 1,200 passengers.
Though it is called the “straddling bus,” Huashi’s invention resembles a train in many respects — but it requires neither elevated tracks nor extensive tunneling. Its passenger compartment spans the width of two traffic lanes and sits high above the road surface, on a pair of fencelike stilts that leave the road clear for ordinary cars to pass underneath. It runs along a fixed route.
Huashi Future Parking’s outsize invention — six meters, or about 20 feet, wide — is to be powered by a combination of municipal electricity and solar power derived from panels mounted on the roofs of the vehicles and at bus stops.
A pilot project for the vehicle is in the works in Beijing, and several other Chinese cities have shown interest.
The company says the vehicle — which will travel at an average speed of 40 kilometers an hour, or about 25 m.p.h. — could reduce traffic jams by 25 to 30 percent on main routes.
The straddling bus could replace up to 40 conventional buses, potentially saving the 860 tons of fuel that 40 buses would consume annually, and preventing 2,640 tons of carbon emissions, said Youzhou Song, the vehicle’s designer.
“I had the idea when I was doing research on the road for the designs of innovative parking slots for bikes and cars,” Mr. Song, who founded the company with several partners in 2009, said by phone last week. “I saw the traffic jams and wondered if it’s possible to make buses high up in the air as well.”
The design highlights a range of issues that have come with China’s explosive economic growth.
The nation’s urban population has expanded rapidly in recent years. In a report last year, the consulting firm McKinsey estimated that an additional 350 million people — more than the population of the United States — would move to the cities by 2015. More than 220 cities will have more than one million people. By comparison, Europe has 35 such cities now.
All this has caused a vast need for urban infrastructure, with McKinsey estimating that 170 new mass transit systems could be built in China by 2025.
At the same time, rising affluence has caused the number of cars — and traffic jams — to soar.
China is the world’s largest polluter, and Beijing is eager to reduce carbon emissions. The authorities have been pushing solar power and fuel-efficient transportation.
Huashi’s invention appears to have received a preliminary seal of approval from Beijing. The capital’s Mentougou district is testing the technology and plans to start building nine kilometers of route at the end of this year. If the test is successful, about 116 miles would be put in place.
“Mr. Song’s design is in line with our concept of green transportation and our vision of the future. We hope to start the construction and operation as soon as possible,” said Wenbo Zhang, head of the science and technology commission of Mentougou district, though he added that the necessary approvals would take time and investment.
Shijiazhuang, in Hebei Province, and Wuhu, in Anhui Province, have also applied to obtain financing for straddling bus systems, Mr. Song said, while Luzhou in Sichuan Province has shown interest.
The vehicles will be built by the China South Locomotive and Rolling Stock Corporation starting at the end of this month, Mr. Song said.
The cost of construction — 50 million renminbi, or $7.4 million, for one bus and about 25 miles of route facilities — is roughly one-tenth what it costs to build a subway of the same length, he said.
Huashi Future Parking’s more modest inventions include space-saving vertical bicycle-parking sheds. The bike sheds have been sold to the municipal government of Nanchang, in Jiangxi Province, and to a factory in Dongguan, in the southern province of Guangdong, Mr. Song said.