Monthly Archive: April 2015

Fire Poles Are Sliding Into History

In the late 1800s, firefighters crafted the first firehouse pole of wood to speed up their response to emergencies. Shortly after, the poles were made of brass. Although they improved efficiency throughout the US in multi-story fire stations, fire poles are sliding into history because of high costs and serious, sometimes deadly, accidents. Although not all firefighters agree with the change, fire poles are being phased out in favor of stairs, slides, and one-story fire stations.

How The Wright Brothers Set Back Aviation History

The Wright brothers are generally credited as being aviation pioneers, but it’s up for debate just how much they held back the field. After confirming their craft could fly and could be controlled, they sat on the design for some time while they tried to get someone to buy it sight unseen. When that didn’t work—and when they were being surpassed in technology and advances—they settled for trying to slap everyone with lawsuits. Their idea man spent much of his time in court, and it’s possible their attitude of secrecy hurt the early development of aviation.

The First Detectives Of The Final Frontier

Raymond Harris and Raymond Purdy aren’t just ordinary Earth-bound detectives. They’re space detectives. These guys catch crooks and expose crimes using satellite images and the occasional drone. And while they aren’t chasing down extraterrestrial thugs, they can definitely solve thefts, frauds, and environmental crimes.

The Youngest Living Sword Swallower In The World

It may seem like an illusion or magic trick, but sword swallowers actually do suppress their gag reflexes to pass a sword down their throats into their stomachs. At just 16 years old, Haley Hall is the youngest living sword swallower in the world even though the Sword Swallowers Association International (SSAI) prefers that these entertainers be at least 18 years old. But the SSAI’s president was willing to work with Haley because she had the support of her parents, the determination to succeed, and prior experience as a fire-eater and escape artist. Although there are only a few dozen sword swallowers currently performing, they’ve contributed greatly to the medical community, both through charitable work and their participation in studies that led to medical advancements. However, it’s a dangerous profession with perforation of the esophagus and pharynx as the main risks, especially if the entertainer uses multiple or strangely shaped swords.

William Cimillo, The Runaway Bus Driver

William Cimillo was a New York City bus driver back in the 1940s. He was a hard-working guy, never complained, and was even recognized for his exemplary work ethic. But eventually, the daily grind was just a little too much for Mr. Cimillo, and in 1947, he left his route and drove south, heading straight for Florida in his bus.

When Radiation, Child Abuse, Eugenics And Quaker Oats Collided

In the 1990s, the Fernald Developmental Center came under scrutiny for practices and experiments that it had carried out under rules put in place by its pro-eugenics third superintendent, Walter Fernald. In a joint experiment between the institution, MIT and Quaker Oats, students throughout the 1940s and 1950s were given breakfasts that were heavier on the radiation than they were on the nutrition. That was all in addition to the horrific accounts of abuse and neglect that had long gone on through the school’s history. When investigations concluded in the 1990s, MIT and Quaker Oats agreed to pay a $1.85 million settlement to those who had been test subjects. As a final footnote, MIT issued a statement that more or less said everyone was overreacting about the whole thing, and it wasn’t really that much radiation.

The Employment Test Edison Wanted Everyone To Fail

For some time, it’s been trendy for the best companies to ask difficult, if not bizarre, interview questions to test the problem-solving skills of employment candidates. Google recently stopped using these types of questions because they’re not effective at finding the best employees and they stir resentment. But back in the early 1900s, self-educated Thomas Edison didn’t care if he stirred resentment. He deliberately designed a 146-question trivia test to weed out unqualified college graduates who wanted to land one of the coveted jobs at his company. The test was so hard that even Albert Einstein reportedly failed.

Botox Might Dull Your Emotions

For years, Botox has been injected into people’s faces to remove wrinkles and frown lines by paralyzing the muscles. While Botox can make us look younger, it can also make it difficult to use facial expressions to convey emotions. However, scientists have found that the inability to move facial muscles associated with emotion may also limit our ability to feel those emotions. The Botox mask appears to be more than skin-deep.