“The Tartarian Lamb”

Tartarian Lamb

Another sighting of the Vegetable Lamb of Tartary, previously discussed here:

This singular production of nature, which is one of the curiosities of the East, though not commonly known, has heretofore engaged much of the attention of the learned naturalists. To the eye, though a perfect vegetable in its internal form, particularly at a distance, it carries an exact resemblance of the animal whose name it bears. It has four stalks or stems, which appear like feet, and the body is covered with a brownish kind of down, which has the medicinal quality of stopping blood; its head also bears an exact resemblance to the representation we have given of it.

Kirby’s Wonderful and Scientific Museum, 1803

Collateral Damage

In 1958 the U.S. Air Force mistakenly dropped an atom bomb on South Carolina. A B-47 was over Mars Bluff when navigator Bruce Kulka accidentally released the device. Its fissionable core was stowed elsewhere, fortunately, but the bomb still contained thousands of pounds of conventional explosives. It fell 15,000 feet into the home of William Gregg, where it created a mushroom cloud and left a 75-foot crater.

Presumably they raised his insurance rates.

“Extraordinary Facts in Acoustics”

An intelligent and very respectable gentleman, named Ebenezer Snell, who is still living, at the age of eighty and upwards, was in a corn-field with a negro on the 17th of June, 1776, in the township of Cumminton, Mass., one hundred and twenty-nine miles west of Bunker Hill by the course of the road, and at least one hundred in an air-line. Some time during the day, the negro was lying on the ground, and remarked to Ebenezer that there was war somewhere, for he could distinctly hear the cannonading. Ebenezer put his ear to the ground, and also heard the firing distinctly, and for a considerable time. He remembers the fact, which made a deep impression on his mind, as plainly as though it was yesterday.

— Charles Bombaugh, Facts and Fancies for the Curious From the Harvest-Fields of Literature, 1860


Image: Wikimedia Commons

Lightning-prints are appearances sometimes found on the skin of men or animals that are struck by lightning, and are currently believed to be photographic representations of surrounding objects of scenery.

At Candelaria, in Cuba, in 1828, a young man was struck dead by lightning near a house, on one of the windows of which was nailed a horse-shoe; and the image of the horse-shoe was said to be distinctly printed upon the neck of the young man. On the 14th of November, 1830, lightning struck the Chateau Benatoniére, in Lavendée. At the time a lady happened to be seated on a chair in the salon, and on the back of her dress were printed minutely the ornaments on the back of the chair. In September, 1857, a peasant-girl, while herding a cow in the department of Seine-et-Marne, was overtaken by a thunder-storm. She took refuge under a tree, and the tree, the cow and herself were struck with lightning. The cow was killed, but she recovered, and on loosening her dress for the sake of respiring freely, she saw a picture of the cow upon her breast.

— Frank H. Stauffer, The Queer, the Quaint and the Quizzical, 1882

Tug of War


Let’s play a game. We’ll take turns bidding for a dollar bill. Both of us will have to pay our final bids, and the winner gets to keep the dollar.

Not surprisingly, the bidding will soon reach 99 cents. But then I’ll bid $1.00, giving up any hope of profit but getting at least the dollar for my trouble. And then you’ll bid $1.01, with the same idea. And so on indefinitely: First we were bidding for gain, but now we’re trying to minimize our losses.

It sounds absurd, but this game has led people to pay $5 for a $1 bill. Yale economist Martin Shubik invented it to show how an irrational decision can be reached by perfectly rational steps.

(Thanks, Cody.)