A birthing machine — that spins a pregnant woman at high speed until the child comes flying out — is on display in this week’s Improbable Research podcast.
This week, Marc Abrahams tells about:
- The Blonsky centrifugal birthing device. (“Apparatus for facilitating the birth of a child by centrifugal force,” US patent 3216423, George and Charlotte Blonsky, 1965 / The Bronx Zoo / The Ig Nobel Prizes)
- Some pre- and post-Blonsky centrifugal inventions. (Details are in the special Centrifugal Force issue [vol. 20, no. 3, May/June 2014] of the Annals of Improbable Research.)
- Inventions inspired by Blonsky. (Details are in the special Centrifugal Force issue of the Annals of Improbable Research.)
- Some non-Blonskian birthing inventions. (Details are in the special Centrifugal Force issue of the Annals of Improbable Research.)
- To twirl a mental patient. (Details are in the special Centrifugal Force issue of the Annals of Improbable Research.)
- On the drying of laundry. (Hansen, Erik B. (1992). ‘On Drying of Laundry.’ SIAM Journal on Applied Mathematics 52 (5): 1360–69. / Chipot, M. (1993). ‘New Remarks on the Dam Problem.’ In Chadam, John M., and Henning Rasmussen, eds. Emerging Applications in Free Boundary Problems: Proceedings of the International Colloquium ‘Free Boundary Problems: Theory and Applications.’ Pitman Research Notes in Mathematics Series 280. Harlow, UK: Longman Scientific and Technical: 2–12.)
- Gambling, with brain damage. (Shiv, Baba, George Loewenstein, Antoine Bechara, Hanna Damasio, and Antonio R. Damasio (2005). ‘Investment Behavior and the Negative Side of Emotion.’ Psychological Science 16 (6): 435–39.)
- Schizophrenia and heeled shoes. (Flensmark, Jarl (2004). ‘Is There an Association Between the Use of Heeled Footwear and Schizophrenia?’ Medical Hypotheses 63 (4): 740–47.)
- The mini-opera “The Blonsky Device”, act 1. (The opera premiered as part of the 2013 Ig Nobel Prize ceremony. Henry Akona orchestrated and directed. The opera starred Maria Ferrante (as Charlotte Blonsky), Martin Kelly (as George Blonsky), Philip Lima (as the zookeeper), and Miles Rind (as the patent examiner), with an orchestra of biomedical researchers directed by Dr. Thomas Michel. Karen Hopkin narrates. The opera also featured, in non-singing roles: Melissa Franklin, Peaco Todd, Alex Nemiroski, and Nobel laureates Roy Glauber, Dudley Herschbach, Frank Wilczek, and Eric Maskin.)
- The mysterious John Schedler did the sound engineering this week.
The podcast is all about research that makes people LAUGH, then THINK — research about anything and everything, from everywhere —research that’s good or bad, important or trivial, valuable or worthless. CBS distributes it, both on the new CBS Play.it web site, and on iTunes.