039 | Bird Brain


Our world is full of the unexplainable. And if history is in open book, all of these amazing tales right there on display just waiting for us to explore. Welcome. The cabinet of curiosities. Livestock never fares. Well in a tornado, I think many of us remember that icon scene in the movie twister when a cow Moos across the screen as it's carried away in a funnel of wind and debris. But tornadoes, and the creature is caught up within them can teach us a few things about the wind and the way it moves. That was the thought mathematician Elias Loomis had in eighteen forty two. After hearing reports about naked chickens yet. You heard me. Right naked chickens farmers in Ohio had noticed poultry walking around without their feathers following tornado that tore through their town and it happened enough. That folks didn't really think anything about it. Loomis the featherless foul as an opportunity to measure a tornado's. Wind speeds, a feat previously thought impossible keep in mind. This was the eighteen forties. Well, before animal rights organizations monitored how scientists use living creatures in their studies Elias Loomis had a hypothesis and almost no oversight. I'm sure you can see where this is going Loomis killed a chicken and launched its body out of a small cannon clocking in at a top speed of over three hundred forty miles per hour, the bird flu high and far leaving in its wake a cloud of feathers and enough meat to make a few chicken nuggets. Tornadoes must spin at a slow rate. He thought and continued his research. Unfortunately, his test proved unsuccessful the technology being what it was at the time. He was unable to gather enough data on just how quickly tornadoes turned nor their effects on the local livestock. It wasn't until over a century later when Bernard and atmosphere scientist at SUNY Albany took a closer look Bernard had spent his early career at General Electric, researching the atmosphere he discovered the effects of what happened when silver iodide was injected into clouds they formed ice crystals and Bernard thought he might be able to use this to control precipitation. In fact, his work is still used today by cloud seeding companies that can produce rain on demand in drought stricken areas. After he left. GE Bernard went on to work for Arthur D little the company that helped create the word processor and the NASDAQ stock exchange which eventually led him to the university of Albany. It was there where he learned about Elias Loomis research on wind speed and naked chickens Bernard wasn't sure Lummus had been on the right track. But technology had advanced to the point where new research wouldn't need to harm animals in the process. So he took a crack at it himself. He dropped some chickens into a wind tunnel, the kind they use to test aircraft, and then turned it on and it worked well sort of the chickens loss, plenty of feathers, but inconsistently and not enough to classify them as naked. They were honestly just sort of patchy and ran around clucking angrily. It didn't take long for Bernard's. A realized that chickens made terrible gauges of wind speed. But that didn't stop him from earning an ignoble prize in nineteen ninety seven no, not a Nobel prize an ignoble prize ignoble, get it. It's a satirical award given to ten bizarre or benign achievements in scientific research Bernard one for his paper chicken plucking as measure of tornado win speeds. Bernard's work also found its way into popular culture. His research of ice, crystal formations and clouds became the basis for the substance ice nine in Kurt Vonnegut. It's nineteen sixty three novel cat's cradle it turns out Vonnegut had worked as a publicist for General Electric in the late forties. So he knew all about Bernard's work. Even though he didn't have a college degree himself. GE hired Kurt to help advertise the company scientific breakthroughs. The B honest, any other applicant as unqualified as Kurt Vonnegut would have been turned away at the door, but he had two things working in his favor burst. He lied. He told gee that he held a master's degree in anthropology from the university of Chicago, which he certainly did not is other advantage was that he had a little help from the inside. And turns out that his brother already worked for GE where he worked as an atmospheric scientist his brother Bernard bonnet. This episode of cabinet of curiosities was made possible by fracture. Almost everyone takes shares photos online, but very few of those photos end up printed and even fewer end up on display. Maybe it's time to focus on the moments. That mean, the most in your life by turning your favorite digital memories into meaningful decor instead of printing on photo paper fracture, prints directly onto glass, turning your favorite photographs into works of art. And they come ready to display right out of the box, even including a wall hanger ranchers are US made from US source materials. All right inside a green and modern carbon-neutral factory. The prince make thoughtful unique gifts for just about anyone on your holiday shopping list. And they're sleek frame list design goes with any decor right now cabinet of curiosities listeners can get a special discount on their first order by visiting fracture me dot com slash curiosities. When you do they're going to ask you how you heard about fracture. So don't forget to tell them that cabinet of curiosities that you enjoyed that discount today. That's fracture me dot com slash curious. These. Before at kipnes before south beach before Jazzercise and soul cycle and tai-bo. There was battle creek sanitarium founded in eighteen sixty six in battle creek Michigan. The sanitarium wasn't a mental health facility. Like we're used to seeing today back then the word sanitarium was very Asian on the word sanatorium, which came to define a health resort for injured soldiers. It had been owned and operated by the Seventh Day Adventists denomination of Protestants who believe in healthy living straight from the good book. No meets no shellfish indefinitely. No, alcohol or tobacco were allowed. It was strict, but some people believed it was also beneficial. Strangely enough. Not a whole lot of people win for that sort of thing. Battle creek started small with no more than a hundred patients in the beginning. But when Dr John Harvey arrived at the turn of the century. He wanted to change all of that under Dr John's leadership. He quickly grew the sanitariums meagre attendance from one hundred two over seven thousand patients with a staff of over eight hundred assisting at any given time he turned battle creek into a well oiled machine dedicated to making lives better for a nominal fee. Of course. John was himself a Seventh Day Adventist. And as part of his theology. Believe strongly in the churches push toward vegetarianism and away from sin in order to achieve the ladder. He developed what was referred to as a bland diet consisting mostly of yogurts nuts. Peanut butter and starches. A bland diet was the key to abstinence in his mind. Brought on by the lack of stimulation of taste buds. Patience. At battle creek were also encouraged to take part in various activities to aid in their recovery's in light therapy after noon marches around the premises to assist with digestion, and even regular animus, John lead the root of all evil in the body was bacterial toxins and his combination of a bland diet with rigorous exercise was meant to help clear all of that nastiness right out. While he ran battle creek John filed patents for several inventions. That would help those who stayed there including a radiant heat, bath massage tools and exercise equipment. He made numerous strides in medical devices under what he called physiotherapy. But there was something missing something from the other side of the equation. He done all he could for the patients physically. But now he needed to revolutionize diets. The idea had come to him in a dream one night. It was for a new kind of bread one that would be easier to chew at breakfast. When people had just woken up the following day. John walk down to the kitchen and mixed dough made of weeds, oats and corn. What came out wasn't very appetizing, and he left it there for a few days while attending to sanitarium business when he came back the mixture had hardened and John almost threw it out. But then he had another idea rather than waste all of that food. He rolled it out and baked it and what he ended up with were crispy little flakes John had stumbled onto something big here. So big it would go onto spawn an entire new category of food the breakfast cereal. It just so happened that John Harvey Kellogg had invented cornflakes. But the story doesn't end there. Just when Kelloggs cornflakes had hit the sanitariums breakfast tables down on his luck businessman sought out, Dr Kellogg to help cure, his chronic health problems this businessman, inspired by the doctors, delicious new breakfast cereal returned home with ambitions of his own while his first product, a cereal beverage called post them didn't do so. Well, his sophomore endeavor was a huge hit. It was called grape nuts named for the fruity aroma given off during the manufacturing process and its creator. CW post had inadvertently kicked off what would be known for decades as the cereal wars. I hope you've enjoyed today's guided tour of the cabinet of curiosities. Subscribe for free on podcasts or learn more about the show by visiting curiosities podcast dot com. The show was created by me, Erin, minke and partnership with how stuff works I make another award winning show called Lor which is a podcast book series and television show, and you can learn all about it over at the world of Lor dot com. And until next time stay curious.

Coming up next