Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"The foetus needs the application of considerable propelling force"

Centrifuging babies (Marc Abrahams in the Guardian):
Inspired by elephants, a New York City couple designed an electro-mechanical device that accelerates the process. The method is simple: the pregnant woman is strapped on to a circular table; the table is then rotated at high speed. [...] The design includes some 125 basic components, including bolts, brakes, wing nuts, a massive concrete floor slab, a vari-speed vertical gear motor, a speed reducer, more wing nuts, sheaves, stretchers, shafts, thigh members, a butt plate, aluminium ballast water boxes, more wing nuts, pillow clamps, a girdle member, and some additional wing nuts.
On the topic of vaguely absurd-sounding lists, here is another one from Cobbett (in Rural Rides):
let us see what would be the consumption of one family; let it be a family of five persons; a man, wife, and three children, one child big enough to work, one big enough to eat heartily, and one a baby; and this is a pretty fair average of the state of people in the country. Such a family would want 5lb. of bread a day; they would want a pound of mutton a day; they would want two pounds of bacon a day; they would want, on an average, winter and summer, a gallon and a half of beer a day; for I mean that they should live without the aid of the eastern or the western slave-drivers.
A rather pleasant life! (Even if you note that "bacon" -- as becomes clear from context -- is being used as a generic term for cured pig-meat.) 

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