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Sturgeon's House

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Too often technology is portrayed a steady, linear series of more or less inevitable improvements.  This is an easier illusion to maintain if you don't know anything about the subject.  In fact, the history of technology is littered with insane, unworkable garbage.  Things that didn't work, barely worked, might-have-beens, things that would perhaps be worth revisiting, things fit only for ridicule, and some things that make no sense whatsoever:

 

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Yes!  Terrify your enemies with your new gunspoon!  Note the direction of the trigger and the direction of the muzzle.  What the hell were these even for?

 

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Attaching solid fuel rockets to a bicycle!  We totes verified this idea in Kerbal Space Program, it'll be fine.

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An external combustion motor that uses ether instead of steam!  Nothing could possibly go wrong with this!

 

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A turbine powered by boiling mercury!  There is definitely nothing at all that could go horribly wrong with this!

 

Douglas Self's Museum of Retrotechnology Site has all of these wondrous devices and more.  Feast your mind on the retardation of the engineers and inventors of yesteryear, and be amazed that anyone is left alive on this planet.  "Steampunk" ain't got shit.

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Ah yes, my favorite case of Radium "medicine" going horribly wrong, Eben Byers and the case of why Radium dissolved in water (Radithor!) is actually a terrible idea for a health supplement.

 

http://www.cultofweird.com/medical/eben-byers-radithor-poisoning/

 

 

Byers began taking enormous doses of Radithor, which he believed had greatly improved his health, drinking 3 bottles a day – nearly 1400 bottles total. In the process, he subjected himself to more than three times the acute lethal radiation dose. By 1930, when Byers stopped taking the remedy, he had accumulated significant amounts of radium in his bones resulting in the loss of most of his jaw. Byers’ brain was also abscessed and holes were forming in his skull. He died from radium poisoning on March 31, 1932. He is buried in Allegheny Cemetery in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in a lead-lined coffin.

 

And a period era newspaper article from my not so fair city on the incident.

 

http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1932/04/01/page/1/article/radium-poison-in-tonic-kills-eben-m-byers

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