What invention have we all been looking forward to, more than any other? (apart from, perhaps, the personal jet-pack) It came as a great surprise to us that the flying car had already been invented, and that its production was only halted after the death of its inventor. But it even got as far as a promotional video:
We had a number of other people who had been killed by their own inventions in our files, William Bullock's fate is nicely explained in his wikipedia article:
Franz Reichelt, who jumped off the Eiffel Tower using a self-designed overcoat as a parachute, can be seen in the below clip ( WARNING. The following video is of a man plummeting to his death.) Nina Conti's appearance on QI gave us the chance to talk about ventriloquism: "It is a wickedness lurking in the human belly and deserving to dwell in the cesspool,"
wrote Photius, a ninth-century patriarch of Constantinople, "an impure
breath which some people, on account of their overwhelming pity, call
ventriloquism." http://www.slate.com/id/2150164/ And the story of Elizabeth Barton, the English Catholic nun who claimed that she was hearing spirits
through her abdomen can be read in, Adam's Navel by Michael Sims. We didn't get a chance to include many facts about imaginary friends before the conversation descended into pussy-hounding: There is all-sorts on the web, here's a linkdump for further reading: There was a time when some parents worried about
their children talking to invisible pals - but the fashion these days is
to consider it a wholly positive phenomenon.
It's hypothesized by some researchers that children with imaginary
friends develop better language skills, ability to learn, emotional
responsiveness, and creativity, because of the conversations they have
with their IFs, in which they have to make up both sides of the dialogue
(er - obviously).
No-one knows how common IFs are - but one survey in the US suggested that 65% of children under 7 admitted to having imaginary friends. About a third of imaginary friends, research says, are actually Imaginary Enemies.
http://www.abc.net.au/science/news/health/HealthRepublish_1628324.htm http://www.stuff.co.nz/science/2467193/Kids-gain-communication-skills-from- imaginary-friends http://www.health.am/ab/more/most_school_aged_children_have_imaginary_friends/ http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/03/050308101309.htm If any viewers have imaginary
friends (and let's face it, it's pretty likely) you can help with this
research by filling in Dr Karen Majors' (Community Psychology Service, Barking and Dagenham) questionnaire. Get a copy here:
The inventions that we gave out to each panelist came from the Maurice Collins Collection whose website can be seen here: http://victoriangadgets.com/ And they have a book, which you can buy here: Edwin Budding of Stroud invented the lawnmower and Bill wondered if he was a hero in his home town. Well, at least he is commemorated here on this 'Visit Gloucestershire' website: http://www.visit-gloucestershire.co.uk/gloucestershire/mower.html
and while Stephen was a little mean about the Lawnmower Museum in Southport - perhaps you are one of the people who would like to see some celebrity mowers? If so, here is their site:
Edward Bernays who invented Public Relations, came across to us as something of a nasty peace of work. You can read all about him here:
Including how he supposedly helped to engineer a genocide in Guatemala, and how he was an influence on
Goebbels amongst others. The best history of the internet that we found was the excellent book: Cybergypsies by Indra Sinha and the best discription of Dinosaur Sex was in the ever-reliable Straightdope. ...and while we're talking Dinosaur Sex, here's a video by our friend Emmy the Great's singing her song of the same name: We're not sure whether or not Rising Damp exists, but there are certainly a lot of people who don't and so we felt duty bound to report the discussion: Stephen Boniface, former chairman of the
construction arm of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS),
has told the institute's 40,000 members that 'true rising damp' is a myth and chemically injected damp-proof courses (DPC) are 'a complete waste of money'.
It's a can of worms, that's for sure, but if you want to learn more - then here are some links:
According to the Independent, Mike Parrett of Lewisham Council in London
has investigated over 5000 buildings and has never found a sign of rising damp. TIn 1997 the council offered a £50 reward to anyone who could show them a case of rising damp - none came forward.
Finally, do pigeons transmit disease? Well here is what BBC Nature Magazine have to say: Many websites list the diseases recorded in feral
How very scary. But let's put this in context - many more diseases are
known in people and their pets. Moreover, all animals carry diseases:
the key issue is how often they transfer to humans, and there is little
evidence of this happening with feral pigeons. Plus, domestic pigeons often come into contact with feral pigeons but stay perfectly healthy. In other words, feral pigeons simply do not pose a significant health risk. It's a non-issue.