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Russian Sleep Experiment

The content below is from Episode 83 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast

ANNOUNCEMENT

  • This is the 4th and final episode of this year’s Fright Fest! Where all episodes during the month of October are creepy, spooky, or down right scary.

RECOMMENDATION SEGMENT

How On Earth is Supernatural Still Going? - Den of Geek
  • Super Natural
    • The first episode aired in September of 2005 and the final episode aired in November of 2020.
    • Starring Jensen Ackles as Dean Winchester and Jared Padalecki as Sam Winchester.
    • This haunting series follows the thrilling yet terrifying journeys of Sam and Dean Winchester, two brothers who face an increasingly sinister landscape as they hunt monsters. After losing their mother to a supernatural force, the brothers were raised by their father as soldiers who track mysterious and demonic creatures. Violent memories and relationship-threatening secrets add additional burdens on Sam and Dean as they investigate all things that go bump in the night. As old tricks and tools are rendered useless and friends betray them, the brothers must rely on each other as they encounter new enemies.
    • I remember the first few seasons as being very episodic meaning each episode had very little impact on the next episode, but when season 4 rolled around the show really found its groove and started a massive narrative that flowed really well.
    • The show has a great cast and soundtrack and the car that Dean drives is actually listed on Google as a major element to the show. It is a 1967 Chevy Impala
Russian Sleep Experiment: How scary Creepypasta stories go viral |  news.com.au — Australia's leading news site
  • The story I’m about to tell was first shown to me by my cousins Ryan and Anj when I went to visit them years ago. It scared the ever-living-shit out of me.
  • I didn’t write this story. It is from the website Creepy Pasta.
  • Enjoy:

Russian researchers in the late 1940s kept five people awake for fifteen days using an experimental gas based stimulant. They were kept in a sealed environment to carefully monitor their oxygen intake so the gas didn’t kill them, since it was toxic in high concentrations. This was before closed circuit cameras so they had only microphones and five inch thick glass porthole sized windows into the chamber to monitor them. The chamber was stocked with books, cots to sleep on but no bedding, running water and toilet, and enough dried food to last all five for over a month.

The test subjects were political prisoners deemed enemies of the state during World War II.

Everything was fine for the first five days; the subjects hardly complained having been promised (falsely) that they would be freed if they submitted to the test and did not sleep for 30 days. Their conversations and activities were monitored and it was noted that they continued to talk about increasingly traumatic incidents in their past, and the general tone of their conversations took on a darker aspect after the four day mark.

After five days they started to complain about the circumstances and events that lead them to where they were and started to demonstrate severe paranoia. They stopped talking to each other and began alternately whispering to the microphones and one way mirrored portholes. Oddly they all seemed to think they could win the trust of the experimenters by turning over their comrades, the other subjects in captivity with them. At first the researchers suspected this was an effect of the gas itself…

After nine days the first of them started screaming. He ran the length of the chamber repeatedly yelling at the top of his lungs for three hours straight, he continued attempting to scream but was only able to produce occasional squeaks. The researchers postulated that he had physically torn his vocal cords. The most surprising thing about this behavior is how the other captives reacted to it… or rather didn’t react to it. They continued whispering to the microphones until the second of the captives started to scream. The two non-screaming captives took the books apart, smeared page after page with their own feces and pasted them calmly over the glass portholes. The screaming promptly stopped.

So did the whispering to the microphones.

After three more days passed. The researchers checked the microphones hourly to make sure they were working, since they thought it impossible that no sound could be coming with five people inside. The oxygen consumption in the chamber indicated that all five must still be alive. In fact it was the amount of oxygen five people would consume at a very heavy level of strenuous exercise. On the morning of the 14th day the researchers did something they said they would not do to get a reaction from the captives, they used the intercom inside the chamber, hoping to provoke any response from the captives they were afraid were either dead or vegetables.

They announced: “We are opening the chamber to test the microphones; step away from the door and lie flat on the floor or you will be shot. Compliance will earn one of you your immediate freedom.”

To their surprise they heard a single phrase in a calm voice response: “We no longer want to be freed.”

Debate broke out among the researchers and the military forces funding the research. Unable to provoke any more response using the intercom it was finally decided to open the chamber at midnight on the fifteenth day.

The chamber was flushed of the stimulant gas and filled with fresh air and immediately voices from the microphones began to object. 3 different voices began begging, as if pleading for the life of loved ones to turn the gas back on. The chamber was opened and soldiers sent in to retrieve the test subjects. They began to scream louder than ever, and so did the soldiers when they saw what was inside. Four of the five subjects were still alive, although no one could rightly call the state that any of them in ‘life.’

The food rations past day five had not been so much as touched. There were chunks of meat from the dead test subject’s thighs and chest stuffed into the drain in the center of the chamber, blocking the drain and allowing four inches of water to accumulate on the floor. Precisely how much of the water on the floor was actually blood was never determined. All four ‘surviving’ test subjects also had large portions of muscle and skin torn away from their bodies. The destruction of flesh and exposed bone on their finger tips indicated that the wounds were inflicted by hand, not with teeth as the researchers initially thought. Closer examination of the position and angles of the wounds indicated that most if not all of them were self-inflicted.

The abdominal organs below the ribcage of all four test subjects had been removed. While the heart, lungs and diaphragm remained in place, the skin and most of the muscles attached to the ribs had been ripped off, exposing the lungs through the ribcage. All the blood vessels and organs remained intact, they had just been taken out and laid on the floor, fanning out around the eviscerated but still living bodies of the subjects. The digestive tract of all four could be seen to be working, digesting food. It quickly became apparent that what they were digesting was their own flesh that they had ripped off and eaten over the course of days.

Most of the soldiers were Russian special operatives at the facility, but still many refused to return to the chamber to remove the test subjects. They continued to scream to be left in the chamber and alternately begged and demanded that the gas be turned back on, lest they fall asleep…

To everyone’s surprise the test subjects put up a fierce fight in the process of being removed from the chamber. One of the Russian soldiers died from having his throat ripped out, another was gravely injured by having his testicles ripped off and an artery in his leg severed by one of the subject’s teeth. Another 5 of the soldiers lost their lives if you count ones that committed suicide in the weeks following the incident.

In the struggle one of the four living subjects had his spleen ruptured and he bled out almost immediately. The medical researchers attempted to sedate him but this proved impossible. He was injected with more than ten times the human dose of a morphine derivative and still fought like a cornered animal, breaking the ribs and arm of one doctor. When heart was seen to beat for a full two minutes after he had bled out to the point there was more air in his vascular system than blood. Even after it stopped he continued to scream and flail for another three minutes, struggling to attack anyone in reach and just repeating the word “MORE” over and over, weaker and weaker, until he finally fell silent.

The surviving three test subjects were heavily restrained and moved to a medical facility, the two with intact vocal cords continuously begging for the gas demanding to be kept awake…

The most injured of the three was taken to the only surgical operating room that the facility had. In the process of preparing the subject to have his organs placed back within his body it was found that he was effectively immune to the sedative they had given him to prepare him for the surgery. He fought furiously against his restraints when the anesthetic gas was brought out to put him under. He managed to tear most of the way through a four inch wide leather strap on one wrist, even through the weight of a 200 pound soldier holding that wrist as well. It took only a little more anesthetic than normal to put him under, and the instant his eyelids fluttered and closed, his heart stopped. In the autopsy of the test subject that died on the operating table it was found that his blood had triple the normal level of oxygen. His muscles that were still attached to his skeleton were badly torn and he had broken 9 bones in his struggle to not be subdued. Most of them were from the force his own muscles had exerted on them.

The second survivor had been the first of the group of five to start screaming. His vocal cords destroyed he was unable to beg or object to surgery, and he only reacted by shaking his head violently in disapproval when the anesthetic gas was brought near him. He shook his head yes when someone suggested, reluctantly, they try the surgery without anesthetic, and did not react for the entire six hour procedure of replacing his abdominal organs and attempting to cover them with what remained of his skin. The surgeon presiding stated repeatedly that it should be medically possible for the patient to still be alive. One terrified nurse assisting the surgery stated that she had seen the patients mouth curl into a smile several times, whenever his eyes met hers.

When the surgery ended the subject looked at the surgeon and began to wheeze loudly, attempting to talk while struggling. Assuming this must be something of drastic importance the surgeon had a pen and pad fetched so the patient could write his message. It was simple. “Keep cutting.”

The other two test subjects were given the same surgery, both without anesthetic as well. Although they had to be injected with a paralytic for the duration of the operation. The surgeon found it impossible to perform the operation while the patients laughed continuously. Once paralyzed the subjects could only follow the attending researchers with their eyes. The paralytic cleared their system in an abnormally short period of time and they were soon trying to escape their bonds. The moment they could speak they were again asking for the stimulant gas. The researchers tried asking why they had injured themselves, why they had ripped out their own guts and why they wanted to be given the gas again.

Only one response was given: “I must remain awake.”

All three subject’s restraints were reinforced and they were placed back into the chamber awaiting determination as to what should be done with them. The researchers, facing the wrath of their military ‘benefactors’ for having failed the stated goals of their project considered euthanizing the surviving subjects. The commanding officer, an ex-KGB instead saw potential, and wanted to see what would happen if they were put back on the gas. The researchers strongly objected, but were overruled.

In preparation for being sealed in the chamber again the subjects were connected to an EEG monitor and had their restraints padded for long term confinement. To everyone’s surprise all three stopped struggling the moment it was let slip that they were going back on the gas. It was obvious that at this point all three were putting up a great struggle to stay awake. One of subjects that could speak was humming loudly and continuously; the mute subject was straining his legs against the leather bonds with all his might, first left, then right, then left again for something to focus on. The remaining subject was holding his head off his pillow and blinking rapidly. Having been the first to be wired for EEG most of the researchers were monitoring his brain waves in surprise. They were normal most of the time but sometimes flat lined inexplicably. It looked as if he were repeatedly suffering brain death, before returning to normal. As they focused on paper scrolling out of the brainwave monitor only one nurse saw his eyes slip shut at the same moment his head hit the pillow. His brainwaves immediately changed to that of deep sleep, then flatlined for the last time as his heart simultaneously stopped.

The only remaining subject that could speak started screaming to be sealed in now. His brainwaves showed the same flatlines as one who had just died from falling asleep. The commander gave the order to seal the chamber with both subjects inside, as well as three researchers. One of the named three immediately drew his gun and shot the commander point blank between the eyes, then turned the gun on the mute subject and blew his brains out as well.

He pointed his gun at the remaining subject, still restrained to a bed as the remaining members of the medical and research team fled the room. “I won’t be locked in here with these things! Not with you!” he screamed at the man strapped to the table. “WHAT ARE YOU?” he demanded. “I must know!”

The subject smiled.

“Have you forgotten so easily?” the subject asked. “We are you. We are the madness that lurks within you all, begging to be free at every moment in your deepest animal mind. We are what you hide from in your beds every night. We are what you sedate into silence and paralysis when you go to the nocturnal haven where we cannot tread.”

The researcher paused. Then aimed at the subject’s heart and fired. The EEG flatlined as the subject weakly choked out, “So… nearly… free…”

Russian Sleep Experiment, Spazm monster" Photographic Print by ArtisMortis  | Redbubble
  • Snopes: Fact Check
    • A popular creepy online tale of a “Russian Sleep Experiment” (with the improbable title tag of “Orange Soda”) involves Soviet researchers who kept five people awake for fifteen consecutive days through the use of an “experimental gas based stimulant”
    • This account isn’t a historical record of a genuine 1940s sleep deprivation research project gone awry, however. It’s merely a bit of supernatural fiction that gained widespread currency on the Internet after appearing on Creepypasta (a site for “short stories designed to unnerve and shock the reader”) in August 2010.
  • Cleveland Clinic: What Happens When You Don’t Sleep
    • Lack of alertness. Even missing as little as 1.5 hours can have an impact on how you feel.
    • Excessive daytime sleepiness. It can make you very sleepy and tired during the day.
    • Impaired memory. Lack of sleep can affect your ability to think, remember and process information.
    • Relationship stress. It can make you feel moody and you can become more likely to have conflicts with others.
    • Quality of life. You may become less likely to participate in normal daily activities or to exercise.
    • Greater likelihood for car accidents. Drowsy driving accounts for thousands of crashes, injuries and fatalities each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
    • If you continue to operate without enough sleep, you may see more long-term and serious health problems. Some of the most serious potential problems associated with chronic sleep deprivation are high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure or stroke. Other potential problems include obesity, depression, impairment in immunity and lower sex drive.
    • Chronic sleep deprivation can even affect your appearance. Over time, it can lead to premature wrinkling and dark circles under the eyes. There’s also a link between lack of sleep and an increase in the stress hormone, cortisol, in the body. Cortisol can break down collagen, the protein that keeps skin smooth.

CREDIT

https://creepypasta.fandom.com/wiki/The_Russian_Sleep_Experiment

snopes.com

ClevelandClinic

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Operation Wandering Souls

The content below is from Episode 82 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast

ANNOUNCEMENT

  • Welcome Who’d a Thunkers!
    • You made it back for another Who’d a Thunk It? Fright Fest Episode.
    • This is the 3rd episode of October 2021 where all episodes of this particularly spooky month have topics based on the macabre!
    • I hope you are ready. Strap in!

RECOMMENDATION SEGMENT

-don’t worry… no spoilers here- I really want you to watch this for yourself!

Midnight Mass - Rotten Tomatoes
  • Midnight Mass
    • It hard for me to put in to words just how much I love this limited series.
    • Director and Creator Mike Flanagan knocked it out of the park once again with this 7 episode story. It will take you on a roller coaster ride!
    • The first episode beautifully establishing the run down but still hopeful small island town while listening to Neil Diamond. Then by the end of the series you’ve watched many a very deep and engaging existential monologues and enjoyed some of the most exciting horror scenes to have ever been on a television series.
      • The final scene of the show coupled with the final song was so moving I cried. Which I totally did not expect to do at all, but it calls for it.
    • The setting, soundtrack, writing, and premise were all so well done that I have to say it beats out my now 2nd favorite works of Mike Flanagan’s, that being Season 1 of Haunting of Hill House.
      • That show felt so fresh and engaging it revived my love for the horror genre.
      • And while looking in to Mike Flanagan for this recommendation I found out he directed the Shining sequel movie Dr. Sleep. Shannon and I saw that in theaters and it was a fun film.
      • Bravo Mr. Flanagan. I’m excited to see what you come up with next.
What Makes 'Midnight Mass' One of the Best New Shows of the Year - The  Ringer

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT

  • The 2nd Indochina War started in November of 1955 and lasted until April of 1975.
    • The conflict was in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. It was officially fought between North Vietnam and South Vietnam.
    • In March of 1965 President Johnson launched a three-year campaign of sustained bombing of targets in North Vietnam and the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Operation Rolling Thunder. The same month, U.S. Marines landed on beaches near Da Nang, South Vietnam as the first American combat troops to enter Vietnam.
      • I once knew a Vietnam Veteran named Howard. He was a retired marine in his late 60’s and I was 16. I met him at my first ever job renting out rowboats and canoes on a Pennsylvania state park lake, Lake Pinchot.
      • We both made minimum wage. It was my first job and it was Howard’s last.
      • Looking back now I think I took Howard’s company for granted. I’d like to think he is still around somewhere, but the old man smoked like a chimney, drank like a fish, and by his own admission only ever ate steak and potatoes, so chances are Howard met his maker years ago.
      • I know that’s a blunt way to talk about someone, but that is just how Howard was. That’s how he himself talked about life. He was a dirty old man who hit on all the young girls at the lake, girls young enough to be his granddaughter. He never was without his Vietnam Veteran hat. Now that I’m older I realize he was one of the most interesting people I have ever met.
      • I like Howard a lot but it was clear to everyone the man had his demons. He didn’t try to hide them. He spoke very little of his service and I knew better than to ask about it. But what details he did share horrified me.
The True Story Behind an Iconic Vietnam War Photo Was Nearly Erased — Until  Now - The New York Times
  • Back in 2003 The New York Times reporter John Kifner was covering a story surrounding some Vietnam veterans.
      • “Quang Ngai and Quang Nam are provinces in central Vietnam, between the mountains and the sea. Ken Kerney, William Doyle and Rion Causey tell horrific stories about what they saw and did there as soldiers in 1967.
      • The fighting was intense and the results, the former soldiers say, were especially brutal. Villages were bombed, burned and destroyed. As the ground troops swept through, in many cases they gunned down men, women and children, sometimes mutilating bodies — cutting off ears to wear on necklaces.
      • They threw hand grenades into dugout shelters, often killing entire families.
      • Mr. Doyle said he lost count of the people he killed: ”You had to have a strong will to survive. I wanted to live at all costs. That was my primary thing, and I developed it to an instinct.'”
The Vietnam War, Part I: Early Years and Escalation - The Atlantic
  • In the midst of this kind of chaos the US military resorted to many different tactics to combat their enemy. One tactic was psychological. It was called Operation Wandering Souls.
    • The name of the Operation: Wandering Soul came from the Vietnamese holiday of the same name.
    • A WordPress blog called Vietnam Travel & Visas For Indians writes:
      • Also known as the Trung Nguyen, the holiday takes [place] every 15th day of the 7th lunar month in the Buddhist calendar. The Wandering Soul’s Day is basically the Buddhist version of the All Soul’s Day of the Christian religion.
      • According to Vietnamese belief, each person has two souls, the material soul, and spiritual soul. The material soul is known as Via while the spiritual soul is Hon. Once a person dies, his soul will be taken into a tribunal in hell to be judged. After the judgment is rendered, the soul will either go to heaven or hell, depending on how the person behaved while still on Earth.
      • Locals believe those sinful souls can still be saved from hell by the prayers of the living relatives, which is done during the 1st and 15th of every month. During the Wandering Souls, locals believe that this is the best time for the relatives of the deceased to pray and ask forgiveness on behalf of these sinful souls. It is their belief that the gates of hell will be opened during the sunset and the souls would fly towards it hungrily and unclothed. Some souls would head home to their homes and villages, which is why relatives would cook plenty of food and place on their altars.
      • Those whose souls don’t have any home to go to or the ones that have been forsaken by the living would be wandering helplessly into the air of black clouds and over rivers, from one tree to another. Basically, these “wandering souls” are the ones who are in need of prayer the most. This is why locals would place additional altars filled with offerings in some public places.
    • The American Military caught wind of this holiday and sought to exploit it. For decades after the war families searched for missing Vietcong soldiers. It was a common sight to see Vietnamese mothers scouring the jungles for their lost sons. They mourned their loss and worried for their sons’ souls. They hoped to find their lost bones, wash them, and re-burry them as such is their tradition.
    • The US Military estimates that some 300,000 soldiers are still uncounted for.
Ken Burns Vietnam War Film Glosses Over Huge Civilian Toll
  • The US used the Wandering Souls holiday by pleading to the Vietnamese north over the radio and by dropping leaflets out of planes that said:
    • “Comrades, demand that the communist party stop its war of aggression in the south so that no more innocent souls have to join the already great number of innocent souls now wandering in this war-torn country of the south.”
  • On February 10th 1970, Vietcong soliders had been hiding deep in the forest of the Hau Niga Province in South Vietnam. When all the sudden a shrill loud noise is heard. It was being blasted from the Chamberlain Fire Support Army Base.
  • The following recording is of a “Wandering Soul.” Its official title is Ghost Tape Number 10.
    • It was created by the US Amry’s 6th Psychological Operations Battalion in cooperation with the US Navy and is meant to sound as if a dead Vietcong soldier is wandering through the Vietnamese jungle at night.
    • The American military used this tactic because they found out the Vietnamese believe the souls of their unburied comrades would wander aimlessly forever in pain and suffering.
    • At first you will briefly hear musical tones. This is supposed to be music from a Buddhist funeral. And then the soldier speaks…
  • The dialogue heard in the recording was first the voice of a small girl calling out “Daddy, Daddy! Come with me. Come home. Daddy!”
    • Then in reply the Vietcong ghost answers “Who is that? Who is calling me? My wife? My daughter? Your father is back home with you, my daughter! Your husband is back at home with you my wife. But my body is gone. I am dead, my family. Tragic… how tragic.” and he goes on to tell all his friends and family that he is now dead and that he is in hell. He says how senseless his death was. He pleads with his friends to give up and be reunited with their own loved ones to avoid the regret he is feeling now. “Go home! Go home friends before it is too late!”
  • To our ears this recording is obviously fake.
    • But this was over 50 years in the past. People weren’t quite as used to hearing altered audio as we are today.
      • Engineers gathered for weeks in a studio located in Saigon to record this tape and south Vietnamese voice actors were hired to play the soldiers. They did their recordings in an echo chamber.
    • That being said, most American troops didn’t think Operation Wandering Soul would be believed by the enemy. They thought the Vietcong would see right through their deception.
    • Whether it was believed or not, the audio did manage to terrify troops on both sides of the conflict.
      • And can you blame them.? In a pitch dark jungle in the midst of a war I imagine even the fakes of of horrors would still manage to creep you out.
      • The US played these tapes in the trees near enemy troops for HOURS.
      • Even if the Vietcong didn’t believe the ruse, they did believe that their souls might be cursed to wander forever in pain as that was their religion. So they might not think it was an actual wandering soul crying out, but it did remind them that they might end up that way.
      • Near by civilians who heard the tapes often were fooled by it. They didn’t understand the technical side of the tapes and were already a superstitious people.
  • There were other tapes
    • One tape started with women and children crying. Then an announcer pleading to the Viet Cong to throw down their arms so that no more children would die for communism. Then the cries turned to laughter and the announcer urged the Viet Cong to return to their families and to not ignore the laughter of their children.
    • Another tape titled “No Dose,” implying that no solider could sleep while it played, featured a child saying to his mother “you miss daddy. I miss daddy too. Why doesn’t he come back? He must not miss you. He has left us mother.”
    • These tapes werent just played in the jungles. The US also strapped speakers to helicopters and played it from the air.
      • These speakers were in the way and made it so the helicopter couldn’t return fire to the enemy. And EVERY time these tapes were played the Vietcong fired at the source. So the US would send a gunship with the helicopter carrying the speaker and open fire at the first sign of a enemy fire.
      • Sometimes the tapes were played with another piece of audio equipment known as the laugh box. This played a shrill laughing sound over the tapes and even creeped out the pilots setting it off.
  • Was the operation affective?
    • The extent of the operation’s success is unknown. The Viet Cong usually returned fire upon encountering the recordings, exposing their general positions to U.S. patrol groups within audible range to hear the gunfire over the loudspeakers. While occasionally helpful to U.S. scouts in a reconnaissance manner (i.e. during low visibility), the Viet Cong’s aforementioned responses thus nullified the intended outcome of the operation.
    • So no, it wasn’t that affective.
      • Some think Operation Wandering Souls even motivated the enemy to keep on fighting. They became even more determined to destroy their enemy who would play such psychological tricks.
      • Plus, as soon as the tapes were played they were fired upon and some US soldiers were in the line of fire from that.
    • Local farmers and merchants who worked near where the tapes had been played refused to return to work. They perceived the recordings as black magic.
    • The US military outside of the 6th Psychological Batallion was opposed to the operation.
      • Their opinions were reinforced when many a US soldier was kept awake at night by the sounds of their own country’s psychological weapon.
    • Another psychological tactic was used by the US when they dropped leaflets of a US General describing how he had won a battle against the North Vietnamese enemy, but allowed the enemy to retrieve their dead and carry their wounded to safety.
      • In contrast this operation used the carrot and not the stick. The result was that the North Vietnamese were more likely to surrender peacefully. This operation was regarded as the more affective psychological operation in Vietnam by some psychological operations members.
  • What do I think?
    • My initial reaction to hearing about Operation Wandering Souls was that of shame. I thought “how dare the US resort to such low tactics!”
      • But I quickly realized that opinion was based in a thick layer of hubris. I have no idea what war is like. I have no idea what all was done by each side apart from what the reports say.
      • Compared to the middle ages, Operation Wandering Souls is damn near harmless
        • During the Middle Ages, victims of the bubonic plague were used for biological attacks, often by flinging fomites such as infected corpses and excrement over castle walls using catapults. Bodies would be tied along with cannonballs and shot towards the city area.
    • So although Operation Wandering Souls may seem terrible to us, it was a essentially a bloodless tactic. Terrifying, creepy, and all together messed up… but bloodless.

CREDIT

Time mark – 2:40
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The Beautiful Ones

The content below is from Episode 81 of the Who’d A Thunk It? Podcast.

ANNOUNCEMENT

  • Welcome Who’d a Thunkers to the 2nd FrightFest episode of 2021.
    • Every Episode this month will be within the realm of terrifying!
    • But First lets do this week’s recommendation segment.

RECOMMENDATION SEGMENT

Amazon.com: PANDORUM - Movie Poster - Double-Sided - 27x40 - Original -  VERSION A - DENNIS QUAID - BEN FOSTER - NORMAN REEDUS: Posters & Prints
  • There is a little known movie that came out in 2009 called Pandorum.
    • It is a British-German science fiction horror film, with elements of Lovecraftian horror and survival adventure.
    • Starring Ben Foster and Dennis Quaid with supporting actors like Norman Reedus this movie blew my mind when I first saw it.
Pandorum (2009) - IMDb
  • There is space, mental instability, and like Cube (the movie I recommended last week) it has some very claustrophobic feels to it.
Pandorum' has a few sci-fi chills and thrills, but not enough originality -  New York Daily News
  • And I know I can say this without spoiling anything because you’ll never guess what it is, but there is a major twist at the end that will make you think about this movie long after it is over.
    • Why have you never heard of it? Well because it lost money. It had a $33 million dollar budget and didn’t even make $21 million in box office sales.
      • But like I always say: just because the masses didn’t pay for it doesn’t mean it was a bad movie.
      • Movies like:
        • Children of Men,
        • Bladerunner 2049,
        • The BFG,
        • Citizen Kane,
        • Event Horizon,
        • Fight Club,
        • The Iron Giant,
        • ShawShank Redemption,
        • and Willy Wonka
        • All did poorly in Box office sales and I can honestly say I love every single one of those movies.
    • Remember that next time you judge a movie or any form of story based on how much commercial success it has achieved.
Pandorum - Wikipedia

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT

  • Alright Who’d a Thunkers, you survived last week’s Fright Fest topic of killer lakes and their limnic eruptions… but can you survive this week’s episode on rodents?
    • I know there are people like my mother who hate rodents so I hope this horrifies you!
  • THIS is about Mouse Utopia. THIS is a possible bleak look in to our own future. THIS… is Universe 25.
    • In the Mid 20th century a science experiment was conducted on mice and rats to try and gain a deeper understanding of the possible consequences of humanity’s then (and still) rapidly growing population across the globe.
    • The experiments were conducted and then the results were published in the Scientific America Journal
      • These reports terrified the masses into thinking the world would become over populated and we humans would turn out just like the rodents. But of course that didn’t happen…. or did it?
    • Strap in Who’d a Thunkers! this is gonna be a wild one!
      • oh and if you are a member of PETA or if experimenting on animals bothers you… maybe sit this one out. … SPOILER ALERT – things don’t go so well for the rodents.
  • What motivated such experiments? Well that can be answered by some quick history and like most history this is about some old dead white dudes.
  • Starting with Thomas Robert Malthus
    • Malthus was an English cleric, scholar and influential economist in the fields of political economy and demography during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
    • Malthus said the human population might increase exponentially, but our food will only increase linearly… aka, we gonna run out of food! Which would lead to a massive food shortage. This crisis was called a Malthusian catastrophe.
    • This specific fear surrounding humanity’s overpopulation permeated the mainstream media over the decades. There have been popular stories of overcrowding degrading our society through the centuries.
    • So by the 1950’s and 60’s research was done to determine what problems might arise from overpopulation.
    • Introducing John B Calhoun.
Thomas Malthus | Biography, Theory, Overpopulation, Poverty, & Facts |  Britannica
Malthus
Darwin reads Malthus 1838
Malthus’s theory can be summarized with just 2 lines.
  • John Bumpass Calhoun
    • I heard he went by John B Calhoun and well, with a middle name like Bumpass could you blame him?
    • Calhoun was an American ethologist and behavioral researcher noted for his studies of population density and its effects on behavior. He claimed that the bleak effects of overpopulation on rodents were a grim model for the future of the human race.
John B. Calhoun - Wikipedia
Calhoun
  • His experiments
    • started as rats being contained in an outdoor pen. Then in the 1960’s his research graduated mice being kept in a large pen at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH).
      • The public kind of freaked out over Scientific America’s reports on the experiments. A lot of people interpreted them as evidence of what we humans would become in the future if our population continued to grow at an exponential rate.
      • During his experiments, Calhoun coined a few of his own terms. One such term “behavioral sinks” is what he used to name the catastrophic behaviors of the mice that lead to their own doom.
  • One of these experiments was dubbed Universe 25… because it was Calhoun’s 25th attempt
    • Side note: one of the reasons why Calhoun did so many experiments is because he tried making minor adjustments such as using powdered food vs pellet food AND in one enclosure he made the mean with which the rodents got around longer to get around… stuff like that
    • He built what he thought was a mouse paradise with beautiful buildings and limitless food. He introduced eight mice to the population. Two years later, the mice had created their own apocalypse and were all dead.
    • Universe 25, the actual physical experiment was made up of a big ol’ box designed to be a rodent utopia. It was divided into main squares, subdivided in to levels, and used ramps that went to different rodent apartments. The rodents always had plenty of food.
      • The pen was2.7-square-meter enclosure consisting of four pens, 256 living compartments and 16 burrows that led to food and water supplies.
      • There was tons of food, no predators, no chance of a plague or anything so the mice were given all the luxuries of our human life.
John B Calhoun – Medicine on Screen
Young Calhoun
  • For the first 104 days 
    • Calhoun labeled different phases of his experiment and the first 104 days he called the “Strive Period
    • This is when the mice stretched their legs, explored, marked their territory, and nestled in.
    • Next was the “EXPLOIT PERIOD” where the mice population doubled over 55 days. By day 315, Universe 25 had a population of 620.
    • This is when Calhoun noticed something peculiar.
      • The enclosure could hold up to 3,000 mice and each compartment or “apartment” as Calhoun called them, could hold 15 mice. However, It seemed that eating was a communal event. It looked as if the mice preferred to crowd in to certain areas and eat from the same feeding sources instead of nesting in their own apartments.
    • For whatever reason, the same time the crowding together started to happen so did a drop in mating. The birthrate in Universe 25 fell to a third of where it was at the beginning of the experiment and there was some weird social stuff going on…
      • One-third emerged as socially dominant.
      • The other two-thirds turned out less socially adept than their forbearers.
      • As bonding skills diminished among the mice, Universe 25 went into a slow but irreversible decline.
  • By Day 315,
    • There was a bigger gap between the high and low-status male mice. The lowest status males known as “Omega males” were rejected from females and stopped mating completely. These outcast males left the larger groups to be by themselves. They ate and slept alone and occasionally fought each other.
    • The high-status males got meaner and fought a lot more often… usually with no apparent reason. These high-status or “alpha males” would even go around the pen indiscriminately raping other mice regardless of their gender.
      • I’ll be honest, at this point in researching this I was thinking “just how observant was Calhoun and his staff? LOL these guys know about mice motivations and statuses. I believe it because similar kinds of observations are done on all kinds of animal species, but I can’t imagine the toil of just watching hundreds or thousands of mice trying to remember their social statuses or the last time they ate, mated, or even took a crap. I mean, how does one know if a mouse is being raped? I don’t actually want to know the logistics of that, I’m just saying it is wild that those logistics exist at all. You know that if they were making notes of these mice rapes that there exists somewhere a scientific definition on how to spot a mice rape apart from a regular rape. It is mind-boggling to me.
    • Then the class of males between the alphas and omegas known as Beta Males was just picked on all the time. They weren’t shunned from the larger groups like the omegas, but they weren’t at the top of the pecking order so they just took a lot of mouse aggression.
      • Here is a quote from one of the articles I read “In several instances, bloodbaths ended with a cannibalistic feast for the victors.
      • And if all that mouse raping and cannibalizing wasn’t bad enough, At this point the infant mortality rate hit 90%
    • With the males morphing in to a hellscape of social hierarchy they stopped playing out their usual roles and the females had to protect their nests alone. These females became more aggressive and horrifyingly enough this aggression spilled over to their own young.
      • Other females just didn’t care for their offspring at all. They abandoned their young and banished them. There were entire litters left to fend for themselves. These derelict babies, as you can imagine, didn’t do so well. And for whatever reason, their mothers rarely ever mated again.
    • Calhoun named this pleasant little part of the experiment the “stagnation phase,” alternately known as the “equilibrium period” referencing the equilibrium of over-aggressive mice to the super passive mice.
      • He attributed the overly aggressive and passive behavioral patterns to the breakdown of social roles and rampant over-clustering.
  • By the 560th day,
    • the population increase stopped altogether and the mortality rate was at about 100%.
    • This marked the start of the “death phase” or just as cheerful of a name the “die period.
      • This is when the rodent utopia slid toward extinction. And from what I just read about the last phase, maybe extinction was a good thing. holy hell.
      • You see, with all the violent raping and cannibalistic murdering going on the latest generation of youngster mice were raised without being taught how to act like normal mice. They didn’t know how to act like healthy mice with healthy mice relations. They didn’t know how to properly mate, parent, or mark territory. All they did was eat, drink, sleep, and groom themselves.
    • These mice were known by Calhoun as the “beautiful ones,” because they didn’t have scars on their coats from battling it out with other mice.
      • I must say, “Beautiful Ones” just sounds like some horror movie shit to me. It is just so creepy!
    • Although the Beautiful Ones were spared the violence of the larger crowds, they didn’t contribute anything… at all. They were like little hedonistic mice that just lived in seclusion from the other mice away from the violent crowded areas.
    • According to Calhoun, the death phase consisted of two stages: the “first death” and “second death.” The former was characterized by the loss of purpose in life beyond mere existence.
    • But the reports said they noted the mice had no desire to mate, raise young or establish a role within society. This first death was represented by the lackadaisical lives of the beautiful ones, whereas the second death was marked by the literal end of life and the extinction of Universe 25.
  • Notes towards the end
    • Using the Beautiful Ones as a reference, Calhoun surmised that mice, as humans, thrive on a sense of identity and purpose within the world at large. He argued experiences such as tension, stress, anxiety and the need to survive make it necessary to engage in society.
      • Basically: we need struggle to survive just like mice.
    • When all needs are accounted for, and no conflict exists, the act of living is stripped to its barest physiological essentials of food and sleep. In Calhoun’s view:
      • Herein is the paradox of a life without work or conflict.
      • When all sense of necessity is stripped from the life of an individual, life ceases to have purpose.
      • The individual dies in spirit
    • Gradually, the mice that refused to mate or engage in society came to outnumber those that formed gangs, raped and plundered, and fed off their own.
  • The last known conception in Universe 25 occurred on Day 920, at which point the population was capped at 2,200, well short of the enclosure’s 3,000 capacity.
    • An endless supply of food, water and other resources were still there for the mice, but it didn’t matter. The behavior sink had set in, and there was no stopping Universe 25 from careening to its self-made demise. Soon enough, there was not a single living mouse left in the enclosure..
  • Attempt at redemption
    • Before the rodent utopia imploded entirely, Calhoun removed some of the beautiful ones to see whether they would live more productive lives if released into a new society, free of social strife and carnage. Placing these mice in a fresh setting with few pre-existing residents — a scenario similar to that which greeted the initial pairs placed in Universe 25 — he expected the beautiful ones to awake from their asocial haze and answer nature’s call to populate the barren environment.
    • However, the relocated mice showed no signs of change from their earlier behavioral patterns. Refusing to mate or even interact among their new peers, the reclusive mice eventually died of natural causes, and the fledgling society folded without a single new birth.

In Calhoun’s view, the rise and fall of Universe 25 proved five basic points about mice, as well as humans:

  1. The mouse is a simple creature, but it must develop the skills for courtship, child-rearing, territorial defense and personal role fulfillment on the domestic and communal front. If such skills fail to develop, the individual will neither reproduce nor find a productive role within society.
  2. As with mice, all species will grow older and gradually die out. There is nothing to suggest human society isn’t prone to the same developments that led to the demise of Universe 25.
  3. If the number of qualified individuals exceeds the number of openings in society, chaos and alienation will be the inevitable outcomes.
  4. Individuals raised under the latter conditions will lack any relation to the real world. Physiological fulfillment will be their only drive in life.
  5. Just as mice thrive on a set of complex behaviors, the concern for others developed in post-industrial human skills and understandings is vital to man’s continuance as a species. The loss of these attributes within a civilization could lead to its collapse.
  • Criticisms:
    • Nowadays the scientific community seems to be less fearful of Calhoun’s experiments and their implications.
    • John B Calhoun isn’t a rodent himself so some people think he got it wrong. He also had designed quite a few mouse environments before he got to the 25th one, and didn’t expect to be watching a happy story.
    • The general consensus now is that The habitats that Calhoun created were not actually overcrowded. It is the isolation factor that fostered the hyper aggression among the rodents. They were forced to fight over territory and this lead to the isolation of the beautiful ones. Behavioral scientists today don’t think it was an overcrowded problem, but a fairness distribution problem.
    • And then National Institute of Mental Health’s Edmund Ramsden said:
      • “Ultimately, “[r]ats may suffer from crowding; human beings can cope. Calhoun’s research was seen not only as questionable, but also as dangerous.”
    • Another researcher, Jonathan Freedman,
      • turned to studying actual people — they were just high school and university students, but definitely human. His work suggested a different interpretation. Moral decay could arise “not from density, but from excessive social interaction. Not all of Calhoun’s rats had gone berserk. Those who managed to control space led relatively normal lives.”
  • My skepticism comes from how farfetched Calhoun’s conclusions were.
    • The man’s research claimed to know when a mouse had a lack of purpose…. I don’t care how many behaviors you cite to back up your hypothesis, I’m always going to have trouble believing a person who thinks they cracked the code to mouse psychology.
    • And I agree with Edmund Ramsden when he said Calhoun’s research was dangerous
      • Don’t get me wrong, I think the experiment did give a lot of interesting insight into social interactions, but it is not a 1:1 ratio from rodent to humans. We are very different creatures.
      • And I think this research’s conclusions WERE dangerous. Calhoun’s predictions of the human race based on his rodent experiments were almost fear-mongering to a population of baby boomers just starting to grow up and see all the riots and “sinful” way of life in the cities.
    • And my chief criticism was how Calhoun basically played god over this small community of rodents and watched as they violently raped and ate each other.
      • I mean, I know they are rodents and people hate rodents, but I’d like to think I would have a hard time just sitting back and watching these living creatures do this to each other all while knowing it was by my literal grand design that they do so.
    • yuck… gives me the heebee jeebees.
  • Thanks for listening Who’d a Thunkers! To the 2nd Fright Fest Episode of the year.
    • hope you enjoyed the episode. A few episodes back I said I would be making the material a bit more mature since 0 of my listeners are minors and I finally kept my word seeing as this episode had the most mature talking point so far… that being “rat rape.”
      • sorry, not sorry if I offended anyone. I did warn you and sometimes learning more about the world does include some vile-ass shit you know.
  • Special shout out to my mother who absolutely HATES rodents and does NOT enjoy horror movies or stories at all… but undoubtedly still tuned in anyway because she’s my mom and my biggest fan.
    • Love you mom!
    • catchya next week Who’d a thunkers!

CREDIT

Mouse Utopia Experiment | Mr. Pest Guy
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The Dead of Lake Nyos

The content below is from Episode 80 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast.

ANNOUNCEMENT

  • This is the first episode in October and you know what that means!? It’s the first episode of the Who’d a Thunk It? FRIGHTFEST!
    • All episodes this month will be spooky, creepy, or downright terrifying!
    • Last year I did Pennsylvania Folk Lore 1, 2, and 3. I also did an episode called FrightFest 2020, and my last episode of October 2020 I did an episode on the 2 man eating lions called The Ghost and the Darkness.
      • I had a blast doing FrightFest as an homage to the the cable network AMC’s Fear Fest that they have done every year for the last 24 years.
      • I have fond memories of my dad and I sitting down and enjoying movies like Friday the 13th, Halloween, Critters, Cujo, and more.
      • This marks the 25th anniversary of AMC’s Fear Fest where they play classic horror movies every night through the month of October.
    • So strap in Who’d a Thunkers because this is the first episode of 2021 FRIGHTFEST!!!

RECOMMENDATION SEGMENT

  • Want to watch a claustrophobic 90’s horror movie that turned a small budget in to a fascinatingly terrifying story? Watch Cube.
    • Here is a brief synopsis of the plot… don’t worry I won’t spoil anything for you:
      • Without remembering how they got there, several strangers awaken in a prison of cubic cells, some of them booby-trapped.
    • It is an hour and 30 minutes long and when I first watched it I immediately knew I had stumbled on to a little-known gem of a movie.
    • You can watch it for free on Pluto TV.
      • If you aren’t familiar with Pluto TV you should definitely get it. It is free *with ads* (less ads than cable TV though… because Cable sucks).
    • If you don’t have Pluto TV on your smart TV then download it and if you like a good thriller movie watch Cube on said Pluto TV app… you won’t regret it.
Cube alternative movie poster on Behance

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT

  • You’ve heard of natural disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis, forest fires, volcanoes, hurricanes, and landslides and how lethal each of them can be. But what if I told you Lakes could kill?
    • and No I’m not talking about Jason Voorhees popping out of a lake and grabbing your from your canoe.
Friday the 13th: There's a life-sized Jason Voorhees statue at the bottom  of a lake in Minnesota
  • No, I’m talking about a very real horror.
  • The power of mother nature far exceeds that of the killer from the famous Friday the 13th movie franchise.
    • I’m talking about a rare natural disaster that has claimed the lives of 1,800 people since the phenomena was first discovered in 1986.
      • 1,800 may not sound like a big number, but there’s No telling how many lives were lost before 1986 and history failed to take note.
    • That first recording of this lake-related horror in 1986 occurred in Africa at Lake Nyos.
  • The Lake itself
    • is a crater lake in the Northwest Region of Cameroon, located about 315 km northwest of Yaoundé, the capital. Nyos is a deep lake high on the flank of an inactive volcano in the Oku volcanic plain along the Cameroon line of volcanic activity. A volcanic dam impounds the lake waters.
Nyos 2010 red
  • What happened at this lake that some have deemed cursed?
    • Well Lake Nyos is no normal lake. It is what’s known as a crater lake. It was formed over millions of years by a subterranean volcano.
      • Now it IS common for a crater lake to have a lot of carbon dioxide in them. And usually those high levels of carbon dioxide gases leave the lake slowly and harmlessly. They dissipate over time as the lake water churns. But as I said, Lake Nyos is no normal lake.
      • Hundreds of years of carbon dioxide built up in the deep lake and never dissipated. Scientists discovered Lake Nyos had a 5 to 1 ratio. That means over 5 gallons of carbon dioxide had dissolved in to every 1 gallon of water. That is a massive chemical reaction waiting to happen, and if you listened to Episode #76 “Explosives” you’d know that is what makes something explode… a chemical reaction.
    • The night of August 21st 1986 something set off the lake’s catastrophic potential. Something metaphorically ignited this powder keg of a lake and scientist aren’t sure what it was.
      • It could have been a landslide, small volcanic eruption, or even just a cold downpour of rain on a corner of the lake.
      • Regardless of what caused it, what came next was horrifying. Around 9:30PM at night on that August 21st in 1986 Lake Nyos exploded.
      • That is when 100,000–300,000 tons (some sources say 1.6 million tons) of carbon dioxide (CO2) flew up in to the air in the form of a gas cloud at about 100 kilometers per hour (62 mph) to an altitude of about 90 meters (300 feet). This explosion caused a small lake tsunami.
      • Because the gas cloud of CO2 was heavier than the surrounding atmosphere it quickly fell back down to ground level. As it did the immense volume of CO2 blanketed an area so large it affected people up to 15 miles away from the lake.
      • There were 800 residents of the nearby village of Nyos and only 6 survived. In total, the limnic eruption at Lake Nyos claimed the lives of 1,746 people and 3,500 livestock also were suffocated by the fumes in just a few short minutes.
      • Before Lake Nyos this phenomena was undocumented. It was a new scientific discovery… and a lethal one.
  • To define this uncommon natural disaster:
    • A Limnic Eruptions is also known as a lake overturn, is a rare type of natural disaster in which dissolved carbon dioxide suddenly erupts from deep lake waters, forming a gas cloud capable of suffocating wildlife, livestock, and humans. A limnic eruption may also cause tsunamis as the rising CO 2 displaces water.
Cattle suffocated by carbon dioxide from Lake Nyos
  • As you can imagine this devastated the community surrounding Lake Nyos. Without any survivors telling their story the cause of all that death may still be a mystery. But there were a few survivors and Here are some of their stories.
  • Reverent Father Anthony Bangsi was a missionary living in the marketplace known as Subum near the lake at the time.
    • He says that night is still very clear in his mind. It haunts him that whatever was causing all that death was invisible. The only way he knew there was danger was from the birds dropping from the sky dead and all the other animals dying around him at his feet.
    • He said he and his fellow missionary Father Lawrence were sleeping inside when Father Anthony Bangsi felt as if he was suffocating. He went outside to see if he could breath more freely out there, but shortly after leaving the house he went unconscious.
    • When he awoke the next day he found it hard to speak and even stand up. That night father Lawrence dies, his body was lying right next to Father Anthony Bangsi. Father Anthony Bangsi is 1 of very few to survive. Lake Nyos’s limnic eruptions claimed the lives of 500 at Subum.
Dead cattle surround compounds in Nyos village Sept. 3, 1986, almost two weeks after the lake's explosion.
  • Another survivor from Subum, Joseph Nkwain recounted the scene:
    • “I could not speak. I became unconscious. I could not open my mouth because then I smelled something terrible … I heard my daughter snoring in a terrible way, very abnormal…. When crossing to my daughter’s bed … I collapsed and fell … I wanted to speak, my breath would not come out…. My daughter was already dead.”
  • The scale of the disaster led to much study on how a recurrence could be prevented.
    •  Several researchers proposed the installation of degassing columns from rafts in the middle of the lake. The principle is to slowly vent the CO2 by lifting heavily saturated water from the bottom of the lake through a pipe, initially by using a pump, but only until the release of gas inside the pipe naturally lifts the column of effervescing water, making the process self-sustaining
    • Starting from 1995, feasibility studies were successfully conducted, and the first permanent degassing tube was installed at Lake Nyos in 2001. Two additional pipes were installed in 2011.
    • Following the Lake Nyos disaster, scientists investigated other African lakes to see if a similar phenomenon could happen elsewhere. Lake Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 2,000 times larger than Lake Nyos, was also found to be supersaturated, and geologists found evidence that outgassing events around the lake happened about every One thousand years.
      • My mind immediately connected old taboo curse lore to disasters like this. 1,000 years ago we as humans didn’t even know things like molecules existed let alone have the ability to determine the cause of a rare geological disaster.
      • So I’m guessing there is some African curse tied to these CO2 burping volcano lakes.
  • While science did eventually find out why the Lake Nyos happened (minus what exactly triggered it) it wasn’t an immediate discovery.
    • I can’t imagine what it must have been like to be in the shoes of Father Anthony Bangsi or Joseph Nkwain to see the people around you die slowly without the ability to speak or already be dead when you discover them. For quite sometime the survivors had no explanation as to why so much death had happened all around them. It was truly and invisible killer.
  • There you have it Who’d a Thunkers. If you are like me and you live in an area that is relatively safe from natural disasters and you think:
    • “No fault lines anywhere so no earthquakes to worry about”
    • “No volcanoes to I don’t have to sweat over lava”
    • “Not real close to the coast so hurricanes don’t bother be”
    • and “we’ve got lots of hills so fat chance of a tornado destroying my house.”
    • WELL THINK AGAIN!
    • Killer Lakes! Lakes can kill…
      • of course these are special lakes with volcanoes underneath and this disaster has to build up over time so it only happens once every like… thousands years or so..
      • BUT YOU NEVER KNOW!
      • Next time you are at your buddies lake house (if you have a buddy wealthy enough to own a lake house and nice enough to let you visit) take a look at the water… maybe try and see if you can spot any invisible CO2 gas lurking in the depths.

CREDIT:

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Hydrogen Cars

The content below is from Episode 79 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast.

RECOMMENDATION SEGMENT

  • I’d like to recommend the band ABBA.
    • Yeah that ABBA, the one that plays Dancing Queen!
    • But I’ll tell ya, they have a lot of other bangers like Fernando and Chiquitita!
    • ABBA knows how to hit a good rhythm that always seems to get my butt moving! I’ve recently been listening to Chiquitita at the gym and every time that beat drops I’m pushing the treadmill up to 7+ MPH for a good jolt of powerful positive energy. I highly recommend.

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT!

  • DISCLAIMER: I used a bunch of sources for this episode and you can find those at the bottom of the blog post, but I used one source HEAVILY and that is a YouTube video titled “Why Hydrogen Cars Flopped” by Donut Media. There video is also on the blog post. Just wanted to give credit where credit is due.
  • I don’t remember where I was when this happened, but I know I was with my mom.
    • It was in the past year or so that we pulled in to a gas station and I saw a pump that had a blue handle and simply said “Hydrogen” above it.
    • Now I’ve heard of electric cars, and your typical gasoline fueled cars, but I had never heard of “Hydrogen” fueled cars.
    • After digging in to the topic for this week’s episode I felt a bit embarrassed by that fact, because this technology has been around since the 1800’s and has been getting billion dollar funding grants from the US government as recent as the Bush administration… the Little Bush that is.
  • So what is the tech behind hydrogen cars?
    • I found out that hydrogen cars are powered by what’s called Fuel Cell technology.
      • And a fuel cell is a device that generates electricity by a chemical reaction. … One great appeal of fuel cells is that they generate electricity with very little pollution–much of the hydrogen and oxygen used in generating electricity ultimately combine to form a harmless byproduct, namely water.
      • Similar to a battery, a fuel cell is a device that produces electricity through an electrochemical reaction — a chemical reaction that generates electricity without any combustion. Unlike batteries, fuel cells don’t run down or need recharging. As long as there is a constant source of fuel and oxygen, fuel cells will continue to generate power.
      • While hydrogen is a common fuel source for fuel cells, it isn’t the only one. Fuel cells can produce electricity using hydrogen-rich fuels, such as biogas, natural gas, propane, methanol and diesel.
  • As I mentioned, fuel cell technology goes all the way back to the 1800’s
    • It was first invented in 1839 by Welsh scientist William Robert Grove.
      • He was a Welsh judge, inventor, and physicist (back when there were renaissance guys who held all kinds of titles like this). He mixed hydrogen and oxygen in the presence of an electrolyte and produced electricity and water. However, the invention didn’t produce enough electricity to be useful at the time.
    • Since Grove, NASA has used fuel cells to power onboard systems in their Gemini spacecraft. Those hydrogen fuel cells produced water as a byproduct, which the astronauts were then able to drink.
  • Now let’s talk about the automotive industry.
    • The very first Hydrogen car was made in 1966 by GM.
    • It was the 1966 GM Electrovan.
      • The vehicle was a 1966 GMC Handivan on the outside. Its insides were converted into a science lab of new technology that appeared more like a whisky still of old.
      • The Union Carbide 5 kw fuel cell (rated at 1,000 hours of use) was able to propel the GM Electrovan for top speeds between 63 – 70 mph.
        • Those aren’t killer top speeds, but the fastest highway in my home state of PA only goes to 70mph so thats about all you would need.
      • The Electrovan also had a range of 120 miles, which was not too shabby for 1966. Because of safety concerns, the Electrovan was only used on company property, where it had several mishaps along the way.
        • That is why when you google search what the “First Hydrogen Car” is you get:
          • The first commercially produced hydrogen fuel cell automobile, the Hyundai ix35 FCEV, was introduced in 2013… because that was the first to be commercially available.
  • This is how the hydrogen fuel cell works:
    • Compressed hydrogen enters a pipe to a positive terminal in the fuel cell. Then oxygen from the atmosphere enters from a 2nd pipe to the negative terminal.
    • The positive terminal is made of Platinum that acts as a catalyst accelerating the chemical reaction. When the Hydrogen atoms hit the Platinum catalyst they split up into Hydrogen Ions (that is protons and electrons). Hydrogen Ions are just hydrogen atoms that have lost their electrons. Hydrogen just has 1 proton and 1 electron (that’s why it is #1 on the periodic table). So a Hydrogen ion is just a proton.
    • The positive charged protons are attracted to the negative charged terminal and go through the electrolyte. Because the electrolyte is made of a special polymer, only the protons can pass through it. Now that the electrons are free of their protons they flow through the open circuit and head towards the motor. These electrons power the motor and makes the wheels spin.
    • Then the electrons travel back out of the motor and towards the negative terminal where they link back up with the Hydrogen protons and the oxygen from the atmosphere. This makes H2O… water. This high quality H2O comes out of the exhaust pipe and you can actually drink it…
      • Although I’d have a hard time trusting it and you would probably look like an insane person if you laid on your back underneath a car with your mouth open and tongue out hoping to catch a small stream of water out of a car’s exhaust pipe…. If I saw my neighbor doing that I’d immediately get my phone out and put that all over Instagram and reddit.
  • What killed the Hydrogen Car?
    • I told a few of my friends about this week’s topic and their response:
      • “Society banned those cars so they can get rich selling petroleum” – that was my buddy Cory.
      • and I found that is the general consensus of the conspiracy theory community. While I do think industries do sometimes kill superior technologies so they can keep making bank off their inferior product, I’m not so sure that is the case with Hydrogen cars.
      • I did some research and there is A LOT going against these cars. IF some industry or “Society” as a whole as Cory claims is actively trying to kill the Hydrogen car, they didn’t have to try very hard.
      • Here are factors that attributed to hydrogen car’s downfall::
    • Environmental Factors
      • Hydrogen Fuel Cell tech does run on hydrogen and gives off only heat and water as a byproduct. There is even a “air cleaning” feature on these cars that claims to leave the atmosphere less polluted when it is running.
      • Just looking at how these engines work: Hydrogen goes in and Water comes out… you’d think they are great for the environment… but like all things in life, It’s Complicated.
        • Hydrogen doesn’t doesn’t exist on it’s own in nature. We have to make H2 through a process called Electrolysis and that takes A LOT of power.
        • Water is taken to a special plant and separated to make H2. This is 75% energy efficient.
        • Then the H2 is compressed, chilled, and transported to the fueling station. There the H2 is put in to a car which turns the H2 BACK in to electricity to power the motor.
        • In the end, if you started with 100 watts of power at the plant, only 38 watts of that electric power is used to move your car. The Hydrogen Engine is only 38% efficient.
        • and where did that electricity come from??? natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy so the source of the power isn’t coming out of thin air.
        • So if we could find a more efficient way to produce the H2 and get it in to the Hydrogen car then we’d have the greatest environmental friendly mode of transportation possible other than walking, but as things are now it is not that great.
  • For comparison…
    • The traditional combustion engine is only 25 to 35% efficient so hydrogen has them beat by a small margin
    • But the electric cars like Tesla use the electricity directly… they don’t have to transform the electric power into anything so they are a staggering 80% efficient.
    • The hydrogen car CAN be the environmental car of the future, but it needs A LOT more research, resources and time before it gets there. Right now it only marginally beats out the gas car and is left in the dust by the electric car.
  • Convenience – or lack there of
    • According to Wikipedia: “As of 2021, there are two hydrogen cars publicly available in select markets: the Toyota Mirai and the Hyundai Nexo…” but what Wikipedia didn’t say that there is also a car called the Honda Clarity available lol. so you know… Wikipedia…. There are 3 Hydrogen cars right now… only 3 cars to choose from. not a convenient selection.
      • In mid-2021, there were 48 open retail hydrogen stations in the United States. Additionally, there were at least 60 stations in various stages of planning or construction. Most of the existing and planned stations were in California, with one in Hawaii and 14 planned for the Northeastern states.
        • So lets give it the benefit of the doubt here and say all 60 of those stations are finished constructions… that is only 108 places to fuel up your car across one of the geographically largest countries on the planet. …
        • that is compared to over 150,000 petroleum gas stations available.
      • It is disgustingly inconvenient to fuel up your hydrogen car. As things are now it is literally impossible to travel across the US with one of these cars. You can start in NY and make it all the way to about Ohio/Michigan until you would start running out of fueling spots. If you only drove on the highway you MIGHT be able to make it to Missouri.
        • Traveling the other way from California… you wouldn’t even make it past Arizona before you’d find yourself stranded in the desert with no Hydrogen fueling station in sight.
        • So that inconvenient fact alone kills the thought of wanting to buy one of these
This map was published on September 2020
  • Price
    • After looking in to hydrogen fuel cell technology there are lots of benefits to this form of transportation, but the initial cost to switch over to this form of fuel kind of explains why they aren’t all over the place already…
    • First there is the cost of the cars themselves:
      • Honda Clarity Fuel Cell: $58,490
      • Honda Nexo: $60,120
      • Toyota Mirai: $49,500
    • Hydrogen fuel is much more efficient than gasoline, but it’s also four times more expensive, roughly equivalent to about $16 a gallon… however most Hydrogen pumps don’t measure by volume like gallons because what you are putting in to your Fuel Cell car is pressurized Hydrogen.
      • So the price is more accurately listed as $16.50 per kg.
      • The Toyota Mirai has a 5kg tank so that is $82.50 to fill up your car… and that will last about 400 miles.
        • For comparison my granny car: 2014 Hyundai Elantra has a 13.2 gallon tank. So with gas costing about $3.19 it would cost me $42.19 to fill up. With an average 32 MPG rate that is about 422 miles out of 1 tank.
        • So half the price and roughly the same result.
    • The price to install a Hydrogen fuel station is also pricey.
      • Electric charging stations cost about $50K to install at a Gas Station
      • Traditional Gasoline/Petroleum costs about $300K to install.
      • and Hydrogen fueling stations cost a Whopping $2Million to install.
    • There is some financial help from the government (via us taxpayers) that incentivized companies to create more hydrogen cars and hydrogen fueling stations.
      • But for the most part people are just not interested.
From left to right: Electric, Hydrogen, and Gasoline/Petroleum station installation costs.
  • Performance
    • More reasonably priced hydrogen cars like the 2021 Toyota Mirai’s performance is sad.
      • 0-60 in 9.1 seconds
      • top speed of 106 mph
      • and has a maximum range of about 623 miles on 1 hydrogen fill up
      • For a comparison, That granny car of mine the 2014 Hyundai Elantra goes 0-60 in 9.6 seconds and has a top speed of 121 mph
    • Now there is a hydrogen sports car that is set to release in 2022: the Hyperion XP-1
      • 0-60 in 2.2 seconds
      • top speed of 220 mph
      • 1,000 mile range
      • 1,000 horse power
      • and I personally love how futuristic it looks
        • But that is not a car that I can afford… and statistically speaking it probably isn’t something you can afford either… no price listed yet, but you can bet the cost will be atrocious.
  • The Competition
    • Hydrogen fuel cell technology in a car was an exciting futuristic concept when it came out as a commercial possibility in 2013. It looked like Hydrogen was the future for a hot second … then Elon Musk with his giant South African brain and Tony Stark-like reputation came along and left Hydrogen in the dust.
    • Electric cars like the Tesla got all the funding and research while Hydrogen car tech was left in the closet like toys from toy story.
  • Hydrogen Cars are soon to be a thing of the past… not that they were ever really popular to begin with… But there is hope for this water producing power source!
    • City transit systems like buses are starting to use Hydrogen and there are plans in the works to make hydrogen powered Semi trucks
    • Amazon and other factories are starting to use Hydrogen to fuel their forklifts and other equipment
    • Entire cities are looking to switch to Hydrogen Fuel Cell tech
    • I mentioned earlier that NASA uses Hydrogen fuel cells to make power and water for the astronauts to drink.
    • And Tech companies are looking in to manufacturing heaters and generators for rural communities.
  • What do I think about Hydrogen cars?
    • I would LOVE to drive one of these puppies. Can you imagine driving a car that gives off drinkable water? that would cool as hell.
    • However, I would hate driving a car that I could only fuel up at a spot that is probably an hour away or farther.

THANKS FOR LISTENING WHO’D A THUNKERS!

CREDIT:

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Bobby Pearce: A Different Kind of Hero

The content below is from Episode 78 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • Episode 76 “Explosives” I said that you shouldn’t throw bullets in to a fire because they will explode.
    • One of my listeners Ronnie reached out to me by driving 11 hours from Savannah Georgia just to tell me I was being a tad misleading.
      • LOL JK, Ronnie drove 11 hours and we met at a wedding of a mutual friend.
    • But he said that I should be more clear. Bullet casings do go off when thrown in fire, but it is very rare that the bullet itself is propelled out as if it were fired out of a gun barrel.
      • Of course, it is still dangerous and YOU SHOULD NOT TRHOW BULLETS IN TO A CAMPFIRE lol.
      • But I agree with him. He and I both have been sitting around a controlled couch fire that unknowingly had a few live rounds in between the cushions.
      • I remember pops of explosions, but no bullets wizzing out of the flames.
  • Another announcement: I’ve kept this show clean for all this time, but looking at my stats the other day I realized NONE of my listeners are under the age of 18 lol.
    • So while I still plan on keeping the cursing to a minimum, there are some instances that are just better with a mild swear.
    • And I don’t have any specific topic in mind just yet, but this means I will also be opening the podcast to more mature content.
      • Well I guess I already made that switch a few weeks back when I did an episode with the word Cocaine in the title LMAO

RECOMMENDATION SEGMENT

  • Sword Art Online
    • It is one of the most popular animes out there and for good reason.
    • I remember watching the entire series with my little brother Jake. He and I loved it for different reasons and it showed me the kind of variety this show has.
    • It is about a emmersive VR game that connects to the players nervous system to allew them to experience a game in all 5 senses as if they are really in the game.
      • but things go wrong when the game master makes the game TOO realistic. If you die in the game you die in real life… and you can’t just quit. You have to beat it!

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT

  • Last week’s episode was about a hero Shavarsh Karapetyan.
    • If you haven’t already, give that one a listen. But Shavarsh’s acts of heroism were spectacular. The man literally risked life and limb to save dozens of people on multiple occasions. After I read Shavarsh’s story there was no doubt in my mind that he was a hero.
    • And while this episode’s story doesn’t have any of those dangerous or spectacular feats, I would argue this episode is about a hero too. A different kind of hero, but a hero none the less.
  • September 30th, 1905 Henry Robert Pearce was born in Sydney Australia.
    • And get a load of his family. Give you an idea as to what caliber of athletic genes Bobby was blessed with:
      • Bobby’s grandfather Henry John “Harry” Pearce, Sr. was an Australian champion in sculling. 
      • Bobby’s father, Henry J “Harry, Jr” Pearce Jr., was an Australian sculling champion and challenged for the world championship twice (in 1911 and 1913).
      • His uncle Sandy Pearce, was a national rugby league representative inducted into that sport’s Australian Hall of Fame.
      • Bobby’s cousins were Cecil a sculler, who represented for Australia at the 1936 Summer Olympics and Sid Pearce who also played rugby league for Australia.
      • Cecil’s son (Bobby’s first cousin once removed) Gary Pearce would row in three Olympic games from 1964 to 1972.
      • …. yeah, I’ll bet there was quite a lot of pressure on little bobby to become a world class athlete. He practically hit the genetic lottery.
  • Bobby started rowing early.
    • He entered a U-16 handicap race at the age of just six years old, managing to finish in second place.
    • Then he left school early to become a carpenter, and then worked in the fishing industry with his father.
    • When he turned 18 he joined the Australian Army in 1923, and attained the rank of master sergeant. In 1926, after winning the Army heavyweight boxing championship, he left the army to become a full-time rower. He was a competitor for the Sydney Rowing Club.
      • I love how “Australian Army Heavyweight Boxing Champion” is but a mere footnote in his life.
    • Bobby Pearce was a whopping 6 feet, 2 inches and weighed about 210 pounds (for you metric system users across the world, that’s 188 cm and 95 kg).
      • In 1927 at the age of 22 Bobby entered in the amateur national sculling championships. … he won that… and then proceeded to win the 1928 and 1929 championships.
      • His domination of the water got the attention of the right people. He was selected for the 1928 Olympics and even carried the Australian Flag at the opening ceremonies that year.
  • It was at the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam where Bobby became a legend. This was where he became a hero in my opinion.
    • His first race was against a German named Walter Flinsch. Bobby beat his ass by 12 lengths.
    • Next race was against a Danish guy named Schwartz… Bobby smoked him by 8 lengths.
    • Then the quarter finals rolled around. Up against 8 competitors, Bobby was easily beating the French guy Saurin who was in 2nd.
  • Leading by a large margin in the quarter finals on the Stoten Canal, Bobby heard shouting from the Dutch spectators on the bank. He looked up and saw the spectators with worried looks on their face. When you row a boat you have your back to the front of the boat. So Bobby had to turn around to see what was ahead of him. He saw a duck about to cross his path and a string of fuzzy little ducklings trailing behind their mother.
    • There is no rule against rowing right over the ducks and most competitors in the Olympics would probably do just that without a moment’s hesitation. Olympic athletes train for years just to get a chance to compete. Most sacrifice so much to be there and aren’t willing to lose just because of some ducks.
      • If I were in the same situation as Bobby Pearce I would plow those little ducks right over and as I sped away I would stare back to see if they all made it back up safe.
    • But Bobby slowed down, leaned on his oars for a bit and let those adorable little ducklings pass.
      • As he did this, Victor Saurin, the French guy in 2nd place and a powerful 3 time European champion rower took advantage of the situation. Because of those ducks, Saurin was able to get a 5 length lead on Bobby.
    • Once the ducks passed, Bobby gritted his teeth and rowed like mad. He had 1,000 meters left in the race and Saurin far ahead… By the time the race ended Bobby Pearce had done the unthinkable. He beat Saurin by almost 30 seconds as he glided across the finish line. His finishing time of 7:11 was a record over the 2000m distance. This time stood for 45 years.
      • In the final, Bobby defeated Kenneth Myers of the United States by the unusually large margin of 9.8 seconds.
      • Pearce had hoped that his Olympic win would allow him to row in the Diamond Sculls at Henley, but he was refused admission because he was a carpenter. Back in Sydney he was unable to find work due to the Depression.
        • Back then the Olympics apparently would not let you compete depending on your profession.
      • When Lord Dewar, the Canadian whisky manufacturer, learned of Pearce’s plight, he offered him a job as a salesman. This new position made Pearce eligible for Henley, since he was no longer a laborer.
      • In 1931 he went to London and won the Diamond Sculls by six lengths. Although he moved to Hamilton, Ontario, in Canada, Pearce represented Australia again in 1932 at the Los Angeles Olympics… where he won again.
      • Bobby Pearce went on to dominate the rowing scene for 12 years from 1933 as world professional champion.

‘The most important thing in the Olympic games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.’ 

Pierre de Frédy, Baron de Coubertin, founder of the Olympic committee
  • When Bobby stopped for those ducks he didn’t just make instant fans out of the spectators on the bank. He captivated the world with his compassion.
    • I’m convinced Bobby Pearce was a real man, and true hero.
    • I can’t think of a better example of true masculinity than a 6 foot 2, 210 pound natural athlete risking the most important competition of his career just to save a family of ducks, THEN go on to reclaim victory by the sweat of his brow.
    • And I’m hard-pressed to think of a better display of heroism than a man sticking to his moral code, his Maxim of “Life is Precious” when most minds at that time would only be thinking about winning.
      • IDK what Bobby was thinking at the time. Maybe he stopped because he was tired and needed a rest. Maybe one of those Dutch spectators on the bank was a pretty lady and he only stopped to impress her. … I very much doubt those were his motivations,
      • But it in the end it isn’t his motivations that are important. It is the message he sent to the world. Some things aren’t worth sacrificing. Even if it means attaining your dream, you shouldn’t go against who you are.
    • I think Henry Robert Pearce valued life. I think when he turned around and saw those ducks there was no question in his mind, no debate. He just simply was not the person to intentionally kill an innocent creature for no other reason than to win a race. Those ducklings lives meant more to him than that.
      • It was quite the display of ethics.
  • Damn I hope just about every woman living in the Netherlands in 1928 threw their panties at Bobby Pearce!
    • I mean can you imagine how much he pulled at the pub after that?! Chicks eat that shit up.
  • THANKS FOR LISTENING WHO’D A THUNKERS!
    • I love this podcast and if you ever see me in the flesh all you have to do it casually mention this podcast and I will proceed to talk you ear off about it.
      • I’ll take suggestions for episode topics, recommendations segment topics, and even suggestions about the podcast’s overall structure.
      • I love your feedback!
      • If you go to Anchor.fm you can leave me an audio message and I’ll include it on the next episode!

CREDIT

The meme that inspired this episode.

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The Savior: Shavarsh Karapetyan

The content below is from Episode 77 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast

RECOMMENDATION SEGMENT

  • This week’s recommendation segment is brought to you by…. Shannon. LOL my Fiancee Shannon.
    • Tune in to the audio podcast to hear what she recommended this week.

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT

  • Meriam and Webster define heroism as: heroic conduct especially as exhibited in fulfilling a high purpose or attaining a noble end.
  • In 1953 Armenia, back when it was Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic, part of the Soviet Union, a boy was born.
  • Shavarsh attended school as a child, but when it came time to choose his career path, he choose auto mechanics. He went to a tech school to learn the trade.
    • Witnessing Shavarsh’s athleticism on a regular basis, his friends and family convinced him to learn how to swim, and he was a natural. He later set his sights on finswimming at the age of 17.
      • Finswimming is when you put those big black rubber fins on your feet and use them to swim like a mermaid.
      • Just 2 years after putting on his first set of fins, Shavarsh became the European champion of finswimming.
  • During his career as a finswimmer, Shavarsh Karapetyan:
    • set 11 finswimming world records
    • claimed victory in 17 world championships
    • won 13 European championships.
    • It is safe to say Shavarsh could swim like a fish. But this isn’t what made him famous!
      • Ok, that isn’t THAT hard to believe. Even though he won all these world championships at finswimming and was arguably the best finswimmer on the planet at the time… that doesn’t mean he is automatically famous. That is a cool feat and all, but I’ll bet you can’t name another finswimmer right now without looking it up on your phone. You probably can’t even name 1 world champion swimmer… that isn’t Michael Phelps.
  • What made Shavarsh stand out to the world was his acts of heroism. TRUE acts of heroism.
    • In 1974 Shavarsh was on his way back home city of Yerevan. He was on a bus with over 30 other passengers when the bus driver realized something was wrong with the bus.
    • On a steep hill the driver departed the bus to try and fix the issue. That is when the bus began to drift downhill… with no driver.
    • Shavarsh jumped to attention and took action. He broke the driver’s window and steered the bus to safety. He averted tragedy.
  • On September 16, 1976,
    • this  Merited Master of Sports of the USSR and 11 time finswimming world champion was training when when he witnessed something that would put his swimming skills to better use than any other swimming feat before.
    • While jogging alongside Yerevan Lake with his brother Kamo, also a finswimmer, Karapetyan had just completed his usual distance of 20 km (12 miles).
      • You know, 12 mile run, no biggie.
    • When all of the sudden he heard the sound of a crash and saw a sinking trolleybus which had gone out of control and fallen from a dam wall.
    • The trolleybus lay at the bottom of the reservoir some 25 metres (80 ft) offshore at a depth of 10 metres (33 ft). Shavarsh swam to it through the 13 degree celsius (55 degrees Fahrenheit) and, despite conditions of almost zero visibility, due to the silt rising from the bottom, he broke the back window with his legs.
      • The trolleybus was crowded, it carried 92 passengers, Shavarsh started bringing people up from the bottom of the lake, to his waiting brother who was waiting on the surface with a boat he found and was now using to bring Shavarsh’s rescued to shore.
      • Although Sharvarsh was quickly losing strength, he kept rescuing as many people as he could. Due to the murky water and delirium from exhaustion, one of his dives to save somebody resulted in him bringing a bus seat cushion to the surface. He mistook the cushion for a person.
        • Years later in interviews he said that seat cushion gave him nightmares of regret. He regretted wasting time and not being able to save 1 more person.
      • The doctors at the local hospital assumed the crash victims were being attended to by a professional search and rescue crew. They couldn’t believe all those people were being saved by a single swimmer with the help of his brother.
      • After bringing an unbelievable 46 of the 92 passengers to the surface, his brother Kamo told him “Shavarsh, there is no point in diving down there anymore.”
        • The exhausted Shavarsh asked “Why?”
        • And his brother pointed out “it has been over 20 minutes. They are already dead.”
      • Out of the 46 people Shavarsh was able to bring to the surface, 20 people survived.
      • Without Shavarsh and his brother it is likely no one would have survived. It wasn’t until 45 minutes after the crash that the trolley bus was towed out of the water.
      • By then, Shavarsh was lying unconscious on the ground.
    • The combined effect of multiple lacerations from glass shards led to Shavarsh’s hospitalization for 45 days, as he developed pneumonia and sepsis. Subsequent lung complications prevented Shavarsh from continuing his sports career.
    • Now legal systems aren’t perfect and Shavarsh’s achievement was not immediately recognized.
      • All related photos were kept at the district attorney’s office and were only published two years later. It was years until the story of the 1976 trolley bus crash was picked up by the press. But when it was, Shavarsh said in interview that he didn’t want any big rewards because, in his words, “anyone else in my situation would have done the same thing.”
      • He was awarded the Medal “For the Salvation of the Drowning” and the Order of the Badge of Honor. His name became a household name in the USSR on October 12, 1982, when Komsomolskaya Pravda published the article on his feat, entitled “The Underwater Battle of the Champion”. This publication revealed that he was the rescuer; and he received about 60,000 letters.
  • If that true story wasn’t enough to pull on your heart strings,
    • On February 19, 1985, Shavarsh just happened to be near a burning building that had people trapped inside. He rushed in and started pulling people out without a second thought. Once again, he was badly hurt (severe burns) and spent a long time in the hospital.
    • He was later awarded a UNESCO “Fair Play” award for his heroism.
  • Nowadays, the 68 year old Shavarsh Karapetyan has grown quite the substantial beer gut and he is still adored by his fellow countrymen for his acts of bravery.
  • Thanks for Listening!

CREDIT

This is the image my dad sent to me one day hoping I would make this episode. Thanks Dad
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Explosives

The content below is from Season 2 Episode 76 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast with Zeb.

RECOMMENDATION SEGMENT

  • Disney’s Atlantis: The Lost Empire
    • It came out in 2001 but the animation holds up.
    • Starring Michael J Fox and featuring some of the most entertaining ensemble of characters in any adventure story I’ve ever seen… I recommend you watch Atlantis: The Lost Empire.
    • You’ve probably seen it before, but just re-watch it.
    • My favorite characters are Cookie the cook and Vinny the explosives guy
  • That scene where Cookie gives the bacon grease to Milo at the end always cracks me up.
    • My dad and all his old hunting buddies always used the left over bacon grease when they cooked anything on the stove.

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT!

  • I like things that go boom.
    • I’m aware that explosives have been used for violence throughout history and are still used that way today.
    • But that’s not what this episode is about. This episode is about the explosives themselves, the chemistry behind them, and how they shaped our society as a whole.
  • Why do things explode?
    • Let us start by explaining the chemistry behind it. Don’t worry, I’ll try to keep this brief and relatively simple. Even though I LOVE chemistry, I’m aware that most people are not big fans of the subject.
    • You have the elements: Hydrogen, Helium, Carbon, Oxygen, etc.
    • Atoms are the most basic unit of elements. When more than one atom binds together, scientists call this a molecule. Molecules are the building blocks of chemicals what most people call chemicals
      • SIDE NOTE: Technically everything is a chemical… but usually when people refer to chemicals they mean a compound or substance that has been purified or prepared, especially artificially.
    • A chemical reaction occurs when two or more chemicals, called the reactants, combine and rearrange their atoms in a way so that what comes out at the end, the product, is different than the starting materials.
    • Everything wants to move toward a lower energy. Reactions are driven by energy
    • Some reactions occur spontaneously like how iron reacts with oxygen to form rust, or iron oxide. The product of this reaction, iron oxide, has a lower energy than the reactants, iron and oxygen.
    • But not all reactions happen spontaneously. Sometimes you gotta add energy (typically in the form of heat) to cause the reaction.
    • An explosion occurs when the reaction is so favorable that there is a large release of energy. An explosion can then drive more reactions.
    • The reactions keep going until there are no more molecules left to react and create a product. The energy released usually comes out as heat, which can cause fires to break out.
      • SIDE NOTE: that is why you shouldn’t mix household chemicals. You can create an explosion or even poisonous gas.
        • Whenever you mix ammonia and bleach it makes mustard gas. If you mix a cup of strong urine with a cup of bleach, a violent reaction will occur and you could make Chlorine gas. When cleaning the area around a toilet or when pets stains are cleaned. Both chloramine and chlorine gases are immediately irritating with a very pungent odor, causing watering of the eyes, runny nose and coughing.
    • So to sum up my chemistry lesson:
      • An explosion is caused by a rapid expansion of gas from a chemical reaction. It is a violent expansion in which energy is transmitted outward as a shock wave.
      • When certain elements or compounds come in to contact with each other they explode.
      • Now let’s talk about some of those certain compounds:
  • Gun Powder
    • The term gun powder refers to a number of substances used to propel missiles out of guns and for blasting work in mines. But I will only be talking about the first of these substances to be created: Black Powder.
    • Black Powder is made up of saltpetre (potassium nitrate), sulfur, and charcoal. When prepared in roughly the correct proportions (75 percent saltpetre, 15 percent charcoal, and 10 percent sulfur).
      • Once you light it, black powder burns fast. What’s left is 40% gas to about 60% solid byproduct. If you light Black Powder in a confined space the gas that comes from the explosion can be used to propel things. That’s a very crude description of how a gun works.
      • Black powder is sort of insensitive to shock and friction… sort of lol (meaning don’t press your luck, too much shock could still set it off). Most of the time you have to ignite (or cause a reaction) by using a an open flame or high amounts of heat.
      • The gun industry has mostly switched to smokeless powder these days, but black powder is still used for ignition charges, primers, fuses, and blank-fire charges in military ammunition.
      • If you switch up the ingredients just a smidge used in fireworks, time fuses, signals, squibs, and spatting charges for practice bombs.
      • So Black Powder is made up of a fuel (that’s the charcoal or sugar) and an oxidizer (saltpeter or niter), and sulfur, to allow for a stable reaction. The carbon from the charcoal plus oxygen forms carbon dioxide and energy. The reaction would be slow, like a wood fire, except for the oxidizing agent. Carbon in a fire must draw oxygen from the air. Saltpeter provides extra oxygen. Potassium nitrate, sulfur, and carbon react together to form nitrogen and carbon dioxide gases and potassium sulfide. The expanding gases, nitrogen and carbon dioxide, provide the propelling action.
      • Gunpowder tends to produce a lot of smoke, which can impair vision on a battlefield or reduce the visibility of fireworks. Changing the ratio of the ingredients affects the rate at which the gunpowder burns and the amount of smoke that is produced.
    • History of Black Powder
      • The farther back you go in history the harder it is to pin point an exact date and the culture that created Black Powder is about as old as they come. Historians believe Black Powder originated in China, where it was being used in fireworks and signals by the 10th century.
      • Originally, it was made by mixing elemental sulfur, charcoal, and saltpeter (potassium nitrate). The charcoal traditionally came from the willow tree, but grapevine, hazel, elder, laurel, and pine cones have all been used. Charcoal is not the only fuel that can be used. Sugar is used instead in many pyrotechnic applications.
      • When the ingredients were carefully ground together, the end result was a powder that was called “serpentine.” The ingredients tended to require remixing prior to use, so making gunpowder was very dangerous. People who made gunpowder would sometimes add water, wine, or another liquid to reduce this hazard since a single spark could result in a smoky fire. Once the serpentine was mixed with a liquid, it could be pushed through a screen to make small pellets, which were then allowed to dry.
      • Between the 10th and 12th centuries, the Chinese developed the huo qiang (“fire lance”) what a cool name. It was a short-range proto-gun (that means sort-of gun). The Fire Lance channeled the explosive power of gunpowder through a cylinder—initially, a bamboo tube.
      • The Chinese would light their fire lances then projectiles like arrows or bits of metal would shoot out of the other end, along with a lot of fire. I imagine they didn’t always get the proportions right and these things probably blew up in their faces a lot or the opposite of that where they’d light it and it would just fizzle a bit, a tiny puff of smoke would hiss up and no projectile would shoot out.
      • By the late 13th century the Chinese were making legit guns, made of cast brass or iron. Then guns began to appear in the West by 1304, when the Arabs produced a bamboo tube reinforced with iron that used a charge of black powder to shoot an arrow. Black powder was adopted for use in firearms in Europe from the 14th century but was not employed for peaceful purposes, such as mining and road building, until the late 17th century.
      • It remained a useful explosive for breaking up coal and rock deposits until the early 20th century, when it was gradually replaced by dynamite for most mining purposes.
    • Before Gun Powder the world’s wars were waged up close and personal with only Bows&Arrows being the most effective long range weapon.
      • Also there were no fireworks before Black Powder and we couldn’t really mine for squat.
      • I know this sounds counter intuitive, but I think without Black Powder (the first explosive) the world would probably be a lot more barbaric.
TNT Chemical Substance Chemical Compound Chemical Synthesis Explosive  Material PNG, Clipart, Angle, Black, Black And White,
  • TNT
    • Can’t do an episode on explosives and not talk about TNT. It is literally the standard for measuring other explosions. When an asteroid smacks earth’s surface the news tells us how powerful the blast was by saying it how many sticks of TNT it would take to replicate the force of said asteroid. We do the same thing with other bombs.
      • The “kiloton (of TNT)” is a unit of energy equal to 4.184 terajoules (4.184×1012 J)
    • Trinitrotoluene more commonly known as TNT, or more specifically 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene, is a chemical compound with the formula C6H2(NO2)3CH3 (Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen Dioxide, and Methyl).
    • TNT is a yellow solid. It is sometimes used a s reagent in chemical synthesis, but we all know it as an explosive.
    • One of the things that makes TNT so special is that it is actually hard to get TNT to explode. In order to get it to go boom you can’t just smack it against a rock or even put it in a conventional oven unless you crank the temperature up really high. TNT melts at 82° C (178° F) and does not explode below 240° C (464° F). So you can do lots with TNT before it melts your face off. That’s why militaries of the world would melt it down and pour it in to munitions’ casings all the time.
    • TNT’s History
      • That’s why TNT’s origins are a bit peculiar: It was first used as a dye for yellow coloring in 1863 by a German chemist named Julius Wilbrand.
      • Because TNT is so insensitive to heat and shock it took 3 decades until someone realized it would make a fantastic explosive.
      • In 1891 a guy named Carl Häussermann (another German Chemist) was the one who realized TNT’s potential to go *my best impression of an explosion*.
      • TNT is so insensitive that it was exempted from the UK’s Explosives Act 1875. It was not considered an explosive for the purposes of manufacture and storage.
      • The German armed forces adopted it as a filling for artillery shells in 1902. TNT-filled armour-piercing shells would explode after they had penetrated the armour of British capital ships, whereas the British Lyddite-filled shells tended to explode upon striking armour, thus expending much of their energy outside the ship.[8] The British started replacing Lyddite with TNT in 1907.
    • TNT is poisonous,
      • and if you get it on your skin it gets real itchy and irritated. TNT will also turn your skin bright yellow. During the First World War, all the men were on the fronts lines fighting in the war and the women were filling up munitions on a massive scale back home. The female munition workers who handled the TNT chemical found that their skin turned bright yellow, which resulted in their acquiring the nickname “canary girls” or simply “canaries”.
      • People exposed to TNT over a prolonged period tend to experience anemia and abnormal liver functions.
        • Anemia is a decrease in the total amount of red blood cells (RBCs) or hemoglobin in the blood or a lowered ability of the blood to carry oxygen. It can be rough on the heart.
        • And your liver is really important.
      •  Blood and liver effects, spleen enlargement and other harmful effects on the immune system have also been found in animals that ingested or breathed trinitrotoluene. There is evidence that TNT adversely affects male fertility.
      • TNT is listed as a possible human carcinogen, with carcinogenic effects demonstrated in animal experiments with rats, although effects upon humans so far amount to none (according to IRIS of March 15, 2000).
      • If you eat TNT your pee turns red because of chemical break down… but most people who experience immediatly think it is blood in their urine so they freak out.
        • Imagine that conversation with your doctor: “Doc you gotta help me. I’m pissing blood.”
        • Then he comes back after running tests: “Good news and bad news imaginary patient. Good news is you are not peeing blood. Bad news is that someone has been putting TNT in to your raisin brand every morning!”
      • TNT doesn’t only poison people, it pollutes its surroundings quite terribly. Residual TNT from manufacture, storage, and use can pollute water, soil, atmosphere, and biosphere.
      • In Sept. of 2001, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) declared TNT a pollutant and made the removal of TNT from military and industrial sites not just a requirement, but a priority.
        • So don’t eat TNT. Don’t let you babies play with TNT. and Don’t store TNT in your basement. … it’s bad for the environment lol
    • With TNT we humans were able to do so much more with explosives. I mean you can pour the stuff in to bottles… there are so many more uses for TNT than other explosives.
Nitroglycerin - Wikipedia
  • Nitroglycerin
    • Nitroglycerin, also called glyceryl trinitrate, a powerful explosive and an important ingredient of most forms of dynamite. It is one of the most easily ignitable explosives on my list for this episode.
      • It is also used with nitrocellulose in some propellants, especially for rockets, missiles, and the race cars that used to be on the Fast and Furious movies back when they were actually about racing.
      • Nitroglycerin is also used as a vasodilator in the easing of cardiac pain.
      • Lots of people think TNT and Dynamite are the same thing… they are NOT.
    • Pure nitroglycerin is a colourless, oily, somewhat toxic liquid having a sweet, burning taste.
      • When I read that sentence doing my research I burst out laughing. I pictured a scientist in a lab coat with this stuff in a petri dish. He looks at it – takes some notes. Smells it – takes some notes. Then he tastes it and is like oh that’s not bad…. then his head explodes. THIS IS NITROGLYCERIN!!! WHY WOULD ANYONE TASTE IT?!
    • It was first prepared in 1846 by the Italian chemist Ascanio Sobrero by adding glycerol to a mixture of concentrated nitric and sulfuric acids.
      • The find caused a sensation because nitroglycerin’s explosive power was far beyond that of gunpowder. Ascanio thought 19th century Italy was going to have lazer guns in no time! The trouble was, nitroglycerin was highly unstable. It caused grisly explosions, including one in San Francisco that leveled a building and killed 15 people.
    • Nitroglycerin, with the molecular formula C3H5(ONO2)3, has a high nitrogen content (18.5 percent) and contains sufficient oxygen atoms to oxidize the carbon and hydrogen atoms while nitrogen is being liberated, so that it is one of the most powerful explosives known. Detonation of nitroglycerin generates gases that would occupy more than 1,200 times the original volume at ordinary room temperature and pressure; moreover, the heat liberated raises the temperature to about 5,000 °C (9,000 °F). The overall effect is the instantaneous development of a pressure of 20,000 atmospheres; the resulting detonation wave moves at approximately 7,700 metres per second (more than 17,000 miles per hour). Nitroglycerin is extremely sensitive to shock and to rapid heating; it begins to decompose at 50–60 °C (122–140 °F) and explodes at 218 °C (424 °F).
    • A serious problem in the use of nitroglycerin results from its high freezing point (13 °C [55 °F]) and the fact that the solid is even more shock-sensitive than the liquid. So at room temperature Nitro is super really sensitive to shock ( if you are handling it you have to do that awkward shuffle that you do when you pour a drink too full to the brim). If Nitro is in Vegas weather at like 120 degrees F it starts to decompose and become even more unstable. If Nitro is in nice fall weather at like mid 50 degrees F it freezes and when it is a solid it is even more irritable… This is one angry explosive.
    • The safe use of nitroglycerin as a blasting explosive became possible after the Swedish chemist Alfred B. Nobel developed dynamite in the 1860s by combining liquid nitroglycerin with an inert porous material such as charcoal or diatomaceous earth. Nitroglycerin plasticizes collodion (a form of nitrocellulose) to form blasting gelatin, a very powerful explosive. The Nobel prize is named after Alfred B Nobel…. yeah the internationally recognized prize for peace is named after a guy who made one fo the deadliest explosive a WHOLE lot easier for the world militaries to use.
      • At about the same time Nobel was perfecting dynamite, scientists in Britain were using a molecule called amyl nitrite to treat angina, an excruciating chest pain connected with inadequate flow of blood and oxygen to the heart.
      • Noting similarities between amyl nitrite and nitroglycerin, London physician William Murrell became the first to recommend nitroglycerin as a treatment for angina in 1879. He did so after carrying out several studies with nitroglycerin (on himself as well as on other people).
      • The World Health Organization considers nitroglycerin one of its essential medicines for a basic health system. Even Alfred Nobel got a prescription for nitroglycerin from his doctor. Nobel declined the medication, and wrote about it in a letter:
        • My heart trouble will keep me here in Paris for another few days at least, until my doctors are in complete agreement about my immediate treatment. Isn’t it the irony of fate that I have been prescribed [nitroglycerin], to be taken internally! They call it Trinitrin, so as not to scare the chemist and the public.
    • Another fun use of Nitro is that is can help keep your pecker pecking lol. The same blood-flow-stimulating properties that make nitroglycerin such a useful medication for relieving chest pain also may “enable a longer lasting sexual experience,” according to UK firm Futura Medical.
        • The company’s nitroglycerin gel, with the brand name of Zanifil, goes inside a latex condom. It is designed to stimulate blood flow to sustain men who report having trouble keeping erections with a condom. (The goal is to encourage safer sex by convincing those same men to stick with condoms.)
    • As an explosive Nitro is testy as heck! But when combined with Nobel’s porous material it is super handy! Plus the compound is good for your heart and can keep your willy hard!
  • There are a lot of explosives out there. If I covered them all this episode would be long as poop. Instead I think I discovered a pattern.
    • It seems all explosives aren’t just used for destruction and violence. All of them seem to have a beautiful Yin and Yang to them.
    • For example: Without doing any research I know nuclear power can be used as THE greatest destructive force wielded by man or it can be a virtually infinite source of electric power to help improve the lives of everyone.
    • I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Tools aren’t evil. It is the ones who wield them.
      • I swear I wasn’t trying to make a political statement with this episode. Just wanted to learn about explosives.
      • I think I might be a bit of a pyromaniac, but like the explosive version of that. Kind of like the explosives expert archetype from half of every heist/adventure movie. Like Vincenzo “Vinny” Santorini from that Disney movie Atlantis.
      • They fascinate me.

CREDIT

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Cocaine Hippos

The content below is from Season 2, Episode 33 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast.

RECOMMENDATION SEGMENT

  • Free Guy
    • Every once in a blue moon I like to take myself on a “Me Date.”
      • I used to go on them all the time when I was single.
      • I’ll wear whatever clothes I feel most comfortable in, pop on over to a Fro-Yo place, and catch a movie that is playing in theaters. All by my self.
      • Now that I’ve found my lady Shannon, Me Dates don’t happen as often. I’d rather go places with her. But this past weekend she was invited to a baby shower and I was like “have fun honey, this guy’s got a movie to catch!”
      • And it was rather glorious I might say.
      • I chose to see the new Ryan Reynolds movie: Free Guy.
      • I plopped down in a big reclining movie theater seat with my Hawaiian shirt, white socks and sandals, and a large giant coke zero. The 2 hours that followed were hilarity-filled cinema fun.
    • There were a few jokes that got 0 laughs from the theater I was in, but other than that it was fun. The plot was modern, the references were refreshing, and Reynolds had me cracking up throughout the entire movie. His facial expressions alone were comedy gold. It felt like people had fun making this movie which is always a good quality in a film.
    • One of my biggest worries was that they would dumb down all the video game and Technological concepts so that a larger audience could follow along. But they walked a fine line of being general enough for non-gamers to get it, and detailed enough for gamers to not be bored.
    • I liked Deadpool and Reynolds’ comedic delivery doesn’t get much better than Deadpool. However, it was nice to see him as a less sinister character and without a mask on his face.
    • So that’s what I thought of Free Guy. You should check it out for yourselves… aaaaand….

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT!

  • – Cocaine Hippos- got your attention didn’t it? But what’s the title of this episode all about?
    • Am I going to tell you the story of hippo that came across a duffle bag filled with 76 pounds of cocaine that fell from the plane of a drug smuggler?
    • Will I go in to great detail about how that hippo ate said 76 pounds of cocaine, partied all night in the wilderness like a raged out frat boy until its heart eventually exploded?
      • No, that’s not what this episode is about… because that wasn’t a hippo, it was a 175 lbs. black bear. You heard me right. That is the very TRUE story of Pablo Esco-bear.
      • Yep, an actually black bear ate cocaine until it died in November of 1985.
  • Perhaps I will do a podcast episode on that legendary black bear some other time.
    • This is about the private zoo that was created in Columbia in the 1980’s, particularly the hippos and their bizarre story.
    • THIS podcast episode is about the hippos that are still alive and did NOT die from overdosing on hardcore drugs that dropped from the sky.
  • We’ve all heard of the drug kingpin from Columbia who was known as the King of Coke: Pablo Escobar
    • But incase you haven’t heard of him:
      • Pablo Escobar was born in Rionegro, Colombia in 1949. His father was a farmer, and his mother was a schoolteacher.
      • In 1976, a 27-year-old Pablo Escobar married Maria Victoria Henao Vellejo, who was then just 15.
      • Escobar was responsible for killing about 4,000 people, including an estimated 200 judges and 1,000 police, journalists, and government officials. In the 1980s, Escobar’s Medellin cartel was responsible for 80 percent of the cocaine that was sent to the United States.
        • And if you know anything about the 80’s, there was A LOT of cocaine in the US at the time.
        • Some might even argue there was so much coke in the 80’s that it influenced our television, music, fashion trends, and our pop culture as a whole.
      • Escobar is said to have smuggled cocaine into plane tires. Depending on how much product pilots flew, they could earn as much $500,000 per day.
      • While the Escobar family was in hiding, Pablo’s daughter, Manuela, got sick. To keep her warm, Escobar burned about two million dollars.
      • Ol’ Pablo spent around $2,500 a month on rubber bands used to hold his money.
      • At his peak, he had earned 30 Billion dollars.
      • In the late 1980s, Colombian authorities seized some of Escobar’s enormous fleet, including 142 planes, 20 helicopters, 32 yachts, and 141 homes and offices.
      • His business was so big and so scrutinized that in addition to planes, helicopters, cars, trucks, and boats, he even bought two submarines for transporting his cocaine into the United States.
    • Once you learn all that about the man (the guy who had so much wealth and power that he changed the US culture for decades) it isn’t hard to believe that he had his own private zoo.
  • Although their owner was gunned down on a roof top in Medellín Columbia in December of 1993, the hippos have managed to flourish in the Columbian environment.
    • Escobar’s private zoo located on his beautiful ranch in  Hacienda Napoles housed about 200 exotic animals like kangaroos, elephants, ostriches, zebras, camels, and giraffes.
    • The Ranch/Zoo was a luxurious country estate built and owned by Pablo Escobar that has since been transformed into a popular theme park with a waterpark and public zoo. Hacienda Napoles Theme Park is located about four hours east of Medellín and it covers about 7.7 square miles (20 square km) of land.
    • Back in the 1980s, Escobar imported one male and three female hippos to join his menagerie. Upon his death, other species of exotic animals were relocated, but the hippos were left because they were difficult to capture and transport.
      • The local authorities probably hoped the hippos would die out, but that didn’t happen.
      • Much like bears, Hippos are depicted as cute and docile by cartoons and stuffed animal toys. But you should know they are one of the most aggressive species on the planet. Hippos don’t eat meat. They are herbivores, but they are extremely territorial. They are Responsible For An Estimated 3,000 Deaths Per Year.
      • Females can get up to 3,300 pounds and males up to 4,000 pounds. The big bull hippos can be anywhere from 9.5 to 14 feet long and weigh from 5,000 to 8,000 pounds. The heaviest known hippopotamus was approximately 9,900 pounds. They are big, they are tough, and they are mean.
      • In their natural habitat of Africa, Big cats such as Lions and other animals like Hyenas and Crocodiles are the most common predators of the Hippopotamus, particularly of the young or sick individuals.
      • But nothing in south America is willing to take on the hippo.
      • These hippos are taking advantage of an evolutionary opportunity. The weather also helps: in Africa, the population is in part controlled by droughts that do not take place in Colombia. Indeed, conditions in their South American home seem so ideal for the hippos that studies show they start reproducing at earlier ages
      • These factors have lead to the hippos thriving. Estimates range from 80 to 120 hippos now live in Columbia. It is the largest herd of hippos outside of Africa.
  • The descendants of those 4 hippos imported by Pablo Escobar are now spreading through one of the country’s main waterways – the River Magdalena. Last month, a study published in the Biological Conservation journal said culling the animals was the only way to mitigate their environmental impact.
    • Environmental scientist predict that as early as 2034 there could be 1,400 hippos in Columbia.
      • They want to kill or castrate at least 30 hippos a year to stop such a population boom.
    • Scientists studying the hippos’ environmental impact believe they could affect the local ecosystem in a number of ways: from displacing native species already under threat of extinction, like the manatee, to altering the chemical compositions of waterways, which could endanger fisheries.
      • There other studies suggest they might help the environment too. But that is a National Geographic article that kept requiring me to sign up with an email in order to read their research. So sadly we won’t be going that information today lol. I make no money off this podcast and I’m not about to sign up for subscription for it.
      • Fun fact: hippos poop a lot. They are big animals that eat 88 pounds of food a night (which is only 1.5% of their body weight). But that still translates to a lot of hippo poop. That poop creates algea blooms in Columbia’s watershed which messes with the ecosystem. So it is the hippo poop that scientist believe will destroy local fisheries.
  • So if these cocaine hippos pose such a large threat to the local environment why don’t they kill them?
    • Well there is the moral issue. These hippos didn’t ask to be transported to Columbia by the King of Coke. But that is far from the biggest reason why these hippos aren’t dead already.
    • The local community LOVES these hippos. Remember how I said Pablo Escobar’s ranch was turned in to an amusement park/zoo? Well these hippos are a part of that attraction. They bring in a lot of tourist revenue. Plus the locals just adore their hippo neighbors.
Fear, love surround Escobar's hippos thriving in Colombia - The Columbian
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-56011594
  • So the other option, instead of killing them is to castrate them.
    • But that is easier said than done.
    • Castrating your pet dog or cat is very different from castrating a 4,000 pound hippopotamus.
    • The BBC actually interviewed a veterinarian who helped with one of these procedures:
      • In 2009, Carlos Valderrama performed a castration of a male “cocaine hippo” as part of an experiment to study options to control the growing population.
      • “We are talking about an animal that can weigh five tonnes and be very aggressive,” Mr Valderrama said. “Even though we had sedated the animal, it almost tipped the crane we were using to help with the procedure. It was like being with a dinosaur in a Jurassic Park movie.”
      • The veterinarian said the main lesson of the experiment was that castration alone was simply not an option – especially considering the $50,000 (£36,000) bill. Official government statistics show only four animals underwent sterilisation between 2011 and 2019.
      • “Many of these hippos live in the wild. It is simply not possible to reach all of them easily. Meanwhile, they will keep on reproducing,” Mr Valderrama said.
      • From 2011 to 2019 four males were castrated and two females were sterilized, but this “does not seem to have an important impact on reproduction,” 
  • There have been no fatalities in Colombia, but last May local media reported that a farm worker was seriously injured by a hippo in a town near Hacienda Napoles.
    • Still, there was a massive public outcry when Colombian Army soldiers gunned down the hippo Pepe in 2009, after it was deemed a threat to local communities. It was enough to lead authorities to make hippos legally protected, which is an obstacle to any plans to cull them.
  • You know what I think: humans aren’t going to be able to fix this issue.
    • The deed is done. Escobar brought over 4 hippos and now hippos live in south America.
    • Will it be “bad” for the environment? IDK. Depends on what you consider bad.
    • Will this change the environment? NO DOUBT ABOUT IT
    • But these are hippos we are talking about.
    • These things can weigh more than a Ford F-150 pickup truck for Pete’s sake.
Again, heaviest hippo ever weighed was 9,900 pounds

  • In the end these hippos will continue to be a part of this ecosystem. They may even spread farther across the Americas in the centuries to come. That is if we human’s don’t destroy the natural world beyond saving before they can do so.
    • My point is that environmentally speaking we’ve got much larger problems on our hands. Sea levels are rising, global temperatures are getting higher each year, the ice caps are melting, and California is on fire.
    • I say we focus on some of those problems first, then circle back to the pesky cocaine hippo issue later.

CREDIT

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Japan Cow

The content below is from Season 2, Episode 32 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast.

RECOMMENDATION SEGMENT

  • Wilfred
    • Wilfred started out as a dark comedy short film from Australia back in 2002. But later in 2011 would be adapted as a television series starring Jason Gant (who also played the original Wilfred) and Elijah Wood.
    • The show came out when I was in high school. The premise is a severely depressed lawyer name Ryan (played by Elijah Wood) goes through a existential crisis. At that very moment his doorbell rings. Ryan opens his door to see a 6 foot tall Australian guy in a cheap dog costume named Wilfred (played by Jason Gant) standing on his door step.
    • Ryan soon finds out that everyone else sees Wilfred as an actual dog. Ryan is the only one who sees Wilfred as a dude and can understand him.
      • Yeah, Wilfred speaks English with and Australian accent. He even drinks beer and does recreational drugs.
    • The show is still a dark comedy like it’s short film predecessor, but the show adds a psychological element. You find out more about Ryan and his tragic life. You will laugh hysterically as you watch the show, but you will also find out more about the human condition along the way.
    • When Wilfred aired in 2011 I was in High School and I only appreciated it for it’s comedic value, which is pretty good. But when I came back to the show while I was studying to get my Masters I realized how deep the show really is.
      • Wilfred is one of my favorite shows of all time. It helped me understand myself a little bit during a time in my life when that seemed really hard to do.
      • I strongly suggest you give it a go. It is currently on Hulu.
  • Just please keep in mind that the show Wilfred is only meant for adults… not for children.

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT!

  • Meat tastes amazing.
    • It isn’t always the healthiest choice. There are other ways to get a good source of protein and fat that are more healthy.
      • But meat is pretty fantastic tasting.
    • Morally speaking, meat is probably the worst common food in existence. It requires the death of a living breathing animal.
      • However, biting in to a quality hunk of meat is one of the most satisfying experience one can have… because it is so tasty.
    • When it comes to economics, meat doesn’t fair much better than the other categories I just mentioned. The world is experiencing it’s worst water crisis in recent history with shortages affecting more than 3 billion people around the world. The amount of fresh water available for each person has plunged by a fifth over two decades. And most meats are at the top of the list of how much water is necessary to create. For example, It takes approximately 1,847 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef — that’s enough water to fill 39 bathtubs all the way to the top.
      • With all that in mind, please note that the taste of meat is phenomenal.
  • What’s the point I’m trying to make here? No, don’t worry, this isn’t an episode about how you shouldn’t eat meat. I myself love meat.
    • I just wanted to present the many arguments against meat production and consumption before I do an entire episode on a meat product.
    • Because they are there, they do make great points, perhaps our world would be better if we all became vegetarians… then again… meat tastes great.
    • And this episode is about perhaps the greatest tasting meat to have ever existed: Wagyu Beef.
    • The term Wagyu is from Japan.
    • It translates to “Japanese Cow”
  • So Wagyu isn’t a specific cut of beef, nor is it a certain way to prepare the beef.
    • Wagyu refers to the breeds of cows that are from the Island Nation of Japan.
  • The roots of Wagyu’s superiority can be traced to the late 1800s. During the 1880s, several breeds of European cattle were introduced to Japan and crossbred with native Japanese breeds. The four strains of cattle that resulted dominate the Japanese beef trade to this day.
    • When Japan opened up to international markets for beef production in 1991, their local farmers began to worry.
    • While places like America, Argentina, and Australia have tons open pastures to grow HUGE quantities of beef, Japan has little land. What land Japan does have is mostly made up of rocks or cities.
    • So the Japanese agriculture industry decided they wouldn’t try to compete with the international market with quantity. No, they decided they would compete with quality.
      • Instead of marketing their beef the same way as other markets, Japan markets their beef as a luxury good, only to be eaten in small quantities.
      • When we think beef here in the States we think of a big juicy steak or burger as the central component of the dish. But in Japan they eat their beef in small bits. The beef compliments Japanese dishes instead of being the largest and most important portion on the plate.
    • When Japan did finally open up their beef industry to international markets the world was shocked. The result of the European cows from the 1880s carefully being bred with native breeds were cows that yielded meat with ridiculously high fat marbling.
      • Marbling is the white flecks of intramuscular fat in meat, most notably red meat. The fat in lean muscle creates a marble pattern—hence the name.
      • Wagyu (or Japanese cows) were bred to have intramuscular fat on levels that had never been seen before outside of Japan. I mean the meat from Japanese cows almost looks like bacon.
    • Although they did open up to international beef markets in 1991, Japan still enforces strict regulation on the production of its beef. This is what has kept Wagyu beef at such a high level demand.
  • There are 4 different breeds of Japanese Cow (above)
    • Only the Kuroge and Akage (Japanese Black and Japanese Brown) breeds can be found outside of Japan.
      • The Nihon Tankaku and Mukaku breeds (Japanese Shorthorn and Japanese Polled) are forbidden to be bread outside of Japanese borders.
    • The most popular breed of Wagyu is the Kuroge breed (also known as Japanese Black).
      • These entirely black cattle are the most popular breed of Wagyu. They are raised throughout Japan.
        • Although there are 4 different kinds of Wagyu breeds, when someone is talking about Wagyu, they are almost always talking about the Japanese Black breed as they make up 90% of Japans cattle.
      • Japanese Black have the strongest genetic predisposition to the quality Wagyu is renowned for – intense marbling. Within the Japanese Black Strain, there are different bloodlines, each with their own specific traits. The three primary Japanese Black bloodlines include:
  • 1. Tajima [Tah•ji•ma] also referred to as Tajiri
    • Tajima are the marbling Wagyu. Even within the Japanese Black breed, this specific bloodline is the one known best to produce the highest percentage and best quality marbling. They are generally smaller framed, have slower growth rates, and expected to yield superior meat. 
    • Tajima originally hail from the Hyogo Prefecture in Japan and are responsible for the best beef in the world. All beef that is eligible to be certified as Kobe is pure Tajima, bred, raised, and slaughtered in the Hyogo Prefecture. Historically and today, Tajima are highly regarded for Fullblood breeding in Japan and abroad. 
Hyogo Prefecture
  • 2. Shimane [Shi•mah•nee] also referred to as Fujiyoshi
    • Originating from the Shimane Prefecture of Japan, these cattle are known for large frames, medium growth, very strong maternal capabilities, and average meat quality. Their offspring tend to exhibit a large body size, however their marbling is generally less refined than Tajima. 
Shimane Prefecture
  • 3. Kedaka [Keh•dah•kah] also referred to as Tottori
    • The Kedaka line originates from the Tottori Prefecture of Japan and, similar to Shimane, are known for their larger frames but with a higher meat quality. They also tend to have a good growth rate and high levels of fertility.
  • These Japanese Black bloodlines can be crossbred to impart diversity into herds. For example, breeding Tajima (or high Tajima bulls) with Kedaka or Shimane cows, has the potential to produce offspring that have the dense, delicate marbling of a Tajima with the larger size, faster growth rates, and stronger maternal instincts of a Kedaka or Shimane. In fact, Kedaka are often considered to play a critical role in Japanese Fullblood Wagyu production.
  • It may seem strange to most people that this much attention is paid to tracking breeds, bloodlines, and every attribute of each. These farmers are meticulous.
    • but Keeping track of breed and bloodline activities and attributes is important to Wagyu farmers as it is with most domesticated animal industries
    • For example, the bloodline of race horses is also carefully analyzed and documented.
  • Wagyu cows are raised by specialty breeders until they are between seven and 10 months old, when they are sold to a farmer along with a birth certificate certifying their pure bloodline. These animals cost farmers as much as $30,000 each, which is as much as 10 times more than the typical American Angus! 
    • After auction, the cows are taken to feeding farms where they’re given names. Wagyu farmers take great pride in providing a humane life for their cows, and they are given plenty of room in their pens. They often share a pen with only four or five other cows, whereas mass operations tend to keep dozens of cows in a single pen.
    • Only pregnant cows and breeding cattle are allowed to graze in the pasture. The cattle designated for slaughter are kept in pens.
    • During this period, the cows mature for two or three years or until they reach about 1,500 pounds or gain around 50% fat. The way Wagyu are fed and cared for is important to ensuring that they reach this milestone. Wagyu are never given growth promotants, steroids, hormones or drugs to help them gain weight faster. The process is natural, which means it takes more time than it does in the typical methods used in the U.S.
    • Most Wagyu farmers provide their cows with three meals a day made up of high-energy ingredients, including hay, grain and wheat. Often, this feed is imported from other countries, which contributes to the high cost of Wagyu cultivation. They are generally weighed once a month and are expected to gain around 2.5 pounds per day.
  • There is a special kind of Wagyu Steak called Olive Wagyu.
    • It is a brand of Wagyu that comes from cattle raised on a small Japanese island called Shodoshima that is famous for its olive oil industry. In 2006, cattle farmer Masaki Ishii wanted to find a way to use the by-product of olive oil production as feed for his cows
      • He went to olive oil makers, took the olive peels and toasted them so they became sweeter and mixed it with rice straw, barley, grains, and the cows loved it
    • He shared the recipe with other farmers in the area and they all bought in and started doing it
      • Because of the cows’ diet, Olive Wagyu is highly marbled with fat that’s a light yellow color, and it produces a flavor profile so unique that the meat beat out 182 others for the Best Fat Quality category at the 2017 Wagyu Olympics, a six-day contest that takes place every five years. Beef producers from all over Japan enter their finest cuts.
  • Contrary to popular belief, Wagyu cattle are not routinely massaged or serenaded with classical music (at least not daily).
    • However, farmers do take great care to ensure that their muscles do not become tense. This generally means simply avoiding rigorous activity and stress, but it may also involve using a stiff brush to increase blood circulation and work out tension. It’s important for Wagyu to remain in a stress-free environment because stress increases adrenaline and contributes to tensed muscles and tough meat.
    • The length of time it takes to fatten the cows and the price of importing their feed is what contributes to the high cost of wagyu beef.
  • After reading about all the breeding and how the cows are processed and how much money they are worth… my next question was: What cut do people usually buy?
    • According to LiveJapan.com: The most sought-after is sirloin meat (サーロイン / sāroin), generally used to make wagyu steak or sukiyaki. The meat around the loin boasts a fine marbling and thus makes for the best cuts to savor the characteristic taste of Japanese wagyu beef.
    • For people who don’t stare at butcher posters all day, the sirloin is on the cows back. It is towards the rear end of the cow, but not quite it’s butt (which is referred to as the round).
Taken from: https://www.foodbeast.com/news/a-cheat-sheet-to-beef-cuts-price-and-best-cooking-method/
  • Now if you have heard of Wagyu, chances are you have heard of Kobe Beef. Here’s the difference
    • Kobe, in short, is a variety of Wagyu. … So “Wagyu” refers to any cattle that is bred in Japan or the Japanese-style. Kobe beef is comprised of a very particular strain of Wagyu called Tajima-Gyu that is raised to strict standards in the prefecture of Hyogo. (Hyogo’s capital city is Kobe, thus the name).
    • Because Kobe beef exemplifies everything that makes Wagyu better. Kobe beef is considered the most abundantly marbled in the world, brimming with the creamiest, most decadent, most flavorful streaks of fat a steak can have. period
    • A major factor in the quality of Kobe steaks is the uncompromising regulations the region uses for its cattle. To be labelled Kobe, cattle must meet the following seven standards upon slaughter:
      • Bullock (steer) or virgin cow.
      • Tajima-Gyu born within Hyogo Prefecture.
      • Fed on a farm within Hyogo Prefecture.
      • Meat processed within Hyogo Prefecture.
      • Marbling rating (BMS) of 6 or higher on a 12 point scale.
      • Meat quality rating of 4 or higher on a 5 point scale.
      • An overall weight not exceeding 470 kg (1,036 pounds).
    • Because of these stringent standards, only between 3,000 and 4,000 head of cattle qualify as authentic Kobe cattle each year.
  • So if you have ever seen a menu in the States advertising that they serve Kobe or Wagyu even, they are most likely lying.
    • When it comes to wagyu, the label may be more than a little misleading. In the mid-2010s, some of New York City’s most famous steakhouses and restaurants were listing “Kobe” wagyu beef on their menus. An investigation by Inside Edition brought one problem to light, however: places like Old Homestead Steakhouse and Le Bernardin weren’t serving true Kobe wagyu beef like what was listed on the menu. The restaurant brand McCormick & Schmick’s was doing the same, and it had to settle a class-action lawsuit because of it.
    • The problem comes down to labeling regulations set by the United States Department of Agriculture. The US law states that beef only has to have 46.9 percent wagyu genetics to sell as wagyu at retail, according to Bon Appetit, and the rest can be angus. Restaurants don’t have to listen to these labeling regulations at all and can call whatever beef they wish wagyu. This makes wading through wagyu beef labels like walking through the Wild West of questionable information.
    • Only certain restaurants are permitted to sell the imported Kobe Beef, the real stuff. So if you are out on the town and decide to fork over ridiculous prices for a Kobe Beef dish, ask to see the “From Japan” sticker on the package. In my book, if You are paying those crazy prices then that is not an inappropriate request.
  • While the popularity of Wagyu has risen internationally (with Japans exports rising by 200% in the past 5 years) the demand for Wagyu in Japan has actually dropped.
    • And while Wagyu Beef, Kobe, and Olive Wagyu are still insanely expensive (some plates costing $300), that may soon change.
    • All those regulations Japan enforces on their Beef industry didn’t keep the Wagyu genetics from leaving the island.
    • Wagyu beef that has been genetically tested as 100% authentic Wagyu is now being bred in places like the UK. Other countries such as US, Australia, and some Middle Eastern countries are interbreeding Wagyu with their own cattle creating a meat with similar quality.
    • Here’s only hoping: A much more affordable Wagyu dish might be available to everyone within the near future.

Thanks for Listening Who’d a Thunkers! Until next week 🙂

CREDIT

This video is long. Very long. But it was incredibly satisfying to see that I wasn’t the only one to understand the show Wilfred this way.