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14 of History’s Craziest Baldness Cures

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ThinkStock

When your hairline starts to retreat, you’ll do whatever it takes to keep your head from turning into a volleyball. If Rogaine fails you, there are always these quack remedies from the past.  

1. Ancient Egypt

According to The Ebers Papyrus (a medical script from c. 1550 BCE), mix the fat of a hippo with some crocodile, tomcat, snake, and ibex fat. If that fails, boil porcupine hair and apply it to your scalp for four days. 

2. Ancient Greece

Hippocrates swore by a mixture of opium, horseradish, pigeon droppings, beetroot, and spices. If that’s not your cup of tea, stick to Aristotle’s method—goat urine.

3. Ancient Rome

When Julius Caesar’s dome started to thin, Cleopatra suggested he cook up a lotion of ground up mice, horse teeth, and bear grease. Another Roman recipe: 1) take the genitals of a donkey, 2) burn them into ash, 3) mix the ash with your urine, and 4) apply liberally!

4. Vikings

Viking Legend suggests smearing your dome with a dollop of goose poop.

5. Celtic Druids

Catch a raven, burn it, and mix the ashes in sheep suet. (Centuries later, the Irish and Brits started scrubbing their scalps with onions instead—obvious progress.)  

6. Eighth Century China

According to the Encyclopedia of Hair (which we assume is the authority on these sorts of things), the Chinese blended safflower oil, rosemary, and herbs with mashed animal testes.

7. India

It’s simple, guys: Do a headstand.

8. Native Americans

Some tribes believed a poultice of chicken dung or cow manure would do the trick.

9. King Henry VIII

Although Native Americans swore by animal dung, the big man across the pond thought otherwise. He slathered his dome with dog and horse urine.

10. Scientific American

What can’t music do? Here’s an excerpt from an 1896 Scientific American:  

While stringed instruments prevent and check the falling out of the hair, brass instruments have the most injurious effects upon it. The piano and the violin, especially the piano, have an undoubted preserving influence ... on the contrary, the brass instruments have results that are deplorable.

11. Ninteenth Century French Psychologists

Just wish the baldness away! Èmile Couè believed positive thinking—called autosuggestion—could fix almost anything. He wrote:

On our heads are small depressions called follicles, depressions from which the hair grows. When they lose their elasticity, their hair falls out. When autosuggestion begins to work, these follicles begin to close up and to secrete normally, and soon the hair grows.

12. Swiss Farmers

In 1988, the Sun tabloid publicized a baldness cure discovered by Swiss farmer Gerhardt Flit. The cure? Bat milk. It cost $3500 per ounce.

13. Colombian Farmers

On the flip side of the world, a Colombian farmer touts his own cure—bovine saliva. It’s literally a cowlick.  

14. Eunuchs

Castration! Unlike the rest of these, this one actually works. (It doesn’t cure baldness, per se, but studies show it will prevent shedding if you’re under 25.)

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Medicine
Charles Dickens Museum Highlights the Author's Contributions to Science and Medicine

Charles Dickens is celebrated for his verbose prose and memorable opening lines, but lesser known are his contributions to science—particularly the field of medicine.

A new exhibition at London’s Charles Dickens Museum—titled "Charles Dickens: Man of Science"—is showcasing the English author’s scientific side. In several instances, the writer's detailed descriptions of medical conditions predated and sometimes even inspired the discovery of several diseases, The Guardian reports.

In his novel Dombey and Son, the character of Mrs. Skewton was paralyzed on her right side and unable to speak. Dickens was the first person to document this inexplicable condition, and a scientist later discovered that one side of the brain was largely responsible for speech production. "Fat boy" Joe, a character in The Pickwick Papers who snored loudly while sleeping, later lent his namesake to Pickwickian Syndrome, otherwise known as obesity hypoventilation syndrome.

A figurine of Fat Boy Joe
Courtesy of the Charles Dickens Museum

Dickens also wrote eloquently about the symptoms of tuberculosis and dyslexia, and some of his passages were used to teach diagnosis to students of medicine.

“Dickens is an unbelievably acute observer of human behaviors,” museum curator Frankie Kubicki told The Guardian. “He captures these behaviors so perfectly that his descriptions can be used to build relationships between symptoms and disease.”

Dickens was also chummy with some of the leading scientists of his day, including Michael Faraday, Charles Darwin, and chemist Jane Marcet, and the exhibition showcases some of the writer's correspondence with these notable figures. Beyond medicine, Dickens also contributed to the fields of chemistry, geology, and environmental science.

Less scientifically sound was the author’s affinity for mesmerism, a form of hypnotism introduced in the 1770s as a method of controlling “animal magnetism,” a magnetic fluid which proponents of the practice believed flowed through all people. Dickens studied the methods of mesmerism and was so convinced by his powers that he later wrote, “I have the perfect conviction that I could magnetize a frying-pan.” A playbill of Animal Magnetism, an 1857 production that Dickens starred in, is also part of the exhibit.

A play script from Animal Magnetism
Courtesy of the Charles Dickens Museum

Located at 48-49 Doughty Street in London, the exhibition will be on display until November 11, 2018.

[h/t The Guardian]

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NASA // Public Domain
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History
On This Day in 1983, Sally Ride Made History
NASA // Public Domain
NASA // Public Domain

Thirty-five years ago today, on June 18, 1983, Sally Ride became the first American woman in space. She flew on the space shuttle Challenger on a six-day mission. She had previously helped build the shuttle's robot arm, and now she operated it in space. Not only was she the first American woman to go to space, she was the youngest astronaut in space, at age 32.

(As with many space-related firsts, that "American" qualifier is important. The Soviet space program had sent two women cosmonauts into space well in advance of Ride. Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova flew all the way back in 1963, and Svetlana Savitskaya in 1982. They also sent various younger people to space, including Tereshkova.)

Ride represented a change in the previously completely male astronaut program. Although NASA had unofficially tested women in the late 1950s as part of the Mercury program, the idea of sending women into space was quickly discarded. NASA policy for decades was that only men would be considered as astronauts. It took until 1978 for NASA to change the policy—that year, six women became astronauts: Sally Ride, Judith Resnik, Kathryn Sullivan, Anna Fisher, Margaret Rhea Seddon, and Shannon Lucid.

Ride and her colleagues were subject to an endless barrage of sexist media questions, curious how women might fare in space. They also encountered institutional sexism at NASA itself. Ride recalled:

"The engineers at NASA, in their infinite wisdom, decided that women astronauts would want makeup—so they designed a makeup kit. A makeup kit brought to you by NASA engineers. ... You can just imagine the discussions amongst the predominantly male engineers about what should go in a makeup kit."

Ride held a Ph.D. in astrophysics, two bachelor's degrees (English and physics), and had served as CapCom (Capsule Communicator) for the second and third shuttle flights, STS-2 and -3. She was an accomplished pilot and athlete, as well as a Presbyterian elder. She was closely connected to Challenger, performing two missions on it and losing four fellow members of her 1978 class when it exploded.

After her astronaut career concluded, Ride served on both the Challenger and Columbia disaster review panels. During the former, she leaked vital information about the Challenger disaster (o-ring engineering reports), though this wasn't broadly known until after her death. She wrote educational books and founded Sally Ride Science. She was asked to head up NASA by the Clinton administration, but declined.

Ride died in 2012 from pancreatic cancer. Her obituary made news for quietly mentioning that she was survived by her partner of 27 years, Tam O'Shaughnessy. Although Ride had come out to her family and close friends, the obituary was the first public statement that she was gay. It was also the first time most people found out she'd suffered from pancreatic cancer at all; she asked that donations in her memory be made to a fund devoted to studying that form of cancer.

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