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Early Trains Were Thought to Make Women’s Uteruses Fly Out

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Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Today, some of our biggest concerns about the dangers of transportation have to do with failing or clashing technologies—we’re afraid onboard GPS and other high-tech features will get mixed up, say, or even get hacked. A century and a half ago, though, our travel worries involved a lot less AI and much more spontaneous combustion and/or mutilation—imagined dangers that were just as scary, and (seemingly) just as real.

Cultural anthropologist Genevieve Bell explained to the Wall Street Journal TECH site that extreme, fearful reactions to new technology are age old, and have even picked up speed alongside our rate of innovation. Critics of early steam-spewing locomotives, for example, thought “that women’s bodies were not designed to go at 50 miles an hour,” and worried that “[female passengers’] uteruses would fly out of [their] bodies as they were accelerated to that speed”—which, for the record, they did and will not.* Others suspected that any human body might simply melt at high speeds.

CC Courtesy Pixabay

Bell attributes this kind of reaction in part to the “moral panic” that a society experiences when particularly revelatory technological advances show up—specifically, ones which interfere with or alter our relationships with time, space, and each other:

“Cars? Clearly the same. Television? Absolutely. The Internet? Yes. Mobile phones? Yes. Fountain pens? Not so much. They may have changed our relationships to other people, but they didn’t really change our relationships to time and space.” 

This society-wide panic often (unfairly) dotes on the threats an innovation might pose to women and children, and it didn’t end when we got over our locomotive fears. As automobiles gained traction in the early 1900s, they were seen by many as noisy, erratic “devil wagons” that women—thought to be prone to fainting, physical weakness, and out-of-the-blue bouts of hysteria—wouldn’t be able to control by themselves and shouldn’t be allowed to drive.

CC Courtesy Wikimedia // George Grantham Bain Collection

Nevertheless, women stuck up for their right to mobility. In 1909, 22-year-old Alice Ramsey managed to drive cross-country in a respectable 59 days and—having kept herself, her car, and her three female friends intact along the way—helped prove that women could be trusted behind the wheel.

Time’s also told us that, despite initial fears of the telephone’s possible downsides, chatting on the phone will not cause impropriety, possession, or electrocution in women. With any luck, it’ll turn out that the text-happy youngsters of today will still be able to speak in full sentences tomorrow.

[h/t: reddit user darinda777]

*It’s worth noting, though, that both men and women can risk straining or detaching certain soft connective tissues (such as those holding retinae or breasts in place) when they subject their bodies to truly rapid acceleration—so bungee jumpers be wary.

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Weird
There’s a $1 Million Bounty on Bigfoot
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If you’re a Pennsylvania resident with evidence of giant ape-men trespassing in your backyard, Tom Biscardi wants to hear from you. The self-described “Godfather of Bigfoot” and his team of trackers are offering a $1 million bounty for "information leading to the capture or delivery of a bona fide Bigfoot," the Associated Press reports.

Biscardi has been searching for Bigfoot for 50 years. He was inspired to start the lifelong quest in 1967 after watching the Patterson-Gimlin film, a 59-second clip of what appears to be a large, furry creature striding around Bluff Creek in California.

In the time since, Biscardi has produced Bigfoot documentaries, launched a Bigfoot-hunting podcast, and founded Searching for Bigfoot, Inc., an organization dedicated to locating the legendary creature. Now he’s calling on the public to share any leads they may have on the cryptid’s whereabouts.

The hefty reward means the Searching for Bigfoot team is investigating up to 30 tips a day, most of which end up going nowhere. Most recently, Biscardi and his team, which includes his son T.J. and his grandson Tommy, were lured to the woods of Crawford County, Pennsylvania in search of hard evidence. They found one eroded heel print and sticks in unnatural arrangements, but Sasquatch himself was a no-show. "I want a creature," T.J. Biscardi told AP. "I'm done with pictures, done with prints, done with hair samples, done with fecal matter."

Even if they are able to capture a specimen of an animal most scientists agree doesn’t exist, convincing the public of its authenticity will be a challenge. Tom Biscardi has been involved with a few hoaxes in his career, including the discovery of a frozen Bigfoot “body” that turned out to be a rubber suit. Then there’s the legal complications involved with hunting a Bigfoot: Shooting the hypothetical beast for sport is against the law in some states, so Pennsylvania citizens might want to check with their wildlife department before setting off to claim the $1 million trophy.

[h/t WPXI]

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Food
7 Myths About Eggs, Debunked
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Brown eggs or white eggs, cage-free or free-range—what does it all mean? We've cracked down on seven myths that still abound regarding these incredible edibles.

1. EGG YOLKS ARE UNHEALTHY.

If you’ve been restricting your breakfast options to an egg-white omelet, you may be suffering needlessly. Egg yolks do contain more fat and cholesterol than egg whites, but studies over the last few decades have shown that a) not all fat is bad for you; and b) consuming foods high in cholesterol does not necessarily translate to having higher blood cholesterol, although there are still groups, especially diabetics and those with heart disease, who are recommended to abstain. Still not sure if yolks are safe for you? Talk to your doctor.

2. ALL EGGS NEED TO BE REFRIGERATED.

Refrigeration requirements depend on one surprising factor: where you are in the world. American eggs should all be kept cold, while eggs in other countries can sit out on the counter for days. That’s because U.S. egg producers—and producers in Japan, Scandinavia, and Australia—are required to wash their eggs to prevent salmonella. This washing process strips the eggs of their natural protection, making it essential to keep them chilled to fend off pathogens and spoilage.

3. "CAGE-FREE" FARMING IS MORE HUMANE.

"Cage-free," "free-range," and "humanely raised" are not the same thing. Chickens on so-called "cage-free" farms are usually crowded into pens, which are essentially just big cages. To keep the crowded birds from hurting each other, many producers cut or burn off the sharper parts of the hens’ beaks when they’re still young. And most kill male chicks as soon as they’re born, since they have no commercial value. If you want to be sure that your eggs come from happy chickens, look for the Certified Humane label or buy your eggs from small, local farms.

4. BROWN CHICKENS LAY BROWN EGGS.

The color of the egg is related to the color of the chicken—just not its feathers. Brown eggs tend to come from chickens with red earlobes (yes! Earlobes!). White eggs generally come from chickens with white earlobes. The next time you see a hen, take a look and see if you can guess what color her eggs will be (although there are always exceptions to this rule, so perhaps don't bet any money on it).

5. BROWN EGGS ARE HEALTHIER AND MORE NATURAL.

We understand where this might come from—we’ve been told that brown bread is healthier than white bread, and brown rice is better than white. Why would eggs be different? Because, unlike rice and wheat flour, white eggs are naturally white. Their nutritional composition is no better or worse than those of brown eggs.

6. EVERY EGG IS A BABY CHICKEN.

An egg is an egg, whether it’s been fertilized or not. This is as true for chickens as it is for people. Women ovulate, and hens lay eggs. The majority of eggs for sale today are unfertilized and couldn’t become chickens even if you wanted them to.

7. FERTILIZED EGGS PACK EXTRA PROTEIN.

Does the idea of eating a fertilized egg horrify you? Relax. It’s a rare, rare egg indeed that actually contains a chicken fetus. The majority of fertilized eggs contain cells that could potentially develop into a chick—if they hadn’t been refrigerated and then scrambled for your omelet. These eggs are not better for you than unfertilized eggs, nor are they any worse.

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