Category: Uncategorized

FoodHistoryScienceUncategorized

Eminem isn’t the only thing salty to come out of Detroit…

Detroit, Michigan USA is known by a lot of names. Mo-town. The Motor City. The Cautionary Tale of Auto Industry Decline Meets Institutional Government Corruption. The D (ed. note: No, really). The Birthplace of the Coney Dog (ed. note: that’s another topic for another day).

One more name it might deserve is Salt City, USA. You see, nearly a quarter mile BENEATH the gritty streets of Detroit are an entirely different collection of dirty boulevards…ones made up entirely of salt that is more than 400 million years old.

And that’s where our story begins. Back in the Devonian period, the chunk of real estate that eventually became Detroit was under water, part of mid-west America’s cycle of being covered in inland seas and then drying out, which continued for a couple hundred million years. This cycle of wet-dry-wet-dry left tremendous deposits of evaporated seawater on the remaining land, which means salt. Loads and loads of salt.

devonian map

Looks like a crab claw has grabbed a mitten.

 

In pre-colonial times, native american tribes in the area, extracted the salt from salt springs, but it wasn’t until the early twentieth century that companies first began looking at commercially extracting the salt. Only one problem though – the salt could only be found underground. Like WAY underground. More than 1,000 feet down in fact. So in 1910, the Detroit Salt and Manufacturing Company completed a shaft down to the luscious and tender salt (ed.note: those are not good words to describe salt. Neither is “succulent” now that we think of it. Pretty much just go with “salty”).

The shaft down to the salt mine was reportedly so narrow that all machinery sent down

mine map

Image credit: Detroit Salt Company

had to be sent down in pieces and reassembled on the mine floor and and equipment that was brought down was left to remain in the mine for perpetuity since it was impossible to bring anything but salt and miners back up. The same went for the donkeys originally sent down before powered mining gear existed. (ed. note: presumably he means that they were left down there forever, rather than sent down in pieces and then reassembled. Because, eww).
Over the past century, ownership in the salt mine below has changed hands several times, but the currently very active mine is currently owned by the Kissner Group. Although the salt mined beneath Detroit is no longer used for human consumption, tons of the stuff are still mined for use as road salt each year, with an estimated 71 TRILLION tons left to be mined.

So, the next time someone tells you that Detroit Rock City is a decaying post-industrial wasteland, you can tell them a very good pun about rock salt while complimenting them on their spot-on analysis of Detroit (ed. note: For realsies though, Detroit has been undergoing a renaissance over the past several years and downtown Detroit has become a destination for travelers again and Detroit is the ONLY city in the US where all four major sports franchises are all houses within a four-block area. If you get the chance – check it out.)

For more information, check out the history of Detroit Salt.

BiologyHistoryScienceUncategorizedWarfare

It’s a bomb, Batman! …

…or more accurately, “it’s a bat-bomb, man!”

It was World War II. The US was dealing with war in two theaters – Europe and the Pacific, and the Department of War was having to deal with combating two entirely different enemies in two very different environments.

And that’s where our hero of our story comes in. Lytle Adams was a mild mannered dentist by day, and an insatiable hellcat by night (ed. note: citation very much needed and probably super unlikely). History may be inconclusive on whether Dr. Adams was or was not a hellcat, but he was most assuredly a dentist, and he was one with a curious mind. In fact, in 1937 Doc Adams invented and patented a way for airplanes to pick up and drop mail without landing. While that idea was inarguably awesome, the idea we celebrate Lytle for today is an altogether different one. Because, in 1942 Lytle Adams was the person who gave us the idea for the BAT BOMB.

batbomb

                                        No, not that one.

The idea Adams came up with could be summed up with this premise: “What if we strapped a sh*t-load of bats with a sh*t-load of tiny incendiary bombs and then chucked the whole thing at Tokyo?” And Adams told his very good friend Eleanor Roosevelt about his idea. After hearing his idea, Roosevelt presumably asked “Jesus, man. What the hell do you have against bats?” before taking the idea to her husband who happened to be the president of the United States. After laughing himself out of his wheelchair, FDR asked a few zoologists if the idea was at all practical, to which the zoologists replied “Prolly“.  You see, Adams realized a number of useful facts:

A: bats are able to carry their own body weight in flight

B: bats would seek out places to land after being dropped out of an airplane. Places like under eaves and roofs

C: bats are unable to read and therefore unable to ask why the hell a giant Molotov cocktail was being strapped to its backside

D: WWII era Japan, being made of wood and paper, was flammable as hell

And what Doctor Adams thought about these facts was that hundreds of small bats could be strapped with tiny incendiary bombs and then collectively loaded into a large canister which would then dropped from a plane once over Japan. Once dropped, a parachute would open and the panels of the canister would pop off, allowing the suddenly awakened bats to fly away, only to roost for the day in buildings all over a 20+ mile radius from the drop zone.

And thus, Project X-Ray was born. In 1943, the US Army designed a bomb-shaped bat carrier that consisted of twenty-six stacked trays each capable of holding up to 40 boom-bats. For those scoring at home, that’s more than a THOUSAND tiny organic potential explosives.

And the army took Doctor Adams’ idea seriously, spending over $2 million dollars (ed.note: that’s nearly $30 MILLION in 2018 dollars) in design and testing. And the idea worked. During a 1943 test at the Carlsbad Army Airfield in Carlsbad, New Mexico, one of the bats managed to roost under a fuel tank, resulting in the entire test range being incinerated.

The National Defense Research Committee, who was in charge of finding cool new ways to blow sh*t up, determined that Project X-Ray was an effective weapon, but the project was shelved in mid-1944 (ed. note: much to the relief of bats everywhere) when the government opted to go another direction – instead of many small explosions, one big ass bomb that blew up everything and everyone. But that’s a story for another day.

Uncategorized

When the moon hits your eye…

…it looks suspiciously like it’s the same size as the sun. What the hell, right? Is it a conspiracy? Is the moon just the sun’s ‘CLOSED‘ sign? Well, it turns out it’s just astronomical coincidence, and it’s one that occasionally makes for some pretty spectacular events.

Let’s start with a couple of basics: D&D. No, not the dice-centric roleplaying game. D&D in this case are of the celestial variety: distance and diameter. Look at the sun. (Ed. note: No…stop that. Don’t look at the sun. It’s bad for your eyes. Jesus. I’ll be more specific.) CONSIDER the sun. It’s about 864,000 miles across, plus or minus the distance between Detroit and Chicago. That’s a lot of miles across the solar equator. But…the sun is also really far away. Like 93 million miles far.  In short, the sun is big and far.

Now, there’s the moon. Also big, also far. Just not as big or as far as the bright shiny thing you use to work on your summer tan. The moon’s diameter is a relatively tiny 2,160 miles across…basically the distance between Philadelphia and Salt Lake City – not even all the way across the continental US. But, it’s closer too. Much closer. Only a short 239,000 miles away (and moving farther away every day; but that’s a story for another time).

So, to sum up: Sun – big and far. Moon – less big and less far. But, there’s a proportional aspect. The sun 864,000 mile diameter is almost exactly 400 times bigger across than our moon (400.3415 times to be exact). However, the distance between the sun and the earth is 389 times the distance between you and the thing that makes tides AND werewolves.

And that ration of 389:400 is close enough so that our simple vision makes the two seem to be the same size, which in turn makes for really, really cool things like eclipses once in a while. The next really good one will be a total lunar eclipse Friday July 27th (2018), visible to our friends in on pretty much every continent EXCEPT north america. This site helps keep track of any upcoming astronomical events, like eclipses, meteor showers, rise of Cthulhu and the Dark Ones…you know, the usual space stuff.

LOOK TO THE SKIES. …except during the day, because that sh*t will make you blind.

Uncategorized

The Jawless Horror that Killed a King

The what now?

I said the Jawless Horror that Killed a King. No, it’s not a terrible-yet-somehow-terrific CGI movie on the SyFy network, nor is it an episode title from the final season of Game of Thrones (J.R.R. Martin quote: “I’m almost ready to start writing the next book!”). Nope, this particular toothy regicidal maniac is the Lamprey, prehistoric nightmare and our namesake here at Lamprey Online.

Lamprey, and their kissin’-cousin the hagfish, make up an order of parasitic, spineless and jawless fish that use the hundreds of teeth that line their round, suction-like mouths to tear away chunks of flesh from unsuspecting fish and feast on their blood (ed. note: that sentence alone should be responsible for a straight-to-cable CGI-fest of a movie. Contact me to negotiate the story rights).

Lampreys have been considered a delicacy in European cooking for centuries, with Queen Elizabeth II being served lamprey pie at her coronation and in the twelfth century, England’s King Henry I being done in by “a surfeit of lampreys” after the royal doctor told him to cool it with the lamprey snacks because they’re so rich. Preparation for lampreys often includes soaking them in their own blood for several days, which is great to know so you can plan ahead for this year’s Thanksgiving dinner. So, while we can say lampreys did kill a king, it wasn’t during a tremendous battle standing on the rain-soaked deck of a medieval warship.  We’ll save that for the sequel (ed. note: tentatively titled Jawless Horror II: Electric Boogaloo).

The sea lamprey is considered a dangerous (no kidding) invasive species in the US Great Lakes region (much like the staff at Lamprey Online) where they have few predators and high reproductive potential (also like the staff at Lamprey Online).

Uncategorized

The Whole Sort of General Mish Mash (WSoGMM)

With apologies to Douglas Adams, the WSoGMM is exactly what Lamprey Online is all about.

The world is INTERESTING. There are stories to tell and things to ponder. And (surprisingly) very little of it is boring. We live in a fascinating place, and the Lamprey is here to share that with you.

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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