Bread baking tips and Dr. Splat

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Today’s Lesson

Forgotten popular scientists of the past

Now less than ever, popular scientists have captured the public’s imagination with their incredible demonstrations and half-understood, slightly garbled recaps of an article they read on CNN.com. But there’s an entire menagerie of popular scientists from the past who have been long forgotten.

Our lab archivists dug through the file cabinets to find some of history’s forgotten scientific popularizers.

  • Dr. Splat was a phenomenon in the early 1950s. After a “completely disgraceful discharge” from service in World War II, he returned to an America where his medical degree in Advanced Foot Looking (a since-banned form of podiatry) was useless.

    So he decided to keep the “Dr.” in his name and use a repurposed WWII tank to splat things.

    The nation was rapt with his pseudo-scientific pursuit of running over watermelons, fruitcakes, and sculptures of communists. Dr. Splat was making millions until he made the mistake of accidentally splatting himself when he left the tank in drive while he was cleaning tapioca pudding off his shoe.

  • Angstrom, the Rapping Bear was a hit in the 1980s — an animatronic bear that taught kids about physics. Unfortunately, the bear was funded by a consortium of weapons manufacturers seeking to influence the nation’s youth. Angstrom’s controversial claim that “the only way to beat gravity is through missiles,” was, while true, enough to get him banned from public schools. Though the bear toured abandoned missile silos and monster truck rallies for years, his influence was diminished until he was finally exploded in a nuclear test.

  • Mrs. Wizard was the long-hidden wife of Mr. Wizard, the famous science educator. Unfortunately, her show dwelled almost entirely on her attempts to knit a perfect wig for her husband to wear on his show. She opened every show with a (false) claim: “Bald is not beautiful. Citation? Science, you fools.” Eventually, she and Mr. Wizard divorced, leaving her with her maiden name, Janeane Warlock.

From the Lab

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