Answer: That's what 1949 London serial killer John George Haigh boasted to police after killing Mrs. Durand-Deacon, saying he had dissolved her remains in acid so the victim no longer existed, says E.J. Wagner in "The Science of Sherlock Holmes." "You will find the sludge which remains on Leopold Road. But," he smiled confidently, "you can't prove murder without a body."
Haigh was mistaken on this point, as many others have been. The law does not require a corpse but rather a "corpus delicti," or "the body of evidence that establishes the crime has taken place." Not understanding this, Haigh made a full confession of the killing, plus five others, claiming he was a vampire in dire need of their blood. The police pegged his motive as going after the women's valuables.When experts examined the sludge, they spotted small polished pebbles that turned out to be gallstones of the late Mrs. Durand-Deacon. Also found were her dentures, bone fragments and part of a handbag. Later, the jury wasted no time in finding Haigh guilty and sentencing him to die.
Question: Here's one for the riotous road: the nose spoon-hang. What keeps the lightweight utensil suspended there, to the startlement or sarcasm of onlookers?
Answer: You'll need to clean the spoon and the tip of your nose, breathe lightly onto the interior surface of the bowl and then seat it against your nose, details Jearl Walker in "The Flying Circus of Physics."When you feel the spoon hold, let it dangle. If it and your nose are free of oil, there can be enough friction to make this work. Condensation from your moist breath helps fix the spoon in place. Although a thick water layer acts as a lubricant, a very thin layer acts like a glue because of electrical attraction between the water molecules and the nearby surfaces of spoon and skin. "My record for this stunt is 1 hour and 15 minutes, which I like to say was in a French restaurant in Toronto. However, the truth is I was in a truck stop in Youngstown, Ohio, where a burly member of a motorcycle gang suggested that the spoon would hang better if he reshaped my nose."
Question: Are you sports fan enough to know who's in peril of encountering a life-threatening "burble"? Out of the clear blue sky, one might add.
Answer: That's the name skydivers give to the wake they generate as they fall, at maybe 200 kilometers per hour terminal velocity, with a vortex of air currents stretching a meter or so behind and pure turbulence farther back, says "New Scientist" magazine.
Silent and invisible, burbles can play havoc with jumpers or their equipment. Under normal free-fall conditions, divers can change their orientation and rate of descent by adjusting their arms and legs to alter the force of the air on their bodies. Move into a burble, however, and the force changes suddenly, precipitating a tumble.These risks are highest during formation dives with large numbers of divers. When two or more join together, their burbles combine into an even bigger problem for the divers above them. Especially when divers release their parachutes, they must be sure to keep them clear of burbles. In early 2007, Russian skydiver Kirill Samotsvetov died during an attempt to create a 200-person formation in free fall. After the formation broke up, Samotsvetov deployed his chute but flew into the burble of another canopy, collapsing his parachute.
Send STRANGE questions to brothers Bill and Rich at [email protected], coauthors of "Can a Guy Get Pregnant? Scientific Answers to Everyday (and Not-So- Everyday) Questions," from Pi Press.