A Smile So Sharp It Will Split Atoms

German radioactive toothpaste quack medicine

From 1940 to 1945, if you wanted to acquire radioactive material in Germany, you didn’t have to engage in cloak-and-dagger shenanigans; you simply had to go to the nearest pharmacy and purchase a tube of Doramad toothpaste. 

Doramad was produced with small quantities of radioactive thorium. This wasn’t a manufacturing accident; it was an intentional marketing strategy. 

Translation: “Its radioactive radiation increases the defenses of teeth and gums. The cells are loaded with new life energy, the bacteria are hindered in their destroying effect. This explains the excellent prophylaxis and healing process with gingival diseases. It gently polishes the dental enamel so it turns white and shiny. Prevents dental calculus. Wonderful lather and a new, pleasant, mild and refreshing taste. Can be applied sparingly.”

Aside from being the poster child of quack medicine, Doramad played an interesting role in the race to develop the atomic bomb. U.S. intelligence agents were alarmed to learn that unusually-large amounts of thorium were being bought up by Germany. This suggested that German research toward the atomic bomb had progressed further than previously had been thought. 

It was only as the war drew to a close that investigators learned the real reason for the thorium shipments. Savvy German entrepreneurs were decades ahead of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” proposal. They were stocking up on radioactive material so they could make money selling a ground-breaking product. Their marketing slogan was, “Use toothpaste with thorium! Have sparkling, brilliant teeth—radioactive brilliance!”

Read more about toothpaste and the race for the Bomb here

Three Lawyers Found This Client to Be a Pain in the Neck

Josh Monson in a special restraining chair, surrounded by law enforcement.
Josh Monson in a special restraining chair, surrounded by law enforcement.

Josh Monson was facing trial for murder and drug charges in 2011 in Everett, Washington. Apparently unsatisfied with his defense attorney, Monson stabbed him in the neck with a pencil. That lawyer was excused from the case, and a second one was assigned.

Three days later, Monson stabbed his second attorney with a pencil.

This time court officials learned their lesson and assigned a third lawyer, while prohibiting Monson from having any writing implements. Presumably Lawyer #3 was told what happened to his two predecessors, but he happened to lay his pen down within reach of his client, who lunged for it and tried for the neck again. This time his aim was off, and he only managed to scratch his lawyer’s temple. His aim was probably hindered by the electric stun device he was wearing, which a bailiff activated when he saw Monson go for the pen.

Deciding that Monson had bagged his limit of lawyers, the judge declared he had forfeited his right to be represented by counsel, and he spent the rest of the trial strapped to a special chair. Monson objected to this, asking, “How can [the jurors] fairly judge me when they see me in a chair like this?” One hopes this was merely a rhetorical question, since the jury had just seen him tackled by police officers after attacking his attorney.

Monson ended up being convicted of first degree murder. Before being taken away, he shook hands with his most-recent attorney who, curiously enough, was nowhere near any kind of writing utensil.


Gunshot Wound? Don’t Worry, Son… I’m Sure There’s An App for That

webmdEvery child believes his or her mom can fix every boo-boo. Sometimes that faith can be misplaced.

Consider the case of the 14-year-old son of Deborah Tagle, who received a gunshot wound to the leg in May 2013. The injury occurred when a friend of the family accidentally discharged his firearm.

Not being the kind of mom who is prone to overreaction, this Santa Fe, Texas mom had her son sit back and take it easy while she researched “How to treat a gunshot wound” on http://www.webmd.com. When her research proved to be unsatisfactory, Tagle drove her son to the emergency room — seven hours later.


Looking for a Hot Deal on Some Real Estate?

sun soldWhen Maria Angeles Duran of Vigo, Spain started her real estate venture, she knew there was great demand to purchase property that gets plenty of sunlight. What better place than the source of sunlight, itself?

Finding that no one claimed ownership of the sun, due to a 1967 United Nations agreement prohibiting any nation from claiming exclusive ownership of celestial bodies, Duran claimed the star for herself and registered her ownership with a notary public in 2010. She based her right to ownership on the fact that the treaties say nothing about individuals owning celestial bodies; they only prohibit nations from staking a claim.

“There was no snag, I backed my claim legally, I am not stupid, I know the law. I did it but anyone else could have done it, it simply occurred to me first,” Duran said.

A page from Duran's notarized claim to the sun
A page from Duran’s notarized claim to the sun (click on photograph for a larger image)

Confident that her claim to the sun was valid, Duran began selling solar parcels at the low, low price of €1 per square meter. Granted, that is about the cheapest real estate you can find anywhere, but Duran can afford it. With 6,088,000,000,000,000 square meters available for sale (compared to 150,000,000 square meters of dry land on the entire planet Earth), she still stands to rake in a respectable profit.

Ms. Duran began marketing the real estate on eBay, with the promise “buy new object, unused, unopened, undamaged. Shipping is free.” Each buyer would receive a diploma of acquisition, verifying the purchase. Before long, Duran sold €1,200 worth of orders to 600 suckers customers before eBay stopped the sales. Citing their policy against sales that could not be touched or transported, and because they believed it could be a scam, eBay canceled the sales, thus preventing Duran from collecting the money from her customers. Ebay still charged Duran €128 as its commission on the canceled sales.

Believing that her starry-eyed business model had been improperly grounded by the company, Duran sued eBay for breach of contract, claiming €10,000 in damages.

In June 2015 a Spanish court cleared the way for the lawsuit to proceed, and as of this writing, the trial is scheduled for mid-July 2015.


This Post Brought to You by DAMS: Speeding Mothers Against Dyslexia


In 2010 Matthew Cook was clocked at 103 mph in a 60 mph zone in East Sussex, United Kingdom. His defense? He said he had dyslexia, and thought he was only going 31 mph.

The court was skeptical of the defense and suspended Cook’s driving privileges for three years.


Looking for Gas Leak with Open Flame… Anyone Else See a Problem with This?


The largest cylindrical gas container in the world in 1927 was in the heart of the industrial center of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

On the morning of November 14, 1927, it developed a leak, so repairmen set out to look for it….

….with an open-flame blowlamp.

At 8:43 am either they found the leak, or the leak found them.

The tank, containing 5 million cu. ft of natural gas, rose in the air like a balloon and exploded. Chunks of metal, some weighing more than 100 lbs, were scattered great distances, and the combined effects of air pressure and fire left a square mile of devastation. Twenty-eight people were killed and hundreds were injured. The sound of the explosion was heard 20 miles away.