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An Actual (kind of…) Immaculate Conception

December 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Discoblog has released their top 10 weirdest science stories of the year, and number 1 is also one of my favourites.

It is a case report from the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, entitled:

“Oral conception. Impregnation via the proximal gastrointestinal tract in a patient with an aplastic distal vagina. Case report.”

They have the full text on their blog here, but I will summarize.

A 15-year old girl is admitted to hospital with a stab wound to the abdomen, received during a knife fight between her ex-boyfriend and her new boyfriend. She was treated and released a few days later.

278 days after the incident, she came back to the hospital with severe abdominal pain. Turns out she was pregnant. However…

Inspection of the vulva showed no vagina, only a shallow skin dimple was present below the external urethral meatus and between the labia minora. An emergency lower segment caesarean section was performed under spinal anaesthesia and a live male infant weighing 2800 g was born

So the girl had no vagina. So how did she get pregnant?

Just before she was stabbed in the abdomen she had practised fellatio with her new boyfriend and was caught in the act by her former lover. The fight with knives ensued. She had never had a period and there was no trace of lochia after the caesarean section…

A plausible explanation for this pregnancy is that spermatozoa gained access to the reproductive organs via the injured gastrointestinal tract.

Yes, you read that right. She went down on her boyfriend, got stabbed, and the sperm went from her stomach into her reproductive system.

If that’s not miraculous, I don’t know what is. Although the author of the case study does say that

The fact that the son resembled the father excludes an even more miraculous conception.

A Remote that Shatters Glass

December 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Wish I got that for Christmas…

Invented by Giuseppe Longobardi, a researcher at IBM in Castellammare di Stabia, Italy, the device would allow a pane of glass to be destroyed with the touch of a button.

The device has recently been patented (“Method and apparatus for remotely activating destruction of a glass window” US Patent #7806310) and could be used instead of a hammer to break emergency glass, or by film studios for special effects.

Image: US Patent and Trademark Office

The device works by using a physical principle called “resonance“. Based on its shape and size, objects will store vibrational energy at a certain resonant frequency. In this way, even small driving forces can create large vibrational amplitudes in the material. In English that means that if you move the object at its resonant frequency, even just a little bit, it “likes” to move at that frequency and will keep doing it.

The remote would be tuned to the resonant frequency of the particular pane of glass in question. When activated, the remote would generate small acoustic signal at that frequency, causing the pane of glass to respond by also vibrating at that frequency. Eventually, enough energy is built up that the glass vibrates at such a large amplitude that it shatters, much like an opera singer shattering glass using their voice.