Feedback is our weekly column of bizarre stories, implausible advertising claims, confusing instructions and more
Feedback was relieved to read elsewhere in this august rag recently that black holes aren’t bald, featureless entities with an ever-expanding waistline, but have a bubbling frizziness around their outskirts known in some quarters as “quantum hair” (26 March, p 10). We are relieved not just because the middle-aged look has never been fashionable, but also because this promises a resolution to Stephen Hawking’s black hole information paradox, an unsolvable conundrum in fundamental physics that is also getting depressingly middle-aged.
And developing that new, fresh look is as simple as popping a daily pill, as Suzie Shrubb points out. She forwards us – with an eye on the black holes, we hope, not us – details of Quantum Nutrition Labs’ Quantum Hair, Skin, Nails capsules. These promise “Bioavailable Solubilized Keratin for Quantum-State Support for The Skin, Hair and Nails”, something we find merits the capitals, even as we wonder with Suzie whether the quantum state bit expresses some uncertainty about the product’s efficacy. Still, as she reasonably points out, you will only ever know after you have looked in the box.
For timeless style right from big bang to heat death, we can also recommend Zotos’s Quantum Classic Body hair perm, an acid perm that “creates soft, supportive body and supportive waves for a ‘non-permed’ look”. Coming soon to an event horizon near you.
Lose friends, stay healthy
Epidemiology news, as Korean Vaccine Society vice president Ma Sang-hyuk announces that if you haven’t had the dreaded lurgy yet, it is because you have no friends. “Adults who have not yet been infected with COVID-19 are those who have interpersonal problems,” he is reported to have written on Facebook – comments that seem to have won him few friends, and so perhaps a degree of protection, as they were subsequently hastily deleted.
Feedback’s experience suggests you hardly need be in contact with anyone to catch the latest variant nasty. Certainly, we have been trying to build up immunity to infection through social isolation for years, and it didn’t work for us.
Not a prayer
Also strangely transient is Eternal Prayer, a website that briefly offered to mint the prayers of the devout as non-fungible tokens for a small consideration of real-world money.
As deities move in mysterious ways, it seems not unreasonable to us to desire non-falsifiable records of contracts entered into, even if, dinosaur that we are, we prefer the tablets of stone thing. But with the site now defunct, our eternal, fruitless search for meaning in the blockchain continues.
A mattress for all seasons
Bringing us back down to earth, Richard Bartlett notes that the care instructions for his John Lewis mattress include the advice “No turning required, rotate with the seasons.” “Perhaps I should not move it at all relative to the bed but simply allow the mattress to orbit the sun?” he asks. We consider this a wise starting point for anyone invested in a good night’s sleep. Or you could try the alternative interpretation of rotating yourself with the seasons, and see where that lands you.
Come shapely bombs
Feedback is a fan of what novelist Anthony Burgess termed the “arresting opening“. A frisson passes through us as we peruse an article from The Washington Post sent in by Mike Shefler of Gibsonia, Pennsylvania, among others. “Near steep vineyards of riesling grapes, in an underground vault at an air force base in western Germany, sits an American nuclear bomb. More than one of them, actually,” we read. “Each bomb is about the length of two refrigerators laid down end to end and as heavy as the average adult male musk ox. The bombs are slender and pointy and a little more than a foot wide.” We join Mike in a waking reverie on the slender pointiness of the adult male musk ox, and feel the mind-expanding power of quality journalism.
“I know it’s a bad habit”, sighs our man with the laser sight Jeff Hecht, bringing us to our senses again as he forwards us a briefing from the Government Matters website on high-energy laser weapons. We read that the US Department of Defense plans to deploy a 300-kilowatt laser for testing this November and to develop megawatt lasers effective against some ballistic missiles within a few years. The progress is “really exciting”, says retired US Air Force colonel and director of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, Mark Gunzinger.
From beyond the jrave
Stephen Wilhite, creator of the GIF, an invention that has done much to remove the need for words in internet communication, has died. We are commemorating him by playing our favourite GIF of UK politician Liz Truss pronouncing the words “pork markets” with relish. No reason, which is the point.
Sadly, there is no chance of reanimation for Wilhite, but his legacy has brought joy to millions, as well as a lovely debate about pronunciation. In lieu of words on accepting the 2013 Webby Award for lifetime achievement, Wilhite played a five-word animated gif: “IT’S PRONOUNCED “JIF” NOT “GIF”. Somehow, however often you repeat that one, it’s not sticking.
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