Saturday, June 07, 2014

You Can Learn a Lot from Comic Books

Some of which just ain't so.  Consider these two amazing "facts" which I discovered while reading a couple of Superboy issues from 1954-1955:

I can imagine a kid believing those things, but an adult should be just a little more skeptical.  Women in general live longer than men (about 7 years longer the last I heard), so it would be quite surprising to learn that a man actually held the title for the oldest documented living human.  We would also, given advances in medicine and corresponding advances in average life expectancy, for the oldest person ever to me more recent.  And in fact, according to Wikipedia, the current record for the oldest person is a Frenchwoman named Jeanne Calment, who passed away just 17 years ago at age 122.  In fact, of the ten longest-living people, only one (the tenth) was a man.

As for Drakenberg, simple math reveals that even with the dates given he did not "complete 146 years," but 145.  And this website reveals why that age is suspect at best:

The certificate also states the names of Drakenberg's parents, and of the farm at which he was born. In the postscript of the latest edition of Drakenberg's biography from 1972 Paul G. Ørberg disproves all the facts listed in this certificate (Ørberg 1972). The vicar of Skee in 1732 was Johan Schoug and the vicar in 1626 was Christoffer Lauritzen Friis; the two vicars named in the document have apparently never existed. The farm on which Drakenberg had allegedly been born had just been built in 1626, and was owned by someone else; no trace can be found of the people named as Drakenberg's parents and finally no church register going back to 1626 exists from the church of Skee, and it is doubtful whether one ever has. In other words the certificate proving the amazing age of Drakenberg is a forgery, though a very successful one.
As for the male deer bot fly Wikipedia notes:

In 1938 Irving Langmuir, recipient of the 1932 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, examined the claim in detail and refuted the estimate. Among his specific criticisms were:
  • To maintain a velocity of 800 miles per hour, the 0.3-gram fly would have had to consume more than 150% of its body weight in food every second;
  • The fly would have produced an audible sonic boom;
  • The supersonic fly would have been invisible to the naked eye; and
  • The impact trauma of such a fly colliding with a human body would resemble that of a gunshot wound
And in fact the current estimate for this little fellow is a relatively sedate 25 mph.

Here's another bit from a text piece on how the toys of the 1950s were preparing kids for the jobs of tomorrow:

Now that may seem a bit sexist, but this was the 1950s when Dad went off to work and Mom took care of the kids.  In fact, my mother (before she got married) had her first job as a switchboard operator.  But I certainly hope no young girls practiced too hard on this toy, as the switchboard was already on its way out.


jasmine nile said...

thanks ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Kirk House said...

Has anyone ever thought of the professions followed by women in DC Silver Age comics?
*Lois Lane reporter
*Carol Ferris corporation/factory manager
*Jean Loring lawyer
*Bonnie (?) (John Jones' love interest) policewoman
*Diana Prince Air Force officer
*Mera reigning queen
*Iris West reporter
All very non-traditional -- even advanced. Perhaps they helped fuel the upcoming changes?
Over at Marvel, on the other hand, apart from a couple of secretaries (Betty Brant, Karen Page) and a nurse (at Don Blake's office), the main occupation seems to have been "girl friend."

Pat said...

Kirk I talked about that many moons ago:

Kirk House said...

Yeah, that's a good piece, Pat. And you're right, neither Betty Ross nor Sue Storm had any actual outside-the-home jobs.
I've been looking at some old Dr. Solar stories from Gold Key, and Gail Sanders, the love interest there, did her fair share of getting captured and endangered. But at least she was a Ph.D. and an important member of the scientific staff at Atom Valley. Leejah Clane was pretty much a spoiled Senator's daughter, but as the Magnus series developed women and non-whites appeared repeatedly in high-responsibility jobs.