Richard Handl, 31, was arrested in southern Sweden in July after a raid on his home. He had been trying for months to set up a nuclear reactor in his kitchen, but became alarmed when a brew of americium, tritium and beryllium created a nuclear meltdown on his stove. Only then, he said, did it occur to him to ask the country’s Radiation Authority if what he was doing was legal, and the subsequent police raid answered that question. No dangerous radiation level was detected, but Handl still faces fines and a maximum two-year prison sentence for unauthorized possession of nuclear materials.
For the self-Indulgent
n The fashion designer Chandrashekar Chawan recently created gold-plated, diamond-studded contact lenses that make eyes “sparkle” (not always a good thing, admitted Chawan, citing reviews calling the look “cringeworthy” and “demonic”). According to an MSNBC report, the “bling” part never actually touches the cornea.
n Among the trendiest avant-garde beauty treatments are facial applications made from snail mucus, according to a July report by London’s Daily Mail. South Korean glamour consultants were the first to use mollusk extract’s generous moisturizing properties, though a dermatologist warned (on NBC’s “Today” show) that no “controlled” studies have yet demonstrated snail-goo superiority.
n Colorado inmate Daniel Self filed a federal lawsuit in July against the Sterling Correctional Facility because prison personnel saved his life. They revived him after he had stopped breathing from an attack of sleep apnea, but he contends he had previously demanded to officials that he never be resuscitated, preferring to die rather serve out his life sentence.
n British college student Rhiannon Brooksbank-Jones, 19, recently had her tongue surgically lengthened just so she could better pronounce the Korean letter “L.” London’s Daily Mail reported in August that the student had become fascinated with Korean culture and intends to live and work in South Korea eventually — and would need to speak like a native to succeed. She is now satisfied that she does.
Our animal sidekicks
n Ruth Adams called on Northampton College in central England to measure the purring sound of her gray-and-white tabby cat, Smokey, aiming for a Guinness World Record. The result, she told The Associated Press in March, was 73 decibels, many multiples louder than the average cat’s purr and about as noisy, according to the AP, as “busy traffic, a hair dryer or a vacuum cleaner.” (According to cat-ologists, Smokey’s purring could reflect either extreme happiness or extreme stress.)
n What took them so long to think of this? “Most wineries rely on the human nose [to detect out-of-place odors],” said the vintner of the Australian boutique wine Linnaea, “but that is time-consuming, costly, and nowhere as reliable as Belle.” Miss Louisa Belle is a 7-year-old bloodhound possessing, of course, a nose that is reportedly 2,000 times more sensitive than the human nose. Her primary job, the vintner told Melbourne’s Herald Sun in July, is to sniff out tainted corks during the bottling process.
Least competent people
n Police in Roseville, Mich., arrested a 24-year-old roofer in August and charged him with reckless driving after he hit four cars. He had noticed that his brakes had failed but unadvisedly tried to drive on, anyway, by extending his left leg out the driver’s side door and braking “manually” (yes, as in “The Flintstones”). According to police, the man was completely sober.
n In Durango, Colo., Sean Ogden, 19, was seriously burned in July when he tried to break down fireworks he had purchased in order to build even bigger ones. He was mixing them in a coffee-bean grinder.