Hair Clinic Phone App


The hair clinic smartphone app seems to bring our class full circle in terms of the fact that scientific ignorance existed in the 15th century, and it still exists for some today. The Hair Clinic app claims to improve hair health by producing inaudible frequencies that improve hair and scalp health in 3 different ways. The frequencies:

  1. Keep pores clean
  2. Promotes scalp health
  3. Improve function of hair roots

This is all supposed to be done through the improvement of circulation created by these frequencies produced by the app.

This app presented some clear red flags within their app description. First and foremost the creators of the app’s description used very poor English. Secondly, there is zero scientific evidence on how the app works, and no empirical evidence on if the app works. Finally their is a disclaimer warning of potential headaches that can occur if the app is used too close to your ears. So these red flags seem to be very clear, yet the app still has thousands of purchases in the app store for $4-$8 depending on when the app was purchased. So how do we explain this phenomenon?

I referenced lack of scientific knowledge at the beginning of the post, and for some that may be the case. Many people do not know that claims such as these should be backed up with empirical evidence, and that the science behind the product should be explained. However, I think many others are willing to set aside scientific evidence because they have a mere chance of getting what they want. Many people are desperate to regain hair, and are willing to try anything. I find this relatable because at one point in my life I purchased many supplements with the belief it had a chance of making me “bigger and stronger” with poor scientific evidence. I was just desperate to find a shortcut, and I think many others think the same way in this day and age.

This also presents some issues with the app industry. This is one of many apps that are allowed to be sold without any regulation of false advertisement. Yes, user comments are a helpful form of regulation but I do think the app store should invest in some form of regulation that prevents complete false advertisement. I am also sure that the app store received a percentage of the sales made by the app, so I leave you with one final message in regards to the app store. User beware, and if it sounds too good to be true; it probably is.



Smoking Technology

While the cigarette was invented in 1865, a large amount of inventions surrounding the cigarette came about in the mid 1900’s. The cigarette certainly gained popularity in the 1900’s, and these inventions really help show the power of the cigarette industry. Although cigarettes themselves are arguably a poor invention, many wackier inventions came about in the mid 1900’s surrounding the cigarette.


The vest-pocket ash tray actually isn’t the poorest invention on the long list of inventions surrounding the cigarette. It has a small, subtle design. It was extremely cheap and easy to produce, and was actually somewhat convenient to use. There were however, multiple downsides to the product that are a big part of the reason the it is not still used today. The pocket ash tray could often be a mess. Ash could easily fall out of the tray throughout the day and fall onto the users vest, as well as make a big mess within the inside of their suit jacket. The design was not effective at keeping the cigarette ash from falling out, and held little to no value of convenience if it needed to be emptied after each use.


When a single dose of nicotine isn’t enough to relax the mind you may need this invention. The double-barrel cigarette holder never took off as a popular invention, and certainly did not cause a major increase in cigarette sales, but is still an invention on sale today. Many variations of this type of cigarette holder exist including one that holds an entire pack of cigarettes at a time. The invention truly expresses the lack of knowledge of the health risks of cigarettes, as some thought more cigarettes at a time was only a positive.


I saved perhaps my favorite mid 1900’s cigarette invention  for last. This invention involves a long metal pipe that allows the user to smoke his or her cig without getting smoke in their eyes or face. I personally enjoy the theory, but there are a few issues with this concept. A majority of smoke that ends up in the smokers face comes from their exhalation of the cigarette, not from the cigarette itself. Therefore this invention was not actually helpful at keeping smoke out of ones eyes. Secondly, the invention looked quite ridiculous. I imagine the user would feel ridiculous using the invention, but perhaps in the era of smoking being popular it was not strange to see someone using this invention.

Perhaps the fact that dozens of strange smoking invention came about in the mid 1900’s  provides evidence that smokers did not look silly using these inventions as long as they added convenience to their cigarette use. The 1950’s were the beginning of the peak of cigarette use that held a steep rise in use until 1965, and interestingly, the same decade where cigarettes began to be linked with cancer.The fact that cigarette use only rose after its linkage to cancer only shows how popular and glorified cigarette use was, which makes these abstract invention seem a bit more reasonable.



My strange invention for the time period of 1850-1900 involves a fictional invention that gives a great representation of the time period when it comes to the importance of inventions and the glorification of the people who invented them. Not only did it show the importance of inventions, but they also presented the idea that anything that could be imagined could be invented. The ostrich above is only one of the many farfetched fictional inventions thought up by authors of the genre coined as Edisonade.

Edisonade stories began being produced near the end of the 18th century in comic book-like paper bindings knowns as dime novels. Electric Bob was only one of the many “heroes” of the Edisonade genre, and although there were many different stories within the genre they all fit a common theme. This common theme involved a brilliant inventor, such as Electric Bob, that made unique inventions in order to fight and defeat people from countries who opposed the US. Of course there were some common side plots such as saving a damsel in distress from these evil opposing countries. These dime novels were really not far off from the comic books of today. The main difference to be noted was that these “heroes” used inventions rather than super powers to save the day. Although these inventions could not be physically created, and therefore rendered useless to society, they were arguably more innovative (and ridiculous) than many of the actual inventions of the time period. These inventions included divinci-like flying boats, giant robots, Christmas inspired electric reindeer, and a personal favorite of mine is the Magnetic Hurricane: a trackless train invented to travel Central China and run down anyone who tried to stop it.


Edisonade stories were a fairly good representation of late 19th century American culture for a number of reasons. They were a perfect representation of the importance of innovation at the time. The lightbulb, train, and telephone were only a few of the inventions that made life more convenient, and I would argue that these innovations were appreciated at the time. One argument I would make to  support this claim can be found in Edisonade through the glorification of inventors. Many of the heroes in these stories were named after inventors such as Jack Wright, as seen in the story above, named after the Wright brothers. Others were portrayed as the sons of these brilliant inventors such as Tom Edison Jr. who was a hero in one of the popular book series. The stories also showed disdain for the countries who opposed America. Nearly all of these stories involved America using its technology to defeat people who were believed to be less advanced technologically. This also showed the patriotism of American’s at the time, and some of this patriotism may have come about from the country’s technological advancements.

On a final note, while many of these stories may be considered to be comical and ridiculous today, they could have potentially been an inspiration to readers; giving the idea that anything that could be imagined could be invented. As well as the idea that being an inventor could lead to glory to you and your country. Is it possible that these fictional adventures could have been part of a movement that has led to exponential technological advancement? It certainly is something to be thought about.

The Artificial Leech


This medical contraption, which perhaps looks more like a torture device, was created in the early to middle 19th century. During this time, the medical practice of blood letting had been popular for treating a multitude of diseases with a questionable amount of effectiveness. The use of leeches in medicine can be dated back to between 1600-1300BC, but leeches are especially recognized for their use during the middle ages. Leeches were used for treating hemorrhoids and phlebitis, which is inflammation of the veins. Leeches were beginning to become a somewhat effective form of treatment, but also an unsanitary form a treatment, which is why the device above was created.

While the design of the artificial leech evolved over time, the original design was created by a German Inventor by the name of Carl Baunscheidt. Baunscheidt’s inventions were mainly in the field of medicine, and there was actually a form of alternative medicine based around his inventions known as Baunscheidtism. This practice of alternative medicine is what really revealed the obscure uses of the artificial leech. When the artificial leech was first invented it was used along with a toxic oil on the part of the skin where the leech would be used. This caused inflammation at the point of entry which was thought to draw the body’s attention away from the original illness, in turn curing the illness. As strange as this practice may seem, it did gain popularity quickly as it was believed to cure a multitude of diseases including whooping cough, toothaches, mental diseases, and of course baldness. Was it in fact a miracle procedure? Or perhaps poor science along with faulty advertisement on the part of Baunscheidt? I would lean toward the latter considering that he was an inventor and business man, not a doctor. However, despite any controversy surrounding Baunscheidt’s product, it was at least an advancement compared to an actual leech. Or was it? 

Now, while many did believe this was an advancement compared to the leech, the artificial leech did have some clear disadvantages compared to an actual leech. A little known fact about leeches is that when they bite they also release an anesthetic into the skin. This makes a leech bite hardly painful at all to a human. Leeches also release something called an anticoagulant. This helps draw blood toward the point of the skin where the leech is biting. The artificial leech, unfortunately, was anesthetic free. It was very painful for patients as it did not have the most effective needles, but rather had small knife like points to draw the blood. The artificial leech did mimic a real leech in the sense that it had a small pump at the top that could be pulled to pull blood to the point of entry. Although the artificial leech is in fact a strange looking contraption, it was quite a medical advancement for the time period, and was more importantly a step toward the lancet and other tools used today to draw blood.


Slightly more advanced form of the artificial leech. Still looks painful.

The Dimple-Maker


The dimple machine was invented in New York in the year 1936, by a female developer named Isabella Gilbert. Gilbert, along with countless other women, had a creative and entrepreneurial  drive when it came to fighting genetics and making women beautiful to the standards of the time period. Women had only gained an interest in this “engineered” beauty quite recently; this invention came about roughly 20 years after the invention of cosmetics. The late 1910’s along with the 20’s and 30’s really gave numerous examples of how women wanted to be beautiful, and not just beautiful as far as their clothing, but physically beautiful as far as their bodies and faces, and the dimple machine is just one of these examples.

The dimple maker also shows perhaps the lack of scientific knowledge of the time period; at least compared to today. There are multiple ads for the dimple maker, but none seem to mention the science behind the product. One ad even gives the story of a girl who had no friends at school. Boys didn’t even notice her, but after creating false dimples she became one of the popular girls in school. This shows that these products were not only aimed towards women but also young girls. These fictional narratives were very commonly used to sell products during the time period, however, the science behind the product was not a commonly used sales tool. Perhaps science was not quite as appealing to the customer, or perhaps there was no real science behind the product. I believe the latter may be the case.

When looking at products of the time period there was not much science behind them, they just seemed like they might work. I remember as a child having an annoying double chin, and trying to tie things around my head and under my chin to eventually see if my extra chin would go away. I didn’t know the science behind a double chin, it just seemed like it would work if kept doing it for a long enough period of time. Needless to say, it never worked, but my point is this “common sense” concept (rather than science) is appealing to the common person and sells extremely well even today. This idea leads to another question that is worth thinking about of which I do not have the answer to. Were most of these poor products developed to be sold to ignorant buyers, or were they created ignorantly by the developer? Although I cannot answer this question it should should always be thought about when looking at poorly developed products of the past. Was this product an awful invention? Or a brilliant business decision?

A final point to be made was that the medical association was against this product for multiple reasons. One reason simply argued that the product would not work, and the second reason was that it may cause cancer. This shows that their most definitely were intelligent people using science during the time period, and it also showed that cancer was a major fear in the 1930’s as it still is today. I am not sure how the medical association came to the conclusion that the dimple-maker may cause cancer, but still today we are warned on a daily basis of products that “may” cause cancer.

Bad Inventions: Dimple Maker

The Dolly Dimpler