Tuesday Turnip

David K. Israel

It's time for another whimsical Tuesday Turnip search wherein I type a random phrase and we see what kind of interesting factoids "turn-up."

Today I typed in "the error was corrected by," unearthing the following:

  • Otto Lilienthal of Germany was a brilliant contributor to the conquest of the air and made nearly 2,000 successful glider flights since 1891 in sixteen seperate [sic] glider types. 1Lilienthal's book of aerodynamic data published in 1889 "Der Vogelflug als Grundlage der Fliegekunst (Birdflight as the Basis for Aviation)2 emphasized the curvature of a bird's wings as the secret of lift.3 Lilienthal's book greatly influenced aeronautical design and was the bible for the early designs of the  Wright Brothers and other early aviators. However, some of the data published by Lilienthal was erroneous based on the incorrect coefficient of air pressure published by John Smeaton in 1759.4 The error was corrected by the Wright Brothers through wind tunnel tests made in their bicycle shop.
  • Phimosis (inability to pull the foreskin back) is natural and proper in all male babies and rarely a problem in boys of any age. In babies the foreskin is long (extending far beyond the glans), tight and usually not separated from the glans. This was known to be the normal condition of male babies until the 1840s, when English doctors suddenly decided it was an abnormality (called "congenital phimosis") which had to be surgically corrected. One of the three main reasons for the introduction of routine circumcision in the nineteenth century was based on a gross medical error and sudden amnesia towards previous knowledge: one of modern medicine's great leaps backwards. In England the error was corrected by Douglas Gairdner in 1949, but the news took a long time to reach Australia and even longer to reach the USA, where many doctors were still in the grip of nineteenth century delusions as late as the 1980s.