A Revolution in Childbirth!...
I've seen some daft patents over the years but this one - 'Apparatus for facilitating the birth of a child by centrifugal force' - takes the biscuit for its jaw-dropping stupidity. I used to show the images at my invention talks (as cherished overhead projector slides - remember those?) and enjoyed the incredulous looks on the faces of my audience. Incredulity which quickly turned to hilarity.
The patent was first filed in 1963 by mining engineer George Blonsky and his wife Charlotte. Though childless...
themselves they loved children - though presumably not mothers!
This invention is 'wrong' on so many levels it's difficult to know where to start. Because of the forces involved the birthing table is mounted on a massive concrete base. The unfortunate expectant mother is strapped into the device which is then rotated, at quite a high speed, to induce centrifugal force. Already in the distressed state of advanced labour, the poor mum-to-be has to cope with the nausea caused by spinning at a rate of knots. She also has to endure this in splendid isolation - there's no midwife whirling around with her. Fortunately the inventors have realised this problem and thoughtfully provided a net to catch the baby in. You couldn't make this up!
The rationale for the invention is toe-curling when read today - "It is known, that due to natural anatomical conditions, the fetus needs the application of considerable propelling force to enable it to push aside the constricting vaginal walls, to overcome the friction of the uteral and vaginal surfaces and to counteract the atmospheric pressure opposing the emergence of the child. In the case of a woman who has a fully developed muscular system and has had ample physical exertion all through the pregnancy, as is common with all more primitive peoples, nature provides all the necessary equipment and power to have a normal and quick delivery. This is not the case, however, with more civilized Women who often do not have the opportunity to develop the muscles needed in confinement". I'm not sure just how 'civilzed' one would feel when being subjected to this particular instrument of torture.
Not surprisingly, this invention never did see the light of day. The Blonsky's were posthumously awarded the 1999 Ig-Nobel Award, in the field of Managed Health Care, for their efforts.
In case you think that this is an elaborate hoax follow the link to read the full, and very detailed, patent specification
© David Wardell/Inventricity 2014
Is mum smiling - or just dizzy?