Inside Einstein's Refrigerator

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Now, Einstein's Refrigerator culls together 30 true-life stories from Silverman's Web site and lesson plans.

There's an account of how Niagara Falls went dry one cool day in 1848. High winds and an ice blockage on the Niagara River stemmed the flow of water, and residents got to see all the junk that had been dumped there.

You'll also find out how female penguins turn to prostitution. Apparently, the guys think they've got mates for life. But an Antarctic gal will do what she must when she has a nest to build. Apparently, for the price of a few stones — home-building material in the bird world — a little guy in a tuxedo can buy a few thrills. Silverman says, "It's the coldest profession in the world."

When you cover weird news and still get surprised by weird marginalia, you just have to doff your cap and salute a master. Einstein's Refrigerator is a great read. Here are a few of my favorites:

Headless Mike

We all know a chicken without a head will run around just like that sniveling, middle-echelon manager in your office. But not that many people remember Miracle Mike of Fruita, Colo., the rooster who lived for years without his head.

Poor Mike was only 5 ½ months on Sept. 10, 1945, when farmers Lloyd and Clara Olsen set him on the chopping block. After the ax fell, this bird ran around. They all do. Mike's head was dead. But his bottom just kept on flapping.

With an eye-dropper, the Olsens fed him through the opening of his throat. Mike choked a bit. But days turned into weeks and months. Thus, a legend was born.

Early in the morning, he'd greet the Olsens with a gurgling cock-a-doodle-do. Folks came from miles around to see him. Life magazine did an article about him. He soon joined the sideshow circuit, touring alongside a jar carrying his head. He pulled down a reported $4,500 a month. That's a lot of chicken feed.

Some said Mike's little head was eaten by a cat, and a fake was substituted. But it hardly mattered.

When Mike gave up the ghost, a necropsy revealed that Mr. Olsen had achieved the chop of a lifetime, leaving just enough of the bird's brainstem to keep him alive. A clot prevented him from bleeding to death.