Author Archives: Trina McMillin

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About Trina McMillin

Trina McMillin is a freelance writer who enjoys researching topics and using her personal experiences to create fun, interesting content; in addition, Trina uses the knowledge she attained as a phlebotomist, laboratory assistant and medical transcriptionist to create informative, yet compelling medical and health-related content.

Frank The Robotic Man

Frank: The World’s First Bionic Man

I may be disclosing my age here, but does anyone remember the series The Six-Million Dollar Man? If not, here is a refresher for you (or a bit of information to fill you in on what you missed): NASA Astronaut Steve Austin (who was wonderfully portrayed by Lee Majors), was severely injured during a crash. He was ‘rebuilt’ in an operation costing a whopping $6 million (hence the name of the series). All in all, Austin received bionic legs, a left eye and a right arm.

These bionic implants substantially increased his ability to perform certain tasks: his limbs were as powerful as a bulldozer, his eye had infrared capabilities and a 20:1 zoom lens, he could also run up to 60 mph. He uses all of these enhanced abilities working as a Secret Agent for the Office of Scientific Intelligence. Well, Mr. Austin, there is a new Bionic Man in town, and he is a robot named Frank (short for Frankenstein). Yes, I am referring to this robot as a ‘he, him’ because, well, he does have a masculine name after all. read more

mud cracks on Mars

Mud Cracks on Mars: A Possible Sign of Ancient Alien Life?

If you asked a scientist what the basic building block of life is, the answer would be water. Therefore, when NASA’s Curiosity Rover recently found evidence suggesting that the Red Planet (Mars) was not always completely dry, thoughts of previous life forms come to mind.

Evidence of Ancient Lakes

Mars animated

In 2012, the Curiosity Rover landed close to an area officially named Aeolis Mons: An area that is now referred to as Mount Sharp (named after Professor Robert P. Sharp, 1911-2004). Since landing in 2012, the rover has continued moving around the planet. In 2014, the rover reached the base of Mount Sharp, at which point scientists realized that the evidence the rover gathered may suggest that Martian lakes were full of life. While the Curiosity Rover had already found evidence suggesting that lakes existed on Mars’ older, lower-lying layers of rock, these more recent photos show evidence of desiccation cracks (ancient mud cracks). read more

Zip the Pinhead

Zip the Pinhead

In 1842, William Henry Johnson (aka Zip the Pinhead) was born into a destitute African-American family. His parents were Mahalia and William Johnson, both of which were former slaves. William was one of six children. His unique physical characteristics would soon become very beneficial for the Johnson family.

Although the rest of William’s body grew as expected, his head seemed to remain the same. With a tapered cranium and heavy jaw, he caught the eye of agents from a circus in Somerville, New Jersey. His unique characteristics led to many believing he was microcephalic, frequently referred to as a ‘pinhead.’ read more

Grady Stiles

Showtown, USA: The Murder of “Lobster Boy” Grady Stiles

Grady Franklin Stiles, Jr. may have been his birth name, but Grady, Jr. was more frequently referred to as “Lobster Boy.” Grady Franklin Stiles, Jr. was born on June 26, 1937, in Pittsburgh, Pa., with the genetic deformity ectrodactyly. Ectrodactyly is an inherited condition that can affect the fingers and the toes. Individuals with this condition are born with fingers and toes that are fused together, causing these extremities to resemble a claw. Grady, Jr.’s father also had ectrodactyly and he earned a living as a sideshow attraction with the carnival. Once Grady, Jr. reached the tender age of seven, he was thrust into the limelight to perform with his father: He was given the stage name, “Lobster Boy.” read more

Schlitzie The Pinhead

Schlitzie The Pinhead

While still up for debate, Schlitzie (The Pinhead) was born in the Bronx on Sept. 10, 1901 (d. Sept. 24, 1971) as Simon Metz. Schlitzie. He was born with the medical condition microcephaly, and was an American sideshow performer.

Simon Metz

Microcephaly

microcephaly comparison illustration

A side-view illustration showing a baby with microcephaly (left), and a baby with an average head (right).

Microcephaly is a condition that is characterized by an extremely small brain and cranium as well as a small stature. Many times, microcephaly results in intellectual disabilities. It is said that Schlitzie’s intellectual functioning was that of a three- or four-year-old and that he stood about four feet tall. read more