As It Happens

That time As It Happens took a skinny dip in 'The Human Aquarium'

This episode of As It Happened: The Archive Edition celebrates Eureka moments. You'll meet the inventor of The Human Aquarium, a scientist who solved the mystery of wombat poop and a mailbox that sings like a tuba.

In 1995, inventor Chris Leeson told former host Michael Enright it was about 'naked people, rather than fish'

In 1995, former As It Happens host Michael Enright spoke to inventor Chris Leeson about his relaxation video The Human Aquarium (not pictured here), which features naked humans instead of fish. (Adobe Stock)

This article was published on July 10, 2020. 


Put on your creative-thinking caps, we've got another episode of our summer series As It Happened: The Archive Edition.

This episode is Eureka Moments — stories of inspiration and innovation from every corner of the As It Happens archives. 

Whether it's a scientist who solved the mystery of wombat poop or the inventor of a mailbox that sings like a tuba, you're bound to hear something that will give your brainwaves a boost.

Here are some of the stories you'll find in this episode.

'Naked people rather than fish'

Sometimes it's hard to clear your head, relax and channel your inner inventor. Which is why Chris Leeson's invention could be particularly useful for other inventors. 

In 1995, former As It Happens host Michael Enright spoke to Leeson about a new relaxation video he created called The Human Aquarium — which replaced fish with stark-naked humans.

Inventor Chris Leeson assured Enright there were absolutely no scenes of 'synchronized swimming' in his relaxation video, The Human Aquarium. (Adobe Stock)

The Stradivarius of Steel

There's no telling when inspiration will strike. Sometimes the aha moment hits when you're watching a relaxing VHS tape of people swimming naked in a giant aquarium.

But for musician Ellie Mannette, the moment struck when he struck a 55-gallon oil barrel. Mannette is credited with making the first steel pan drum, which is why he's known as "The Stradivarius of Steel."

In 1998, former As It Happens host Mary Lou Finlay spoke with Mannette about his instrument and how he made it.

Ellie Mannette told former host Mary Lou Finlay he developed the steel pan drum through trial and error after playing rhythms on garbage cans as a kid in the early 1940s. (Lake Fong/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

'Wow!' moment

In Ancient Greek, the word "Eureka!" loosely translates to "I've found it!" The story goes that Archimedes proclaimed "Eureka!" when he stepped into his bath and realized the volume of water he displaced was equal to the volume of the body part he submerged. Presumably, his leg. 

Ronan Mattin wasn't in a bathtub when he had his moment. The nine-year-old was with his grandfather at the Boston Symphony Hall listening to Mozart. The orchestra finished and the Eureka moment — or in Ronan's case the "Wow!" moment — hit. 

In 2019, As It Happens host Carol Off spoke with Ronan's grandmother, Claire Mattin, about her grandson's awe-inspiring awe. 

When Stephen Mattin took his grandson Ronan to the symphony, the nine-year-old was so overcome with emotion that he proclaimed 'Wow!' at the end of a performance. The moment delighted the orchestra and the recording of it resonated around the world. (Al Mattin via Associated Press)

You can hear these stories and more on the Eureka Moments episode of As it Happened: The Archive Edition. 

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