Scientific experiments require us to push the boundaries of existing knowledge to understand and improve our world. Some experiments have been great and saved billions of lives. For example, Richard Lewisohn, whose work perfected the science behind blood transfusions, is estimated to have saved over a billion lives on his own. Yet even the most successful scientific discoveries have caused some controversy.
Science is fascinating as long as it involves laser beams and space flight. But fascinating as they are, some experiments are well known for being equally strange, jaw-dropping, and its twisted form.
Relax! History is full of strange experiments.
These are 12 most bizarre scientific experiments conducted in history.
- The Human Cyborg
Kevin Warwick is a British scientist, engineer, and Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Coventry University, UK known for his researches in robotics. He also holds the distinct honor of heading up one of the most advanced cyborg research projects in the world, basically becoming the first “Cyborg” in history. By having electrodes and chips implanted into his body, he was able to directly interface with the university internet and control a robotic arm remotely.
- Artificial blood
Northfield Laboratories in Evanston, Illinois, introduced their artificial blood in 2004, it was much less successful. Patients at several hospitals around the U.S. were given the artificial substitute, PolyHeme, instead of blood without their consent and knowledge in a series of live subject trials. Many of these subjects died, as PolyHeme was found to narrow blood vessels, leading to increased numbers of deaths from heart attacks and aneurysms.
- Dinosaur-Like Leg
Brazilian researcher Joâo Botelho discovered he could produce a chicken with a fibula comparable to that of dinosaurs, but to appropriate chicken-scale. Basically, it’s a chicken with an extra bone in its leg. The gene involved in the process is called the Indian Hedgehog (IHH), a bone maturation gene. By inhibiting this gene, chickens will apparently grow a larger, tubular fibula.
- Genetically engineered oil-eating superbugs
In the mid-1970s, General Electric R&D scientist Ananda Chakrabarty in his scientific experiment introduced a plasmid that allowed the bacteria Pseudomonas putida to digest petroleum. Chakrabarty designed the bacteria with the hope that it would be used to clean up oil spills. But many people were terrified that these engineered bacteria go on the rampage, consume everything in their path, and “out-compete” other bacteria and organisms for survival on Earth. The bacterial dominance theory is a “green” precursor to the grey goo theory — and it might be a more likely possible.
- The Roman Emperor’s language experiment
As the most powerful man in Europe during the medieval times, the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II carried out ruthless experiments that, as the society would soon realize, were barbaric acts. His most infamous quest, however, was finding “the language of God” by completely keeping two infants from interacting with people since their birth. He presumed that without human interaction, the two would learn to speak “the language of Adam and Eve.” Unsurprisingly, all the experiments were a total failure. The infants, in particular, acted like insane savages and eventually died in the most deplorable conditions.
- Animal mind control
In 1963, Jose Delgado developed a “stimoceiver.” It’s a computer chip operated by a remote control unit used to electrically stimulate the different regions of an animal’s brain. The chip, which was embedded in the animal’s skull, could produce a variety of results that ranged from the involuntary movement of the limbs to eliciting emotions and appetite. It was said that one time it even stopped a raging bull in its tracks.
- Two-headed Dog
In 1959, Soviet scientist Vladimir Demikhov managed to create the impossible. He created a living, breathing two-headed dog. He took two dogs from the local pound and basically stitched the smaller dog to the larger, connecting their blood vessels to ensure that oxygen and nutrients made it to the smaller dog’s body. Amazingly, despite the abomination he created, the two-headed beast did live for four days after surgery. And while the experiment was undoubtedly cruel and more than a little unethical, Demikhov’s work paved way for the first successful heart and lung transplants. Without his butchered canines, medical progress might not have been made quite so quickly.
- Project Mercury and Volcano
From 1987 to 1992, the Russian military detonated nuclear weapons underground, with the goal of disturbing tectonic plates and electromagnetic fields as a weapon, in Project Mercury and Project Volcano.
These scientific experiments sound like the basis for a bad James Bond movie, but four experimental attempts actually happened until the 1978 Convention on the Prohibition of Military or Any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques banning experiments of this nature. Extended disruption of tectonic plates could cause a series of severe earthquakes and destabilize electromagnetic fields, leading to a number of theoretical and unforeseen issues.
- Stabbing his own heart
Werner Theodor Otto Forssmann, a German surgical trainee in 1929, is famous for a scientific experiment he performed on himself. Without any direction, he put himself under local anesthesia, incised a hole in his arm and pushed a catheter all the way up his limb and shoved it into his heart. He performed the procedure with two feet of cable, after which he walked to the X-ray room. He was fired after this stunt but was awarded the 1956 Nobel Prize for Medicine for developing a procedure that allowed for cardiac catheterization.
- How far penguins project their poop
Victor Benno Meyer-Rochow and Jozsef Gal, German and Hungarian researchers, respectively, went on an Antarctic expedition to determine how far penguins project their feces. The two researchers went to Antarctica to observe penguins with the sole mission of measuring just how apt the term “poop shoot” is vis-a-vis penguin defecation. A 60-cm-tall penguin can launch its feces 40 cm. Penguins do this in order to keep it away from their nests.
- Stanford Prison Experiment
Despite the name, the famous Stanford Prison Experiment did not take place in a conventional jail. It was instead a fake jail, one which had been set up by researchers to investigate the psychological effects of being a prisoner or prison guard under controlled circumstances. However, this experiment soon got dangerously out of control, with those who had been assigned to act as guards taking their role way too seriously, imposing physical punishments on the prisoners and withholding essentials such as food and water. The prisoners responded by rebelling against authority and even concocting an escape plan.
- Elephant on acid
A study on elephant’s behavior resulted in the most outrageous scientific experiments when Warren Thomas injected an elephant named Truko, with 297 milligrams of LSD. This is 3,000 times more than what a regular human user would take. The experiment, done at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Oklahoma City in 1962, was made to determine whether it would trigger temporary madness in elephants called ‘musth,’ where male elephants become overly aggressive. An hour later, however, Truko was dead.