Orgone Energy and Weather
Wilhelm Helm, a psychoanalyst and a follower of Sigmund Freud, developed the Orgone Theory in the 1930’s. He believed that this “orgone energy,” a life force or cosmic energy, was an extension of Freud’s idea of the libido, and he called the study of it, Orgonomy. In 1940, he decided to concentrate the orgone in Faraday cages called “orgone accumulators” as a means to cure cancer and for plant growth. Not surprisingly, his ridiculous claims were never proven and even landed him in jail when he tried smuggling his “orgone devices” across state lines.
Elephant on Acid
A study on elephant’s behavior resulted in the most outrageous experiments made in the name of science 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.
The Two-Headed Dog
Charles Claude Guthrie, an American physiologist, made significant contributions in his field and even collaborated with Alexis Carrel, a French physician who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology for Medicine in 1912 for their work on vascular surgery. Guthrie, although he should have been included, was denied the prize probably due to his head transplant experiments where he would sew the head of one dog onto another. Surprisingly, his experiments actually showed some success with the severed heads being kept artificially alive during the transplant.
Another scientist obsessed with transplantation, Vladimir Demikhov is widely cited for being the man behind heart transplants. Like Charles Guthrie, Vladimir did his share of experimenting on animals and dogs with mild success.
A Mammoth Mistake
Hwang Woo-Suk, a Korean veterinarian, researcher, and professor of theriogenelogy and biotechnology, made waves with apparent breakthroughs in stem cell research which were published in high-profile journals. However, it all blew up in his face when he was indicted on embezzlement and bioethics law violations after spending over half a million dollars in private donations trying to clone woolly mammoths.
The Vomit-Drinking Doctor
Stubbins Ffirth was an American doctor known for his unusual research on the cause of Yellow Fever. He was so convinced that it was not an infectious disease that he tested his hypothesis on himself. His ‘experiments’ included living in the most diseased conditions in order to subject himself to infection in every conceivable manner. Though some of his conclusions proved to be correct, his explanations were off and a Cuban scientist named Carlos Finlay discovered the link to mosquitoes not long after Ffirth’s death.
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.
Lawrence LeShan, a researcher from Virginia, conducted a test to see whether subliminal messaging could break bad habits like nail-biting. For his research, he stood in a cabin where a group of boys were sleeping and repeated these words over and over, ‘my nails taste terribly bitter,’ to see if he could stop the boy’s chronic nail-biting habit. The experiment appeared to work as 40% of the youngsters had broken the habit, but questions were raised concerning several issues such as whether or not the boys were actually sleeping throughout the experiment.
Paracelsus was an alchemist and physician in the 1500’s that was credited for his earliest works in toxicology and psychotherapy. He was also the first person ever to mention the unconscious in a clinical manner. However, his most bizarre work lies in creating a ‘homunculus’ – basically a miniature human that is supposedly created by transplanting a human egg into a horses womb and then feeding it human blood. Not surprisingly, there is no record indicating a successful outcome to his experiments.
Raising the Dead
Robert E. Cornish was a child prodigy who graduated with honors from the University of California, Berkeley, at the age of 18. However, Cornish also thought that he could bring the dead back to life. In 1930, he attempted to bring dead animals back using a group of fox terriers all known as ‘Lazarus’. He placed them on a see-saw to get their blood flowing, and while he was rocking their corpses back and forth, he injected them with epinephrine and anticoagulants. A few that momentarily stirred back to life suffered blindness and brain damage, but they were quickly declared clinically dead once again, and he could never replicate even that mild success on a human.
The Weight of the Soul
Dr. Duncan “Om” MacDougall was an early 20th American physician who theorized that the soul has weight. He claimed that he could measure the mass purportedly lost by the human body when the soul departed upon a person’s death. After taking six patients in the process of dying and weighing them, his experiments concluded that the soul has a weight of 21 grams. However, needless to say, his conclusion never really caught on much in the research community.
Stabbing His Own Heart
Werner Theodor Otto Forssmann, a German surgical trainee in 1929, is famous for an 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.
Johann Conrad Dippel was born in the castle Frankenstein in 1673. A scientist who spent his days studying anatomy and alchemy, rumor has it that he tried to move the soul of one corpse to another using a funnel, a hose, and lubricant. Due to the rumors regarding his scientific exploits, like grave robbing, he was eventually run out of town. Rumor has it that he may have been the inspiration behind Mary Shelley’s book.
HEAF’s Attempt at Explosion
The High Explosives Applications Facility (HEAF) in California got a little carried away with one of their new metal melting lasers while trying to experiment with cutting through a stinger missile. Thanks to them, the above picture is now available to the general public.
Getting High with LSD
As you might imagine, Truko the Elephant was not the first being to experience an LSD trip. Well then, who was, you ask? In 1983, Swiss scientist Dr. Albert Hofmann developed Lysergic Acid Diethylamide-25 or LSD. Five years later, he accidentally absorbed a tiny dose through his fingertips. He had to stop working as he experienced intoxication, dizziness, and two hours of mind-bending hallucinations. Three days later, he took 250 micrograms, which is 10 times the threshold dose for humans and later claimed that it was a miscalculation. This is in no way recommended; however, Hofmann survived the experiment and continued to study various psychedelics in nature and support the use of LSD in many psychoanalytical studies.
Animal Mind Control
In 1963, Jose Delgado developed a “stimoceiver.” In case you’re wondering what that is, 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.
Stomach-Eating Germs Drink
Doctors Robin Warren and Barry Marshall were able to isolate the bacteria Helicobacter pylori (H.pylori) which is responsible for stomach ulcers. Although the medical community immediately countered that stress, lifestyle, and diet are the main culprits, to prove their point, Dr. Marshall drank a dose of the bacteria they had collected from stomach ulcer sufferers and immediately developed gastritis with achlorhydria, nausea, vomiting, and halitosis. They were given the Nobel Prize in 2005.
The Quests to Destroy the World
Thomas Midgley Jr., a mechanical engineer and chemist, was not only responsible for the invention of leaded gasoline, the main source of air pollution today, but also several other products that would make environmentalists cringe. In attempt to prove, however, that it wasn’t really so bad (in spite of numerous employees getting sick), he washed his hands in the gasoline mixture and inhaled the fumes for 60 seconds.
Dr. Ewen Cameron believed that he had come up with a cure for schizophrenia by re-programming the brain with new thought patterns. With this method, patients were asked to wear headphones and listen to positive messages repeatedly for days or weeks. Between the 1950’s and 1960’s, some patients with minor problems found themselves sedated with barbiturates, strapped in beds, and forced to listen to non-ending messages played over and over again. Even the CIA fell for this experiment, though they eventually concluded that the technique was a failure and withdrew their funding.
Clarence Leuba, a professor of Psychology, conducted an experiment in 1933 to find out whether laughter is a natural response to being tickled, or if it’s learned from the responses of others. During his experiment, he ordered that no one laugh as he tickled his newborn son and even donned a mask to hide his reactions during these sessions. Seven months later, the baby was shrieking with laughter when being tickled, while his younger sister reacted in the same way three years later. His conclusion: laughter is an innate reaction to being tickled.
Eyes Wide Open
Ian Oswald, a sleep researcher and psychiatrist from the University of Edinburgh, sought to discover whether people could sleep through anything. So, in 1960, he taped open volunteers’ eyes and placed flashing lights 50 cm in front of them. He also exposed them to electric shocks and loud music. However, all the subjects eventually fell asleep, some within just 12 minutes. His conclusion – the regular and repetitive rhythm of the stimulus allowed them to doze off.
The Face of Disgust
Carney Landis, a psychologist with the hope of discovering a series of universal facial expressions, subjected volunteers to a series of bizarre tests. After drawing on the volunteers’ faces with burnt cork to track their movements, they were asked to smell ammonia, listen to jazz music, and do a host of other things to elicit an expression. Finally, they were each persuaded to decapitate a rat, which resulted in an extremely interesting set of photos in spite of no conclusion for Landis.
The Stanford Prison Experiment
Phillip Zimbardo had long been curious as to why prisons were such violent places, and he wanted to find out whether it’s due to the character of its inhabitants or due to the corrosive effect of the power structure within the prison walls. He created a mock experiment at the Stanford psychology department by recruiting young men with no criminal records and assigned half of them to play as guards while the other half played as prisoners. Social conditions deteriorated instantly with the prisoners staging a revolt on the first night, causing the guards to resort to ‘creative’ methods to discipline the prisoners. Prisoners began to crack because of these and even Zimbardo was drawn to the corrosive psychology of the situation when he began to have paranoid fears that the prisoners were planning to attack him, prompting him to call the police for help. In six days, he turned happy college kids into brooding prisoners and brutal guards and was forced to call off the experiment.
The Scientist and the Human Bullet
John Paul Stapp was not only known for his work as a flight surgeon in World War II, but he also performed critical research on the effects of sudden acceleration and deceleration of the human body. Using his own body, his work saved the lives of countless jet fighter pilots. Employing a rocket armed with four engines and a total thrust of 6,000 pounds, he hit 35 Gs of deceleration, where humans were thought to only be able to survive at 18 Gs. Therefore, at 632-miles per hour, he became the most “quickly accelerated man alive.”