The most unusual tests and experiments / Blog of the company Mail.Ru Group / SurprizingFacts

On Habr we publish a series of digests "Startup of the Day", which includes the most interesting young IT Companies from all over the world. In the process of selecting the material, we have to deal with various amazing ideas, some of which really shake.

At all times there were eccentric scientists. Inventors, chemists, physicists, physiologists, and various naturalists used various tricks, trying to justify the correctness of their hypotheses. Scientists in search of truth went on desperate experiments. Today, it seems strange how such experiences could occur to people, but the progress made in medicine, psychology or physics became possible largely thanks to bold and even insane people. Further you will learn more about some eccentric scientific searches.

The oldest food in the world


British geologist and paleontologist William Buckland went down in the history of science in that he described and named the first open view of dinosaurs – megalosaurus. But he remembered not only this, but also his unusual taste predilections. Buckland not only tried a huge number of all kinds of living creatures, but even ate the mummified heart of the King of France Louis XIV. Perhaps it was the oldest human food in the world, and perhaps a scientific myth. In any case, there is evidence that participants in several geological expeditions tried mammoth meat …

How old can a person eat without risking a fatal poisoning? Science has long been interested in the answer to this question.


In 1900, on the Russian peninsula of Taimyr, one of the longest scientific experiments in history began. For 117 years under the layer of permafrost at a depth of 1.3 meters lie canned food, bread, sausage, buckwheat and other products buried by the head of the Russian polar expedition Eduard Tolle.

Edward Toll's Warehouse. On the left is the lid of a box with borshch 110 years ago

In 1973, a food store was discovered and the first samples were taken to the "big earth" for research. In 1974, 1980, 2004, 2010 and 2016 the expeditions were repeated with the expectation that the experiment would be completed in 2050.


Today, the research institute of storage problems of the Russian Federal Reserve is engaged in the study of food of the century old. They conduct microbiological and physico-chemical analyzes to determine the composition, energy value, the presence of impurities, toxicity, acidity. Evaluate the state of the package, measure the level of tin in cans, and then even eat these products and consider them quite edible.

Scientists not only explore old stocks, but also make new ones, digging in the flour, cereals, groceries, alcohol – more than 80 kinds of products.

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The World Seminar in Svalbard

The project is designed to prepare for more active development of the Arctic region, and also checks the possibility of storing products in Conditions of global disasters and conflicts. A similar direction is now being mastered in Norway, where the "repository of the Doomsday" is located. On the island of Spitsbergen, at a depth of 120 meters, samples of the seeds of the world's major agricultural crops are placed in the cold.

And completing the food sub-theme, let us recall Frederick Helzel, who investigated the effects of starvation, as well as the work of the digestive system in a horrible way – through eating various inedible objects. He ate sawdust, cork, feathers, asbestos, silk, surgical cotton, gravel – all in order to measure how quickly they passed through his intestines.

This "diet" led to the fact that Helzel looked drained , But he lived an amazingly long life. However, official science ignored him until his death – Helzel never became a professor, but was awarded the title of "assistant physiology department" at the University of Chicago.

Organic energy

Do you think this is a cabinet, and this is a battery

Wilhelm Reich, one of the most successful disciples of Sigmund Freud, developed the bio-energy theory of the orgone in the 1930s. According to Reich's theory, "orgon energy" penetrates everywhere and fills everything around, does not belong to static electricity, creates electromagnetic radiation in the blue spectrum of color. He believed that certain forms of the disease are the result of blocking this energy in the body.

To prove his theory, Reich built an "orgon battery": a box whose walls are made of alternating layers of metal and dielectric. In the "orgone battery" was placed the patient, as a result of which "orgon energy" was supposed to influence his health.

In 1954, the US Food and Drug Administration disallowed the license for the production of "orgonic accumulators" and ordered the termination of all experiments. After numerous violations and clashes with the authorities, the psychologist was sentenced to prison.

Until his death, the purposeful Reich never succeeded in proving the effectiveness of the device he created, but his inventions did not sink into oblivion. Raikhov's methods use the existing "American College of Orgonomy" to this day. They even work with a "more perfect" type of "orgon battery", created in the form of a pyramid.

In everything that did not concern bioenergy, Reich was rational and progressive, advocating the abolition of repressive morality and the requirement of sexual education.

The Cyborg Man


Kevin Warwick is Professor of Technical Cybernetics. He is one of the most famous cyborgs in the world, on his own body engaged in research in the field of robotics and biomedical engineering. In 1998, Warwick implanted an RFID tag in his hand to control lighting, heating appliances and computers.

Then the professor implanted a few more electrodes and chips for remote control of the robotic arm. Implant with a hundred electrodes connected with the tissue of the median nerve of the hand. The professor sent neural impulses to his fingers, the implant converted them into electrical signals and transmitted to a computer, and the mechanical arm, depending on the type of signals, moved, exactly repeating the movements of Warwick.

His wife, Irena, succumbed to her husband's entreaties, also implanted an implant into her body. In the future, the couple plans to set up a deeper interaction between the implants in each other, down to "experiments in the field of electronic communication between the nervous systems of two people."

The professor himself about his experiences expressed laconically: "I do not want to remain a simple person." And he adds that in competition with AI only those people who will be able to improve their natural abilities will survive.

Studies through his own body


German physician Werner Theodore Otto Forsman in 1929 conducted a medical experiment on himself. To demonstrate the safety of his method of catheterization, he demonstrated the anatomical and functional features of the human heart by inserting a catheter through the vein into it.

Using only the help of a nurse, Forsman injected a tube 1 mm in diameter by 60 cm along the vein of his left hand and got into the right atrium – this was the first such experience put on a living person. He several times carried out this study, added a contrast agent to the blood, creating detailed X-ray images of the heart.

In 1952, Forsman was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine "for discoveries related to cardiac catheterization and the study of pathological changes in the circulatory system."

Forsman became far from the only scientist who dared to A life-threatening experiment. Throughout his career, the physiologist Joseph Barcroft conducted experiments in which he led himself to the brink of insanity and death. He called them "border excursions."

In the photo, not Barcroft, but his assistant, but the picture is interesting to others. We see a glass chamber in which Barcroft was exposed to low concentrations of oxygen for almost a week. You can see the bed, veloergometer and other equipment

During the First World War, he conducted experiments with asphyxiating gases, exposing himself to hydrogen cyanide. Ten years later, he spent seven days in a small glass chamber to calculate the minimum amount of oxygen necessary for human survival. During this time, his whole body turned blue. Another time he investigated the effect of cold – he closed himself in a chamber with a temperature so low that he fainted.

Investigating the respiratory functions of the blood, and studying the properties of oxygen at high altitude, conquered several high-mountain peaks

] Barcroft lived for 74 years, won many awards, and in 1936 was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Faster than the bullet

In 1947, a man for the first time overcame Sound barrier, but no one knew what would happen if the pilot had to get out of the plane at such speeds. It was assumed that the pilot would die instantly from overloads.

John Paul Stapp voluntarily became a "dummy" for research into extreme overloads. Stapp was an experienced Air Force officer and military doctor who studied the impact of rapid acceleration and braking on the human body in order to find ways to improve the safety of aircraft.

Instead of intelligent sensors and laboratory mice, Stapp used his body to calculate the ultimate loads. In numerous experiments, the pilot found out that it is dangerous not only the degree of overload, but also its direction relative to the human body. At accelerations directed to the head, only 6g is enough to cause a momentary loss of consciousness.


In 1954, Stapp accelerated on the platform on the rails and braked sharply, having experienced an overload of 48g. The platform reached a speed above 1000 km / h, and completely stopped in just 1.4 seconds. Stapp experienced the same thing that the driver of a car feels when driving into a concrete wall at a speed of 100 km / h.

He survived, but with great difficulty: lost sight for a few days, fractured limbs and ribs, detached Retina and other injuries. However, the hard experience did not put an end to his career. He continued his research work. Once Stapp at an altitude of 13,700 meters decided to open the cockpit of a jet plane. The examiner found out that if you inhale pure oxygen 30 minutes before takeoff, you can stand a short time at a high altitude.

Thanks to his selfless actions in 1966, the USA passed a law on the mandatory equipping of cars with seat belts.

By the way, he eventually lived up to 89 years.

K Magic through the neurointerface

The cat was not hurt! With a cat all is well! Source

In 1999, researchers led by Dr. Jan Dan, assistant professor of neuroscience at the University of California at Berkeley, injected the analgesic and stun gun and then reliably recorded it. They were not going to torture an unhappy animal. It was one of the first attempts to penetrate the brain of another being and see the world through his eyes.

Researchers inserted electrodes into the treatment center of the cortex of the cat's brain. The electrodes measured the electrical activity of brain cells and transmitted information to a computer that decoded it and converted it into visual images. The cat was shown a card with a picture of trees and the same images (slightly blurred) appeared on the computer screen.

Scientists have suggested that image quality can be improved in future experiments if the activity of a larger number of brain cells is measured. These experiments became the basis for the development of the industry of neurointerfaces, in which objects can be controlled by the "power of thought".

image Photo source

Michael Persinger, a psychologist at the University of Lavrentev in Canada, in his experiments on the brain went much further than recognizing visual signals . The researcher put forward the hypothesis that activity in the temporal lobe of the brain causes excitation in the limbic system, provoking the state underlying the experiences of a religious nature.

Persinger designed a helmet that affects the temporal lobes with an electromagnetic field. In several experiments it was possible to find out that exposure to temporal lobes of the brain can cause subjects to feel the presence of otherworldly, religious insights and even the experience of getting out of the body. More than 80% of the subjects reported that a magic power appeared in the room next to them.

Persinger argues that almost all unexplained phenomena in our life are due to the effects of electromagnetism. He came to the conclusion that even the appearance of UFOs is caused by fluctuations in the electromagnetic field of the planet.

However, an experiment conducted by Swedish scientists on the method of double-blind testing on 46 theological students and 43 psychological students disproved Persinger's conclusions. It turned out that the matter is simply in suggestibility, religiosity and other personal qualities of the subjects. Persinger did not agree with these conclusions and accused the Swedes of making technical mistakes when creating copies of his helmet. In general, the point in this dispute is still too early to set.

Thomas Mijli destroys the world


Is it possible for one person to Cause irreparable harm to the planet? Yes, if this man Thomas Mijli is an American chemist and mechanical engineer, the author of more than 100 patents, whose inventions had a devastating effect on the ecology of the Earth.
During his tenure with General Motors, Thomas Midgeley found that gasoline with a special lead-based additive reduces knocking in internal combustion engines. At the same time, the release of lead into the atmosphere was dangerous because of its toxicity. Workers involved in the production of additives, suffered from health problems, up to deaths due to poisoning.

After the death of more than 10 people, the press made a noise. The company assembled a press conference in which Mijli washed his hands in the lead mixture and breathed the smoke of the vapor for a minute to show that his invention was safe. He managed to impress journalists, and for decades, until the ban in 1973, the machines continued to poison the atmosphere with lead impurities.

Mijli himself was forced to take a long vacation to cure lead poisoning, while he Hid this fact from the press and claimed that the substance invented by him is completely safe.

Another interesting discovery of Mijli is chlorofluorocarbons (freons). He created them to make refrigerators safe, because before the invention of Mijli, poisonous and explosive substances were used in the devices. To demonstrate that Freon does not burn and does not harm health, Migli breathed dichlorofluoromethane into the presentation. Only 30 years after the death of the inventor, it was established that freons destroy the ozone layer.

At the age of 51, Thomas fell ill with polio, which led to disability. His inquisitive mind did not want to put up with the limitations imposed by the weak body: in order to be able to easily get out of bed, he invented a complex system of ropes and blocks. Bitter irony, but after four years he died, entangled in the ropes of this mechanism to complete strangulation.

The Brain for Learning AI


] Scientists are very fond of mice and rats. In mice experiments are carried out-such a number of experiments that you can not even imagine. Scientists have already found out that mice sympathize with their fellow alcoholics and drug addicts, fall in love with each other, can live with a transparent skin and … in general, the history of relations with mice can be a topic for a separate study. And on mice it is very interesting to study the possibilities of the brain.

There is such an EyeWire project in which scientists from MIT have killed, unfortunately, a laboratory mouse named Harold. His brain was cut into micron layers, the slices were pushed into a scanning electron microscope and a large number of scanned images were obtained. Ученые сделали онлайн-игру, в которой раздавали пользователям срезы, и давали задание раскрашивать срезы по определенным правилам. Далее раскрашенные срезы передавали в нейронную сеть, там делалась свертка, нейронная сеть обучалась. В результате получилась сетка, которая сама, используя срезы, восстанавливает трехмерную структуру синоптических связей.

Но прежде чем мозг мыши стали использовать для обучений нейронной сети случился один необычный эксперимент. Его провел Фрэнк Розенблатт — известный американский учёный в области психологии, нейрофизиологии и искусственного интеллекта. Перцептрон — первая искусственная нейронная сеть, воплощенная на практике Фрэнком Розенблаттом. Ученый решил, что нет времени ждать, пока электронные машины станут достаточно быстрыми, чтобы на фоннеймановской архитектуре смоделировать работу нейронной сети. Он начал делать нейронные сети из «палок и скотча» — этакий массив электронных нейронов и кучи проводов. Это были небольшие нейронные сети (до нескольких десятков нейронов), но они уже применялись в решении некоторых практичных задач. Розенблат смог даже продать нескольким банкам устройства, применявшиеся при анализе некоторых массивов.

Но с 1966 года область деятельности ученого сильно изменилась. Розенблатт стал учить крыс проходить лабиринт, тренировал их, потом умерщвлял. Затем извлекал мозг крыс, размалывал в кашицу и этой кашицей кормил следующее поколение крыс… Таким образом, он проверял, улучшит ли это показатели следующего поколения мышей при прохождении лабиринтов.

Выяснилось, что съеденный мозг крысам никак не помогает, хотя такую пищу они любят. Это было одним из сильных аргументов в пользу того, что информация хранится именно в коннектоме мозга, а не в отдельных его клетках и компонентах. Как ни странно, в те годы были специалисты, считавшие, что знание может существовать внутри клеток.

«Хаббакук»: лед, опилки и корабль


В 1942 году германский флот доминировал в Атлантике. Англия отчаянно нуждалась в ультимативном оружии, способном переломить ход войны. Дефицит стали в стране не позволял строить новые авианосцы, но изобретатель Джеффри Пайк нашел выход, предложив построить гигантский боевой корабль Хаббакук изо льда.

Имя «Habbakuk» соответствует библейскому «Аввакум» и отсылает к цитате из Библии: «… будете совершенно изумлены, ибо в ваши дни собираюсь сделать нечто, во что вы не поверите, даже если бы вам рассказали».

Пайк рассказал о своем фантастическом проекте Луису Маунтбеттену, командиру 5-й флотилии эсминцев. Адмирал флота быстро оценил идею создать непотопляемый корабль и решил, что проекту нужно дать ход. Луис передал предложение Черчиллю и получил от премьер-министра полное одобрение.

Пайкерит. Просто охладите

Гениальность Пайка проявилась в создании (вместе с группой ученых) материала, которому он дал свое имя — пайкерит, состоящего, примерно, из 18–45% древесных опилок и до 82% водяного льда. Пайкерит в 4 раза прочнее льда, обладает ковкостью и оказывает примерно такое же сопротивление взрыву, как бетон. Благодаря низкой теплопроводности тает медленнее чистого льда.


Пайк представлял, что на основе застывшей воды и опилок построят корабль длиной 610 м, шириной 90 м и высотой 200 м. Водоизмещение — 2 000 000 тонн (у крупнейшего по водоизмещению современного корабля Knock Nevis — 657 018 тонн). При этом стоимость корабля не казалась заоблачной — пайкерит мог быть изготовлен на 1% энергии, необходимой для производства эквивалентной массы стали.

Иногда из пайкерита строят и наземные сооружения. Источник

На этом гигантском пространстве базировались бы не менее 500 самолетов. Корпус толщиной более 12 метров оставался бы неуязвимым для оружия немцев. Внутри авианосца разместились бы почти 4000 моряков и летчиков. Для движения Хаббакука предполагалось использовать 26 электродвигателей, установленных в отдельных внешних гондолах, вмороженных в лед.


Небольшой прототип, размером всего 18 х 9 метров и весом 1000 тонн, построили на озере Патриция (Канада) в феврале 1943 года. Управлялась модель вмороженным в лед двигателем с одной лошадиной силой. Источник.

На постройку полномасштабной модели корабля нужно было 300 000 тонн древесных стружек, 25 000 тонн огнеупорных веществ, 35 000 тонн древесины и 10 000 тонн стали, не считая количества воды для льда. 8000 человек могли построить корабль к 1944 году, однако проект был закрыт после изменения баланса сил в Северной Атлантике — союзникам для победы больше не требовалось оружие Судного дня.


18-метровый прототип корабля простоял еще три года, прежде чем окончательно разрушился. Его останки до сих пор покоятся на дне озера Патриция. Источник.

Конец странных экспериментов?

Кажется, что по сравнению с учеными прошлого, нынешние исследователи потеряли запал. Возможно, что современные безумные эксперименты, как писали на Hi-Tech.Mail.Ru, не серьезнее разбивания 14 iPhone 6s или создания арт-объекта из смартфона и куска мяса.

А может быть, все складывается совершенно иначе и сам факт существования Игнобелевской премии ясно говорит: мы привыкли, что в науке есть доля безумства, но не перестали этому изумляться.

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