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Top 10 Insane Scientists From History

Updated on March 31, 2016
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10. John Hunter

Surgeon John Hunter believed that gonorrhea and syphilis were the same disease at different stages of development, so he decided to test his theory out on himself. He made small incisions on his penis and infected it with the pus from a gonorrhea patient. Hunter contracted the disease, and a few weeks later a syphilis pox appeared on his penis. So, surely he was right? Wrong. He had in fact unknowingly infected himself with a patient who was suffering from both diseases. Due to his incorrect findings, Hunter actually set back progress of medical diseases for half a century.

9. Vladimir Demikhov

In 1954 soviet surgeon Vladimir Demikhov revealed his masterpiece: a two-headed dog. In a series of horrific experiments, Demikhov successfully grafted the head and forelegs of a small dog onto the neck of a bigger dog. As if that wasn’t weird enough, the second head had the ability to lap up milk despite not needing any nourishment. The milk would dribble down the neck from its disconnected esophagus. Both dogs soon died because of tissue rejection but that didn’t stop Demikhov. He created 19 more over the next 15 years.

8. Stubbins Ffirth

Stubbins Ffirth was a doctor training in Philadelphia in the 1800s. He formed the hypothesis that yellow fever was not an infectious disease and decided to test the theory on himself.
He first poured infected vomit into open wounds, and then also drank the vomit. He even went as far to pour it in his eye, fry it, and breathe in the vomit fumes. In a final attempt at success, he covered himself in the blood, urine, and saliva of infected patients. After all that, he didn’t actually fall ill - but not because yellow fever isn’t infectious. It was later discovered that it must be injected directly into the bloodstream.

7. Aldini

Aldini was a scientist who experimented passing electricity through corpses. In front of an audience, Aldini applied conducting rods to the rectum of hung murderer George Forster. The electricity caused the dead man’s arms to punch the air and his legs to kick. He also attached rods to the face of Foster’s corpse, making it clench and quiver until his left eye popped open. Several people feared that the man had come back to life, and one individual was so horrified that he reportedly died shortly after leaving the spectacle.

6. Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov

Ivanov was a Russian and Soviet biologist, famous for creating animal hybrids such as an antelope and cow. He was allegedly ordered by Stalin to create a super race of ape-man hybrids that would serve the Soviet Union in world domination. To do this, Ivanov inseminated chimpanzees with human sperm, but none of them became pregnant. He concluded that his experiment failed because he did it backwards, so he planned to insert chimp sperm in to human females instead. In 1929 Ivanov found willing female volunteers, but weirdly enough the Klu Klux Klan shut down the project… apparently that’s where they draw the line.

5. Sergei S. Bryukhonenko

Bryukhonenko was a Soviet scientist during the Stalin era and the inventor of the first heart-lung machine called the autojektor. The machine was used to help perform the first Soviet open heart surgery, but first it had to be tested on living creatures to see if it did in fact sustain life. To test this effectively, Bryukhonenko would cut out the organs of canines, hook them up to his machine, and keep the organs alive outside of their bodies. Sergei’s most famous experiment was caught on camera. The video shows a freshly severed dogs head being fully responsive, despite not being attached to its body.

4. Jack Parsons

Parsons was a great rocket scientist who laid the foundation for the rockets that carried man to space. But he was also a great occultist. In 1939 he converted to a new religious movement, Thelema. Joining with Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, Parsons conducted experiments in an attempt to raise the antichrist. To do this, Parsons masturbated while Hubbard wrote notes. The pair also believed they could summon spirits, so Hubbard intoned while Parsons and his mistress had sex. Parsons eventually died in a mysterious explosion at his home laboratory in 1952.

3. Harry Harlow

Also known as the monkey torturer, Harlow experimented on rhesus monkey babies and their
mothers in order to investigate maternal deprivation. Harlow would keep the baby monkeys in a box called the ‘pit of despair’ for their entire childhood. The young monkeys would quickly go mad, tear out their hair, and bite their own skin. Once removed from isolation, some were so depressed that they starved themselves to death. Developing the experiment, Harlow wanted to analyze how these isolated monkeys would act as mothers themselves, so he impregnated the females. In the name of science Harlow would watch and photograph the mentally ill mothers physically abuse and kill their own babies.

2. Dr. Henry Head

Dr. Head was an English neurologist who conducted groundbreaking research on sensory nerve damage and repair. His research involved slicing open his own arm, severing the nerves, and tracking the return of sensation over time. He also instructed another physician to cut open his other arm in order to sever its internal and external nerves. Head went through examinations over the next five years to assess his own healing. Further experiments involved being pricked in the tip of the penis with a needle, which alternated between being cold and scolding hot.

1. J.B.S Haldane

J.B.S Haldane was a biological scientist known for making innovative contributions to science, even at the cost of experimenting on himself. In one attempt to test the acidification of blood, he once drank hydrochloric acid to observe its effects on muscle actions. More daring self-experimentation occurred when Haldane was asked to help the British Navy study the prevention of decompression sickness, after deep-sea diving. Haldane recreated the effects of diving using a decompression chamber, resulting in a severed spinal cord, regular nosebleeds, and torn eardrums. When asked about the pain he received from the experiment, he simply responded with “I do not complain”.

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