10 Scientists Who Risked Their Lives in the Name of Science!
What kind of risks would you take if you were to produce science? Would you shut yourself in the laboratory for hours and risk estrangement from your loved ones? Would you work with toxic chemicals or deadly-disease-causing microbes? But would you try eating glass or a sled made of rockets? How about accepting someone to hang you by your neck?
If that last question sounds a bit of an exaggeration to you, it’s good to know that scientists have done this and more (and unfortunately not all of them have survived). If you’re curious about this amazing research, let us introduce you to 10 scientists who relentlessly risked their lives for experiments and science:
10 Scientists Who Risked Their Lives in the Name of Science!
1. Wan Hoo – Rocket Chair Trial
We have to give credit to Wan Hoo, who lived in the 16th century and is called the “first astronaut”. When it comes to lunar missions, he did not risk his servants or poor animals before him, and asserted himself as the subject of his experimental work. He sat on a chair with 47 rockets mounted underneath. He fired all rockets at the same time with his 47 assistants. As soon as the fuses triggered the rockets, explosions and smoke filled the surroundings. When this fog and pitch of sound disappeared, unfortunately, not much of Wan Hoo remained.
However, in honor of Wan Hoo (or “Wan Hu” according to some sources), one of the craters on the dark side of the Moon was named “Wan Hu Crater”. After all, it’s the first attempt to reach the Moon, albeit with disastrous failure.
2. Isaac Newton – Needle Plumbing
Although famous for being one of the co-discoverers of the theory of gravity and calculus, Isaac Newton was one of the pioneers of optics. He has experimented with prisms, but prisms have not revealed much about how our eyes work or how we perceive light.
To better understand how the eye works, Newton inserted a special rod called a “bodkin” into his eye and applied pressure. In his notebook he writes the following:
I inserted the needle into the gap between my eye and the bone and pushed it as far behind my eye as I could. I pressed it to my eye with the back part so that I could make a crease. When I did this, I saw black, white and colored rings.
3. Nicolae Minovici – The Man Who Hanged Himself
What better way to experience what hanging is like than to hang yourself? This was the question that prompted the research of Nicolae Minovici, a 20th-century scientist working in Bucharest, Romania.
Minovici conducted several self-strangulation experiments, and to achieve this, he allowed his assistants to strangle him with a rope. In one, he prepared a rope and hung it from the ceiling, put his head through the loop and ordered his assistants to pull the rope. Although his feet were allegedly never lifted off the ground, he is said to have felt a burning pain in his neck and ordered it to be lowered. He had difficulty swallowing for 1 month after the experiment.
The results of his research were published in Romani in 1904 and in French in 1905 under the title A Study on Hanging.
4. Franz Reichelt – Attempt to Skydive from the Eiffel Tower
On February 4, 1912, Austrian-born tailor Franz Reichelt jumped from the Eiffel Tower with his design, which he called “parachute suit”. Its design was a flight suit that could be used as a parachute in an emergency.
However, his design never did its job during the jump, and Reichelt crashed from the Eiffel Tower at full speed and died. You can watch the second-by-second video footage of the event below.
5. Evan O’Neill – The Man Who Removed His Own Appendice
How does it feel to have surgery? Is general anesthesia really necessary or is local anesthesia sufficient for abdominal surgeries? Working in 20th-century Pennsylvania, Dr. Kane wanted to find answers to these questions. When the appendix had to be removed on February 15, 1921, he wanted to do it himself.
He supported himself with pillows and prepared a mirror assembly to see the surgery in its entirety. He then numbed his abdomen with a needle and began cutting himself. Within 30 minutes, he was able to remove his appendix and sutured himself. The only “rough” part of the surgery was that his small intestines accidentally popped out during the cut. However, he calmly replaced them all and successfully completed the operation.
The only person to achieve this is Dr. It wasn’t Kane. In 1961, 27-year-old Leonid Rogozov was the only surgeon in the Soviet Antarctic Survey. During his research, he felt extreme pain in his abdomen and developed a fever. When Rogozov tested himself, he realized that his appendix was inflamed and might burst soon. Using local anesthesia, he operated on himself and removed his appendix. An engineer and a meteorologist assisted him during the operation. The surgery took 2 hours and after 5 days he was completely healed. He removed the stitches 7 days later and within 2 weeks he was back to work in good health.
6. Werner Forssmann – The Man Who Inserted a Catheter into His Own Heart
Although the medical procedure known as cardiac catheterization has become an ordinary operation today, it was an extremely difficult and risky procedure in the early 20th century. Simply put, a thin tube inserted through an incision in the arm, neck or abdomen is delivered to the heart. It was once believed that touching a beating heart in any way would stop the heart, so this procedure seemed inconceivable.
Werner Fossman believed otherwise. To prove this, in 1929, after this German scientist anesthetized his arm, he inserted a catheter through an incision he made and carried it to his heart. He checked himself with X-Ray scanning to make sure the catheter was where he wanted it to be. His experiment was a complete success; However, due to this attempt, he lost his job and was ostracized by his colleagues. Fortunately, the scientific community did justice to it, and he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1956.
7. Frederick Hoelzel – The Man Who Eats Glass
It’s not just glass either. From the 1920s to the 1930s, University of Chicago researcher Frederick Hoelzel swallowed pebbles, shards of glass, bearing balls, string, and wire. His goal was to see how long it would take his intestines to process and dispose of these objects. In 1930, he published his work in the American Journal of Physiology with the title of Passage Rate of Noble Materials through the Digestive System.
Despite this dangerous experiment, Hoelzel lived to be quite old.
8. Albert Hofman – First Hallucinogenic Acid Trial
The hallucinogenic chemical known as LSD was first synthesized in 1938 by Swiss scientist Albert Hofman. For 5 years after the synthesis of the chemical, there was not much interest in the chemical. However, when it was re-synthesized and tested by Hofman 5 years later, it started to attract attention after he reported that he was experiencing “strange feelings”. Hofman wrote:
Undisturbed, I felt the drugged effect. An overstimulated imagination was the most characteristic experience. In a dream-like state, with my eyes closed, I experienced fantastic images streaming before my eyes. I saw unusual shapes and kaleidoscope-like images. After about 2 hours, the effects faded and disappeared.
Unable to understand the reason for these experiences at first, Hofman later realized that he had accidentally inhaled LSD. One Monday, the week after he noted them down, he tested his hypothesis by taking 0.25 milligrams of LSD. Precisely, he relived the same experiences and experienced anxiety, visual disturbances, paralysis, and the urge to laugh. Unable to continue his work, he returned home on his bicycle, where he was overwhelmed by anxiety-inducing feelings. Among them was a fear that he had been fatally poisoned.
Upon examination by another doctor, it was understood that he was not poisoned, so our doctor started having fun with his new chemical. He later wrote:
Little by little, I began to savor the colors and shapes passing before my closed eyes. Kaleidoscopic and fantastic images were changing, changing color, opening and closing before my eyes; they were forming circles and spirals, becoming cascades of color, rearranging themselves and converging at a constant flow rate.
9. Paul Stapp – Fast-Projecting Rocket Sled
Today, thanks to aviation and space flights, we have very good ideas about how many g-forces the human body can withstand. Thanks to these ideas, we know how to design ejection seats used in emergency situations in a way that does not harm people. But when Colonel Paul Stapp, a medical researcher in the US Air Force, agreed to be a test subject for an experiment with incredibly high g-forces, he had no idea. In the experiment, he was asked to ride a rocket sled to be tested in the California Desert.
The only point the researchers were able to speculate was that this high acceleration could blind Stapp, but it wasn’t enough to scare Stapp. He got on the car for the first time on December 10, 1954 and accelerated from zero to 1017 kilometers per hour in just 5 seconds. As soon as this speed was reached, the sled’s brakes were activated and stopped the vehicle in just 1.4 seconds. During this time, a g-force of 46.2-g, or 46.2 times gravity, hovered over Stapp.
Stepp did indeed go blind for this reason; but luckily only temporarily. With this success, he reached the title of the fastest person in the world.
10. Barry Marshall – Drinking Bacteria Broth
For many years they had very fuzzy information about the cause of peptic (stomach) ulcers. Many attributed the cause of ulcers to psychological stress. However, Barry Marshall, an extraordinary Austrian physician, thought that these ulcers were caused by Helicobacter pylori, a curvy bacteria. So he believed that the cure was antibiotics. But unfortunately, Dr. Marshall had no easy way of proving his claim, because H. pylori only affects primates, and it was not possible for him to use another human subject for ethical reasons.
For this reason, he decided to be his own subject and mixed bacteria from a patient with a solution and drank it.
After several days of vomiting and extreme exhaustion, he did a biopsy of his own digestive tract, proving the relationship between bacteria and ulcers. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2005 for this astounding achievement.
Bonus: Marie Curie, whose Discovery Brought Her Death!
Marie Curie, a great genius and one of the greatest scientists ever seen in human history, died on July 4, 1934 due to aplastic anemia. This is a very rare blood disease. Over the years, the cause of death has been claimed to be exposure to excessive radiation.
However, in 1995, a radiologist who analyzed the remains of Curie’s body claimed that he had been exposed to a dose of radiation that did not cause death. This issue is still being discussed today and there is no definite information.
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/ https://evrimagaci.org