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The strangest scientific experiments

The strangest scientific experiments

In order for natural science to acquire all its store of knowledge, many experiments had to be done, some of which turned out to be rather strange. Often the experiments did not end even with the death of the scientist himself.

Jumping Newton. When the future scientist was still a little boy, he grew up frail and sickly. When everyone was playing outdoors, Isaac usually lost to his peers. Once, on September 3, 1658, when Newton was 15 years old, strong winds were blowing over England. People then said that the devil himself came for the soul of Oliver Cromwell, the de facto ruler of the country at that time. On this day he died. Despite the bad weather in Grantham, the teenagers, together with Isaac, decided to compete in the long jump. Newton noticed that it was better to jump with the wind than against it, and with the help of such a trick he was able to defeat his friends. This result inspired the teenager so much that he decided to analyze it. Newton began to write down how far you can jump with the wind, how much against, and how far without any wind. In this way, the boy was able to calculate the strength of the wind, expressed in feet. Even when Newton had already become a famous scientist, he noted the importance of his jumps, which were his first experiments. Subsequently, the scientist realized himself mainly in physics, but experiments with buckles are more related to meteorology.

Concert on rails. The history of science also knew the opposite cases, when a meteorologist proved the correctness of a physical hypothesis. In 1842, the Austrian physicist Christian Doppler put forward and theoretically proved the idea that the frequency of light and sound vibrations should change for the observer, depending on whether the source of light or sound is moving from or towards the observer. Three years later, Holland meteorologist Christopher Bays-Bullot decided to practically test this hypothesis. To do this, he hired a steam locomotive with a freight car, put two trumpeters there and asked them to constantly keep a note of salt. Two musicians were needed to keep the sound constant. While one of them took in air, the other continued to pull the note. On the platform of the station between Amsterdam and Utrecht, the scientist asked several people with perfect ear for music to stand. A steam locomotive was dragging a platform with trumpeters past them at different speeds. At the same time, Bays-Bullot noted which note is heard in a particular case. Then the observers and trumpeters exchanged places, now they were playing on the platform. As a result of two days of experiments, it became clear that Doppler was right. Bays-Balllot became famous for the fact that later it was he who founded the country's first meteorological service. The scientist also formulated a law named after him and became a foreign corresponding member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences.

Science at tea. One of the founders of biometrics, a mathematical science for processing the results of biological experiments, was the English botanist Robert Fisher. From 1910 to 1914, she worked at an agrobiological station near London. Then the whole team consisted of only men, but once a woman was hired, whose specialization was algae. Especially for her sake, it was decided to hold tea in the common room, five-o-clocks. The very first meeting gave rise to a dispute, traditional for England - which is better, add milk to tea, or pour tea into a mug with milk? Skeptics argued that there is no difference if the proportions are the same. But Muriel Bristol, the new employee, disagreed with them. The woman claimed that she could easily distinguish the "wrong" tea. The method of adding milk to tea was considered correct and aristocratic then. The argument provoked the biologists - in the next room, with the help of a local chemist, several cups of tea were prepared, mixed in different ways. Lady Muriel easily proved her delicate taste - the participants of the tea party later recalled that she correctly identified all the cups. Fischer pondered the course of the experiment, who asked the questions - how often should the experiment be repeated in order for the result to be considered reliable? After all, if there were only two cups, then it was possible to guess the cooking method by chance, with a high degree of probability. Even in the case of three or four cups, the chance remained high. These reflections became the basis of the classic book Statistical Methods for Scientists, which Fischer published in 1925. The methods proposed by him are still used in biology and medicine. It is curious, but the tradition of adding milk to tea, and not vice versa, which is present in the highest English world, is associated with a physical phenomenon. Then the nobles and the rich always drank tea from porcelain, which could simply burst if you first pour cold milk into it, and then add a hot drink. Ordinary Englishmen did not ask this question, they drank tea from pewter or faience mugs, which were not in danger.

Tamed Mowgli. In 1931, an unusual experiment was carried out by a family of American biologists. Winthrop and Luella Kellogg were deeply saddened by the fate of the young children who grew up among the wild beasts. Scientists decided to conduct a bold experiment. But what if we simulate the opposite situation, try to raise a baby monkey in a human family with a peer? Will the animal be able to get closer to the person? At first, the scientists wanted to go with their little son to Sumatra, where they could find a suitable sample for the experiment among the orangutans. However, it turned out to be too expensive. As a result, a small female chimpanzee was singled out by a scientist at the Yale Center for the Study of Anthropoid Apes. The monkey's name was Gua, at the time of the beginning of the experiments she was seven months old, and the boy was 10. The couple knew that a similar experiment had already been carried out 20 years ago. Then the Russian researcher Nadezhda Ladygina tried to raise a one-year-old baby chimpanzee the way a human child is raised. However, three years of experiments have yielded no results. However, then children did not take part in the experiments, Kelloggs believed that living together with their son could give different results. Moreover, one year of age may not have been suitable for re-education. As a result, Gua was adopted into the family and began to be raised as a child, along with Donald. The kids liked each other and quickly became friends, becoming inseparable. The experimenters wrote down everything - the boy likes perfume, the monkey doesn't. Experiments were carried out that were supposed to reveal who would learn faster with the help of a stick to get a cookie suspended on a string. Children were blindfolded and called by name, trying to determine who would better determine the source of the sound. Surprisingly, Gua was the winner in these tests. But when the boy was given a pencil and paper, he began to draw something, but the monkey could not understand at all what to do with the pencil. As a result, all attempts to make the monkey close to man in the course of the same upbringing have failed. Even if Gua began to walk on two legs more often, she even learned to eat with a spoon and began to understand words a little, but she simply got lost when people she knew changed their clothes. The animal never learned to pronounce at least one word - "papa". Unlike the boy, she could not even master the simplest game, like "lads". When it turned out that by the age of one and a half, Donald himself had mastered only three words, the parents hastily interrupted the experiment. In addition, the boy expressed his desire to eat with the typical sound of monkeys, like barking. The Kellogs were afraid that the boy would eventually get on all fours and would not be able to master the human language at all. Chimpanzee Gua was sent back to the nursery.

Dalton's eyes. This experiment is unusual in that it was carried out after the death of the experimenter himself. Many people know the English scientist John Dalton (1766-1844). He is remembered for his chemical and physical discoveries, as well as for being the first to describe congenital visual impairment. This is a color recognition disorder and was named after him. Dalton himself, for the time being, did not pay attention to this shortcoming of his. But in 1790 the scientist took up botany, and then suddenly it turned out that it was difficult for him to work with botanical books and pictures. When the text spoke of white or yellow flowers, Dalton knew what it was about. But when it came to red or pink colors, they seemed indistinguishable from blue to Dalton. As a result, identifying a plant by its description in a book, the scientist even asked other people what color it was - pink or blue. The surrounding people perceived this behavior of the scientist as a joke. Only his brother, who had the same hereditary deviation, understood him. Dalton himself compared his color perception with how his friends and acquaintances see reality. The scientist concluded that there was some kind of blue light filter in his eyes. Therefore, for the sake of science, Dalton bequeathed after his death to remove his eyes and check if the gelatinous mass that fills the eyeball - the vitreous body - is colored blue. The will was exactly fulfilled by the laboratory assistants. However, nothing unusual was found in the eyes of the scientist. Then it was suggested that Dalton had disorders in the work of the optic nerves. As a result, Dalton's eyes were preserved in a can of alcohol at the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society. Not so long ago, in 1995, geneticists were able to study the scientist's DNS by isolating it from the retina. As you might expect, genes for color blindness were found. But in addition to this experience with vision, a couple more strange ones are worth noting. So, the already mentioned Isaac Newton cut out a thin curved probe from ivory. Then the scientist launched it into his eye and pressed on the back of the eyeball. At the same time, the scientist saw circles and colored flashes, thus concluding that vision is possible due to the pressure of light on the retina. In 1928, Englishman John Baird, one of the pioneers of television, tried to use the human eye as a transmitting camera. But this experience was also unsuccessful.

Is the Earth a ball? Although geography is not an experimental science, there have been sometimes experiments. One of them is associated with the name of Alfred Russell Wallace, a prominent English evolutionary biologist, Darwin's associate, fighter against pseudoscience and superstition. One day in January 1870, Wallace read an ad in a scientific publication in which a certain person pledged to pay 500 pounds to someone who would undertake to visually prove the spherical shape of the Earth. It was required to demonstrate in a way that is understandable to every person, a convex river, lake or road. The initiator of the dispute was a certain John Hamden, who had recently published an unusual book in which he argued that our planet is in fact a flat disk. Wallace decided to take a bet. In order to prove the earth's roundness, a straight section of the channel six miles long was chosen. There are two bridges at the beginning and end of this section. On one of them, the scientist placed a powerful 50x telescope strictly horizontally with a reticle in the eyepiece. In the middle of the distance, at a distance of 3 miles from each bridge, a high tower was erected with a black circle and a hole in it. On the other bridge is a board with a horizontal black stripe. In this case, the telescope, black circle and stripe were located at the same height above the water. It was logical to assume that in the case of a flat Earth, like water in a channel, the black stripe should have fallen into the hole of the black circle. But in the case of a convex planet surface, the black circle should have been above the strip. In the end, everything turned out like that. At the same time, the size of the discrepancy coincided well with the calculated ones, which were derived taking into account the already known radius of the Earth. But Hamden himself did not dare to take part in the experiment, sending his secretary. And he stubbornly assured the audience that the marks were on the same level. And some minor discrepancies, if any, are associated with distortions in the telescope lenses. But Wallace was not going to give up, he filed a lawsuit. The hearings lasted for several years, and as a result, the authorities ordered Hamden to pay the promised £ 500. Although Wallace received the award, he still spent more on legal costs as a result.

Longest experiments. It turns out that some experiments have been going on for decades! One of the longest-running experiments began 130 years ago and has not yet been completed. Beale, an American botanist, began his experience back in 1879. He buried 20 bottles of seeds of the most popular weeds in the ground. Since then, periodically, first every 5, then 10, and then 20 years, scientists take a bottle out of the ground, checking the seeds for germination. It turned out that some of the most resistant weeds are still sprouting. The next bottle will be lifted in 2020. And the longest physics experiment was started at the University of Australia Brisbane by Professor Thomas Parnell. In 1927, he placed a glass funnel on a tripod and placed a solid resin in it - var. By its molecular properties, it is a liquid, although very viscous. After that, Parnell heated the funnel, slightly melting the var, allowing it to flow into the funnel nose. In 1938, the first drop fell into a substituted glass, the next one had to wait 9 years. In 1948, the professor died, and his students continued to observe the funnel. Since then, drops have been falling in 1954, 1962, 1970, 1979, 1988 and 2000. Recently, the frequency of droplet falling has slowed down, which is associated with the installation of an air conditioner in the laboratory and cooler air. It is curious, but for all the time a drop never fell in the presence of a person. Unsurprisingly, a webcam was mounted in front of the funnel in 2000 to broadcast the image to the Internet. But even here, at the moment of the fall of the eighth, and the last drop for today, the camera suddenly refused. It should be noted that the experiment is far from complete, because var is a hundred million times more viscous than water.

Another biosphere. In their attempt to understand the truth, scientists sometimes go to large-scale experiments. One of them provided for the creation of a working model of the entire terrestrial biosphere. In 1985, an association of two hundred American scientists and engineers was created, who decided to build in the Sonoran Desert, Arizona, a huge glass building with samples of the earth's living and plant world. The researchers wanted to hermetically isolate the building from any influx of substances from the outside, as well as energy sources. An exception was made for sunlight. It was planned to settle in this aquarium for 2 years a team of eight volunteer participants who received the title of bionauts. The experiment was supposed to help study the connections existing in the natural world, as well as check whether people can coexist for a long time in a confined space. These observations would be very important for space flights. Oxygen here was supposed to be released by plants, and water should be provided by the natural cycle and biological self-purification. Plants and animals would provide food. The entire inner part of the 1.3 hectare complex was divided into three zones. The first contains samples of the five main ecosystems of the planet - a patch of rainforest, an "ocean" in the form of a pool of salt water, a desert, a savanna through which a river flowed, and a swamp.In accordance with each site, representatives of flora and fauna specially selected by biologists were settled there. The second part of the territory was given to life support systems. It accommodates 0.25 hectares for growing 139 species of edible plants, including tropical fruits, swimming pools, for growing fish. Tilapia was chosen as the least whimsical, tasty and fast growing species. There was also a place for the wastewater treatment compartment. The third zone was given to living quarters. Each bionaut was allocated 33 square meters, and the dining room and living room were shared. For computers and night lighting, electricity was generated by solar panels. The experiment started in September 1991. Eight people were walled up in a glass greenhouse. But literally problems started right there. The weather at that time was cloudy, as a result, photosynthesis proceeded unexpectedly slowly. Bacteria quickly multiplied in the soil, which absorbed oxygen, as a result, in 16 months, its content decreased from the usual 21% to a critical 14%. In this situation, it was necessary to add oxygen from the outside, using cylinders. The estimated harvest of edible plants also did not take place, as a result, already in November, they had to resort to emergency food supplies. The participants in the experiment were constantly fasting, the average weight loss over two years of experiments was 13%. Pollinating insects, specially colonized, quickly died out, like 15-30% of other species. But cockroaches quickly and abundantly multiplied, although no one initially settled them in the biosphere. As a result, the bionauts were able to barely sit in the building for the intended two years, but the experiment was generally unsuccessful. But scientists once again realized how subtle and vulnerable those living mechanisms that ensure our existence. The gigantic structure is still used today - separate experiments with animals and plants are carried out there.

Burning a diamond. In our time, experiments are becoming more and more expensive and require complex and bulky machines. But a couple of centuries ago it was a novelty, and curious onlookers went to look at the experiments of the great chemist Antoine Lavoisier. Then crowds of people gathered in the open air in the gardens near the Louvre. The scientist publicly researched how different substances behave at high temperatures. For this, a giant installation was built with two lenses, collecting sunlight into a beam. Even today, making a huge collecting lens with a diameter of 130 centimeters is quite difficult, let alone 1772. However, opticians have elegantly solved this problem. They created two round concave glasses, soldered them, having previously poured 130 liters of alcohol into the gap between them. As a result, the thickness of the lens in its widest, central part was 16 centimeters. The second lens helped to collect a more powerful beam of rays. It was half the size and could be prepared in the traditional way - by grinding glass castings. This whole structure was installed on a large platform. To focus the Sun on the lens, a whole system of levers, wheels and screws was developed. The participants in the experiment put on smoked glasses. Lavoisier placed various minerals and metals in the focus of the lenses. The chemist tried to heat zinc and tin, quartz and sandstone, coal, platinum, gold and even diamond. The scientist noted that if a glass vessel is hermetically sealed, forming a vacuum there, then the diamond there will be charred when heated, whereas in the sun it simply completely burns out, disappearing. Such grandiose experiments cost thousands of gold pieces.


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