Elephants on LSD and Other Bizarre Experiments

Article excerpt

Byline: Fiona MacRae

THE thirst for knowledge often inspires research with life-changingresults. But it can also fuel experiments that range from the slightly silly tothe downright disgusting.

Now a list of the most amusing, provocative and outrageous experiments ofmodern science has been compiled by author Alex Boese, who scoured researchjournals, books and university archives.

Topics covered include what happens when you give an elephant LSD and how tomake a turkey frisky.

Featured in this week's New Scientist magazine, his book, Elephants On Acid AndOther Bizarre Experiments, also tells of attempts to bring dead dogs back tolife.

Here the Daily Mail details what are being called the ten silliest experimentsof all time.

ELEPHANTS ON ACID FORTY-FIVE years ago, two psychiatrists administeredhistory's largest dose of LSD to Tusko, a three-and-ahalf-ton elephant.

The 14-year-old male was given enough acid to make 3,000 people hallucinate, ina bizarre bid to find out whether it would trigger a temporary form of madnesscalled musth, in which bull elephants become sexually aggressive.

Whatever the intentions of the University of Oklahoma researchers, theexperiment backfired within seconds of the drug being injected into Tusko'srump on a hot August day in 1962.

The horrified creature trumpeted round its pen in Oklahoma City's Lincoln ParkZoo for a few minutes, before keeling over and dying shortly afterwards.

Faced with a public outcry, researchers Louis Jolyon West and Chester M Piercenoted they had taken the LSD in the past without fatal consequences - andsuggested the drug could be used to destroy herds in countries where they causea problem..

THE MASKED TICKLER IN 1933, Clarence Leuba, a professor of psychology in Ohio,used his wife and newborn son to try to find out why we laugh when we'retickled.

Leuba ordered that no one could laugh while tickling the child, or while beingtickled within earshot of him. If the boy laughed when tickled, this would showhis response was inbuilt, rather than something he learned from those aroundhim.

The household became a tickle-free zone, except during sessions in which Leubatickled the boy while hiding his face behind a mask.

By the age of seven months, the boy was screaming with laughter when tickled.Three years later, his younger sister reacted in a similar fashion, leadingLeuba to conclude laughter is an innate response to being tickled..

SLEEP LEARNING IN the summer of 1942, Lawrence LeShan stood in the darkness ofa cabin where a group of young boys lay sleeping.

All were chronic nailbiters and LeShan, a U.S. psychologist, tried to cure themby uttering the phrase: 'My fingernails taste terribly bitter' over and over asthey slept. By the end of the summer, 40 per cent had kicked the habit, withLeShan's actual voice appearing to be more effective than a recording.

Other researchers have questioned whether the youngsters were properly asleepduring the night-time lectures..

THE VOMIT DRINKING DOCTOR DETERMINED to prove that yellow fever was notcontagious, trainee doctor Stubbins Ffirth set out to demonstrate that nomatter how much he exposed himself to the disease, he would not catch it.

To this end, he poured 'fresh black vomit' from a patient into a cut on hisarm. When he failed to fall ill, he gradually upped the ante, pouring thestuffing into deeper cuts, dribbling it into his eyes, and even building a'vomit sauna' filled with vomit vapour.

He then drank the vomit, which gains its black colour from blood that hashaemorrhaged in the stomach.

He finished by smearing himself with yellow fever-tainted blood, saliva, sweatand urine. …