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The Top 10 Ballsiest Scientists in History

by DannyGallagher   January 26, 2010 at 10:00AM  |  Views: 1,582

5. Trofim Lysenko


Source: Wikipedia

When science fails, at least the methods involved allow us to see and correct mistakes and make even bigger breakthroughs in the future. That would be true if the Ukrainian scientist Lysenko knew anything about science beyond concepts such as "if you kick a squirrel with your right leg, he will turn into a magical elf."

As the right hand science man of Joseph Stalin, Lysenko claimed he could grow entire crops of all kinds without the use of fertilizers or minerals. Since the early Soviets craved power more than any other commodity on Earth, they ran with his wild claims without bothering to check them. Stalin refused to believe that the science was bad, lavished Lysenko with even greater accolades, and touted its efficiency with the ever-increasing boldness of Terrell Owens' press agent after his third team move. When Stalin died, Lysenko fell out of favor and lost all of his power but still showed up for work, even though his doctor title had the same level of scientific accreditation as Dr. Teeth from The Muppet Show.

4. Franz Reichelt


Source: Wikipedia

If someone came to you and said they could fly and you knew they couldn't fly and you made every effort to stop them from proving that they could fly, that doesn't mean you still wouldn't watch, right? Richelt, an Austrian tailor and makeshift scientific achiever, attempted to prove that same theory with his magical flying overcoat that he believed would work as a perfect parachute. He was so sure his scientific endeavor would work that he conducted his first and only test by jumping off of the Eiffel Tower. Did it work? Why don't you make that call?

And even though Reichelt clearly had less grasp over scientific concepts than the air's pressure did on him on the way down, it takes a great deal of guts to back up that claim all the way down to his final demise. Plus, if it's any consolation, he did discover something else: a quicker way for tourists to get down the Eiffel Tower without having to use all those tiresome steps.

3. Barry Marshall


Source: TONY ASHBY/AFP/Getty Images

Not all of science's ballsiest thinkers worked in the dawn of human enlightenment, when the most complex scientific concept that people could wrap their minds around was that the Earth is being held up by an angry turtle that requires large amounts of space fish to keep rotating the Earth. Back in 2006, this junior doctor so hoped to rock the medical boat by proving that stomach ulcers were not caused by a certain strain of bacteria that he ingested it himself without prior approval, knowledge, or even permission from his hospital. The strain he swallowed eventually lead to gastritis, a condition known to cause ulcers, but his and partner Robin Warren's theory that stress and lifestyle factors are bigger contributors has since become the more accepted cause, one that earned them a Nobel Prize in Medicine.

If you're reading this doc, I hope you're wearing that award around your neck like the biggest piece of bling around so every rival doctor in that motherf***ing clinic can see it. Pre-med 4 life, bitches!

2. J.B.S. Haldane


Source: Wikipedia

Using the cause of science to help those men and women who give their lives and freedom to protect their country is admirable. Giving them the use of your eardrums should inspire a new Toby Keith song. This son of the late 19th physicist John Scott Haldane picked up where his dad left off by improving diving for the Navy at the turn of the century. Looking to one up dear ol' pop, he made himself the test subject by submersing himself in highly pressurized decompression chambers to improve submarine safety. He not only discovered that such conditions had burst his own eardrums, but also that "if a hole remains in it...one can blow tobacco smoke out of the ear in question, which is a social accomplishment." He also discovered that blowing smoke out of your ear will never help you get laid...ever.

1. Augustus Hildebrandt


Source: Steve West/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Technically, Hildebrant wasn't the lead scientist on his most famous experiment, but that's just because he was the experiment. His German surgeon partner August Bier attempted to use cocaine as a spinal anaesthesia, which Hildebrandt first injected into Bier's spine through a hole in his neck. When that didn't work, he had his partner switch roles and made Hildebrant the guinea pig.

He completely anaesthetized Hildebrant and proceeded to test the limits of his central nervous system by stabbing him, burning him, hammering him, bludgeoning him, yanking out his pubic hairs by the root, and (topping off this "cake of pain") by smashing his testicles. Bier waited for Hildebrandt's faculties to return to normal and when they did, the two went out for a huge lavish meal, making it the one time in human history when the utterance of "separate checks" warrants full and immediate castration.


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