Mad Scientists (1)

J. B. S. Haldane is mad scientist of the day. Born 1892, he was naturally interested in a whole lot of things (as were most learned gentlemen of the day) and did pioneering work in the effects of high pressure on human bodies. This work was vital in understanding how the human body reacted when, for example, diving, and it was not a sure thing that divers of that era would return to the surface with their minds and/or bodies intact.

haldaneTo do this work Haldane used a scary-looking metal chamber, where he could put his victims and watch them squirm as he increased the air pressure and introduced carbon monoxide and/or elevated levels of oxygen.

He was also happy to jump into the pressure chamber himself and suffered numerous injuries from his experiments, including near-lethal gas poisoning, damaged ribs and the occasionally blown-out ear drum.

Which brings us to the quote by which we should remember this great man:

“The drum generally heals up; and if a hole remains in it, although one is somewhat deaf, one can blow tobacco smoke out of the ear in question, which is a social accomplishment”

Mad scienists – now where would we be without them?

/ paddy

12 thoughts on “Mad Scientists (1)

  1. Where are those mad ones today? They would probably get some kind of diagnosis in young years and then be marked for ever. Might get good grades and education and then stop since they dont have “good social skills and emotional intelligence”. They dont know how to lobby and cant make group-sessions in the university. And doing risky experience-hell no…

  2. Helena, that’s an idea for a posting by Paddy. “His mother, after thirty years of teaching Paddy.” :-)


  3. ladyfi: Mad is is the eye of the beholder

    Helena P: Selective deafness is very important when working with kids.

    Rolf: Eh?

  4. Helena – there are loads of mad scientists today – we’re just mediocre as well, so you never hear about us!

  5. Well, I use to hang around with lots of you. But the step from doing heavy experiments on yourself in the name of your research and science and sign up on the local hospitals medical-tests-program for new medicines and recive small money for it, is not the same. Sci-fi Einsteins come out of the closets then…

  6. Strangely, pressure is my greatest fear! Some people are afraid of drowning, some of bleeding, some of fire. But my WORST phobia of all has always been a pressure chamber. Or pressure in a space ship, submarine or the likes. This scientist must therefore be the maddest of ALL in my opinion – submitting himself to pressure like that.
    And – by the way. I used to have a boyfriend many years ago who could do exactly that – blow cigarette smoke out of his ears.

    • I’m glad you care, but you do realise that this is the wrong blog post you are commenting..? Oh well, we’ll never hear from YOU again, that’s for sure.

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