Scientists Are Tweeting About The Strangest Experiments They've Ever Done
Scientists are tasked with answering some of the strangest questions we never knew we had: How do wombats poop cubes? Why are all the spoons missing from our office kitchen? And what makes the word turd so funny?
These examples just scratch the surface of scientists' experiments to explain our world. In a Twitter trending thread spotted by IFL Science, researchers and scientists of all stripes have been answering the question, “What's the weirdest thing you've done for science?” Jason Rasgon, a professor of entomology and disease epidemiology at Penn State University, posed the question a few days ago and offered a personal anecdote to kick off the discussion. “For me, it was giving nicotine enemas to caterpillars when I was a postdoc,” he wrote. “I'm certain this isn't the weirdest thing compared to what y'all have done.”
He might be right about that. A long thread of one-upmanship ensued, and it turns out that scientists are doing a lot of weird stuff with animals. “Put diapers on ostriches,” writes biomechanist Jonas Rubenson. “Made resin casts of mouse vaginas,” writes behavioral ecologist Jessie Tanner. “I made a sex doll for fruit flies and painted it with pheromones,” added a Twitter user and former biologist who goes by the name of Dr. Orchid.
These escapades aren’t confined to the lab, either. “Transported 500 decomposing fox rectums in my hand luggage on a Ryanair flight,” writes parasitologist Charlie Evans. Someone else wrote that they once brought 100 live spiders on a plane—and you thought snakes were the worst of your worries.
Their responses give us a newfound respect for the professionals who immerse themselves in bizarre and sometimes gross situations for the sake of science. Here are a few other stories they shared.
Massaged hamster testes during a peritoneal lavage to increase macrophage yield. Set the hamster on fire (it was an accident!) while attempting to collect lavage fluid.
— Laurey Steinke (@laurey19) January 25, 2019
Measured Medieval human pelvises during my PhD and got my long dangly necklace caught in someone’s birth canal
— Alison Macintosh (@ali__macintosh) January 25, 2019
i did that too! we called it the “walk of shame” in my microbiology class: we all marched to the restroom for our samples...the semester was made more entertaining by the strain competitions we held. mine was sadly the easiest to infect with a phage...
— Heidi Moss Erickson (@heidi_moss) January 26, 2019
Electrocuting male sea urchins to get them to ejaculate
— Leslie Vosshall (@pollyp1) January 25, 2019
Carried a bag of rotten squid across southern Chile for a week? Persuaded multiple people to comb a beaver for me? Delicately shaved multiple weevils so we could blast the scales with X-rays in a particle accelerator?
— Ainsley S (@americanbeetles) January 25, 2019
I let a box of cow liver rot for a few weeks in my office to make media for blowflies
— Michael Eisen (@mbeisen) January 25, 2019
Dried many loads of bear feces in the oven of my rental house. Separated insects from bear feces in my shower, with two colleagues and a rusty sieve. #ecology
— Christina Kwapich (@Pogonokwap) January 25, 2019
The weirdest science thing I’ve ever done? Made water balloons out of shark spiral intestines.
— Nicole Theodosiou (@theodosn) January 26, 2019
Got mice drunk and made them fight each other.
— Jon Hayes (@JG_Hayes) January 27, 2019
Superglued tiny harnesses onto lobsters
— Bob Ellis (@DrFishCounter) January 27, 2019
Gluing wobbly eyes onto the thoraxes of 1000 freshly hatched bees. Forced them to stay inside a hive with the entrance closed by a grid while their sister were able to forage.
— Daniel Münch (@Dahaniel) January 25, 2019
I feel I should clarify... the dolphin washed up dead and I was involved in part of an autopsy. It's important to know why a dolphin dies as it could be the first case of a disease or issue in the wider population.
— Dr. Andrew Cooke (@wild_biologist) January 27, 2019
I once trained some bees to play tic-tac-toe (naughts and crosses). Sadly, the results were inconclusive.
— Dr David Corney (@DCorney) January 28, 2019
Fed meerkats crickets dipped in mayo.
— Katherine McAuliffe (@kmcaulif1) January 27, 2019
[h/t IFL Science]