Curiosity is a virtue that paved the way for human progress through centuries. This quality of asking ‘what if’ made us capable to improvise and innovate thereby causing several scientific breakthroughs and increasing our general standard of living. At the same time curiosity has also caused some rather bizarre scientific experiments. For Example, some decades back, when some scientists were curious about the effect of mind altering drugs on animals, they actually experimented by administering LSD to an elephant. Elephants On Acid: And Other Bizarre Experiments is a book by Alex Boese that chronicles this and several other unique and bizarre actual scientific experiments of this kind.
Elephants On Acid is the history of several experiments that makes us wonder due to their seemingly absurd logic. The experiments detailed in this book cover most of the areas of modern science. For his credit intention of Alex Boese is not just to amuse and entertain readers by recounting some outrageous fantasies of mad scientists. All the experiments in this book are done with proper scientific methodology and documentation by publication in journals. He wants to arouse curiosity about science in the minds of readers who are reluctant in picking up a book about general science by writing a fun book.
Book is divided into ten categories- surgery, senses, memory, sleep, animal behavior, mating behavior, babies, bathroom research, human nature and death. For those who are interested in further study of any of these experiments, a detailed bibliography is also included. Many of the stories that involve surgery and dissection, like that of isolating a live monkey’s brain or dissecting heads for replacement, are cringe worthy. Some of the experiments, the psychological and behavioral ones about brainwashing and stuff like that cause our humanitarian mind to protest. Some of the experiments are plain silly, like that of tickling oneself. The experiments related to human nature establishes how vulnerable and weak humans are to negative traits like greed, power and authority.
The book is written in a matter of fact manner but laced with humor and a bit of sarcasm. The weak hearted may skip the first chapter about surgery altogether and I advise others to keep it for final reading as it may cause a bit of disinterest in the first few pages due to its graphic nature. Altogether, I will conclude that Elephants On Acid: And Other Bizarre Experiments is an interesting book. It is funny, insightful and absorbing in parts, though gory content may turn off some readers.
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