The 6 guttsiest Inventors Of All Time

By: Jack Mendoza

November 26, 2010 695,602 views

Being a good scientist takes intelligence and creativity and years of study. To be a great scientist, you need to be just a little bit crazy.

Test subjects aren’t always around, after all, and even if they are, they might not be willing to put their lives on the line based on your crazy-ass idea. That’s why a whole lot of scientific advancement has happened due to these men’s gigantic balls:

Lawrence Patrick, Human Crash Test Dummy

If you were ever involved in a serious car accident, you probably survived thanks to Lawrence Patrick. The man invented, among other things, the air bag and automobile safety tests. Basically, before Patrick came along, you could strap a motor to a goat and take that shit out on the freeway, because no one was sure how much damage crashing your goat-mobile would do.

We’re thinking a top-mounted jet intake.

Realizing that at the time (the 1940s) there was virtually no information about what the human body could withstand, Patrick dedicated his life to human impact survival research. This little-known branch of science seems pretty straightforward — that’s why we have crash test dummies, right?

Yes, we do nowadays, because Patrick built the first dummies …

… based on data he gathered by measuring impacts on himself.

And what’d you do today? Throw out the expired milk?

So Patrick had his knee repeatedly smashed against a metal bar, underwent 400 rides on a rocket sled and, since this already sounds more like a Looney Tunes cartoon than science, he had a 50-pound pendulum hit him in the chest.

The results were broken ribs and fingers and countless bruises, as well as priceless data on how the body reacts to high-velocity impacts. This information was used to set the standard for almost all safety measures in cars and saved countless lives.

We’re still fans of the goat-mobile.

In fact, before Patrick conducted his innovative research, car manufacturers had declared that automobiles couldn’t be made safe for humans, and that any car crash would result in death since the body was simply too frail. Patrick’s numerous experiments proved otherwise. With pain.

Torald Sollmann Gasses Himself

There are few legacies of the World War I as terrifying as the use of chemical weapons. For instance, mustard gas was not only deadly, but painfully so, and the effects raised serious concern among anyone who wasn’t, you know, bat-shit insane. Hell, this was the one weapon that later on even Hitler decided was too inhumane.

So, um. There’s a point for Hitler, we guess.

Scared by its effects, Torald Sollmann, one of the most distinguished pharmacologists in the world, decided to dedicate himself to finding an antidote to mustard gas. As the author of more than 500 original research papers and essentially a scientific pioneer, he seemed like the right man for the job … until a few pages into his research proposal, where he wrote that the urgency of the problem justified experiments on human subjects.

Which is not usually a phrase that ends in good things.

In case you are not familiar with the effects of mustard gas on humans, let’s say that it’s about as bad as salt on a snail or water on the Wicked Witch of the West. Even minor contact can cause blindness and serious skin inflammation, including gangrene. This meant volunteers for testing would be hard to come by, so of course Sollmann turned to his own body.

The method of the experiments was relatively simple: Sollman would cover portions of skin with various ointments and mixtures, then expose them to mustard gas and note how badly he managed to hurt himself.


Numerous exposures to the extremely poisonous gas revealed that Vaseline and coconut charcoal could be used to protect the skin from the worst effects of the gas. Unfortunately, this discovery was pretty much useless, since covering your entire body with Vaseline is one of the most impractical ways to prepare for battle.

It’s not a bad way to prep for a high-speed orgy, though.

In the end Sollmann’s studies didn’t bring a surprising breakthrough that could stop mustard gas, but they did something even better: They helped people understand how horrible it was and contributed to the public outrage that eventually led to the signing of the Geneva Conventions, which forbade countries from using toxic chemicals in warfare.

Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht, aka Mr. Freeze

While hypothermia and its deadly effects are well-documented, there were very few scientific studies on how freezing actually affects the body until recently. We knew that nerve endings stop working and muscles contract, but there were almost no data on the details, such as the time frame for this process or what can be done to help the body resist it.


Knowing what this article is about, you can guess that someone — in this case, Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht — decided to take things into his own hands. His frozen, twisted, bizarrely self-punishing hands.

He looks so normal, too.

In this case, that means that Giesbrecht went to the nearest frozen lake and jumped in. He continued his studies by lowering his body temperature below 95 degrees, and since science is all about repeated measurements, did it about 33 times. We know 95 degrees doesn’t sound too bad, until you realize that that’s basically Stage 2 hypothermia and at Stage 3 hypothermia, you die. To top it all off, Giesbrecht drove a snowmobile into an icy pond, and for the hell of it did it all night. We … think that was part of his experiment.

Liquor may have been involved.

Besides seriously punishing his body, Giesbrecht made several important discoveries about the way we react to the cold and how to survive should you get drunk and fall into icewater one day. Giesbrecht now runs a cold water boot camp where volunteers can learn all they need to know about freezing water, firsthand, from a frozen lake. If you want to sign up, you can click the hell out of that link right there. We’ll wait.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

Cell Phone Viruses

Pose Serious Threat, Scientists Warn

Science (May 22, 2009) — If you own a computer, chances are you have experienced the aftermath of a nasty virus at some point. In contrast, there have been no major outbreaks of mobile phone viral infection, despite the fact that over 80 percent of Americans now use these devices. A team headed by Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, director of the Center for Complex Network Research at Northeastern University, set out to explain why this is true.

The researchers used calling and mobility data from over six million anonymous mobile phone users to create a comprehensive picture of the threat mobile phone viruses pose to users. The results of this study, published in the May 22 issue of Science, indicate that a highly fragmented market share has effectively hindered outbreaks thus far. Further, their work predicts that viruses will pose a serious threat once a single mobile operating system’s market share grows sufficiently large. This event may not be far off, given the 150 percent annual growth rate of smart phones.

“We haven’t had a problem so far because only phones with operating systems, so-called ‘smart phones’, are susceptible to viral infection,” explained Marta Gonzalez, one of the authors of the publication. “Once a single operating system becomes common, we could potentially see outbreaks of epidemic proportion because a mobile phone virus can spread by two mechanisms: a Bluetooth virus can infect all Bluetooth-activated phones in a 10-30 meter radius, while Multimedia Messaging System (MMS) virus, like many computer viruses, spreads using the address book of the device. Not surprisingly, hybrid viruses, which can infect via both routes, pose the most significant danger.”

This study builds upon earlier research by the same group, which used mobile phone data to create a predictive model of human mobility patterns. The current work used this model to simulate Bluetooth virus infection scenarios, finding that Bluetooth viruses will eventually infect all susceptible handsets, but the rate is slow, being limited by human behavioral patterns. This characteristic suggests there should be sufficient time to deploy countermeasures such as antiviral software to prevent major Bluetooth outbreaks. In contrast, spread of MMS viruses is not restricted by human behavioral patterns, however spread of these types of viruses are constrained because the number of susceptible devices is currently much smaller.

As our world becomes increasingly connected we face unprecedented challenges. Studies such as this one, categorized as computational social science, are necessary to understand group behavior and organization, assess potential threats, and develop solutions to the issues faced by our ever-changing society.

“This is what statistical analysis of complex systems is all about: finding patterns in nature,” said Gonzalez. “This research is vital because it puts a huge amount of data into the service of science.”

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

Rust Removal Using – Soda Pop?

When I was about 12 years old and just getting interested in engines I heard my uncle swear that he got a stuck piston out of a motorcycle he had by using bottle of Coke. It had set out in the yard all winter and had rusted up inside. But we all know pop is sticky, water based and wouldn’t it make a worse mess? After all, Mom always said “don’t spill your pop, it will make everything sticky”.
As I grew up and got interested in cars and motorcycles myself I started to hear of other such “urban legends” and decided, hey, maybe there is something to this. The people that said it worked were quite insistant, and there sure was no proof that it did NOT work. So I decided to investigate. (amazing what little it takes to entertain me)

So here is what I’ve found – many carbonated beverages will remove rust. This is because the gas used, carbon dioxide when mixed with water, makes carbonic acid. To make rust, the iron oxidizes – it combines with oxygen. This is why rust is also called iron oxide. The carbonic acid reverses this reaction – this reversal is called “reduction.” Here’s a better reason – take a look at your Coke can – it has phosphoric acid as an ingredient. Phosphoric acid is the basis of Naval Jelly, a commercial product used for rust removal. Phosphoric acid dissolves iron oxide very quickly while etching metallic iron very slowly so you can leave metal in phosphoric acid with little damage.

The downside is that all acids contribute some hydrogen to the metal structure, weakening the steel by hydrogen embrittlement – so always use only as much time as is absolutely necessary to remove the rust. An advantage of phosphoric acid is that it leaves a fine protective coating of iron phosphate. Because this coating is not thick or durable some protection is still required. Years ago supposedly Volkswagon use a process of phosphating metal prior to painting as it provided a chemical protection against rust under the paint layer.
So, spilling your Coke into your old engine wouldn’t really be a bad thing if you were trying to remove some rust.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 27th April 2010