You don't have to be an eccentric obsessive to be a scientist, but it helps...In "The Mad Science Book", Reto Schneider tells the extraordinary tales of 111 of the more unusual experiments conducted across seven centuries of science.
From the attempts of the 14th-century Dominican monk Theodoric von Freiberg to discover the cause of the rainbow, to the efforts of the 20th-century psychologist Harry Harlow to be the perfect mother to a family of reluctant rhesus monkeys, these are stories that are often bizarre, sometimes mind-boggling - occasionally stomach-churning - but always divert ing, informative and enlightening.
Among the myriad delights on display in this cabinet of scientific curiosities are the renowned doctor from Padua who sat in a pair of scales for 30 years, recording the minutest changes in his weight; the sheep, the duck and the rooster who became the world's first air passengers; the disgusting Dr Stubbins Ffirth, who swallowed other people's vomit in an attempt to prove that yellow fever cannot be transmitted from one person to another; the hapless soldier Alexis St Martin, left with a hole in his stomach after an accident with a musket; and the ever-optimistic Charles-Edouard Brown-Seq uard, who injected himself with essence of guinea pigs' testicles as an anti-ageing remedy.
There is trivia here in abundance, but also quirky, but genuinely influential, science, notably Merrill Flood's and Melvin Dresher's experiments with choices of outcomes, which have been widely influential as game theory.
A fizzing cocktail of fascinating science and rich entertainment, "The Mad Science Book" tells the extraordinary stories of some truly, madly, geeky people.
Science Book of the year
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Robert Matthews in The Nation
I loved it
Mike O'Hare in New Scientist