When I saw the title and cover of this book, I knew immediately I had to buy it, before I even had a clue what it was actually about. There was something about it screaming out lunacy, and I have always been rather fond of the absurd, bizarre, and downright weird.
Electrified Sheep, by Alex Boese, who has a master’s degree in the history of science, is a compendium of some of the most ridiculous and eccentric scientific experiments ever conducted, over the last four centuries. The experiments are grouped into five categories: Electric Bodies, which covers experiments to do with electricity and living beings,and includes the Electrified Flying Boy experiment; Nuclear Reactions, which covers how to survive an atomic bomb, as well as the insane experiment to try and nuke the moon; Deceptive Ways, which deals with more psychological matters; Monkeying Around, which is self explanatory and includes chimpanzee butlers, a chimp who grew up as a human, and other stories of monkey intelligence; and lastly Do-It-Yourselfers, which includes a lot of self-experiments with pain and self-surgery.
Most of the experiments are only a few pages long, and are described in enough detail to gain a grasp of them, but in such a way that you don’t have to be a science geek to understand them, either. Some of the stories are fascinating and inspiring, but many of them are just so crazy it’s hard to really believe them. As with many books like this, I wouldn’t recommend trying to sit down and power through it in one go, but rather just every now and then pick it up and skim through a few stories. You’ll enjoy it a lot more that way (well, I can’t know this for sure, but that’s my recommendation).
If you like this book, it’s actually a sequel to an earlier book called Elephants on Acid. After only flicking through a few stories from this collection, one thought lingers…we should really ask the guys on Mythbusters to try and imitate some of these experiments! (But maybe not the one about blowing up the moon).
Have you read this book before? Do you find these kind of crazy science stories interesting?