Electrified Sheep – A book about crazy, eccentric science

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.

Blowing up the moon has been a popular idea for the last half a century, and oddly still is with many people even now.

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?

10 thoughts on “Electrified Sheep – A book about crazy, eccentric science

  1. I can see why you bought this book. Just the title is intriguing enough to at least pick it up to see what it’s about! There are, and have been, many whacked-out scientists who will try absolutely anything in the name of science. I sure hope they never succeed in blowing up the moon, as it has such a great physical influence on the Earth! I can’t imagine what would happen to us if the moon was no longer there (kind of reminds me of the episode of Big Bang Theory where the boys were trying to bounce a laser off the moon and Penny’s dim-witted boyfriend thought they would blow it up!) Anyway, thanks for giving us a little insight into the odd collection of experiments. It might be worth looking for. 🙂

    • Hahaha there are a lot of lunatic scientists out there, definitely! It’s kind of alarming that large amounts of people seriously want to blow up the moon. Many think it’ll be a way to achieve world peace (which is utterly ridiculous in itself – “I know, let’s achieve peace by blowing up something huge and important”).
      It’s a fun little book from what I’ve read so far. 🙂

  2. I saw this book in the store today and almost bought it. Will have to go back tomorrow.

    Weirdest thing I ever heard in the name of ‘science’ (if you could call it that) was the alchemical idea that you could make gold from base materials such as egg yolks. Well, they were yellow, weren’t they… (Might have made a very large omlette, of course…) 🙂

    • Haha, that’s funny you happened to see it today. It’s definitely worth the investment, I think.
      Ah yes, I’ve heard that same idea about making gold from other materials. I find it kind of odd that people thought that might really be possible. Then again, often the one thing weirder than crazy scientific ideas is the actual truth about some things in the universe… 😛

        • Hahaha, I like that. Reminds me of the note at the beginning of one of the Hitchhiker’s books by Douglas Adams – “There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.”

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