Humans have learned a lot using all sorts of physical or psychological experiments. Nevertheless when their curiosity couldn’t be satisfied using human beings, they passed on to animals. Here they are: 8 scientific experiments conducted on animals, most of which went awfully wrong.
# 1. The isolated head of a dog
In the late 1920s Soviet physician Sergei Brukhonenko wanted to satisfy his curiosity regarding a detached head’s possibility of remaining alive without an actual body attached to it. So he took a dog’s head, and parallel to that he developed a primitive heart-lung machine, called an “autojector,” and with this device he succeeded in keeping the head of a dog alive. He showed his deed in 1928 to scientists at the Third Congress of Physiologists of the USSR. In order to remove all doubt regarding his success, he showed that it reacted to stimuli. Brukhonenko banged a hammer on the table, and the dog head flinched. He immersed light in its eyes, and the dog’s eyes blinked. He even fed it a piece of cheese, which immediately popped out the esophageal tube on the other end. How cynical can one person be?
# 2. Seeing through a cat’s eyes
This ia 1999 attempt to see the world through another creature’s eyes, in our case, a cat. The animal was anesthetized and chemically paralyzed and secured in a surgical frame. After that Dr. Yang Dan of the University of California, Berkeley, glued metal posts to the whites of its eyes, and forced it to look a screen that showed scene after scene of swaying trees and men wearing turtlenecks. Moreover the researchers had also inserted fiber electrodes into the vision-processing center of the cat’s brain. They measured the electrical activity of the brain cells and transmitted this information to a nearby computer that decoded the information and transformed it into a visual image. As the cat watched the images of the trees and the turtleneck-wearing guy, the same images emerged, yet slightly blurrier, on the computer screen across the room. The poor cat! I wonder if she ever survived this experiment…
# 3. Shock the puppy
This is an animal response to Milgrim’s experiment. For those of you who don’t know, Stanley Milgram, a social psychologist at Yale University, wanted to test obedience to authority. He set up an experiment with teachers, who were the actual participants, and learners, who were actors. Both categories knew the study was about memory and learning. Things were arranged so that the actual participants took the role of the teacher. The two were moved into separate rooms and the teacher was given instructions as to press a button to shock the learner each time an incorrect answer was provided. These shocks would increase in voltage each time. Eventually, the actor would start to complain followed by more and more desperate screaming. Only 14 out of 40 teachers halted the experiment before administering a 450-volt shock, though every participant questioned the experiment, and no teacher firmly refused to stop the shocks before 300 volts.
Anyway, imagine this same experiment, but with fluffy puppies instead of the human learners. Charles Sheridan and Richard King theorized that perhaps Milgram’s subjects had merely played along with the experiment because they realized the victim was faking his cries of pain. But with the puppy, everything was real: its part and the shocks. As the voltage increased, the puppy first barked, then jumped up and down, and finally started howling with pain. The volunteers were horrified. They became restless, hyperventilated, and started gesturing with their hands to show the puppy where to stand. Many cried, but the majority of them, 20 out of 26, kept pushing the shock button right up to the maximum voltage. We are bad little creatures, aren’t we?