Science is a field of discovery that is constantly advancing to help us investigate and understand the world we live in, and always with the initial aim to improve it. With innovative ideas and testing those solutions we always get closer to exploring further galaxies, utilizing innovative power resources and making our immediate day-to-day more efficient while not causing harm on our future world. With all that said, there is still the simple fact that everyone makes mistakes and sometimes priorities can get a bit askew. We bring to you some of the biggest “whoopsies” and science fails reminding you that even rocket scientists aren’t perfect.
E.T. > Climate Change
The United States House of Representatives has a Committee devoted to Science, Space and Technology. It has command over non-defensive federal scientific research and development – while specifically having partial or complete jurisdiction over critically decisive federal agencies like NASA, Department of Energy, EPA, and FEMA. However, in the past couple of years their meeting agendas have been a bit, well, questionable. National Journal shares that in the past several years, this committee has held more hearings on extraterrestrial life than on climate change. According to NJ, the Congressional House Science committee has “held 15 hearings on space exploration alone, at least three of which have involved the search for extraterrestrial life. By comparison, the committee has held just two hearings devoted to climate change.” Ouch.
Penicillin and its Accidental Origins
Penicillin was one of the 20th century’s most vital antibiotics, a medicine that saved millions of lives and was also an accidental discovery. Alexander Fleming was your standard mad scientist, at this point. Not so much as crazy as he was just disorganized and messy. I mean rightfully so he was deep in researching various bacteria associated with the influenza virus, when he realized that he needed desperately to pick up his chaotic and littered lab after returning from a two week holiday. When cleaning off contaminated plates he realized that there was jelly forming that would actually repel the growth of staphylococci. Mind you staph infection was a huge culprit in many deaths during this time and with the aid of the some other scientists, he identified the solution from this jelly and mass produced it as what we now know as Penicillin.
[Image source: Flickr/ Clauretano]
Anyone who grew up in the 90’s probably remembers the hyped publicity that centered around an ambitious experiment to lock in 4 men and 4 women into a glass globe testing if they can create a self-sustaining world based on the supplied inside — air, water and food produced by the plants inside. Long story short they could not sustain themselves and gained criticism for negotiating the experiment buy having a Biospherian leave (because of injury) to re-enter with a bag of unidentified supplies. Rumors also started to circulate how this group were not really “scientists” in any right but a group of friends who lived in a commune years prior and had believed that the world was doomed to destruct anyways. This cult-like troop then began to fight with one another on difference of beliefs about the mission while also losing extreme amounts of weight, they were released two years later and the mission is still chastised as potentially “bad science.”
[Image Source: Michelle Bender,Flickr]
Winthrop Kellogg was a noted scientist and researcher dedicated to investigating nature vs nurture concept. Specifically reversing the idea that a human child takes on animalistic characteristics when raised by that species. Kellogg wanted to see if he could raise a chimp like a child, would it in fact learn to behave like a human. While raising a baby chimp along side his own baby son he began to realize that his son was beginning to take on more chimp-like behaviors than the chimp would take on human behaviors. After about nine months, Kellogg had to give the chimp away in fear that they would impede on any of his son’s natural cognitive learning and behavior.
[Image source: Flickr/ Courtney Mault]
Baby in a Box
I mean the title for this section already sounds like a terrible idea, but in reality this was probably the only idea/invention that worked just fine, however the backlash from the public stunted any potential success. Doctor Fredric Skinner noticed a problem in the ergonomics issue of putting down and picking up his baby from it’s crib and how the crib itself can be a hotbed of potential harm for the baby. So his invention took the form of a 6 foot high enclosed box that kept the baby elevated about 3 feet off the ground. This minimized back strain for the parent lifting the baby in and out while creating a nice safe bubble for the baby. It was heated with a humidifier and air filter, ensuring that the baby was always at a comfortable temperature and breathing in fresh air. While the bed was a canvas sheet on two rollers allowing the parent to just roll out a another section for a fresh layer. The public was not so keen on the idea and snapped back, accusing the doctor of caging the baby up like an animal. Production only serviced about 100 or so units and Skinner was not trying to push his product on anyone, so instead just back-stepped from the spotlight.