The conversations of life

Nappies on ostriches, rotting cow livers: scientists tweet about the strangest experiments they’ve done


Scientists are often tasked with answering some of the weirdest questions in the universe.

Now a US professor of entomology and disease epidemiology, Jason Rasgon has asked his fellow researchers what they’ve done in the name of science – and the responses are both bizarre and gross.

Unsurprisingly, animal sex – and getting up close and personal with their bits – topped the list:

  • “Massaged hamster testes during a peritoneal lavage to increase macrophage yield. Set the hamster on fire (it was an accident!) while attempting to collect lavage fluid.”
  • “I made a sex doll for fruit flies and painted it with pheromones.”
  • “Electrocuting male sea urchins to get them to ejaculate.”
  • “Put diapers on ostriches.”

Not all of these experiments happened in the lab either:

  • “Transported 500 decomposing fox rectums in my hand luggage on a Ryanair flight.”
  • “I let a box of cow liver rot for a few weeks in my office to make media for blowflies.”
  • “Transported 100 live spiders on a flight in my check in (opening the bag mid-flight periodically to monitor their behaviour).” (Just no).

There was also a lot of noble self-sacrifice:

  • “Fed the lab louse colony on my arm. Got Typhus.”
  • “Participated in a trial for a vaccine utilizing live malaria parasites. Got malaria.”
  • “Snorkel in the refrigeration water of a nuclear power plant. Waiting for my super powers to blossom.”

And, finally the downright disgusting:

  • “I enriched and isolated my own personal E. coli. Right from the source.”

One thing’s for sure, it’s given me a new appreciation for our pioneering researchers – and a slight worry about that smell coming from my co-worker’s desk.

With a background in nursing, Annie has spent over 20 years working in the health industry, including the coordination of medical support for international TV productions and major stadium events, plus education campaigns with a number of national health organisations. In recent years, she has also taken time out of the workforce to be a full-time carer, giving her first-hand experience of the challenges and rewards of this role.

Leave A Reply