5 Insane Sacrifices Made for Science
Mars One plan, Bikini Atoll atomic testing top the list
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 10, 2012 5:00 PM CDT
An atomic bomb test at the Bikini Atoll in 1946.   (Wikimedia Commons)

(Newser) – With a Dutch company planning to send astronauts to Mars for life—and make it a reality show—no other scientific endeavor could ask more of people ... right? Well, the Wall Street Journal runs down the competition:

  • 90 people offered to work on ships near the Navy's Bikini Atoll atomic bomb tests in 1946, to help scientists gather biological data. Humans were "more satisfactory than animals," Navy researchers admitted, but they feared a public relations disaster and turned down the volunteers.

  • University of Alabama professor Allan Walker Blair let a black widow bite him for 10 seconds to guarantee a full shot of venom. Blair spent days in hospitalized agony; a physician said he hadn't seen "more abject pain manifested in any other medical or surgical condition."
  • Japanese pediatrician Shimesu Koino downed 2,000 intestinal roundworm eggs so he could closely study its life cycle. The infection got so bad, he coughed them all up.
  • Herbert Woollard and Edward Carmichael, doctors based in London, piled weights on their testicles to see how the pain would move through their bodies.
Why the self-sacrifice? The Journal borrows President Kennedy's line that people do such things "not because they are easy, but because they are hard." Click for the full article.