11 Craziest Things People Have Done In The Name Of Science

10. Human Crash Test Dummy

Gene Wilder Young Frankenstein

After World War II, and following the invention of super sonic jets, the US Air Force wanted to find out whether their pilots would survive ejection from an aircraft moving at super sonic speeds. The concern was that the deceleration from the speed of sound to near standstill would subject the pilot to unsurvivable amounts of G-force - some 40 or 50 Gs. At the time it was thought that the most a human could endure was around 18 Gs, but nobody had ever tested this to see for certain.

In order to find out, flight surgeon John Paul Stapp decided to subject himself to some gruelling physical experiments. He designed and built a rocket sled capable of speeds up to 750 mph before hitting a pool of water and coming to an immediate stop. During testing, the strong restraints holding a test dummy snapped and sent it soaring through the air, landing 700 feet away in a crumpled heap. Stapp seemed to think it would then be a good idea for him to have a go (can't let dummies have all the fun, now can we?)

He suffered concussions, blackouts, broken bones, fractured ribs and horrific headaches, and yet he continued with the experiment. One other disturbing possibility was that, once Stapp slammed on the brakes, his eyeballs would simply keep going and fly clean out of his skull. All this didn't really seem to bother Stapp as he just kept coming back for more - over the next 7 years, Stapp rode the sled 29 times, carefully observing its effects each time - most of which presumably boiled down to "everything hurts".

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