■ Sucked in!: Stopping the spread of malaria sounds like a pretty rewarding job. In Brazil, the only reward is malaria. That’s because the Anopheles Darlingi mosquito there is a crafty little sucker, and doesn’t fall for the light or wind traps researchers use in Africa and Asia.
Instead, human bait has to be used, literally meaning people let malaria-infected mozzies bite feed on them in the name of science. Veteran researcher Helge Zieler used to put himself on the menu twice a week, once catching 500 Anopheles in three hours. Meanwhile, he was rewarded with 3,000 bites, or an average of 17 per minute for 180 minutes on end. Oh, and he also got malaria.
■ Sticky notes: With no disrespect intended, most people realise that if you’re working as a janitor, you haven’t exactly made it in life. But there are levels of job satisfaction even for the humble mop baron, and this is definitely the bottom rung.
The main responsibility of the porno theatre janitor is to take his mop and rag and clean up after each show is finished. Unlike a traditional theatre, it’s safe to assume that sticky substance under the chair is something other than Coca-Cola and melted choc top. On the plus side, free porn!
■ Onerous odour: Odour judges are common in the research labs of mouthwash companies. But Michael Levitt took the job to another level – or, rather, to the other end. There’s really no way to dress this up, so we’ll just say it: Levitt paid two people to smell other people’s farts.
We don't know how much they got paid, but it’s pretty safe to assume it’s somewhere in the range of not enough. The odour judges then sat down with at least 100 bottled fart samples, opened the caps one at a time, and inhaled robustly.
The samples were also chemically analysed, with the results proving the most malodorous component of the human flatus in hydrogen sulfide, which in no way justifies the nature of the experiment.
■ Consumption misconception: Sitting back all day eating chocolate and drinking wine – it’s what most of us dream of, and a lucky few actually make a living from it. But for them, the job isn’t so rosy as our daydreams might have us believe. Modern food tasting is a science first and foremost, and is treated as such.
All tasting takes place, not at a cozy intimate table for two, but in a sterile booth flooded with only red light, where food is shoved through a hole in the wall. And then there are the alternative foods and food projects that aren’t so mainstream, but need testing as well.
Companies have employed tasters to sample various types of mushrooms, pet foods, measure escalating levels of “rancidity” in expired foods and even ingest flavoured birth control pills.
■ Rodeo clown: There are some people in the world who have legitimate needs for animal sperm. Those people – usually researchers (we assume) – have three options to go about attaining their payload:
They can ram an electric probe up an animal’s rectum; shove an artificial vagina onto the animal’s penis; or go ol’ school by using manual stimulation. Let’s focus on the second one. The artificial vagina (AV) is a large latex tube coated with warm lubricant used primarily to get sperm from dairy bulls.
When a bull mounts a steer with his forelegs, a brave ‘technician’, AV in hand, places himself between the two aroused beasts and deftly redirects the bull’s penis into the mock genitalia, which he must then hold tight while the bull 'releases'. It’s like taking candy from a baby, if the candy is sex and the baby is more than 1,000kg of pure enraged muscle.