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BIG LIST: Eccentric Experiments
Thursday 29 March 2012, 12:58PM
The idea of the mad scientist didn’t just appear out of thin air – take a look at the following wacky experiments and you might just begin to understand why.   Curiosity killed the elephant:   The 1960s was all about experimentation with drugs. But evidently bored with testing brain-bending psychedelics on himself, Warren Thomas got a little curious about the bigger things in life. And by bigger things, we mean elephants. Specifically, what happens when an elephant is tripping on acid. The liberal-minded pachyderm Tusko ‘volunteered’ for the experiment and was injected with 297 milligrams of LSD – about 3,000 times the typical human dose. The result, as anyone (except Thomas) could have guessed from the outset, was a disaster: Tusko died. The conclusion: “Elephants are highly sensitive to LSD”, which in no way makes the experiment worthwhile.     Cholera cocktail:   Max Josef von Pettenkofer developed the very first large-scale pure-water system in Munich, Germany. And while that’s very impressive, from now until the day you die, if you remember anything about Pettenkofer, it will be this: he drank a steaming cup of cholera bacteria that he cultured from a patient’s diarrhea.   Fun fact:   The patient was dead. Pettenkofer suspected that the bacterium which causes cholera was not the only factor in contracting the disease, and that certain environmental conditions also had to be in place. Of course,  Pettenkofer was wrong – it was just the bacterium – but he ended up on a stamp, so the real lesson to learn from this is that if you want to end up on a stamp, drink a dead person’s poo.    One for the team:   John Hunter was a famous physician in England, and the personal surgeon to King George III. Other patients included his own penis. When Hunter was practicing medicine, London was a growing urban center, which is a diplomatic way of saying it was rife with prostitution and venereal disease, namely clap (gonorrhea) and pox (syphilis). Hunter argued that clap and pox were in fact the same disease, just at different stages. But how to prove this fine claim? Test it on himself of course. Hunter made incisions on his own penis and inserted a bunch of infected pus from one of his gonorrhea-stricken patients. The problem was that the patient was, in fact, suffering from both gonorrhea AND syphilis, he just didn’t know it yet. So he accidentally took two diseases, injected them straight into his genitals, drew the wrong conclusion and managed to “set back medical progress for half a century.” Good job guy.    Black sheep:   Researchers needed to study the effects of Tasers on targets under the influence of methamphetamines. But how to get volunteers? Most people won’t even touch meth for fear they’ll wake up in a different timezone, let alone get Tasered while on it. But you know who’s got a pulse, doesn’t mind getting Tased and loves the hell out of meth? Meth addicts! Except rather than opting for reason and logic, the scientists went instead for hilarious insanity: They rounded up 16 sheep, gave them a speedball of powerful sedatives and methamphetamines, and then proceeded to Taser the crap out of them. Despite being given the exact recipe for a nonsensical death, all of the sheep lived, displaying no signs of the potentially fatal heart rhythm that human targets under similar conditions often succumb to. Final outcome: Somewhere out there, there exists a small gang of speed-freak sheep struggling with a dueling sedative addiction. They may or may not be immune to electricity.
Yakshemash! Kuwait in Borat song blunder
Thursday 29 March 2012, 12:51PM
  The shadow of Borat continues to haunt Kazakhstan – and provide amusement for the rest of the world – after bungling officials replaced the country’s national anthem with his parody version at a recent medal ceremony in Kuwait. Surprisingly, the incident wasn’t the work of comedian Sacha Baron Cohen.The embarrassing mix-up happened when Kazakhstan shooting-team member Maria Dmitrienko prepared to accept her gold medal. The video involving the anthem blunder starts with a close up of the country’s national flag before it pans in on a stony faced gold medal champion standing on a winner’s podium with her hand placed proudly on her chest. Playing in the background is Borat’s version of the country’s national song ‘My Kazakhstan’, which includes the dubious lyrics: “Kazakhstan greatest country in the world/ All other countries are run by little girls/ Kazakhstan number one exporter of potassium/ Other countries have inferior potassium.” It was made famous by Cohen in the 2006 mockumentary Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, when he sang the spoof anthem to a chorus of boos at a US stadium. The film came under fire from Kazakh officials who criticised Cohen’s portrayal of the transcontinental country labelling it as unfair. It was banned by countries across the globe, including Kuwait where the recent Borat blunder took place. It is unclear as of yet if the error was a practical joke or a genuine mistake. The latest gaffe involving Kazakhstan comes after their anthem was replaced by Ricky Martin song Livin’ la Vida Loca at a recent skiing event.
BIG LIST: Weird Cities
Friday 23 March 2012, 10:02AM
Apparently you can pick up an entire town for an absolute bargain in the US at the moment – but here are a few cities you might think twice about visiting, let alone purchasing: What a dump: Manshiyat Naser is a city with zero unemployment, extremely cheap housing and a populace that mostly describe themselves as “happy”. But looking at a picture of this charming little utopia (above), you could be forgiven for thinking it was shot in an apocalyptic montage. That’s because it’s an entire society based solely around trash. Manshiyat Naser is located right next to Cairo, one of the largest cities on the African continent, and Manshiyat Naser is little more than Cairo’s rubbish dump; which makes the city’s inhabitants like one giant hobo living in a comically oversized dumpster. Oompa loompa land: China. Political correctness. Because we’re morally not allowed to put those terms in the same sentence, it’s fair to say being a minority there isn’t exactly all talent competitions and inspirational after-school specials. Well, one man decided to give little people a place where they could join together to escape the bullying – by living their entire lives on display in the world’s first live-in theme park. The citizens of Dwarf City, outside the city of Kunming in Yunnan province, live in houses shaped like mushrooms, dress up in fairy tale outfits and make their living off of souvenirs and tourism, and even boast a miniature police force, fire brigade and political system. Crime density: Located just outside Hong Kong, Kowloon Walled City is where Chinese laws went to die. When the British went to clear the area in 1948, they failed so spectacularly that everybody, English and Chinese, adopted an official policy of simply forgetting about the god-forsaken hell-hole. And to everybody’s mutual surprise, the Walled City absolutely thrived on the anarchy. The city was only .03 square kilometres, yet housed roughly 33,000 people, making it the most densely populated area in world history. Citizens even jury-rigged up their own water and electric grids, and though it looked like Tim Burton was their city planner, it mostly worked, until it was eventually torn down 30 years later. Waterworld: Back in 1945, the USSR discovered oil just off the coast of Azerbaijan. Of course at that point in history, no one had ever built an offshore oil rig before. Not to be deterred by minor considerations such as reason, the USSR went ahead and built a massive multiplatform oil rig. When even more oil was discovered right next door, they didn’t bother with a whole new platform; they just retired a boat, bolted it to the existing platform and started working on it – and continued in this fashion until they wound up with Oily Rocks, a gargantuan city of 5,000 oil workers, with over 200 kilometres worth of road built into the middle of the Caspian Sea.  World domination: In 2003, Dubai’s economy was raging, and they were sporting more hasty erections than a seventh grade gym class. You could build anything in that city, not in spite of your structure defying logic, but because of it. Such was the attitude when the Nakheel Company set out to create a series of new islands in the shape of a scale map of the entire world, which they creatively named ‘The World’. The private world-islands were completed in 2008. Which was exactly when Dubai’s economy finally tanked. Nobody ever moved onto the islands, and the whole thing has just been sitting vacant ever since, slowly sinking back into the sea.