We only hear about the successful science experiments, but what about the crazy ideas mad scientists have come up with? We found these experiments to be much more interesting, so here is a list of 13 of the BIGGEST scientific FAILS.
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8. Cold Fusion
This crazy claim stated that at room temperature, scientists could create a nuclear reaction that fused particles together to create energy, which could then be harnessed into electricity. After over million was spent on research, it is now discounted as a ridiculous theory, as any type of nuclear fusion is known to require temperatures upwards of ten million degrees. Friedrich and Peters, the two scientists known for the idea, faced endless amounts of backlash and ridicule for coming up with such an idea that gave the world hope for clean energy, only to let us down.
7. The Hindenburg Disaster
In 1937, the all-famous Hindenburg aircraft went up in flames. Just seconds after it lifted off, an unexpected spark lit the hydrogen supply used to give the blimp flight, which led to a veritable blaze within minutes. While the claim has been made that the fabric coating it was made out of sped up the spread of the fire, but this has since been discounted. Shockingly, 62 of the 97 people aboard survived. No evidence of tampering was ever found, so just how the spark occurred over the leaking hydrogen remains a mystery.
6. The Fen-Phen Problem
Michael Weintraub from the University of Rochester came up with the idea of mixing two chemicals to reduce obesity. Fenfluramine, which suppresses appetite, and phentermine, a stimulant to speed up metabolism, were synthesized into a drug. After between 1.2 million and 4.7 million Americans were exposed to the drug, it was found that using fen-phen for just three months multiplied the risk of pulmonary hypertension 23 times. Even more studies proved that prolonged use could lead to heart valve failure. Of course, it was yanked from the shelves, but the damage had been done.
5. The Hubble Telescope’s Focus Problem
The Hubble Telescope, which was launched on April 24, 1990, has taken countless breathtaking images of space. Before that, however, it had trouble focusing. Why, you ask? Because a device used to measure the mirror in its lens malfunctioned, causing the polishing of the mirror to throw the lens out of focus. This little uh-oh was a costly error− about .5 billion was spent on a mission to space to repair it.
4. Mars Climate Orbiter
You may find it irritating that your science teachers always stress the importance of using the metric system in science class. Well, the Mars Climate Orbiter disaster is an example of why you should. It was launched in 1998 and was expected to arrive at Mars in 1999, but just before the expected arrival date, NASA announced that it was lost. Over 5 million was spent developing the orbiter, but communication with it was lost because some of the developers used feet to calculate the distance while others used meters.
3. The Crash of the Challenger
Seven lives were lost in the crash of the space shuttle known as the Challenger. January 28, 1986 was the fateful day when, 73 seconds into flight, a failed o-ring component caused the shuttle to be torn to pieces, sending a plume of white smoke through the air. There was nothing wrong with their installation or manufacturing, but they were not designed to operate in low temperatures, and the morning of the launch was unusually cold. Not only did it cost 7 lives, but also .5 billion in damages.
2. Chernobyl’s Meltdown
Now a radioactive wasteland that is said to be haunted, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant wasn’t always the decimated ruin it is today. Perfectly operational until its meltdown in 1986, this Soviet Union power plant is still causing fallout today. The disaster was triggered when technicians at the fourth reactor attempted to carry out an ill-planned experiment and when the problem started, they did not shut down the reactor completely, but allowed it to run at 7% power. It initially caused 32 deaths, but people today are still facing radiation poisoning and birth defects.
1. Frontal Lobotomies
This poor man is just one of many who was subjected to the horror of the frontal lobotomy. António Egas Moniz is given credit for inventing the lobotomy in 1935, but similar practices had been happening long before that. Roughly 50,000 lobotomies were performed in the US alone under the pretext of treating mental illness. It was only thought to be successful because removing the frontal lobe effectively either turns a person into a vegetable or kills them.