The 6 Most Badass Stunts Ever Pulled in the Name of Science

#3. Stubbins Ffirth Eats Yellow Fever

The line between heroic bravery and complete stupidity is a blurred one and Stubbins Ffirth sprinted over it while chugging a bowl of vomit. Seriously.

Perhaps driven to insanity by his ridiculous name, trainee doctor Ffirth attempted to prove that Yellow Fever isn't contagious (Note: it actually is). His "experiments" were maniacal displays of filth, lack of self-respect and absolute depravity, so it's pity he lived a full two centuries before the invention of the internet.

Ffirth's great-great-granddaughter and her friend.

He subjected himself to possible infection by victims in every conceivable manner--and his brain could conceive manners that would make yours lock itself in the bathroom with a bucket of bleach.

He jammed infected patient vomit, blood and urine into every orifice. This includes several holes he cut in his arm, dripping pus from dying men into his eyes, and he rounded off a nice day of horrific self-mutilation with a filling lunch of fried puke.

Amazingly, these experiments neither got him locked up as a fucking lunatic nor infected him. Real scientists later found that this is because Yellow Fever is blood-borne, and that the late-stage (translation: dying) patients Stubbins was using as a smorgasbord were no longer very contagious.

Still, the odds of his not catching something are on par with playing Russian Roulette with a fully loaded gun, but having it jam on a winning lottery ticket that just dropped out of the sky.

#2. HEAF Tempts the Explosion Gods

The High Explosives Applications Facility, the single coolest-named facility in the entire world, decided to show off how precisely they could control their new metal-melting laser. Instead of shooting an apple off their least-favorite employee's head, they decided to demonstrate the laser's precision by cutting through the shell of a Stinger missile. Yes, the type that blow up. No, they didn't take out those explosive bits first.

That's the segment they lasered out of the shell, and that powder still attached is ammonium perchlorate which is practically chemical-ese for "goddamn explosive." Amazingly, this research was not unveiled on a huge television in front of the United Nations before demanding a million dollars--it's just what they do there. We can imagine the daily conversations of the staff:

"What are you doing today, honey?"

"Well, dear, we're going to fire a massively intense laser into the side of a live missile."

"Oh, that's nice, be sure to take your extra Ziploc bags in case you get blown into chunks. Remember what happened to Jenkins!"


#1. Werner Forssmann Stabs His Own Damned Heart

In 1929, Werner Forssmann was a surgical trainee who wanted to learn about the heart. Unlike other wimpy doctors at the time, instead of learning about it from books or dead animals, he went for the more classic investigatory approach of "poke it with something."

Without any supervision, advice, or regard for that concept you call "survival," he cut a hole in his arm and pushed a catheter all the way up the limb and jammed it into his still-living heart.

A female nurse had volunteered for the procedure, and while he wouldn't risk anyone else (perhaps shouting "Dammit, it's too dangerous!"), he needed her to hand him the necessary surgical tools. So he laid her on the surgical table, gave her a painkiller, then performed the procedure on himself while she wasn't looking. That's right, this guy shoved two feet of cable into his own cardiac system as a sleight-of-hand trick, thereby permanently upstaging David Copperfield 27 years before he was even born.

He then walked--WALKED, mind you--with a tube hanging out of his fucking heart like some kind of price tag to the X-Ray room and presumably said "Hey guys, check out what I just did."

"I'm a very good doctor."

When another doctor desperately tried to pull the catheter out of him (perhaps shouting "Dammit, it's too dangerous!"), Werner had to kick him away because his hands were full with the cable running into his own heart. At this point it's clear that if a 10-man SWAT team composed entirely of Arnold Schwarzeneggers had attacked Forssman, he'd have beaten the life out of every single one, then performed lifesaving research on the corpses.

He was fired, probably for being tougher than everyone and everything else in the building (including the concrete foundations)--27 years later they gave him a Nobel Prize.

If you liked that you'll probably enjoy our look at The 5 Most Badass Presidents of All Time. And don't forget to check out Internet Party 2: An Intervention for MySpace to see which sites you shouldn't be inviting to your next intervention. And if we've told you once, we've told you a thousand times: Apparently Real Moms Aren't Like the Ones on

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