Are we too hard on mad scientists? After all, many of the world's greatest discoveries were made using experiments that would make the average citizen run screaming from the room.
So really, is there such a thing as a "mad" scientist at all? A man whose methods go so far above and beyond, that you doubt his very sanity?
Yes. Yes there is. Here are nine of them.
9Harry Harlow, Monkey Torturer
What is love? American psychologist Harry Harlow decided to find out. And what stronger bond is there than that of a child and mother? So he did studies on rhesus monkey babies and their mothers, to find the nature of love itself. What could be more noble?
Wait, what's the title of this article again? Oh, shit.
Harlow had a "Rape Rack" in his lab.
That's what he called the forced mating machine he used for the monkeys. See, it turns out Harlow wasn't big on using euphemisms to make people feel better about his experiments. And that's a problem, because he decided early that the best way to find out the nature of love was by torturing baby monkeys.
If you think "torturing" is too strong a word, you should know that he called another of his devices the Iron Maiden.
"To be honest, I don't even know why I'm doing this."
Wait, it Gets Weirder:
His most controversial experiment, however, involved a device affectionately dubbed the pit of despair, where a baby monkey would be placed in a small isolated chamber for periods of up to a year, without any contact with any living creature. As a result, the baby monkeys became psychotic and never recovered.
"You mean you don't like being tortured? Fascinating!"
So when it came time for Harlow to present his findings, we're guessing he just summed it up as, "What is love? Well, you know that feeling you get when you've been locked in a tiny dark space alone for a year? It's the opposite of that."
8Jack Parsons, Occult Rocket Scientist
As a rocket propulsion researcher at the California Institute of Technology and co-founder of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, chemist Jack Parsons was destined to be immortalized in history as "the guy who knew a lot about rockets." Though, we assume history would have a better handle on coming up with nicknames than we do.
Here's Jack Parsons:
Well, we certainly don't see anything odd there. But as it turns out, Parsons was into the occult. Really into it.
Which would be cool if he kept it to himself, like getting a couple of weird tattoos or holding the occasional orgy in a circle of black candles (thus making him the greatest scientist in history). But no, Parsons didn't believe in moderation in his craziness. He was a strict follower of the Thelema, a sort of spiritual philosophy on life lead by this man, Aleister Crowley:
He was one of Crowley's most devoted students and was even chosen to lead a Masonic/Religious/Quasi-secret organization in California.
Eventually Parsons started invoking the name of the Greek god Pan before every rocket test, because half-goat/half-man, forest creatures are known for their technological aptitude.
Wait, it Gets Weirder:
The infamous publically discredited super fraud L. Ron Hubbard was often Parsons's "magical" buddy. Together they did many cool things, like participating in a ritual known as the Babalon Working, an attempt to summon a living goddess. They didn't succeed, as far as we know. Later, Hubbard defrauded a large sum of money from Parsons and used it to publish his book Dianetics, the basis for the Scientology movement.
Parsons didn't live to see Scientology bloom, as he died shortly after when science exploded in his face. And we mean that literally: He died in an explosion of volatile chemicals he kept laying around. Thanks a lot, Pan.