We like to think that medicine is an exact science, as the adjective "haphazard" doesn't exactly inspire confidence when it's applied to people who have the power to stick their fingers up our ugly bits. But it turns out that some of the greatest discoveries in modern medicine didn't come about as a consequence of hundreds of dedicated doctors slaving away for hours in a lab. They occurred because people are often stupid, lazy, incompetent, unlucky or accident-prone.
And some of those people happen to be doctors.
5Luigi Galvani, Frogs and Electricity Accidentally Discover How Muscles Work
There's something intrinsically hilarious about the life of Luigi Galvani. First off, his ringlets were so fat you could stuff hot dogs into them. Secondly, he hailed from the University of Bologna. Yeah, the school is historical and prestigious and blah blah blah. Nothing changes the fact that "bologna" is right there in the name.
Via Wikimedia Commons
We weren't kidding, man. Bun and all.
And finally, Galvani loved dissecting him some frogs. Like, all the time. If dead frogs were Mario, Luigi Galvani would be Luigi. So one day, Luigi was just doin' how he do, dissecting a frog to prove that its balls were in its legs, when he forgot that the metal table holding the splayed dead frog was the same metal table previously used for static electricity experiments. And that his dissecting instruments were also made of metal. So when Galvani's assistant touched the frog's sciatic nerve with his electrically charged scalpel, that dead frog leg twitched like it was suffering withdrawal from frog meth.
It wasn't the accurate location of frog testicles, that's for sure. After a few more experiments involving electricity and frog legs ...
... Luigi Galvani and his assistant were the first people to see that it's electricity, not air or water, that moves muscles. This was HUGE, because up to this point, the smartest guys in the world believed that nerves were hollow tubes that functioned as channels for something and that this something was what spurred muscles into action.
Via United States Congress
When people are stumped, "a series of tubes" is the logical go-to explanation.
Some guys thought it was fluid, and others thought it was air, but no one thought it was electricity. It took an Italian guy with a frog fetish and a memory problem to figure it out. From Galvani's discovery that electricity exists within the body came a whole new branch of science, not to mention the notion that with enough electricity, one could theoretically reanimate a corpse. In other words, without Luigi Galvani and his laughably negligent lab techniques, the world would have never known the joys of Franken Berry cereal.