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The 6 Most Baffling Science Experiments Ever Funded

#3. Arbitrary Monkey Erections

John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Primate Research Center stuck four male marmoset monkeys in a cage. Two of the marmosets were sexually naive, and two had plenty of experience (or so they kept telling the other monkeys at the monkey-bar). We know that reads like a rom-com premise wherein two experienced monkeys mentor their virgin pals during one crazy summer -- almost certainly starring Rob Schneider -- but the researchers had their reasons.

They wanted to see whether monkeys could be conditioned to masturbate to smells.

Tom Brakefield/Stockbyte/Getty Images
"It's funny that you think we need 'conditioning' to masturbate to anything."

Hey, we didn't say they were good reasons.

Scientists first exposed the male monkeys to lemon-saturated wooden discs for 15 minutes a day and then brought in a female monkey so they could get it on. After nine days of watching animals bone amid the citrus, researchers stopped bringing females to the cages. But it made no difference. The experiment was a success. The marmosets still got erections every time they smelled lemon.

Photos.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images
On the plus side, the price of ED meds just plummeted.

So then there were four really confused monkeys that masturbated to Pledge for a week. Good job, Science?

#2. What Happens When You Get Leeches Drunk?

Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images

Scientists at the University of Bergen in Norway believed that they could improve the rate that leeches suck blood by dipping them in beer beforehand. That was seriously their hypothesis. But don't start questioning their motives just yet! These were not men who idly wondered about the relation between liquor and the willingness to suck things -- why, that would be silly and frivolous! They had also brought garlic and sour cream.

Researchers then proceeded to dip some of the leeches in Guinness (at least Science has good taste), smear some with garlic, and give the rest sour cream. Then each researcher placed a different leech on his or her own arm, because they were drunk and in Norway. What else were they going to do?

Chris Schuster
"Find me the arm of a guy who just ate a Doritos taco, I'm goddamn starving."

The drunken leeches did not see improved suckage, however. In fact, they couldn't even maintain their grip, but simply swayed their bodies back and forth and fell onto their backs while loudly proclaiming, "I'll tell YOU when I've had enough!" Bizarrely, it was the sour cream leeches that showed increased sucking abilities (ladies) -- but only after they'd been removed from the arm. The garlic leeches just keeled over and died.

And so ends the experiment that studied how Super Bowl snacks affect job performance in parasites.

Michael Blann/Digital Vision/Getty Images
Your tax dollars at work.

#1. The Velocity of Penguin Crap

Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

German and Hungarian researchers named Victor Benno Meyer-Rochow and Jozsef Gal honestly believed that the best thing they could do for the advancement of science was to studiously observe what came out of a penguin's butthole.

Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images
"For science!"

Instead of looking for lost civilizations or efficient new fuels, Benno and Gal snatched their expensive degrees from that fussy old dean at graduation and hightailed it right the hell out of academia. They went straight to Antarctica, where they set up camp, positively giddy with anticipation, and went about studying chinstrap and Adelie penguins to better understand how the flightless birds defecated without stinking up their nest.

Their findings, published in a biology journal under the fooling-nobody title of "Calculations on Avian Defecation," employed an impressive number of algorithms, equations, and graphs to illustrate the many complicated nuances of penguin squats:

Meyer-Rochow/Gal
Note the log-log scale, which means this is serious shit.

Benno and Gal, a killer comedy-duo name if we've ever heard one, were unquestionably thorough. They calculated the distance that excrement traveled before it hit the ground; they documented the height and shape of countless penguin asses; they even used the Hagen-Poiseuille equation for dynamic pressure to determine the force necessary to shoot poop as far as possible (above). And if that all sounds a little technical and difficult to approach, well, don't worry. It all boils down to this:

Meyer-Rochow/Gal
"If crap leaves a penguin's butthole at 28 mph, and train B leaves Chicago at 9:30 a.m. ..."

Let's have a hand for Science, everybody.



Ricardo would like to thank Cracked moderator and fashionista David C. Bell for his help in getting this article off the ground.



For more reasons not to trust scientists, check out 9 Real Life Mad Scientists and The 6 Cruelest Science Experiments Ever (Were Done on Kids).

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