Jonas Salk knew all of this, and he also knew that telling the public to inject themselves with a "killed" version of the polio virus would be met with protests. Not only did all previous attempts at inoculation fail miserably, but in one test, six children were killed and three left crippled after trying a potential vaccine. Yeah.
Also, Salk kind of looked like a mad scientist.
So basically, saying "polio vaccine" in the 1940s was likely to get you lynched.
But Salk believed that his method of killing the virus would allow the body to build immunity without any risk. He was so certain of it that when the scientific community asked who in their right mind would willingly take the vaccine, Salk raised his hand.
That man hated him some polio.
But it wasn't just his own life he was willing to risk. To avoid any debate about age or gender influencing the results, Salk also volunteered ... his whole family.
One by one, Salk, his wife and his three children were injected with a substance that many believed would kill or at least paralyze them. Then they all died.
Ha! No, not really. Everybody came through fine -- a fact that made headlines around the world. Widespread vaccination would later practically eradicate polio from the planet, all thanks to Salk's humongous balls.
Pssh. It was just polio.
For more scientists with balls of steel, check out The 6 Most Badass Stunts Ever Pulled in the Name of Science. Or learn about the actually insane ones, in 9 Real Life Mad Scientists.
And stop by Linkstorm to see Soren trying out his Kevlar jock-strap.
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