Lawrence Patrick, Human Crash Test Dummy
If you were ever involved in a serious car accident, you probably survived thanks to Lawrence Patrick. The man invented, among other things, the air bag and automobile safety tests. Basically, before Patrick came along, you could strap a motor to a goat and take that shit out on the freeway, because no one was sure how much damage crashing your goat-mobile would do.
We're thinking a top-mounted jet intake.
Realizing that at the time (the 1940s) there was virtually no information about what the human body could withstand, Patrick dedicated his life to human impact survival research. This little-known branch of science seems pretty straightforward -- that's why we have crash test dummies, right?
Yes, we do nowadays, because Patrick built the first dummies ...
... based on data he gathered by measuring impacts on himself.
And what'd you do today? Throw out the expired milk?
So Patrick had his knee repeatedly smashed against a metal bar, underwent 400 rides on a rocket sled and, since this already sounds more like a Looney Tunes cartoon than science, he had a 50-pound pendulum hit him in the chest.
The results were broken ribs and fingers and countless bruises, as well as priceless data on how the body reacts to high-velocity impacts. This information was used to set the standard for almost all safety measures in cars and saved countless lives.
We're still fans of the goat-mobile.