stories from the wilder side of science

Films 1920-1939

Below you will find filmclips in connection to the experiments in the books. Please note "book 1" refers to "The Mad Science Book", "book 2" to "Das neue Buch der verrückten Experimente" the second volume that has not yet been published in English (see foreign rights).

1920 Putting the Wind Up Little Albert (book 1, p.79)

Little Albert
If Albert is still alive he’d be in his eighties. But in all probability he wouldn’t even be aware that he is the famous ‘Little Albert’ whose scream is familiar to every student of psychology. He was just nine months old when the film was made, in which Psychologist John Watson conditioned him to fear a rat. Perhaps it might still be one of his distinguishing features today – a pronounced fear of white rats.

1928 The Living Dog’s Head (book 1, p. 96)

Experiments in the Revival of Organisms (part 1)
With this footage the russians wanted to prove their advance in surgical techniques. The popular science magazine "Science and Invention" enthused: “Do not even the widest imaginations of our modern science fiction writers pale into insignificance because of the steady advance and progress of scientific research?” Look for yourself - not for the faintharted! (for the whole movie click here).


Experiments in the Revival of Organisms (part 2)

1930 The Box of Mr. Skinner (book 1, p. 97)

Skinner Box
The psychologist B.F. Skinner constructed a special box for the study of learning behaviour in animals. Skinner didn’t name it "Skinner Box", but the term quickly became popular. Hewas even suspected of having raised his second daughter Deborah in a Skinner Box (which was not true). Here a segment from a documentary about Skinner.

1932 Ein Säugling, der Rollschuh läuft (book 2, p. 65) 


1933 Die wundersame Vermehrung des Sirups (book 2, p. 77) 


1938 The 28-Hour Day (book 1, p. 107)

Sleep Experiment in Mammoth Cave
One of the great unsolved mysteries of sleep research at that period was whether the human sleep–wake rhythm of 24 hours was merely a habit changeable at any time or whether people had an internal, hard-wired body clock.

So sleep researcher Nathaniel Kleitman set out to search a location where there was no difference between day and night. He found it in a 20-metre wide and 8-metre high rock chamber in the Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, where he and his student Bruce Richardson wanted to try out the 28 hours day: sleeping for 9 hours, working for 10 and having 9 hours’ worth of leisure.

They spent 32 days in the cave. Richardson adapted to the new cycle after just a week. Kleitman, who was 20 years older, failed to adapt. Below some old news footage from the experiment.