Friday, August 24, 2012

Elephants on Acid

Did that title grab your attention?  Are you wondering what elephants and acid have to do with babies and fatherhood?  Read on to find out.

I believe that real life is stranger than fiction.  I love reading about all the crazy things that happen in this world.  I recently went to the library and took out a book for fun.  Believe it or not I'm reading for pleasure.  It's exciting to do something that makes me feel like a human being again!  Anyway, this book is all about bizarre experiments that were conducted in the name of science.  They're wacky, but they really were done with good intentions. 

The book describes all sorts of crazy experiments like...
  • Can you fall asleep with your eyes open?  (It's possible)
  • Do cats sleepwalk?  (They can)
  • Will people gamble more smelling something pleasant than smelling nothing?  (They will)
  • Can humans and apes mate?  (???...the experiment was never completed1)
  • Will Lassie get help when an owner is in trouble?  (Don't count on it)
  • Can you eat an animal and pick up their memory?  (Doubtful...but not totally impossible)
There is also a section on babies.  Here are some of the experiments...
  • If you let children eat what they want will they eat a well balanced diet?  (Yes...but this study only offered healthy food.  No Oreos, hot dogs or ice cream.  If the kids ate enough food they would have a balanced diet.)
  • Is laughter an innate response to tickling or is it learned?  (It seems laughter is a natural response to tickling but the experimenter's wife had a few laspses where she smiled while bouncing their baby and that tainted the experiment.)
  • If a chimp is reared like a human will she develop like a human?  (No!  Chimps are wild.  Please don't ever try this experiment again!)
  • Can a box that includes a window for seeing the world, a heater, humidifier, air filter, canvas on rollers for the "floor" and insulated walls take care of a baby and reduce laundry, eliminate falls, prevent back injuries in parents and protect the baby from germs?  (Yes.  But when the study was published the magazine changed the title to "Baby in a Box" which made it a major turn off to society.)

While I don't plan on witholding laughter from my children, I did bring them in for their first experiment a couple weeks ago.  The kids went to the language lab at my alma mater.  If I ever go back to school to get my masters it would probably be in linguistics and I would study first or second language acquisition.  I'm fascinated by that so I support language experiments on babies.  I can't wait to see what kind of twin language they develop and if they develop twin sign language too.

During the test the kids looked at some pictures and listened to some sounds.  The experimenter didn't do a good job explaining the purpose of the test so I couldn't quite understand the goal.  I think the reasearch is seeing if kids can categorize at their age.  Regardless, it was good to get out and give me kids an experience.  We don't let them watch TV so it was probably like a little treat to watch pictures on the screen.  Plus, we got books and a t-shirt.  Here they are sporting their rewards.


  1. OK the cuteness level is RIDICULOUS!! Oh and I TOTALLY wanna read that book now!

  2. That sounds like a cool book! And possibly one that could hold my attention. And speaking of attention, your title certainly got mine! :-)

  3. Ha! As I was reading the beginning of this, I was thinking "I need to find that info on the project for children's thinking and pass it on to Michael." I guess someone beat me to it.

    My boys love doing those. My favorite was one where they had him watch objects being dropped into water to see if babies understand the concept of floating. He clapped and cheered every time the researcher dropped something in the water. She said it was nice to know she was doing a good job.

  4. Aww, the cutest little scientists ever!

  5. They are such studs, I love the picture! I learned a lot just now. :)