Every year scientists undertake some bewildering experiments and year 2021 was no exception. From growing mini-brains with their own eyes in petri dishes to resuscitating 24,000-year-old self-replicating zombies in Siberian permafrost, here are the weirdest science experiments of the year.
Growing miniature human brains with their own eyes
In August, a group of scientists made equally fascinating and terrifying news when they announced that they had successfully reproduce a small human brain with their own pair of eyes in the lab. They created Cronenberg-esque mini-brain, called an organoid, by turning stem cells into neural tissue, then stimulating the cells with chemical signals to form tiny-rudimentary “optic cups” filled with light-sensitive cells.
Fortunately for our collective sanity and for the mini-brains themselves, the tiny organoids do not have almost sufficient neural density to be conscious — so that they might not be asking themselves whenever quickly how they awakened as a lost pair of eyes sliding around a petri dish. They are, however, quite beneficial constructs for studying brain development and doubtlessly growing cures for retinal disorders that cause blindness — something that the researchers want to study.
Turning water into a shiny golden metal
From the beginning of Antiquity until the 17th century, alchemists were obsessed with the Philosopher’s Stone: a mythical substance with the power to transmute lead into gold. In July, scientists reported an experiment that looked a bit like the legendary process: for a few fleeting seconds, they managed to turn water into a shiny golden metal. The researchers achieved this by mixing water with sodium and potassium, metals that donate their extra electrons to water, and thus make freely wandering the electrons in the water, making it metallic. The briefly metallic water they created could provide scientists with key information about the planets’ highly pressurized hearts, where water could be squished, so intensely that this process occurs naturally.
Inventing an otherworldly time crystal
In July, researchers working with Google disclosed that that they had created a time crystal within the heart of the tech giant’ quantum computer, Sycamore. The crystal was a very new phase of matter that the researchers claimed was able to evade the second law of thermodynamics, that dictates that entropy, or the disorder of a system, should always increase. in contrast to different systems, which see their entropy increase over time, the time crystal’ entropy failed to increase irrespective of how many times it had been pulsed with a laser. The actually outstanding factor regarding the weird quantum crystals is that they’re the first objects to break a fundamental symmetry of the universe, referred to as discrete time-translation symmetry. Scientists hope to use the otherworldly crystals to check the boundaries of quantum mechanics — the strange rules that govern the world of the terribly small.
Reviving 24,000-year-old zombies from Russian permafrost
If you were to search out a group of zombies from the pleistocene epoch frozen within Siberian permafrost, reviving and cloning them is maybe not high on your agenda. However, that’ specifically what scientists explained in a June paper printed within the journal Current Biology. Thankfully, these zombies aren’t the shambling, fictitious brain-eaters popularized by George Romero, however are instead tiny multicellular organisms known as bdelloid rotifers. Once thawed, the small creatures began reproducing asexually through a process called parthenogenesis, making excellent clones of themselves. Remarkably, analysis of the soil around the creatures showed that they’d been frozen for 24,000 years, and they had survived by putting themselves within a protecting stasis known as cryptobiosis. Scientists hope to study this clever trick to better understand cryopreservation and the way it can be adapted for humans.
Growing magic mushrooms in the blood through an ill-advised injection
Okay, so this one wasn’t accomplished by a scientist, however it is by far one of the most weird amatuer experiments we have got heard this year. A January study in the Journal of the Academy of Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry disclosed that a person who had brewed a “magic mushroom” tea and injected it into his body ended up in the emergency room with the fungus growing in his blood. After injecting the psilocybin tea, the person, who was hoping to relieve signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder and opioid dependence, quickly became lethargic, his skin became yellow and he started vomiting blood. The person survived, however had to take antibiotics and antifungal pills to get rid of the psychoactive fungus from his bloodstream. He additionally needed to be put onto a respirator. A growing body of research shows that psilocybin, the psychoactive compound observed in magic mushrooms, could be a promising treatment for depression, anxiety and substance abuse — however only if taken safely.