This book originated as a by-product. During my time as the head of the science section of a now-defunct Swiss news magazine, I accumulated a stack of research studies about weird experiments. Unfortunately my editor had no desire to see these in print, because they violated all the basic journalistic criteria: they were utterly inconsequential, hopelessly ancient or both.
Those are the opening words of The Mad Science Book: 100 amazing experiments from the history of science, newly published in an English-language edition. Written by our friend and occasional collaborator Reto Schneider, this improbably brilliant work first appeared in German, under the title Das Buch der verrückten Experimente. From time to time we will (with Reto’s permission) present tiny bits of it and of the associated online material) here.
The introduction goes on to explain:
The fact that most experiments in this book seem odd by no means implies that they are worthless though there’s no denying that some of them genuinely are). Others appear ridiculous only at first glance, but are in fact truly ingenious. When, in 2005, the German edition of The Mad Science Book became a bestseller, some researchers proudly announced on their websites that their experiments were in it.