A select batch of these science experiments has stood the test of time in showcasing our species at its inquiring, intelligent best. Whether elegant or crude, and often with a touch of serendipity, these singular efforts have delivered insights that changed our view of ourselves or the universe.
Here are nine such successful endeavors — plus a glorious failure — that could be hailed as the top science experiments of all time.
My honorable mentions (admittedly influenced by my bias towards biology):
Luria and Delbruck discover the random nature of mutations through fluctuations in the number of phage resistant bacteria.
Koch discovers the source of infectious disease in experiments on anthrax, cholera, and tuberculosis.
Hubble plots redshift as a function of distance for distant galaxies.
I have a minor complaint about the list, that it privileges experimental science over observational science.
It is about experiments…
Unrelated, but kind of frightening and/or hilarious … Derek Lowe has a series of blog posts about highly dangerous chemicals and reactions, surely some of these might be candidate for The Bottom 10 Science Experiments of All Time.
A fine example:
The entire category:
Caution: One hazard not listed here is that it is easily possible to spend the rest of your day reading these stories instead of getting work done! But then, it’s Friday!