Bizarre Human Experimentation: Unit 731

Unit 731 Complex
Photo Copyright Expired

When it comes to bizarre human behavior, Unit 731 is one of the most revolting and horrific examples. Of course, all human experiments beyond the most benign have something strange about them, but this was extreme. Unit 731 operated from the 1930's until the mid-1940's. It was a branch of the Japanese Imperial Army that was charged with developing chemical and biological weapons. This unit carried out some of the most heinous war crimes in history and this was around the same time Nazi doctor Josef Mengele was conducting his infamous experiments on twins, so that is saying something.

In order to give you a better idea of what kind of scumbags we are talking about here, let's take a look at what happened in a single camp. Thousands of Chinese and Russian prisoners were sent to Pingfang Camp. There, some 3,000 to 12,000 of them died at the hands of Japanese military researchers, many of them doctors. Most of the victims were Chinese. In one establishment, nearly 200 American POWs were killed in a medical experiment. It would be nice to say it was, "a medical experiment gone awry," but these people were not in the business of saving lives.

Among the examples of what Unit 731 did in its quest for knowledge are vivisections. In case you are unaware of what a vivisection is, think of it as an autopsy on the living. The procedure is not quite the same, but the point is to cut into the living person just to see what is going on inside of them. These procedures were not done humanely, if such a thing were even possible. Pregnant mothers were sliced into. Some of the victims were infants. Other atrocities include intentional freezing of limbs on live subjects, intentional spread of disease, unnecessary amputations, partial and total organ removal, attempts to infect prisoners using parasitic insects and germ warfare. Germ bombs dropped on China around this time killed up to 400,000 people. They even used humans to test the results of explosives on people.

Once World War II ended, so did Unit 731. Some of the doctors who were involved were taken to the Soviet Union to stand trial. Those caught by the United States were given immunity, of all things, because they coughed up what they learned in their experiments. Make of that what you will.

Missing Moon Rocks

Apollo 11 Moon Rocks
Public Domain NASA photograph

One of the biggest achievements of humankind was the moon landings. That humans were able to walk on a celestial object was and still is an astounding feat of genius and bravery. The most famous result of said feat was roughly 850 pounds of moon rock or 270 rocks. Of these 270 rocks, 180 are missing as of early 2013.

Token moon rock pieces were given to countries all over the world and each of the United States. These rocks love to go missing or get stolen. As of now, quite a few are still missing, but more than that have been lost and recovered. One of the biggest problems with recovering lost moon rocks is that people try to pass of Earth rocks as moon rocks. That, and people are careless. For example, one moon rock is known to be somewhere in a landfill in Ireland.

One group of stolen material was taken right out of the Johnson Space Center by a few ambitious students. Several more have been stolen from educators charged with bringing the rocks to schools and the like. Oddly, they are usually taken right out of the safes in the vans that are carrying them, but they keep getting stored in safes in vans. Go figure.

The Human Stampede at Khodynka Field

Khodynka Stampede victims
Public domain -- copyright expired

This story is really about a bizarre aspect of human nature. In large groups, we can become like cattle, trampling without thought or regard to the people around us. This is particularly true when there is desperation in the group, though herd behavior has happened for something as ludicrous as pop music. In the case of the Khodynka Stampede in Moscow, it was about food and beer.

On May 30, 1896, a group that has been estimated to number upwards of 500,000 gathered at the Khodynka Field where pubs and giveaway stations had been set up to celebrate the coronation of Tsar Nicholas II. You may know him as the father of the famous Anastasia and the last emperor of Russia. He was only four days into his reign when his people gathered to collect their gifts from the tsar. They amounted to some scraps of food and a cup. That people were so eager to collect these things is indicative of the state of Russia at the time.

Some time into the celebration, a rumor got out that there would not be enough pretzels and beer for the entire crowd. Astoundingly, this led to a massive human stampede. Nearly 1,400 people died and almost as many as that were injured. It was an appalling tragedy that now seems portentous of what was coming for Russia and its last royal ruler.

Nicholas tried to handle the issue with respect, but it appears that some factions were determined to hate him and others as determined to control him. In the end, the royal family paid out to the families of victims and tried to help the survivors, several employees involved in the celebration were fired and life went on until a revolution changed everything.