From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 5 Up -Scientifically speaking, a "guinea pig" is a person who volunteers to serve as a subject in a scientific study. An easy and interesting read, this book describes 18th-century Italian scientist Lazzaro Spallanzani and his research on himself to explore digestion by swallowing food encapsulated in wooden tubes or cloth satchels and then analyzing the remains of the samples upon their exit from the intestinal tract. Gross enough to capture readers' attention, and startling enough to hold onto it, Spallanzani's story ends with a description of his discoveries and how many of his observations are still valid. Other topics describe guinea-pig scientists who tested internal body temperature in extreme heat and cold conditions, inhaled various gasses to discover one suitable for anesthetic uses (today's laughing gas), and seven more captivating narratives. Each chapter concludes with a list of facts derived from the work of these scientists, what they proposed and discovered, and what we now know about these topics. Black-and-white sketches and old photographs give these unbelievable stories a sense of realism. The book does not encourage young scientists to use themselves as guinea pigs, but these biographies are provocative with underpinnings of intrigue for discovering what is yet unknown.-Jodi Kearns, University of Akron, OH
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*Starred Review* Gr. 5-8. From hundreds of examples gathered during a decade of research, the authors offer 10 enthralling case studies of scientists from the past several centuries who became their own test subjects--with occasionally fatal results. The accounts are lively, compelling, and not always for the squeamish: Peruvian medical student Daniel Carrion and American Dr. Jesse Lazear inoculated themselves with deadly tropical diseases; Werner Forssman inserted a catheter into his arm and then pushed it up to his heart; John Paul Stapp rode a rocket car that went from more than 600 mph to a standstill in 1.4 seconds to test jet pilot safety gear; Lazzaro Spallanzani, who studied digestion, swallowed numerous things that you probably wouldn't. Aside from the Curies, most of the subjects will be new, even to a well-read audience, and though some of their achievements may seem quirky (to say the least), the authors cogently discuss each experiment's significance in advancing our understanding of science and medicine. Illustrated with a mix of period black-and-white photos and Mordan's nineteenth-century-style portraits, and with commentary on changing attitudes toward experimenting on animals threaded throughout, the episodes make riveting reading as well as vintage booktalk material. Resource lists, a time line, and endnotes are appended. John Peters
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