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08 March 2011

Acarus Crossii. In 1836, a gentleman scientist believed that he had created living insects with electricity and crystals.[More:]

Even stranger: another scientist claimed to have replicated the result.

On the fourteenth day from the commencement of this experiment I observed through a lens a few small whitish excrescences or nipples, projecting from about the middle of the electrified stone. On the eighteenth day these projections enlarged, and struck out seven or eight filaments, each of them longer than the hemisphere on which they grew.

On the twenty-sixth day these appearances assumed the form of a perfect insect, standing erect on a few bristles which formed its tail. Till this period I had no notion that these appearances were other than an incipient mineral formation. On the twenty-eighth day these little creatures moved their legs. I must now say that I was not a little astonished. After a few days they detached themselves from the stone, and moved about at pleasure.
That is so creepy and fascinating. I love learning about oddball historical characters like this that I'd never heard of before.
posted by BoringPostcards 08 March | 10:30
posted by serazin 08 March | 10:35
I'm reading a biography of Michael Faraday and it just mentioned this in passing.

There was all kinds of Frankenstein weirdness around the dawn of electricity. There was a public demonstration/experiment where someone took the recently deceased body of a convict, wired him up to a battery and made the body writhe and twitch around.
posted by TheophileEscargot 08 March | 11:29
Cool, but who has a year and a half to keep electrifying some silica and see if a bug hatches? (that's how long it took the second guy)
posted by rmless2 08 March | 20:31
There's a lot of interesting history of the growth of the scientific community, and science reporting, around this weird little story. I got lost in details, but churned out this post. Thanks for the inspiration!

tl:dr - listen to Song for Andrew Crosse on MetaMusic. It's a neat song, definitely feels like the growth of a weird electrical mite.
posted by filthy light thief 10 March | 17:41
Just saw your post, looks great! Will have to come back to it when I've got more time to go through the links though.
posted by TheophileEscargot 11 March | 04:44
It is your birthday. || Ride the Cola Cola Train.