My favourite experiment that I’ve done before was when I hiked to Everest base camp very high up in the Himalayas, on the way up I did lots of tests on myself and some other people to see how the human body responds to being at high altitude and having less oxygen. Strange things happen like you can’t smell properly anymore, your heart beats really fast all the time, and your wee gets really alkaline.
My favourite experiment that anyone has done was by two chemists called Urey and Miller. The atmosphere of the Earth when it was very young before there was any life didn’t have any oxygen, it was probably made up of hydrogen, methane and ammonia. Urey and Miller took water and these gasses so that their experiment was like the sea of the early Earth, then they set off electrical sparks like lightning. They found that when they did this that amino acids, which are the very basic building blocks of all life, had been formed in the water. By doing this they showed how life on our planet could have started.
I really enjoyed it when I went to Uganda to help carry out a sleeping sickness (deadly parasitic disease) survey. We were really in the middle of nowhere, and we set up a “field lab” with lots of equipment in the local church. Then we took a small blood sample from over 1000 people (including young children and lots of soldiers from the Ugandan army) and tested them for the disease. Anyone with the disease got treated, and we put all the data together for further analysis to try and understand what was going on….the results were really exciting as they showed the disease existed in an area where everyone told us we would never find it!