Elephants on Acid: And Other Bizarre Experiments by Alex Boese

Elephants on Acid: And Other Bizarre Experiments by Alex Boese

Author:Alex Boese
Language: eng
Format: mobi
Tags: Humor, General
ISBN: 9780752226866
Publisher: Pan MacMillan
Published: 2011-03-21T21:11:41+00:00

2. SEX

Heart Rate During Intercourse

In 1927 doctors Ernst Boas and Ernst Goldschmidt invented the cardiotachometer. This medical instrument allowed physicians to do something never before possible—measure the heart rate nonintrusively for prolonged periods of time. By modern standards the cardiotachometer was actually quite intrusive. Two rubber straps held copper electrodes to the chest, and these electrodes, in turn, were attached to a one-hundred-foot wire that led to a room full of recording equipment. Being attached to the cardiotachometer was like being on a long leash. But as long as people ignored the cord, they could do everything just as they normally would. So, like kids with a new toy, Boas and Goldschmidt set out to measure the heart rate during every activity imaginable.

They recruited volunteers to come to New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital and have their heart rates monitored going about the actions of daily life—standing, walking, exercising, dancing, sitting, talking, and eating. They observed people playing poker and discovered the cardiotachometer was a useful bluff detector. “One poker player, in particular,” they recorded, “invariably showed a brief acceleration of the heart when he held a good hand.”

They monitored people going to the bathroom: Enters bathroom—86, defecating—89, washing hands—98.

And, in an effort to leave no stone unturned, they measured the heart rate of a husband and wife during intercourse. The results were illuminating. During orgasm the heart rate rose to 148.5. This exceeded the rate of any other recorded activity, including strenuous exercise. “The curve of heart rate clearly indicates the strain placed on the cardiovascular system,” they warned, “and helps to explain some cases of sudden death during and after coitus.”

But they noted something else: “The record illustrated in Figure 47 was taken on the first evening. It shows four peaks of heart rate for the woman, each peak representing an orgasm.” Four orgasms! The researchers make no more mention of this, as if to say Nothing to see here, keep moving along. But clearly the rubber straps, tether, and audience in the next room hadn’t detracted from the wife’s experience.

Almost thirty years would pass before another researcher, Dr. Roscoe G. Bartlett, next recorded the heart rate during intercourse. When he did, he took far more elaborate steps than his predecessors to protect the modesty of everyone involved. He refused to disclose the location of the experiment, or the identity of the subjects (three couples). He himself did not know their identities—only an intermediary did. Between the time each couple arrived at the research facility, entered a private room, attached electrodes to themselves, pressed the appropriate buttons to indicate the occurrence of “intromission, orgasm and withdrawal,” and 44subsequently left the building, they were never seen by the investigators. Bartlett’s three female subjects did not exhibit the same orgasmic frequency as the 1928 subject. Perhaps these efforts at modesty were to blame.

Bartlett subsequently left science and embarked on a profession that has placed him in more intimate contact with sex and sleaze. Since 1993 he has been serving in the U.


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