It’s time for a pop quiz! Which of the following three science experiments failed?

A. Genetically engineering goats to produce spider silk

B. Embedding beetles with remote controls 

C. Cross-breeding of humans and apes

If you answered A, sorry, you’re wrong. If you answered B, you’re wrong too. If you answered C, you’re correct … and you’re probably wondering why there was such an experiment. Well, it’s a twisted but true science tale, and one of the first stories told by Dark Matters, a new show on the Science Channel that promises to profile “strange science and expose some of history’s most bizarre experiments.” 

Fans of the popular science-infused series Fringe will recognize the host of Dark Matters, John Noble, who is known for his already keen interest in science. We have to say, considering Dark Matter’s subject material, Noble is the perfect fit. The premiere episode featured the above human/ape experiment (where a Soviet biologist implanted women with ape sperm in the 1920s), Thomas Edison's role in the electric chair, and a debunking of a science myth involving teleporting Navy ships. Future shows look into the science of zombies, attempted head transplants, and other bizarre (but true) science experiments. So, if you’re up for a darker look at science, and some more John Noble in your life (and DVR), check out Dark Matters (airing Wednesdays at 10 pm).


This show sometimes errs a little bit too much on the side of nudge-nudge wink-wink "Maybe it's all true" silliness, but for the most part, it's quite informative about science history and concepts, and the re-enactments are often quite fun. The show could stand to expand even more into examinations of the psychology of scientists and why they do bad science, and how good science can become bad science.

This show takes advantage of every pseudo-science nutcase who ever got his/her name out there in the past century, giving just the side of the nutcase and not even acknowledging the debunking that most of the more well-known frauds this show says are "true" have undergone. A couple of good examples are the Philadelphia Experiment and Lost Cosmonaut segments. Those stories have been thoroughly debunked, and yet none of the factual debunking was even hinted at, much less presented in any kind of fair presentation. (Then again, you wouldn't run a story as "twisted but true" and then acknowledge that the story is "made up and debunked," now, would you?) I suppose in the new season we'll hear all about how aliens from Venus and time-travelers from Atlantis are in our midst, based on the unassailable testimony of those people who are "channeling" these entities. Those kinds of storied are just as scientifically sound as the majority of the segments on this show.


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