A U.S. Air Force veterinarian inspects a sick cow in Mongolia during a humanitarian assistance operation. DoD photo

The U.S. Military’s Miraculous Medicinal Maggots

Podcast — the strange science of humans at war


When the U.S. Air Force tests a new aircraft, it needs to make sure it won’t crash should a stray bird slam into the plane’s side. Thankfully, the military has an artillery piece with a 60-foot barrel that hurls chickens more than 400 miles an hour. The chicken gun allows the military to make sure no stray bird will foul up its expensive jets while they’re airborne.

If you think the chicken gun is weird, it’s only the tip of a strange and fascinating iceberg.

This week on War College, we spoke with science writer Mary Roach, author of Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War. Instead of guns and bombs, Roach focused on the ways the American military solves some of its lesser-known but most persistent problems.

How do soldiers prevent hearing loss with heavy artillery going off? What’s it take to make blast-proof underwear? What can the dead teach the living? And will medics ever stop using the magnificent medicinal maggot?

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