Arthur Conan Doyle’smysterious crime novel “The hounds of the Baskerville” is not only filled witha thrilling sensation but also with scientific plots, that leaves behind arationalized viewpoint after all chapters for the readers. This story explainshow the death of Sir Hugo Baskerville is linked with his descendants, SirCharles Baskerville, followed by Sir Henry Baskerville who was saved by Holmes,and the chief reason being a ferocious, glowing, gigantic hound. Stapleton, wholater found out to be a bloodline of the Baskervilles, exploit this hound toterrorize them to death and inherit the wealth and possessions of theBaskerville family. However, the novel doesn’t elaborate on the hound, eventhough it depicts the main theme of the story. I decided to focus my researchon the hound and unleash the truth beneath this mystical hound.
Before I start, it is ofutter importance to describe the character and detective role of SherlockHolmes. The author’s magnificent character had his own way of investigatingthings. He initially starts with defining the mystery and approach towards itwith a blank mind. He teaches us how to read a situation by, watching,listening and then deducing. At every point, he uses rational and logicalimagination to predict the outcome. A good listener undoubtedly makes a gooddetective. None can ever be underestimated and have to bear in mind that anyonecan be faulty.
Lastly, the most crucial step is to differentiate vital factsfrom incidental facts. All these abilities allowed Holmes to crack all the caseand narrow down villains. In this case, Stapleton was the culprit who wentmissing after being exposed of his detrimental deeds. The name houndoriginally means a type of dog with an aggressive nature, which is specializedwith a powerful sense of smell and a high speed, used over a prey. Here, it isdescribed as an enormous beast with huge jaws, covered in dark fur which hadsupernatural glowing eyes. Baskervillehad a scientific military base on Dartmoor, which carried out secretive geneticexperiments on animals such as rats, mice, dogs, and sheep to breed monstersand gigantic hounds. (Comunity, 2010)During the World War II, genetically modified animals were used on thebattlefields. They were used for supplies, guard posts, carry messages,intelligence and a courageous companion to the soldiers.
Sheldon reveals thatthe name hound is an acronym rather than just a word. Project H.O.U.
N.D isnamed after 5 women and men, Jack O’mara, Elaine Dyson, Leonard Hansen just toname a few, and was performed on the Baskerville military base in Dartmoor.They developed a hallucinogenic drug which rendered its user incrediblysuggestible. It was initially used for as an anti-personal weapon to totallydisorientate and enervate the enemy using fear stimulus. Prolonged exposure tothe drug results in the damages the frontal lobe of the target, causingparanoia, dementia and even manipulates them to be uncontrollably aggressive.As a result, this project was shut down in 1986.
This drug was used in the fogat the moor, by scientist Bob Frankland to make the storyline characters, SirHenry Baskerville, Watson and Sherlock Holmes hallucinate and see thingsexactly as Frankland wanted in the hound. (Wiki) According to the book, BobFrankland was interested in astronomy, often involved with his telescope andused it to keep an eye on the dense moor for anything suspicious. But in adifferent narrative version shown on TV drama and movies, he was entitled asthe principal researcher of the project H.O.U.N.D. The ground of the Dewer’shollow was filled with pressure pads, designed by Frankland that triggered therelease of fog along with the drug when it is being stepped.
This made theordinary dog seem like a hound as imagined by the viewers. Stapleton knew hisway to avoid this steps and he kept the beast in Grimpen Mire. Porton Down was used asa concurrent context of referral to Baskerville military base, which is allrumor but the actual mislead secretive scientific experiments assigned by thegovernment were carried out in Porton’s Defense Science and TechnologyLaboratory (DSTL) since 1916.
(Wikipedia, 2018) During the Cold war, hundredsand thousands of soldiers actively volunteered to take part in the secretiveexperiments at government’s research centers in Porton Down. This researchinstitute in Britain accounts for £500m funds each year with an employeeenrollment of 3000 scientists. (BBC, 2016) With a size area of 7000 acres, itwas designed and constructed to avenge a Chlorine gas attack by the Germanalong with phosgene and Sulfur mustard, during World War I. Initially theystarted with making masks and safety clothing to test for a counter chemicalattack against German. However, in 1925, the use of weapons associated withchemical agents in the war was restricted by the Geneva Protocol.
Shortlyafterward, biological warfare research named Biology Department Porton (BDP)was started in 1940 under Paul Fildes, a molecular biologist. In 1942, it usedBacillus anthracis, a bacterium, as a biological weapon after testing it in theIsland of Gruinard. Soil sampling and testing in 1981 showed spores of anthrax.
DSTL was also a site for animal testing, and the biomedical section wasincorporated with desired testing, drug assessment, genetically modifiedbreeding, surgical studies etc. However, very unethical and discreetexperiments were carried out, such as animals being used for unusual purposes,exposed to toxic lethal chemical agents, gene cloning to attain bizarre features.About 10956 animals were used as testing materials in 1997. In 1953, aircraftRonald Maddison died for an accidental touch of Sarin, during a toxic nerveagent test.
A parliament official claimed that there were numerous things goingon inside DSTL, for which the truth is very harsh to withhold, and yet theministries are unaware of it. (News, 1999) It was later revealed that theirintention to preserve information and prevent public acknowledgment was toobstruct information leakage to potential invaders, which might use it tocreate a defensive mechanism. Today there are evenmore ill-intentioned scientific experiments carried out by privately fundedresearch institutes that are unethical, have potentials to cause a biochemicalapocalypse and pose a threat to the society. They are often set up without alegal framework, and the governments’ intervention. The results will be deadlyif immediate countermeasures are not imposed.
Approach to a darker future canbe prevented by close monitoring and executing strict laws to all the researchinstitutes to restrict the use of lethal or deadly reagents for biological orchemical warfare. The provided transformation of a Spaniel to a mighty mysticgigantic hound with glowing eyes, as narrated in “The Hounds of theBaskerville” is just an example of a vigor outcome of what scientificexperiments are competent of.