Mysteries at the Museum (2010) s11e02 Episode Script

Man Who Saved the World, Man in a Box and From the Depths of Hell

A wild scheme that's truly out of the box.
It was completely insane, but nothing was gonna stop him.
A car maker's dream to rule the skies.
This man believed that everyone might own their own airplane.
And desperate miners trapped underground.
SHIRA TEITEL: They must have felt absolute terror that their worst fears have been realized.
These are the mysteries at the museum.
Set on the banks of the Santa Cruz River, the City of Sahuarita, Arizona, is known for its adobe buildings, jagged cacti, and magnificent desert panoramas.
But buried beneath this sun-scorched terrain is an institution that recalls the region's darker side, The Titan Missile Museum.
Housed in what was once a Cold War nuclear silo, the facility is home to a massive 103-foot-tall decommissioned missile.
But there's another object here that is much smaller but was equally deadly.
MORRIS: The artifact is rectangular in shape.
It has 16 thumb wheels on it.
It's got a couple of on-off switches and the words "code entry" are etched into the front.
WILDMAN: This intricate machine recalls a chilling tale of two global superpowers on the brink of Armageddon and the brave soul caught in the middle.
This is a story about one of the most important decisions in mankind's history.
WILDMAN: 1983.
It's the height of the Cold War.
The threat of nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union looms large.
The U.
possesses a massive arsenal of Titan II atomic missiles.
Not to be outmatched, the USSR has their own inventory of nuclear warheads as well as an advanced satellite system that can detect American missiles entering Soviet airspace.
Tasked with monitoring this early warning system is a 44-year-old Lieutenant named Stanislav Petrov.
MORRIS: His specific purpose was to notify his superiors of missile launches from the United States directed towards the Soviet Union.
WILDMAN: Should Petrov detect an incoming American nuclear missile, he's under strict orders to alert his commanders immediately so they can launch a counter attack.
It had to be a crushing burden.
WILDMAN: And his responsibilities are about to be put to the ultimate test.
On the night of September 26th, Petrov is conducting routine satellite observations when suddenly [ Alarm blaring ] the early warning alarm bell sounds.
When Petrov checks the system, it shows an American missile is headed straight for Russia.
MORRIS: Your heart stops, your mouth gets dry, your mind is telling you this can't possibly be happening.
This is not happening.
WILDMAN: Minutes later, the warning system signals that a second American missile is on its way.
[ Alarm blaring ] MORRIS: There's a second alarm and then a third and a fourth and finally in total, there were supposedly five missiles incoming towards the Soviet Union.
WILDMAN: To Petrov and his men, it can mean only one thing.
The United States has initiated a nuclear war.
MORRIS: Everyone's sort of frozen.
They are under attack.
WILDMAN: According to protocol, Petrov must inform his superiors immediately so the Soviets can retaliate.
But just as the veteran lieutenant is about to pick up the phone, he realizes something doesn't add up.
MORRIS: If the United States were going to launch a pre-emptive strike against the Soviet Union, they would use more than five missiles.
It would be hundreds of missiles, maybe thousands.
His gut was telling him this is a mistake.
WILDMAN: Petrov knows that time is running out.
It only takes 23 minutes for an American Titan Missile to reach the USSR.
The lieutenant faces an unimaginable choice.
Follow protocol or trust his instincts.
MORRIS: If he's wrong, the repercussions would be astronomic.
WILDMAN: Petrov opens a secure communications link with Soviet Military Headquarters.
He knows that what he tells his commanders could usher in a nuclear Armageddon.
MORRIS: Petrov was afraid of making the wrong decision and contributing to the start of World War III.
WILDMAN: Petrov decides that his instincts are too strong to ignore.
So when his superiors get on the line, he follows his gut.
He reported that the system was malfunctioning.
And that the Soviet Union was not actually under missile attack.
WILDMAN: All Petrov can do now is wait.
And as the clock ticks down, it seems that his gut was correct.
[ Blaring stops ] The alarm system suddenly returns to normal.
MORRIS: Petrov must have been euphoric.
He'd made the right call.
WILDMAN: Stanislav Petrov's bold decision has saved the planet from nuclear devastation.
But one question remains.
What caused the system to malfunction and detect an American attack? MORRIS: It was revealed that the satellite had misinterpreted sunlight bouncing off of clouds as a missile launch.
WILDMAN: In the wake of his nuclear near-miss, the Soviets fine-tuned their early warning system so it can't be thrown off like this again.
The story of the world's brush with accidental annihilation remains a secret for years.
But when the Cold War eventually thaws, the stunning incident is finally revealed to the world and Petrov is hailed as a hero.
MORRIS: He could have taken the easy way out.
But he took the high road and had the courage to listen to his gut.
WILDMAN: Today this weapons launch dial that could have initiated nuclear Armageddon sits on display at the Titan Missile Museum.
It recalls the story of a quick-thinking and cool-headed man who saved the world.
London, England.
This capital city is home to a wealth of cultural and architectural attractions, including Buckingham Palace, Madame Tussauds and Tower Bridge.
But amid these famous sights is a lesser-known institution, The Postal Museum.
Here, visitors can find a collection of Britain's famous red mailboxes, a 1930s postal car, and a five-wheeled bicycle specifically designed to transport mail.
But among these time-worn tools of the postal trade is one item that holds a bizarre secret.
McSORLEY: It is hollow and has removable legs.
Inside there are three yellow leather straps because it was designed for one very strange purpose.
WILDMAN: Although it looks innocuous, a box like this one was used to make one of the strangest deliveries the world has ever seen.
To say this was irregular mail would be an understatement.
WILDMAN: What unexpected cargo did this wooden crate contain? It's 1964 in London.
22-year-old Reg Spiers is a hard-working airport baggage handler from Adelaide, Australia.
McSORLEY: Reg Spiers was someone who had a really can-do positive attitude and he lived every day like it was his last.
WILDMAN: In October, Reg receives some exciting news from back home.
His brother is getting married.
He wanted to be at his brother's wedding.
WILDMAN: But the spirited Aussie has a problem.
He doesn't have enough money for a plane ticket to fly from England to Down Under.
Reg was pretty much penniless.
He was stuck.
WILDMAN: Reg resigns himself to having to miss his brother's wedding.
But one day at work, he notices something that could help him get to AUZ for free.
McSORLEY: Reg saw that air freight could be sent cash on delivery, which meant there would be nothing to pay until the package got to the other end.
WILDMAN: Then inspiration strikes.
Reg thinks he might be able to mail himself home.
But it won't be easy.
The 13,000-mile flight includes stopovers in Paris, India and Singapore.
And with every stop, the risk of Reg being detected by ground crews increases.
And if he's caught, he could face jail time.
McSORLEY: It was completely insane.
He was hell bent, nothing was going to stop him.
WILDMAN: With the help of a friend, Reg builds a very special box that's suited for such a long and unusual journey.
The men attached leather straps for Reg to hold on to in case the crate gets bounced around during the flight.
They design the box so that it can be opened from the inside to allow Reg to let himself out when he needs to use the bathroom.
And they even stocked the crate with a backpack full of food and supplies, including two essential items.
McSORLEY: He had two bottles, one for drinking and one for peeing.
He didn't want to mix those up.
WILDMAN: On October 17th, Reg is ready to go.
He addresses his box to a fictitious Australian Shoe Company and then he climbs inside.
Reg's friend takes the unusual cargo to Heathrow.
There airport personnel accept the crate without a second thought and load it on to the plane.
Reg braces himself inside the cramped box as the plane takes off.
Finally, when the aircraft reaches cruising altitude, the stowaway decides he can relax.
Reg got out of the box.
Nature was calling.
WILDMAN: Reg relieves himself in an empty container.
Realizing the aircraft is making its descent toward Paris, he quickly gets back inside his crate.
Reg knows he is one step closer to completing his epic journey.
But as the plane rolls down the tarmac, Reg has a flash of panic.
He's left his container of urine on the outside of the box.
Reg thought he was going to be discovered.
WILDMAN: Suddenly, Reg hears the cargo door open.
He listens in fear as baggage handlers enter the hold.
If they spot the bottle, it might be a dead giveaway that something suspicious is afoot.
McSORLEY: Instead of being sent to Australia, Reg was inches away from being sent to jail.
It's 1964, and eccentric Australian Reg Spiers has a problem.
His brother is getting married back in Australia.
And Reg doesn't have enough money to buy a plane ticket to attend.
So he comes up with a crazy scheme.
Ship himself Down Under in a crate.
So, what will happen to the special delivery? Reg holds his breath as the Parisian baggage handlers move through the plane's cargo hold.
McSORLEY: The baggage handlers were making their way closer and closer to Reg.
He's thinking, "This is it.
" WILDMAN: Sure enough, the men approach Reg's crate and spot the container.
But then they start to laugh.
McSORLEY: The baggage handlers thought that the English had left this can of pee on the outside of the box and that it was a prank.
WILDMAN: The men collect a few packages and take them off the plane.
Reg breathes a sigh of relief.
Three connecting flights later, the aircraft touches down in Australia.
McSORLEY: Reg got out of the box.
He pulled it off.
WILDMAN: Soon after, Reg attends his brother's wedding.
McSORLEY: Reg is a testament to what you can do when you think out of the box.
WILDMAN: Today this replica of the crate that Reg Spiers shipped himself in sits on temporary display at the Postal Museum in London.
It's a tribute to a determined man whose creative spirit couldn't be contained.
Colorado Springs.
In the 1890s, hundreds of prospectors struck it rich after gold was discovered in the nearby Rocky Mountains, earning this town the nickname The City of Millionaires.
Today, the region's heritage is preserved at the Western Museum of Mining and Industry.
Its collection includes dynamite used to blast mines, a 35-ton steam engine from 1895, and an interactive exhibit on gold panning.
But one object here looks like it belongs not in a mine but in outer space.
SHIRA TEITEL: This object is 12.
7 feet tall and weighs 1,800 pounds.
It has a cylindrical shape, and it looks like a caged metal tube.
WILDMAN: This curious contraption recalls a harrowing rescue that captivated the world.
This is a story of tragedy, ingenuity and a fight for survival.
WILDMAN: 2010, Copiapo, Chile.
This remote village nestled in the foothills of the Andes Mountains is home to a thriving copper mine.
On the morning of August 5th, a crew of 33 miners is digging almost half a mile below ground.
It appears to be a normal day, when all of a sudden [ Rumbling ] disaster strikes.
A terrifying rumble reverberates throughout the mine.
This was every miner's worst nightmare.
That kind of crash would suggest a massive collapse somewhere in the mine.
WILDMAN: Clouds of debris fill the air.
Fearing they'll be buried under the rubble, the men race to the mine's safety shelter, a 540-square-foot enclosure stocked with emergency rations.
Minutes later, the deafening rumble abates.
Once the dust settles, the miners carefully step outside the shelter and search for a way out, but it seems their ordeal has just begun.
To their horror, they discover that the only route to the surface has caved in and all communication has been cut off.
SHIRA TEITEL: They are trapped.
They must have felt absolute terror that their worst fears have been realized.
[ Clanging and yelling ] WILDMAN: The miners desperately try to signal for help by generating as much noise as they can.
SHIRA TEITEL: They honked horns, banged machinery and even detonated dynamite, so rescuers would know they were trapped down there.
WILDMAN: But there's no response.
And as the hours stretched into days, their outlook grows bleak.
There were 33 men, and they have no idea how long they're going to be in the mine.
WILDMAN: The miners do their best to stretch out the emergency provisions of food and water.
SHIRA TEITEL: They rationed the available food so that each miner only had a couple of mouthfuls every other day.
WILDMAN: But two weeks after the collapse, there's still no sign of rescue.
You can imagine the morale in the mine would be dwindling.
The miners face death by starvation.
It's 2010 -- Copiapo, Chile.
33 miners have been trapped for 2 weeks underground after the mine they were working in collapsed.
Now they're on the brink of death and have lost all hope of survival.
But little do they know, there's a team working desperately to find them.
On the surface, the rescuers have no idea if the miners made it to the emergency shelter and are still alive.
So, they search for the shelter by boring exploratory drills deep into the ground.
The first seven attempts are unsuccessful.
But then as they remove the eighth drill, they notice something attached to the tip.
The miners attached a note to the drill, letting the rescuers above know that they were safe.
The note read "We are well in the shelter, the 33.
" Finally they knew that the miners were alive.
WILDMAN: But finding the men was the easy part.
Getting them out will be a monumental task.
The only way to reach the men is to drill a tunnel from the surface into the safety shelter.
But with the mine still unstable, drilling too wide a tunnel could risk another collapse.
The team needs a device that will fit in a narrow opening and protect the miners during their journey to the surface.
So they turn to an unlikely group for help -- NASA.
NASA put together a task force of scientists from 10 centers to work on the problem.
WILDMAN: The team comes up with a bold solution.
A narrow craft that can lift the miners out one by one.
The lives of 33 men are dependent on this rescue capsule.
WILDMAN: Two months after the initial collapse, the device is finally ready.
The completed vessel is a steel cage that is shaped like a torpedo.
It's 13 feet tall and just 21 inches across and to help it navigate the rugged 2,300-foot-long hole, it has a unique feature.
SHIRA TEITEL: They added rollers to reduce friction with the tunnel walls.
That way they could lower and raise the capsule smoothly.
WILDMAN: The engineers give the machine a fitting name.
SHIRA TEITEL: They named the capsule Phoenix, the mythical bird that rises from its ashes.
WILDMAN: On October 13th, the Phoenix Rescue Capsule is slowly lowered into the mine.
Hundreds of people, including the press and members of the miner's families, gather at the surface to watch.
Everyone above ground waits anxiously to see what will happen.
WILDMAN: Finally an hour after the Phoenix was lowered into the tunnel, the tiny craft emerges with one of the exhausted but exhilarated miners safely inside.
SHIRA TEITEL: The first miner was welcomed with a thunderous applause.
It was pandemonium.
WILDMAN: Over the next several hours, the Phoenix makes 32 more trips to retrieve the other miners.
After 69 days underground, all 33 men are brought back to the surface alive.
This rescue was the first of its kind and a day that history will remember forever.
WILDMAN: Today a full-scale replica of the Phoenix Capsule remains on display at the Western Museum of Mining and Industry.
It's a triumph of technology, international co-operation and the resilience of the human spirit.
Dearborn, Michigan, is home to one of America's greatest institutions, The Henry Ford.
Its famous namesake opened the facility in 1929 to celebrate the achievements of American industry.
Now a national historic landmark, its collection includes an 1858 steam locomotive, a 1914 Model and John F.
Kennedy's Presidential limo.
But among these land-going vehicles is one artifact that soared through the skies.
The object is a little over 15 feet long.
It's got three tires on it.
Parts of the object are shiny.
It's really quite attractive but also kind of small for what it is.
WILDMAN: This single-seat airplane was at the center of an ambitious dream that almost changed America forever.
It's a story of one brilliant man and his vision for change.
WILDMAN: 1924 -- Dearborn.
Henry Ford is one of the most successful industrialists of his day.
His empire is built on his Model T, the most popular car in America.
By the early 1920s, there's something like eight million registered automobiles in the United States.
And it's probably fair to say that more than half of them were Fords.
WILDMAN: But for Ford, success on the nation's roads isn't enough.
He wants to dominate the skies.
He dreams that one day, every American will have his very own plane, a sort of Model of the air.
ANDERSON: Ford thought he could build a small airplane that a person could use to fly to work, fly back home or even fly out sightseeing somewhere.
WILDMAN: But it's a huge challenge.
In these early days of aviation, airplanes are seen as dangerous and as something that only a skilled professional can fly.
For Ford to be successful, he needs to convince the public that it's safe.
Ford dedicates the next four years to designing and building what he thinks will be the safest small plane in existence.
Finally in 1928, a prototype is ready.
Ford nicknames it "The Flying Flivver.
" ANDERSON: This name comes from the term "Flivver," which at that time, was slang for an inexpensive automobile.
It's a great example of Ford taking a popular nickname and kind of adopting it for his own purposes.
WILDMAN: All he needs to do now is win over the public.
So the brilliant industrialist devises an epic PR stunt.
Ford will send the Flivver nonstop from Dearborn, Michigan, to Miami, Florida.
A journey never before attempted by such a small plane.
So, if Ford can pull this off, the public is going to believe in the Flivver for sure.
WILDMAN: Ford selects his friend Harry Brooks to pilot the new aircraft.
Harry Brooks is the perfect candidate for this.
He's a young guy.
He's handsome.
So it's a perfect opportunity for him to fly this plane at the debut.
WILDMAN: In February 1928, the press assembles in Michigan to watch the Flivver depart on its maiden voyage.
And with Brooks at the helm, the prototype takes to the skies.
He was going to leave from Ford Airport, fly to Miami where Henry Ford is waiting for him with a big reception.
The crowd is really excited by this airplane and this dream.
WILDMAN: Hours after takeoff, Ford receives word that the trip is going well.
The industrialist expects to welcome Brooks to Miami on February 25th in front of an enthusiastic crowd and a gaggle of excited reporters.
But when the date arrives, something shocking happens.
Brooks and the Flivver never show up.
It's 1928.
Automobile mogul Henry Ford has developed a state-of-the-art aircraft called the Flying Flivver.
It's so small and light that Ford thinks it could be the first mass-market airplane.
To drum up interest in this new machine, he sends it on a long-distance voyage.
But little does Ford know, his flight of fancy is destined to crash and burn.
Ford and the crowd spend hours waiting in Miami, but Brooks and the Flivver never arrive.
Two days later, pieces of the Flying Flivver wash up on the shore of Melbourne, Florida.
Brooks' body is never found and it's assumed that the plane crashed into the sea.
Presumably, he went down with the wreckage and perhaps drowned right there in the Atlantic.
WILDMAN: Convinced that his plane was foolproof, Ford launches an investigation to determine the cause of the tragedy.
He has his engineers analyze the remains of the Flivver.
Everything appears to be in full working order with one exception.
As they examined the wreckage, they found a small matchstick wedged into a vent hole in the fuel line.
One of the theories is that's what cut off the fuel supply and caused the engine to die over the Atlantic.
WILDMAN: How the matchstick got there remains a mystery.
Ford's engineers insist that had it not been for this small piece of wood, the Flivver would've been perfectly safe.
In the wake of the crash, Henry Ford is wracked with guilt.
ANDERSON: He was very fond of the young pilot.
And at that point, he was really devastated.
The truth is he just lost heart in the whole project.
WILDMAN: In 1936, he shuts down his aviation division for good.
Ford's dream of an airplane in every garage is dead.
I think the real legacy of the Ford Flivver is the hope that perhaps the airplane would one day be a universal item.
And I think it's a dream that even today we still have.
Who knows, maybe a few decades down the road.
WILDMAN: Today, this Flying Flivver prototype is parked at the Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan.
It's a reminder of a pioneering industrialist's great ambition and a vision that never took off.
The New England state of Vermont is famous for its ski resorts, maple syrup and vibrant fall foliage.
Every autumn, more than three million people travel here for what's commonly called "leaf peeping.
" And showcasing the region's colorful past is the Vermont State Archives.
Its vast collection preserves the military history, legal papers and birth certificates for the entire state.
But among these official documents is a tattered letter that at first glance appears to be of little significance.
It is slightly smaller than 8.
5 x 11.
On its surface, it's just a typical document, but it's actually a plea for help.
WILDMAN: This note is linked to a scandalous tale of vice, double dealing and fraud.
MARSHALL: This is a story about miscarriage of justice that shocked the whole state.
WILDMAN: What notorious case of corruption does this letter reveal? 1974 -- Vermont.
The Burlington Police Department is fighting a losing battle against an influx of drug dealers and narcotics-related crimes.
But law enforcement hopes it can turn the tide.
The department has just hired one of the nation's best undercover cops, 30-year-old Paul Lawrence.
MARSHALL: Paul Lawrence was really celebrated for his work at narcotics.
Between 1973 and 1974, he arrested more than 100 individuals during his undercover drug buys.
WILDMAN: But what the men and women of the Burlington PD don't know is that their superstar new hire is not all he's cracked up to be.
Lawrence was a corrupt cop.
WILDMAN: Desperate for power and success, Lawrence has crafted a sinister plan to cement his reputation as Vermont's top cop.
For years, he has been stealing drugs from crime labs and either planting them on suspects or pretending he's purchased them from people he's never met.
MARSHALL: Paul Lawrence was really unlawfully arresting individuals.
WILDMAN: To evade suspension, Lawrence has bounced around from precinct to precinct.
And he always insists on working alone.
It seems that his method is foolproof.
And now Lawrence has come to Burlington to continue his seemingly perfect arrest history.
MARSHALL: Lawrence wanted to be well known.
He was very interested in fame.
WILDMAN: Sure enough, when Lawrence gets to work, he's hailed as the precinct's savior.
In just a few short weeks on the job, he makes more than half a dozen arrests.
The citizens saw him as a super cop.
WILDMAN: It seems that nothing can stop Lawrence in his quest for glory.
But little does this crooked cop know he's about to meet his match.
Someone was gonna get him.
It's the 1970s in Vermont.
Undercover detective Paul Lawrence is the star of the Burlington PD with more arrests to his name than any other officer on the force.
But this covert cop has a dark side.
For years, Lawrence has been falsifying evidence and lying about his arrests.
But little does he know, his crooked scheme is about to be straightened out.
In the spring of 1974, Lawrence is assigned a partner -- a 21-year-old rookie cop named Kevin Bradley.
Lawrence was not very happy to be partnered.
WILDMAN: Lawrence tries to shrug Bradley off, but one day the rookie gives him a tip he can't ignore.
Bradley says that a big-time New York drug dealer known only as the Rabbi is in town and has been seen dealing heroin in a public park.
Lawrence knows that if he busts the Rabbi, he'll send his already sterling reputation into the stratosphere.
MARSHALL: To kind of take down the biggest drug dealer would've been a big deal.
WILDMAN: The dirty cop grabs some stolen drugs and heads to the park.
Sure enough, Lawrence spots the Rabbi exactly where Bradley said he would be.
Then, without even approaching the suspected dealer, he takes the stolen drugs back to the office.
Look who just made another bust.
WILDMAN: And announces he brought them directly from the infamous Rabbi.
But instead of applause, his colleagues do something Lawrence never expected.
Paul Lawrence was arrested.
It was a sting operation right out of the movies.
WILDMAN: The mastermind was Lawrence's new partner, Bradley.
The young officer became suspicious when he realized that no one was ever around to witness Lawrence making his buys.
So he convinced his colleagues to catch Lawrence red-handed.
Together they recruited an out-of-state officer to pose as The Rabbi.
Then, they slipped Lawrence the bogus tip and monitored his every move.
MARSHALL: And when Paul Lawrence boasted that he had bought from The Rabbi, that was the moment when they knew for sure Lawrence was a corrupt cop.
WILDMAN: Paul Lawrence is brought to trial and sentenced to four years behind bars.
In the aftermath, the Governor of Vermont is forced to overturn 71 convictions that were based on testimony from the crooked cop.
Lawrence fooled a lot of people for a long time.
WILDMAN: Today, this letter from the Vermont State archives is one of the many that poured in from people requesting a pardon.
It's a sobering reminder of the celebrated cop who turned out to be on the wrong side of the law.
Central Park.
This 843-acre green space hosts a range of sporting activities throughout the year.
New Yorkers looking to get into shape can skate on one of the two ice rinks, paddle a row boat across a lake, or run laps around its famous reservoir.
And on the east side of the park is an institution dedicated to health and well-being, The New York Academy of Medicine.
Its collection includes hospital records from the 19th century, sculptures of famous physicians and even a set of George Washington's dentures.
And among these storied relics is an object that revolutionized medicine forever.
This item is about 17 inches tall.
It's covered with leather that's been embellished and it's decorated with a big skeleton.
WILDMAN: This book's author risked his career and reputation to save the lives of countless others.
The story dramatically changed the way we look at the human body.
WILDMAN: It's 1533 in Paris.
18-year-old Andreas Vesalius is a bright, inquisitive medical student.
Vesalius was a very ambitious young man.
He had one really great passion and that great passion was anatomy.
WILDMAN: But Vesalius and his fellow doctors in training have a problem.
No one knows exactly how the human skeleton fits together.
Dissecting a cadaver is considered sacrilegious.
And the few medical texts available to students contain research and theories that date back hundreds of years.
As a result, they're hopelessly inaccurate.
They were based on the dissections done of animals.
WILDMAN: Vesalius vows to change all that.
He wants to create the very first accurate depiction of the human skeleton.
The young physician petitions his university for permission to dissect a corpse.
Sadly his request is summarily denied.
But Vesalius isn't ready to throw in the towel yet.
If no one will give him a body, he'll have to steal one.
So he concocts a grisly plan.
The bodies of criminals are frequently dumped on the roadside beyond the city gates.
It's a dangerous area crawling with scavengers, thieves and murderers.
It was a very creepy place to visit.
WILDMAN: Undeterred, the determined doctor puts his plot into motion.
Under the cover of darkness, Vesalius sneaks out of the city gates.
He scours the woods until he finds an ideal specimen, an almost perfectly preserved skeleton still connected by its ligaments.
The bones of the skeleton had been picked clean by birds.
WILDMAN: Vesalius has hit the jackpot.
But he's been so wrapped up in acquiring a corpse that he's overlooked a key part of the plan.
How to get the skeleton inside the city walls? It's too big for him to get back without being seen.
Bringing a whole body back would be very challenging.
WILDMAN: What macabre solution will the young doctor come up with? It's the 1530s.
In Northern Europe, a young medical student named Andreas Vesalius is determined to advance the study of anatomy by dissecting a human cadaver.
He has one problem, the practice is considered sacrilegious.
So, Vesalius plans to smuggle a corpse from outside the city back for dissection.
It's a risky move that could cost him his fledgling career.
With dawn approaching, Vesalius risks being spotted and then it hits him.
If he can't sneak the entire body past the city walls, he'll have to do it bone by bone.
Vesalius carefully breaks up the skeleton.
He collects together as many bones as he can carry and slowly sneaks inside the city walls.
Over the course of several nights, Vesalius returns to the roadside and repeats the grisly process until he has every last bone.
In the privacy of his home, Vesalius meticulously reassembles the skeleton.
Based on the study of the specimen, Vesalius publishes an illustrated book called "On the Fabric of the Human Body.
" The text is revolutionary.
Doctors everywhere are able to accurately study the inner workings of the human body for the first time.
Thanks to the book's success, Vesalius becomes known as the Father of Modern Anatomy.
Vesalius stuck up for what he believed in, instead of relying on the words of people who lived centuries before.
WILDMAN: Today, Vesalius' seminal book remains on display at the New York Academy of Medicine.
It's a reminder of a medical maverick who, for the sake of science, went out on a limb.
From a crooked cop to a man who saved the world, a courageous rescue, to a very special delivery.
I'm Don Wildman and these are the mysteries at the museum.