Jean-Antoine Nollet (November 19, 1700 - April 25, 1770), also known as Abbé Nollet, was a French Abbé and scientist who helped lead to the discovery of osmotic pressure sometime around 1750. He later became a professor at the University of Paris.
Purpose: To determine the effects of submerging a semipermeable membrane filled with an impermeable liquid in a fluid which is permeable. (I have no fucking clue what he was thinking at the time).
Method: filling an animal bladder with wine and submerging it in water.
Observations: the bladder burst under the excess of internal pressure and osmotic pressure was discovered several hundred years later.
Conclusion: often science is discovered by accident, or in this case, some strange disrespect for animals' internal organs. Nollet could not have known that this absurd discovery would lead to the discovery of desalinization techniques hundreds of years later but today we continue this tradition of pointless research in the name of future purpose. Oodles of research in today's mathematics exist to serve possible future scientific needs... how bizarre.
Jean-Antoine Nollet. (2007, March 3). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 21:52, March 4, 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jean-Antoine_Nollet&oldid=112296604
Some of this information was gleaned from my Chem 120 lecture.