Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Aging the Brain

Next time I forget an acquaintance's name, or walk into the kitchen and can't remember why, I'll click on this New York Times story and pat myself on the back. Evidently, according to recent studies, my brainpower is not declining. Instead, "the aging brain is simply taking in more data and trying to sift through a clutter of information, often to its long-term benefit."

“It may be that distractibility is not, in fact, a bad thing,” said Shelley H. Carson, a psychology researcher at Harvard whose work was cited in the book. “It may increase the amount of information available to the conscious mind.”

It may be! Shelley H. Carson says so, at least.

Other studies find that a "reduced ability to filter and set priorities...could contribute to original thinking." Now all I need to do is find a positive spin for procrastination.

For more information see the NYT story, or read the book it describes, “Progress in Brain Research.”

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Brain Food

Yum Sugar brings us a fine recipe for brain cookies! The dough is "arranged in long tubes" and "shaped like a brain." Although the author advises that these special treats be reserved for Halloween, I believe that they are appropriate for pretty much any occasion. Keep in mind that you "will need an entire bottle of food coloring to make the deep red blood glaze."

For recipe details, and a picture of these fine confections, go to the source: Disgust Your Guests with Brain Cookies.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Death, and How to Diagnose It

In "Happy Effects", one of the stories in DOCTOR OLAF VAN SCHULER'S BRAIN, set in the 1700s, the protagonist waits beside the body of her slowly decaying son because she, like many people of her day confronted with bodies displaying similar symptoms, did not believe that he was truly dead. Rather than risk burying him alive, she waited several increasingly odor-filled days to ensure that he was truly deceased.

Fortunately, today, we know when someone is dead and safe to bury. Or do we?

The Fortean Times links to a recent story about a Wisconsin family of three who lived with the decaying body of a 90-year-old woman for several months because their "bishop" claimed that grandma would come to life, provided that her family prayed hard enough. The woman had apparently passed away while relieving herself on the home's one toilet, which led the family to use "makeshift" toilet facilities for the months that passed between the expiration and the arrival of the local Deputy. For more on the story, see the Fox website.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Bassett's Stereoscopic Atlas of Human Anatomy

Stanford's Bassett collection of human dissection is now online! Well, some of the images. More will follow by this summer. A selection of the striking, 3-D images of the human body can be viewed at here (well worth the click).

Bassett, a 1934 graduate of Stanford's School of Medicine, and a "genius for dissection" collaborated with William Gruber, inventor of the View-Master, to create the Stereoscopic Atlas of Human Anatomy. Over the 17 years the two worked together, they produced 221 View-Master reels with 1,554 color stereo views of dissections, accompanied by explanatory text and labeled drawings. More details about the collaboration can be found in the John Schwartz's New York Times story, The Body in Depth or on the Stanford site.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Dr. Olaf is bound

Greetings! We're all back from a trip to NYC, where I finally got to meet my editor, Antonia Fusco, in person. We've been working together for a couple years, but only over the phone, email, or manuscripts on paper. It was great to see her and the Algonquin offices. The advance review copies of Dr. Olaf were ready as well, so I got to hold the book and thumb through pages. That was a lot of fun. Now I'm trying to find people interested in reading it! The book looks very nice, with a cover image on front and blurbs on the back. It's small--5x7, which is nice as well. I asked Antonia if I could post the cover image--will do that as soon as it's okay to share it. That's the latest on Olaf. Hope you're doing well.