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Postcards from the Brain Museum: The Improbable Search for Meaning in the Matter of Famous Minds

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Title: Postcards from the Brain Museum: The Improbable Search for Meaning in the Matter of Famous Minds
Author: Burrell, Brian
ISBN: 9780385501286
Publisher: Broadway
Published: 2005
Binding: Book
Language: English
Condition: Used: Very Good
Clean, unmarked copy with some edge wear. Good binding. Dust jacket included if issued with one. We ship in recyclable American-made mailers. 100% money-back guarantee on all orders.

Non-Fiction 1402812

Publisher Description:
What makes one man a genius and another a criminal? Is there a physical explanation for these differences? For hundreds of years, scientists have been fascinated by this question. In Postcards from the Brain Museum, Brian Burrell relates the story of the first scientific attempts to locate the sources of both genius and depravity in the physical anatomy of the human brain. It describes the men who studied and collected special brains, the men who gave them up, and the sometimes cruel fate of the brains themselves. The fascination with elite brains was an aspect of the scientific mania for measurement that gripped the Western world in the mid-nineteenth century, along with a passionate interest in the biological basis of genius or exceptional talent. Many leading intellectuals and artists willed their brains to science, and the brains of notorious criminals were also collected by eager anatomists ghoulishly waiting in the execution chamber with a bag full of sharp metal tools. Focusing on the posthumous sagas of brains belonging to Byron, Whitman, Lenin, Einstein, the mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss, and many others, Burrell describes how the brains of famous men were first collected--by means both fair and foul--and then weighed, measured, dissected, and compared; exhaustive studies analyzed their fissural complexity and cell or neuron size. In various cities in Europe, Russia, and the United States, brain collections were painstakingly assembled and studied. A veritable who's who of literary, artistic, musical, scientific, and political achievement waited in Formalin-filled jars for their secrets to be unlocked. The men who built the brain collections were colorfuland eccentric figures like Rudolph Wagner, whose study of the brain of Carl Friedrich Gauss led to one of the great scientific debates of the nineteenth century. In America, the Fowler brothers brought phrenology to the United States and made a convert of Walt Whitman, whose brain was donated to scienc