Friday, December 07, 2007

I was reading today about a study that some scientists did on Beethoven's hair, which turned out to be full of lead, which was probably what killed him. The lead, not the hair. But what really got me is this talk about the lack of trace-metal patterns that are associated with all manner of things like genius and irritability and malabsorbtion, which just slays me. What metal gives you the genius? And if Beethoven didn't have the metal-genius, what sort of genius did he have?
Also, I find it entertaining that there were all of these people that were sort of crazy and brilliant and history has always been like, "Well, sure, that's because they had syphilis." Only now science is pointing out that sometimes, that's not actually the case. (See: Beethoven.)
The hair that they studied was cut off his head by a young Jewish musician whose family kept it as a keepsake until the Nazi occupation, when they gave it to a Danish woman who helped a whole lot of people escape, and her daughter auctioned it off at Sotheby's.

You know, I do this to people in conversation too, where it's a lot less easy to escape. I just find everything in the world very, very interesting, is all. This sounds like it would be very endearing and cute--I'm a pretty endearing and cute girl, by most accounts--but it really isn't. It might be, if I could work these things into a conversation like a normal person, but instead I remember halfway through talking about something else that I'd been thinking about this neat thing, and I flail around and shout about it right in the middle of whatever is going on. So it's really only amusing for people who already know me. Strangers just think I'm nuts.

Anyway, that made me think about Newton, and about how he (once? often?) stuck a knife behind his eyeball to "induce ocular effects," because plain old drugs just weren't good enough for him. But it could easily have blinded him, and then where would we be? If an apple falls on Newton sitting under a tree, and he's severed his ocular nerve and can't see it, does he discover gravity? These are the things that keep me up at night.

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