It’s true. I’m a Neuro-freak.

This morning, Diana Keat, a NeuroMOOC student and friend texted me about a story on NPR’s The Takeaway that was about air conditioning as a necessity. As some of you may know from a previous post, the neurobiology of heat waves is one of my pet topics. Mammals have no way to actively cool themselves aka to “refrigerate” their bodies. We can heat ourselves very well but to cool down, we have to use passive mechanisms. In other words we lose heat but we do not make cold. This neurobiological fact has direct policy implications, viz that during heat waves (more and more common these days), responsible governments must provide cooling centers for citizens without access to air conditioning. This goes for jails and prisons, including those in the southern United States, the focus of The Takeaway story.

As serendipity would have it, the book I am reading right now is Salvatore Basile’s COOL: How Air Conditioning Changed Everything. This book is fabulous. Highly recommended.

Diana wanted to know if I would send the producer my blog story (she has an inflated view of my blog….).

Me (in response): “In the wilds of BC. Trying to vacate. Not work. But I’ll try to do something later today.”

Diana: “Don’t work. Vacate. Ohmmm. Sorry to bother you.”

Me: “No bother. Seriously, work and play are not distinct for me.”

That was the end of that and off I went with my spouse and sister-in-law to Porpoise Bay. Now, just a few days ago, the three of us had been down at Soames Beach and happened across a rusty old chain. In the spirit of found object art, Andy Goldsworthy, and general fun, we made a spiral:


Here is a spiral made from a rusty length of chain that was heaped up on Soames Beach, Sunshine Coast in British Columbia. For scale it is about 12 feet (~ 4 meters) across.

Inspired by our previous spiral, I decided to make one at the beach of Porpoise Bay. I spiraled around and then got a fancy to reverse the spiral and make a tail. I thought I was simply following an aesthetic whim. Here is me with my creation:


Here I am with my whimsical spiral made of stones. This is at the estuary at Porpoise Bay.

Then I took a look at what I had made and what did I see? Of course, a brain!! A side view of a human brain to be exact. So off I went to re-arrange the stones. Here is what I came up with:


Here is my found-stones brain. I am pointing at the central sulcus. The Sylvian fissure, temporal lobe, cerebellum, and a bit of the hindbrain along with the spinal cord are all outlined in white stones. The dark stones show where the rest of the hindbrain, midbrain and diencephalon are deep within the telencephalic cap. Apologies for the poor diencephalon….. I knew it wasn’t right as I was making it but couldn’t pull it up out of my memory any better than this.  

Okay, the point of this short post is simply that I see brain everywhere and I know that makes me a bit of a freak. But I am fine with being a Neuro-Freak. It is a label I will wear proudly.






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