Phar Lap lives again

This is kinda creepy...but kinda cool, in a morbid sort of way:
Dead Horse Lives

In the late 1920s, during the height of the great age of American horse racing, Phar Lap was one of the biggest celebrities with four legs. Winning 37 of his 51 races and becoming renowned throughout his home country of Australia as well as here in America he inspired many people and gave them hope during the difficult times of the Great Depression before dying unexpectedly in 1932. His owner, understandably devastated, decided that while he would send the big horse's heart back to Melbourne  he wanted his hide to be mounted and preserved by a taxidermist.

Now, I don't think I'd like my horse - or any pet for that matter - put back together again no matter how good a taxidermist may be; it's just a little creepy if you ask me. However I have to admit that when I read this old article from a 1932 edition of Popular Science I was a intrigued and while I couldn't imagine having it done today I can definitely appreciate the skillful attention and care that must have gone in to the restoration to bring back to life such a wonderful American icon.


Brain rewiring

As I turned on the TV this morning the Today show was featuring a story about a little girl named Cameron Mott. Cameron was born perfectly healthy but began having serious seizures when she was three and a half years old which increased in severity and frequency to the point where she was having up to 10 seizures a day and had to wear a helmet to protect her head. After many incorrect diagnoses she was eventually diagnosed with Rasmussen's Syndrome, a disease that would have continued to spread throughout her brain destroying cognitive and physical functions along the way and leaving her with a wildly firing set of neurons that would cause seizures for the rest of her life. In 2007 her family made the decision to bring her to John's Hopkins Children's Hospital in Baltimore to undergo a hemispherectomy. In this procedure half of her brain was removed to get rid of the damaged brain tissue while preserving the remaining half. What amazed me was seeing her interview on the Today show and watching videos of her talking, walking, running and playing just like any normal nine-year-old. Within a month of the surgery, which initially left her completely paralyzed on the left side of her body (since they removed the entire right side of her brain), her remaining hemisphere was able to rewire itself to control the left side of her body as well as the right to the point where she was able to walk out of the hospital of her own accord. It simply amazes me not only what the brain can do but how quickly it can rewire to compensate for the missing pieces. I wonder if she is at any higher risk of getting a concussion since she's missing half of her brain. They say the right side of her skull would fill with cerebrospinal fluid to fill the empty space but I wonder if the fact that it is fluid, rather than a solid object, would make it easier for the remaining side of her brain to move around. Anyway, here's the video clip from the Today Show:

On a cool little side note, the man who invented hemispherectomy that cured this little girl was Dr. Ben Carson, a world-renowned neurosurgeon who also is well known for separating a pair of Siamese twins who were joined at the head. This same Dr. Carson spoke at Lafayette's commencement last year and I got to hear him since I had gone back to watch a few friends graduate (I graduated the year before). He was a very interesting person to listen to and I'm glad I got a chance to hear him speak, especially with me studying neuroscience and all :)