Thursday, June 09, 2005


Mythbusters : Brain Snapping, Is it possible?

Sometimes you read things in the Newspaper and think. Can it be true? Is it possible? This happened today as thousands of Sydneysiders spread their copy of the Daily Telegraph out on the breakfast table, and over the top of their Weet-Bix observed the headline Crowe : How my Brain Snapped.

People of course were drawn to the article, only to be disappointed, because nowhere else does the article mention this remarkable phenomenon. We don’t find out if it hurts (the brain has no nerve endings apparently), we read no doctors testimony, no medical evidence. All we get is what we assume are the symptoms - The compulsion to throw things.

Inspired by the scientific approach taken by Mr Tim Blair and his team of lab assistants, who determined that a Koran won’t go around the S-bend, The City has undertaken to investigate the question: Can Brains Snap?

Step One : First we needed a Brain. We invited Mr. Blair to provide his for this experiment, but he claimed he was using it for something else at the time. So we were forced to seek an alternative. We window shopped at the local butcher but found the sight of so much organic matter decidedly off-putting. Instead we visited the toy shop and invested in a giant bucket of Play-Doh.

Step Two : We fashioned the Play-Doh into a brain-like shape, guided by the old visible man model gathering dust on top of the book case.

Step Three – Snapping

Snap Attempt One – Taking the ‘stand in’ brain, we held it in both hands and then applied a large and instantaneous shear force. This resulted in a substantial distortion of the brain, but it did not actually snap.

Snap Attempt Two - We placed a large ladder against the side of the house, and climbed to a point where it was very wobbly indeed. We then released the stand-in brain. On impact the brain distorted and flattened. It did not bounce, and there was no evidence of snapping.

Snap Attempt Three – We felt that the stand-in brain may have been exhibiting overly elastic behaviour. To control for this we placed it in the freezer for six hours. On removal of the brain from the freezer we wrapped it in insulating material and ascended the ladder once again to the wobbliest section. We released the brain. The sound on impact this time was distinctly different, and the brain split in two down the hemispherical axis. The Brain had snapped.

Mythbusted? – We did have to apply unusual measures (the freezing) to achieve the snapping we were looking for. At room temperature the stand in brain exhibited marked plasticity, but at –3 degrees we found that brain snapping is possible.

Conclusion – Plausible : If we assume that Mr. Crowe had placed his head inside the hotel refrigerator for at least six hours before the incident, it is certainly possible that his brain did snap.

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