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Dan Brown casualties, neurosurgery edition

brain1.jpgLast summer, on a cross-country road trip, I listened to 17 grueling hours of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. The experience had two notable effects: First, I started thinking in dramatic chapter transitions. (Meanwhile, three cars behind the oblivious couple, a dark-haired man clicked on his turn signal.) Second, I became a short-term, recreational conspiracy theorist.

It seems I’m not the only one to have been knocked off-kilter by Brown’s relentless prose. NPR reported today that a pair of neurosurgery residents at Johns Hopkins University is convinced there’s more than meets the untrained eye in a Sistine Chapel fresco:

They found it in God's neck in the fresco, The Separation of Light from Darkness. That's the painting immediately above the chapel's altar, [said] Dr. Rafael Tamargo, a neurosurgery professor and co-author of an article in the journal Neurosurgery.

"As we studied the lines that Michelangelo had included in the neck, we were surprised to find that if you follow these lines, you can actually draw an anatomically correct view of the brainstem," Tamargo [said].

I think Brown might be disappointed by the pair’s conclusion, sadly. Their guess at Michelangelo’s motivation?

"I think he had a lot of anatomical knowledge that he wanted to express, but didn't have a venue in which to do so."

Not really summer reading fare.

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