Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Phineas Gage and his Trusty Tamper

You know that guy who had a huge spike blast through his noggin and lived to tell the tale?  That was Phineas Gage.  The spike was a tamping iron and it was huge, weighing in at 13 pounds.  He was working on the railroad, pounding explosives into a hole and Boom!  The tamping iron not only went through Phineas' head, it kept going and landed dozens of feet away.  Now post-brain-piercing Mr. Gage underwent a profound personality change, from an ordinary fellow to a bad-tempered guy who drank too much.  Scientists said "Hmmm. If damage to his brain changed his personality, maybe there's a link!"  Years later (1994) the University of Iowa used their electronic imaging technology on Gage's skull and affirmed cause and effect. In 2009 a portrait was found that is believed to be that of Phineas Gage.  He looks pretty good under the circumstances.

Smithsonian, Jan 2010 v40 i10 p8(3) as reproduced in the Biography Resource Center

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