An interesting post over at Mind Hacks caught my eye this morning and I thought I'd share. Apparently Roald Dahl – writer of Matilda, the BFG, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, and oh, you know the rest – made a few significant contributions to neurology in the design of treatments for his son's hydrocephalus and his first wife's aphasia. [Warning: Remainder of Post Constitutes a Silly Personal History, and No Scientific Knowledge Will Be Gained]
This in itself is pretty neat, but what caught my eye at first was the image of the cover of George's Marvelous Medicine at the above post. That picture reminded me that Dahl also influenced at least one proto-neuroscientist - my young self. This book was always one of my favorites, depicting (typical of Dahl) a clever youth using his wits and something special bordering on magic to thwart the nasty and brutal adults in his life. In this one George mixes up a fantastic concoction of all the mad ingredients he can find in his house to teach his horrible grandmother a lesson (kind of a horrifying plot, in reality). Instead of poisoning the old biddy, it magically causes her to grow into a giant horrible grandmother! More ensues, but the point is that inspired by this book I, as a child, this humble author in miniature, took to frequent bouts of what I called "foodiology," which amounted to mixing up "magical" concoctions of my own (the more poisonous of which I certainly did not feed to any family members or pets or any other living things). I tried many recipes and many variations (and even stooped to learning to bake a few edible items), but never quite found a sufficiently magical recipe to dub "marvelous". I suppose this was my first foray into the alluring but frequently frustrating trial and error of science. Ok, maybe not really, but that's my mythology, anyway.