When Arthur Conan Doyle wasn’t writing Sherlock Holmes, he was a practicing doctor. Thomas Goetz’s new book The Remedy discusses the history of tuberculosis and Doyle’s role in finding a cure with Robert Koch. The Daily Beast interviewed Goetz about how he came up with the idea for the book. “These two characters were part of a much larger story about how scientific discoveries evolve into social change.”
Have you ever wondered how memoirists remember their childhoods so well when we can barely remember what we ate for breakfast this morning? Although losing your earliest memories is a common phenomenon called childhood amnesia, we’re more likely to remember childhood if we fashion it into a story.
It’s already mid-morning, but have you really started writing yet? If you’re procrastinating, it might be because you see your future self as a stranger. Psychologists believe that because we don’t know who we will be years from now, we fail to make good decisions for the long term. Perhaps both your current and future selves can agree you just want to finish that novel already.
Ever spent the whole day reading The Hunger Games and then found yourself paranoid that a tribute was following you? Don’t worry; you aren’t crazy. Turns out that reading a really gripping novel can cause our brains to believe we are in the body of the protagonist, and this effect can last for days after reading according to a scientific study.
Did Gollum have a vitamin D deficiency? In the Medical Journal of Australia, Joseph A. Hopkinson and Nicholas S. Hopkinson posit that the Lord of the Rings saga could’ve been prevented had the inhabitants of Middle Earth just gotten a little more sunlight. “Systematic textual analysis of The Hobbit supports our initial hypothesis that the triumph of good over evil may be assisted to some extent by the poor diet and lack of sunlight experienced by the evil characters.”
Experimental or mainstream, irrespective of genre, literature asks what motivates us, moves us, connects and separates us? Neuroscience asks not just how the brain works, but the mind as well. We’re not just an assembly of neuronal, neurochemical, and molecular actions transmitting electrical signals throughout the brain. True, we can now mimic those signals through externally generated electrical pulses to improve hearing, make a limb move, or stop tremor. But we cannot yet simulate cognitive experience, our sense of ourselves, of being.