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Mar 26 2014

Can we get it as a cosmetic surgery option?

This poor woman in the Netherlands had a bone disorder that caused her skull to continuously thicken, pressing on her brain — so the doctors had a copy of her cranium made out of plastic on a 3-D printer, cut off the top of the skull, and replaced it. It worked, and she’s apparently feeling much better now. So the medical result was awesome.

But awesomer?

skullcap

It was made out of transparent plastic. Now the doctors, of course, covered it up with her scalp and neatly stitched it all together so you can’t even see a scar anymore, but I was thinking, if I had it done, the best thing would be to simply remove all that skin and have my brain pulsing beneath a transparent dome. I’d even pay extra to have some LEDs inserted in patterns in the plastic. Can you imagine how cool it would be to teach neurobiology with your brain hanging out, decorated with little blinking lights?

Maybe someday. A guy can dream.


Here’s a video of the procedure.

Wow, but her skull was really thick. She would have been a master of the Glasgow Kiss, I think.

41 comments

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  1. 1
    Cinzia La Strega

    I’ve had professors over the years with all manner of tics and oddities, but that would be REALLY distracting.

  2. 2
    Callinectes

    I bang my head all the time, but having my brain visible when I do it? I’d grind my teeth away.

    Worth it, though.

    And no student would ever be able to use that “Have you ever seen the Professor’s brain?” schtick on you.

  3. 3
    SallyStrange

    It’s hardly worth paying for a white lab coat if your skull isn’t transparent, is it?

  4. 4
    anuran

    But imagine being out in the sun and getting a sunburned brain. Ouch.

  5. 5
    changerofbits

    PZ, is it encephalophilia or cephalophelia? Maybe you’re infatuated with cephalopods for their irresistible brains?

  6. 6
    SallyStrange

    But imagine being out in the sun and getting a sunburned brain. Ouch.

    You’d need to make the skull with that photosensitive feature that folks’ bifocals have these days.

    That, or wear a hat.

  7. 7
    marcus

    And just think about how you could taunt the zombies by flashing a little brain right before you blew them away with you double-barreled 12 gauge.
    Oh wait… That’s from my screenplay.

  8. 8
    WMDKitty -- Survivor

    PZ, you know I (and every other cat in range) would just try to catch the blinky lights.

  9. 9
    gijoel

    You’re not going to turn me into a two headed parrot that only speaks junior high French, are you?

  10. 10
    robro

    I too would highly recommend a nice hat. From my experience, even with a skull, but no hair, a hat is a must have for the cold, the heat, and the sun.

  11. 11
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    PZ:

    Can you imagine how cool it would be to teach neurobiology with your brain hanging out, decorated with little blinking lights?

    Sure the idea sounds great now, but you’d be the life of the Undead Party when the zombie apocalypse hits.

  12. 12
    Corvus Whiteneck

    I think a visible brain under a transparent dome would put one half-way down the road to being a comic book super-villain. A most excellent development.

  13. 13
    garydargan

    My father had a similar problem late in life with Paget’s Disease in his skull. It did not affect him though. He died at 92 when his lungs finally gave out on him.

  14. 14
    nohellbelowus

    Better do some self-tests on your exposed brain with a laser pointer first, because your clever students might bring them to class… oops.

  15. 15
    paulmccue

    I’d love to be there in 800 years when an archaeologist digs you up and has a canary.
    “This must have been a very high status individual, the skull? Probably ceremonial.”

  16. 16
    neilweightman

    This reminds me of
    Nicol Williamson as Merlin in “Excalibur”.
    Does it come in silver?

  17. 17
    kittehserf

    PZ, if you lectured with a transparent head and brain LEDs, you’d have Buckley’s chance of getting the students to pay any attention to what you were saying. Who could listen to a lecture while transfixed by such a sight?

    My mind would keep going back to A Wrinkle in Time and IT. Not a happy thought.

  18. 18
    Christoph Burschka

    I’d even pay extra to have some LEDs inserted in patterns in the plastic. Can you imagine how cool it would be to teach neurobiology with your brain hanging out, decorated with little blinking lights?

    Even better, have the LEDs wired to be activated by brain activity in different areas…

  19. 19
    azhael

    @18 Christoph

    O_O Yes……
    I would get a set of functional gills too (you said a guy can dream) and spend the rest of my life trying to communicating with deep sea creatures. Somewhere where there are no sperm whales or giant squid, though…i´d probably look very tempting.

  20. 20
    Pike Wake Turbulence

    “We are Borg. You will be educated. Resistance is futile.”

  21. 21
    kreativekaos

    Picturing you in front of a class teaching neurobiology (or anything for that matter), with said neocranial appliance, flashing binary LED responses as you nonchalantly talk about neurons, synapses and dendrites…..with the students taking in the lecture with serious and focused intent– truly a comical sight it would be.

    Thanks for the morning pick-me-up, PZ–it was better than a double espresso from Starbucks.

  22. 22
    carlie

    I told my child this story, and he said “Oh. Mojo Jojo.”

    :)

  23. 23
    pentatomid

    PZ Myers, Cyberleader

  24. 24
    rq

    Combine it with this and you’d be the Ultimate Super Villain. I vote yes!

  25. 25
    Anri

    I think a visible brain under a transparent dome would put one half-way down the road to being a comic book super-villain. A most excellent development.

    I told my child this story, and he said “Oh. Mojo Jojo.”

    Also, Dr. Badvibes from COPS.
    Not nearly as cool as Mojo, of course, but that what I get for being late to the party.

  26. 26
    nich

    And make myself vulnerable to the music of Slim Whitman? But I kinda like Indian Love Call…

  27. 27
    jamessweet

    heh, PZ wants to trick out his brain the way some people trick out their cars. Is anyone surprised? ;)

  28. 28
    nich

    @27: Pimp my Brain?

  29. 29
    A Hermit

    Apart from the transparency it wouldn’t be that big a change for some of us…. :-(

  30. 30
    twas brillig (stevem)

    Even better, have the LEDs wired to be activated by brain activity in different areas…

    Beware the converse: Those flashing LED’s can be used to control neuron activity. [citations needed] They are doing all sorts of controlling mice (or rats, whatever) by blinking light at different neurons in their brains. So, careful PZ. If you get what you want: a transparent skull with blinky LEDs; someone will “hack” the LEDs and take control of your brain (o_O), making you dance and burble in class.

  31. 31
    kenbakermn

    Add a USB port and connect yourself directly to the intertubes.

  32. 32
    Christophe Thill

    So, PZ, you’d like to be turned into Hakaider, if I understand correctly ?

  33. 33
    alkisvonidas

    PZ Myers, Cyberleader

    Well, it didn’t end so well in The Brain of Morbius, but I guess science (and special effects) marches on.

  34. 34
    busterggi

    There has to be a way to modify the ACA to cover this – I NEED it!

  35. 35
    John Horstman

    Ooh, wire different colored LEDs to areas associated with processing various emotions for an LED-mood-ring effect! Full red glow for angry PZ, green for tranquil PZ, blue for focused PZ, yellow for joyous PZ, purple for incredulous-that-I-even-have-to-be-discussing/refuting-this-creationist/sexist/racist/Republican/etc.-nonsense-in-2014 PZ, and so on.

  36. 36
    Stefan Garcia

    Captain Boday!
    http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Boday

  37. 37
    twas brillig (stevem)

    Ooh, wire different colored LEDs to areas associated with processing various emotions for an LED-mood-ring effect! Full red glow for angry _##, green for tranquil_##, blue for focused_##, yellow for joyous_##, purple for incredulous-$%^$%^*_##

    Can’t we do the LED stuff without the transparent skull stuff? Just a LEDy toque that includes EEG sensors and a little chip to translate the EEG into LED colors?? Kickstarter, where are you???

  38. 38
    David C Brayton

    Orac must be so incredibly jealous right now.

  39. 39
    impact

    Good thing there is cosmos over chaos. So doctors can perform such amazing surgeries.

  40. 40
    simonstephenson

    “I think a visible brain under a transparent dome would put one half-way down the road to being a comic book super-villain. A most excellent development.”

    PZM already is a comic book super-villain. But just think, we could call him CaseMod…

  41. 41
    David Marjanović

    Good thing there is cosmos over chaos. So doctors can perform such amazing surgeries.

    All you need for that seems to be a quantum fluctuation and the 2nd law of thermodynamics – the triumph of chaos.

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