From Moonsnails and Nudibranchs, to frontotemporal dementia, to Maurice Ravel and his Bolero (via 10 and Bo Derek), to...
This is something I'm still pondering over. As I've occasionally mentioned before, I'm part of the "How Things Work" group on Yahoo. This group has ongoing conversations that meander from topic to topic and leave your head spinning. As part of this, someone will occasionally drop an interesting URL into the mix.
This just happened today, when someone posted a link to a series of pages called The ABC of invertebrates. This is hard to describe – you really need to go there. For each letter in the alphabet there is an associated drawing and short rhyme. In the last few minutes I've learned stuff about all sorts of creatures (e.g. Flatworms, Inchworms, Moonsnails, Nudibranchs, ...) that I never even knew existed.
The interesting (and sad) part to all of this is that the lady who created the drawings – Canadian scientist Anne Adams – was in the early stages of a rare brain disease called FTD (frontotemporal dementia). Dr. Adams, who passed away in 2007, was originally trained in mathematics, chemistry and biology, but she eventually decided to abandon science and take up art (Dr. Adam's story is told in more detail in this New York Times Article).
In Dr. Adam's case, the FTD seems to have altered some of the "circuits" in her brains, changing the connections between the front and back parts, thereby unleashing a torrent of creativity. At the age of 53, she created a painting called "Unravelling Bolero". This was a visual representation of the famous Boléro, which was written by the Basque French composer Joseph-Maurice Ravel (1875-1937), and which – for myself at least – will forever be associated with the film 10 starring Bo_Derek and Dudley_Moore
Strangely enough, Ravel also suffered from a brain disease whose symptoms were identical to those observed in Dr. Adams. Even stranger, just a week ago as I pen these words, I discovered that one of my friends has been diagnosed with Pick's Disease, which is another name for FTD.
"There but for the grace of God go you or I," as the old saying goes...
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