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British Report Reveals Removal of Corpses’ Brains


Nothing about Cyril Isaacs’ death was easy, from the way he carried it out -- hanging himself with the cord from an electric kettle --to the distress that his widow, Elaine, felt over the authorities’ insistence on performing an autopsy.

But that was not the end of it. Thirteen years later, in 2000, Elaine Isaacs’ inadvertent discovery that her husband’s brain had been removed and handed over to researchers touched off a grim and far-reaching investigation into the fate of the brains of the dead.

On Monday, the government announced that as many as 22,000 brains had been removed, most without relatives’ permission, from people who died between 1970 and 1999.

The rationale was research: research into sickness, research into the functions of the brain and research into depression and mental illness. So eager were officials to get hold of new brains for their studies that in one case, the report said, a hospital mortician was paid about $16 for each fresh brain he provided.

Removing organs and tissues from corpses without relatives’ consent was explicitly outlawed in 1999, after an earlier scandal at the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool. In that investigation, researchers were found to have removed and kept the organs of 3,500 children who had died at the hospital, returning the bodies to the families without revealing that they were incomplete.

Cameras Capture a 5-Second Fireball and Its Meteorite’s Secrets


With meteorites, as with fine art, provenance counts for a lot. But much more is known about a van Gogh or a Picasso, say, than about most meteorites.

They come from space, sure, but beyond that little is certain.

Now, however, a meteorite has been found in southern Germany, and a precise orbit has been determined for it. The 4-pound rock, named the Neuschwanstein for the Bavarian castle near where it was found in July, is a remnant of a five-second fireball captured on film three months earlier by a network of tracking cameras in central Europe.

This is the fourth time in more than 40 years that a meteorite has been found after such cameras had photographed its fireball, said Dr. Pavel Spurny, the coordinator of the European Fireball Network and an astronomer at the Astronomical Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic. What is even more remarkable, Spurny said, is that the orbit of this rock matches that of the first meteorite discovered in this way, in 1959.

“The most unique fact is that two of these have the same orbit,”

It is not just coincidence, he added. The two are no doubt part of a stream of rocks, probably fragments of one parent asteroid in an elliptical orbit around the sun that extends nearly to Jupiter.