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October 31, 2007

The Penmanship Of Doctor Moniz

Sometimes The Nobel Prize Is A No Brainer

Science and politics often collide in Stockholm. Liberals deplore DNA laureate James Watson's racial politics, while conservatives loathe the Prize Linus Pauling got atop his chemistry Nobel becausStampp12_2e he earned the Lenin peace prize in the process.

Last years peace prize  is bound to give rise to controversy ,if only because former vice-president Gore's early  career eerily parallels that of  the World War I Foreign Minister who won Portugal's  first Nobel in 1949, for a discovery that changed the world view of multitudes as profoundly as Gore's environmental consciousness raising.

Like Albert Gore Junior, António Egas Moniz  inherited a Senate seat, but his road to political fame led through medical rather than divinity school. Yet both realized their literary ambitions- --Moniz'  History Of Playing Cards was as much a best seller in its time and place as  Al's primer on the great climate gamble. Both were accomplished  statesmen too, but unlike Gore, Moniz was no scientific amateur. he stepped down as Foreign Minister to became Professor of Neurology in the University of Lisbon.

His use of x-rays to visualize arteries in the brain  evolved into cerebral angiography,  revolutionizing  the study of strokes, and  winning him the coveted Oslo Medical Prize,  which prefigured  his medical Nobel just as Al's Oscar did his Peace prize.

And just as Al embarked on a third  career as an investment banker, the  polymathic physician next  turned to unraveling the transmission of information within the brain. At the Second World Congress of Neurology in London in 1935, listening to an account of a temperamental chimpanzee's tantrums subsiding  in response to  the flick of a scalpel within its simian skull, it occured to  Ambassador Moniz that he need not let his Nobel dreams ride on angiography,

Sometimes The Nobel Prize Is A No Brainer

Returning to the University Hospital he exercised his considerable prerogatives and had a human brain fetched from the morgue, to practiced thrusting his pen through its base until he figured out the best angle to detach bits of cortex from the whole. In so large a seaport as Lisbon, not a  year passed without some obstreperous whore making  her way from  bordello to bedlam. Moniz had the next such  brought to his operating theater, and plunged a leucotome into her brain at the same angle he had practiced with his trusty Montblanc. When she awoke placid, albeit unaware of her age or whereabouts, he pronounced the operation a clinical success.  signed her commitment papers, and never saw her again.

Egases_2_2 The operation's destruction of personality seemed monstrous to many, but there was no denying partial brain amputations emptied asylum cells around the world. Its popularity in calming political dissidents in Siberia  led some adventurous Third Reich practitioners to add to the surgical learning curve, and before long, clinics from Harley Street to Park Avenue had a new panacea to offer the fashionable parents of inconveniently mad children. So a decade and 100,000 operations later, the phone rang  in Lisbon, inviting the latest benefactor of mankind to dine with Sweden's King.

Drugs that calm psychosis have consigned Moniz operation to oblivion, but  his startling resemblance to Gomez Add


ams assures the revival of his fame each Halloween and over the decades, the  operations of the Nobel Peace Prize committee have worked to reduce the comparative horror of his work.  Many  historians would rather undergo his  procedure than relive the aftermath of  some of the peaces that won the prize.  But money talks. So far only Viet  Nam's Le Duc Tho has bravely declined to admit :
" I'd rather have a Nobel in front of me than a frontal lobotomy."




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Wow. This one borders on bad taste.

You get one brownie point for your listing of the Seattle Inquisition, though -- things balance out.

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