To me, the most fascinating part about neuroscience is how little we know about the brain and the constant quest to discover new insights and knowledge about the circuitry within our own bodies.
On one chilly Saturday, a few members of Rutgers BRAIN set out on our own expedition to make some personal discoveries and enjoy a different form of learning.
The early morning air was crisp, and slightly scented with the smell of our breakfast bagels as we boarded a train to Philadelphia. Our first stop was the Mutter Museum, full of mysteries to be examined and mulled over. We saw specimens such as a saponified body known as the “Soap Lady,” sections of Albert Einstein’s brain, and what seemed like an endless expanse of skulls mounted side by side on a wall. What truly fascinated me was a replica of Anthony Eastlack’s skeleton, a skeleton with bones where no bones should be. Eastlack had endured a condition called Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva, in which the body responds to trauma with swelling, inflammation, and then ossification of the injured area, causing muscle to turn quite literally into bone. This results in a distorted skeleton, forcing the individual into a contorted position.
After a delicious lunch at a local Korean restaurant, we headed on over to the Franklin Institute. Here we found a ton of engaging activities that truly brought learning to life. I felt like I was a child again, wide-eyed and slack-jawed, running around to each exhibit wanting to try everything before time ran out. Laws of physics that I had previously encountered in a giant lecture hall literally held my life in its hands as I rode a bicycle across a tightrope across the ceiling, keeping my balance not by some miraculous feat of skill but by a 250 pound counterweight that shifted the center of gravity below the cable. Other members had fun exploring neural connections, debating thought-provoking issues, and experimenting science with their own hands and feet.
We all had a great time exploring the city and the museums. Tuckered out by the journey, we headed back home on the train in the still chilly air, ruminating over the memories made throughout the day and excited for more adventures to come!