Over at NeuroTribes, a new blog in the just-born science blog network at PLoS (it's one for your feed reader), Steve Silberman has an exclusive interview with celebrated neuroscientist Oliver Sacks. For the first time, Sacks is speaking out about the illness that nearly cost him his eyesight - a topic that he treats in depth in his forthcoming book, The Mind's Eye. Silberman has a lengthy interview with Sacks, which I highly recommend you read, and he begins by recounting a "geeky moment" in Sacks' book:
The geeky moment occurs when Sacks is in the hospital, forbidden to leave his room because his opthamologist has embedded a chip of radioactive iodine in his eye in hopes of banishing the tumor. The tiny plaque of I-125 triggers a storm of hallucinations - including starfish, daisies, and purple protoplasm - as well as ravaging pain. In the middle of all this, Sacks muses about asking his long-time editor and friend, Kate Edgar, to fetch his beloved collection of fluorescent minerals so he can conduct an experiment. "Perhaps I could light them up by fixing my radioactive eye, my rays on them," he writes. "It would be quite a party trick!" That's Sacks: thinking like a subversive 18th century chemist in the most dire situations, eager to cast the light of science into unmapped recesses of the natural world.