Tag Archives: Sam Kean

‘Synesthesia’ — When One Sense Automatically & Always Also Invokes Another.

by Anura Guruge


I am pretty sure I had never heard of ‘synesthesia’ before coming across it in “Sam Kean’s” book “The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons” I started reading last week. I am big fan of “Sam Kean”.


I heard an excerpt from one of his books on NPR a few years ago, & knew at once that I needed to read that book. As is my won’t I bought all three of his then published books at the same time. Here they are:


I learnt a lot from his ‘The Disappearing Spoon‘ — which was the first one I chose to read. Until I read it in the book I had never heard of ‘Argyria‘ (i.e., permanently turning blue from ingesting too much silver) or how our brains need iodine in order to function satisfactorily.


So now I have learnt about ‘synesthesia‘, i.e., when one sense invokes another, e.g., seeing different colors when they hear noise. Franz Liszt (1811 — 1886), the Hungarian composer, had synesthesia. He was as such a synesthete. But, there are lots of other forms. Some might see colored shapes floating around them while having sex.

Wikipedia as a fairly decent article about it. Start there if you are interested — & you should be.

LSD, I also learnt, invokes temporary synesthesia! Didn’t, of course, know that either.



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by Anura Guruge


Sam Kean’s “The Disappearing Spoon” — One Heck Of A Mind Expanding Book.

by Anura Guruge


Click to access Amazon listing.



Click to access my post.


Click to access my post.


This is one heck of a book. I was going to say it was mind blowing, but that was, I realized, the wrong description. It is mind expanding. It is filled, chock-a-block with fascinating information and insights on every page. I learnt so much.

I already did two posts on subjects I learnt from this book: silver (and Argyria) & iodine.

I had never heard of him until this last March. Then, on a Sunday, on NPR, they read excerpts from his book “The Violinist’s Thumb“. I was hooked. I wanted to read the whole book. I went looking for it on Amazon and found all three of his books. As is my wont, when it comes to authors, I ordered all three.

I decided to start with the ‘Spoon‘ because I do have an affinity to elements.

Wow. I wish this book had been around 50-years ago when I was studying chemistry. I would have learnt so much more.

It should be a MUST READ for all high school kids doing chemistry. It will make chemistry that much more real.

Though well and amusingly written, it is NOT an easy book to read. It is technical and some of his very technical explanations are not as clearly explained by Sam. I ended up doing more research on my own.

If you like chemistry, do yourself a favor and read this book. It will enrich your life and expand your mind.


Sam Kean responded to this post on Twitter.

Click to ENLARGE. On my Twitter feed: @RealAnuraGuruge



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by Anura Guruge


Is Your Brain Getting The Iodine It Needs To Function?

by Anura Guruge


Click to ENLARGE.


Click to access Amazon listing.


Click to ENLARGE.


Click to ENLARGE.


As I mentioned last week, in the context of ‘Argyria‘, are I am reading this (⇓) pretty amazing book about the Periodic Table & the Elements by Sam Kean.

Click to access Amazon listing.

Though I did 7-years of chemistry in school I am sure I never learnt the stuff I am finding out from this book. I am learning something new in nearly every paragraph and I love learning new things.

But, what I learned about Iodine last night gave me quite the scare.

Our brain needs iodine. Without iodine our brain doesn’t work as well as it should. For a start it impacts your memory.

But, here was the kicker. Most people get all the iodine they (and their brain) need from iodised salt — i.e., salt with iodine added to it.

And that was the problem. I AVOID salt and I have been on basically a salt-free diet since I was 7.

So, was this the reason I have always struggled with matters requiring intelligence. As I get older my brain, noticeably, is even more sluggish than it used to be.

So, had I been depriving my brain of iodine.

Well, iodine deficiency or not, I knew that I did get salt in my diet from salad dressings, ketchup, the TONS of ham I eat, the ZILLIONS of sausages I pack away etc. So, I was slightly assuaged. But, I wanted to do more research in the morning.

Morning came. I was thinking about it. Then I remembered that I take the Walmart-brand Centrum Silver for Men and have been taking it (or a ‘plain’ multivitamin prior to that) for decades. I went and checked the label. WOW. Iodine was on the label and I was supposedly getting 100% of what I am supposed to ingest. What a relief.

Again, this is probably not an issue for most of you. My issue was that I don’t imbibe in salt — iodised salt. That was what got me concerned.



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Check Category ‘Books’.


by Anura Guruge