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Tue, Mar 17

Phineas Gage, gauging time

On Wednesday, September 13, 1848, 25-year-old Phineas Gage was helping lay a railroad track through Cavendish, Vermont, for the Rutland and Burlington Railroad Company. It was 4:30 pm, and the sun was still out as he used a tamping iron to pack explosive powder into a long ditch. Without warning, the powder exploded and the iron—roughly 3.5 feet long, an inch wide, and 13 pounds in weight—flew from his hand and through his left cheek. It tore through his brain and the back of his skull, landing more than 80 feet away “smeared with blood and brains,” as his biographer Malcolm Macmillan would later write. Gage was immediately blinded in his left eye and fell to the ground. But he didn’t die. He convulsed on the ground then he got up, boarded an oxcart, and rode into town, less than a mile away.

Read more from The Atlantic.