In 1972, neurosurgeon Joseph Bogen argued that a giant walkthrough brain should be constructed. He envisioned a 60 storey high building, a science museum of the human brain, built to educate large numbers of people by taking them on guided tours inside.
A giant walkthrough brain, as charming and audacious as it was, was never built. The cost makes it unlikely that a physical version will ever be erected, but modern computer technology and advances in computational human anatomy models provide another way: the exploration of a three-dimensional virtual human brain.
“The Giant Walkthrough Brain” is an innovative, engaging, public science communication project aimed at taking a live audience on a musically driven, larger-than-life virtual tour of the human brain. It is both a live theatrical performance and a multimedia project, including dramatic, 3-D computer animations and live, original music.
It’s an hour-long tour of the brain; it’s an introduction to a serious of famous personalities, all of whom taught us something crucial about the brain and it is a musical production with songs written and performed by The Free Radicals. All the while, a vivid, anatomically correct and detailed model of the brain appears on a huge screen behind the band. And the audience travels through it.
This project has a staff: I work with Trevor Day of MRU and all the Free Radicals, Dr. Christian Jacob and his team in computing science at the U. of Calgary, and Tatiana Karaman, a member of that team but also the ‘driver of the bus’.
July, 2014; first presentation, The Banff Centre
September 2014: World Premiere at Beakerhead. Two sold-out nights at Telus Spark.
April 2015: Two sold-out nights at the Timms Centre in Edmonton.
January 2016: two sold-out nights at the Kelowna Community Theatre.
Winner of the 2015 Canadian Science Writers’ Award for Science Communication.
1 Bogen, J.E.: “A Giant Walk-through Brain”. Bull. LA. Neurol. Soc. 37:131 1972