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Dr. Chamberlain’s Glass Brain, 1936
In October 1936, at the 86th annual convention of the Pennsylvania Medical Society, Dr. W. Edward Chamberlain of Temple University unveiled a "glass brain". Enthusiastic news reports gushed that the glass-and-rubber device performed "all of the functions of the human brain except thinking." That was a slight exaggeration.

A brief description in the journal Epilepsia explained that the contraption was actually designed to illustrate "the physio-dynamics and hydraulics of the craniovertebral cavity". The journal further noted, "A vascular and cerebrospinal fluid circulation had been constructed within the model, so as to duplicate the volume and pressure changes encountered in the human structure."

The device itself consisted of a glass sphere that represented the skull. The brain inside the "skull" was a water filled bladder. The capillaries were represented by a filter through which imitation blood flowed.

Chamberlain subsequently showed his glass brain at other medical conventions and was always, as journalists noted, the "center of attraction".

Dr. Chamberlain shows off his glass brain

  • "Reports from different branches of the League 1937". (April 1938). Epilepsia, Volume B1, Issue 2: 88-94.
  • "Glass brain reveals how man's works." (Oct 5, 1936). Rochester Journal.
  • "Glass brain is used to show how human brain works" (Feb. 1937). Popular Mechanics: 248.
Posted By: alex | Date: Tue Aug 09, 2011
Category: Medical Research, Physiology, Brain, 1900-1949, United States,
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