Fat Floats

(Brain Sinks)

In his book The Tale of the Duelling Neurosurgeons, author Sam Kean recounts how the French 16th century ‘barber surgeon’ Ambroise Pare´ was called to treat a gruesome head wound suffered by Henri II in a joust.

According to Kean, “Paré was a keen observer and did not allow the beliefs of the day to supersede the evidence at hand.”

He had “developed tests to distinguish – in particular gory head wounds – between fat, which was harmless to scrape away, and oozing bits of fatty brain tissue, which weren’t. (In short, he discovered that fat floats on water, brain sinks; fat liquefies in a frying pan, brain shrivels)”

“He is considered as one of the fathers of surgery and modern forensic pathology and a pioneer in surgical techniques.” (Wikipedia)

It’s that phrase “did not allow the beliefs of the day to supercede the evidence at hand.” which reminds me that though of course we live in very very different times, a certain kind of curiosity, thirst for knowledge – often scientific-  a compulsion to question, test ,seek out and follow trails of evidence, can still serve us well in almost every walk of life.

So why not for teaching swimming?

Muscle, bone and most other body parts, including ‘brain’ are more dense than water and sink.

Body fat floats.

Who Knew?

Also See Wet Paint Explained, Flotation Part 1 and Part 2 , Float like a butterfly, sink like a brick