Santiago Ramón y Cajal--The Man Who Started Selfies

By BLindon on Mar 04, 2017 09:41 PM EST

Santiago Ramón y Cajal used creative expression to divulge in scientific inquiry notable in his drawings praised for its exactness. Cajal could be remembered in the hundreds of drawings that he created to illustrate his scientific papers. His art became the centerpiece of modern science as his works lay out the basic architecture of the nervous system and goes on to theorize about the neurological basis of reflexes and the way nerve impulses travel between separate cells.

Now, all of Cajal's works including the unpublished ones have been compiled in "Beautiful Brain: The Drawings of Santiago Ramón y Cajal." His works is said to resonate with that of  the 17th century comet drawings of Johannes Hevelius as well as the tree diagrams of medieval manuscripts. Cajal even depicted the glial cells of the cerebral cortex of a child in one of his drawings, Brainpickings reported.

"The Self-Portrait" artist is also being recognized as the selfie pioneer long before the term was coined. Apparently, Cajal was already drawn to art from an early age and felt compelled to draw everything in sight including his dreams. Later on he discovered the photographic progress Daguerre invented three decades earlier. This is said to have encouraged his lifelong series of artful photographic self-portraits taken in his library and laboratory in his thirties.  

Meanwhile, the key event for Cajal's scientific career as well as for the development of modern neuroscience happened in Madrid in 1887. The 35-year-old Nobel Laureate was then introduced to the famous sections of the brain impregnated by the silver method of the Savant of Pavia. Apparently, it was Cajal's first opportunity to admire such method as he was prompted by Dr. Luis Simarro Lacabra, Nobel Prize reported.

Santiago Ramón y Cajal together with Camillo Golgi also won the Nobel Prize in 1906. The two met only in Stockholm to receive the award for their studies on the nervous system. It should be noted that Golgi's belief in reticular neural networks entirely contradicts Cajal's Nobel lecture as Cajal supported the theory of contiguity of individual cells, not the continuity of it.  Learn more about Cajal from the video below:


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TagsSantiago Ramón y Cajal, selfies, neuroscience, self-portrait

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