The Electric Commentary

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Beethoven died of lead poisoning?

So says the Energy Department's Argonne National Laboratory, which used a powerful X-Ray machine to test some of Beethoven's hair and a few skull fragments:

"There's no doubt in my mind . . . he was a victim of lead poisoning," said Bill Walsh, an expert in forensic analysis and chief scientist at Pfeiffer Treatment Center in Warrenville, Ill., who led the study with energy department researcher Ken Kemner.

Still a mystery, however, is the source of Beethoven's lead exposure, which evidence now suggests occurred over many years. Among the possibilities are his liberal indulgence in wine consumed from lead cups or perhaps a lifetime of medical treatments, which in the 19th century were often laced with heavy metals.

(A tip o' the cap to Marginal Revolution, which is loaded with good posts today.)


  • From what I've read, Beethoven was a total slob who refused to clean up after himself, so he just moved into a new place whenever his current domicile became unlivable. He wrote some good jams, though.

    By Blogger dhodge, at 11:34 AM  

  • Who knew that one of the greatest offensive minds in the history of football was also an expert in forensic analysis?

    By Blogger MDS, at 1:07 PM  

  • So this is why they built that $500 million dollar facilty. Nothing is more crucial than why some guy died at age 56 in the 1800's. I know I'll cherish Moonlight Sonata all the more now...

    By Anonymous scott, at 5:47 PM  

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