Linnaeus and (Out of) Body Experiences
Hallucinations has gone off to the printers, and will be published on November 6! Here’s what the jacket looks like, thanks to designer Hailey Wojcik:
Dr. Sacks just returned from Stockholm, where he took part in some experiments on altered body image with Henrik Ehrsson’s lab at the Karolinska Institute. You’ll be able to read about his experiences with a third arm and the “Barbie doll illusion” in the final chapter of Hallucinations.
Dr. Sacks also headed to Hammarby, the home and gardens of the great eighteenth-century botanist and zoologist Carl Linnaeus. (Yes, he invented the binomial system of classification for animals and plants that we still use.) Spring had just come to Uppsala, and the gardens were in full flower. Jesper Kårehad, the resident botanist, showed him around:
Here is Linnaeus’s house, and the beautiful St. Lucy’s cherry, Prunus mahaleb, he planted two and a half centuries ago:
Inside the house is Linnaeus’s study, still wallpapered floor to ceiling with botanical illustrations from his time.
Sweden is rich in chemical heritage, too. A few years ago, Dr. Sacks visited the town of Köping and the pharmacy of Carl Wilhelm Scheele, who discovered oxygen. He also made a pilgrimage to the tiny village of Ytterby, whose mine gave its name to no less than four elements: erbium, terbium, yttrium, and ytterbium.