Scrambled Brains

Two white shell eggs and two brown shell eggs

Humpty Dumpty had a great…AAHHHH!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Ten-hut! …and OUCH! There’s a reason football players wear helmets! Our brains are soft tissue bathed in fluid and surrounded by a hard skull. Like eggs! But concussions can happen even WITHOUT cracking that shell. How?

Ji Lang at Villanova University and colleagues egg-zamined the question.

To see inside, they replaced eggshells with tough, clear egg-shaped containers. The researchers tested two different hits: direct or rotational. For direct hits, they dropped three-pound weights onto eggs. For rotational hits, they spun eggs in a tube using a small motor. They recorded the yolk with a high-speed camera.

And? Scrambled eggs! Literally!…but ONLY when the eggs were spun. Eggs hit straight-on? Still nice, whole yolks.

What does this tell us about brains? Rotational hits may cause more brain damage. A boxer taking an uppercut to the chin could set brain fluid spinning! Lang thinks that’s how the brain gets scrambled.

So, no yolk – wear a helmet, Humpty! And maybe ditch that wall for a comfy chair. Just sayin’.

Reference: Lang, J., Nathan, R., & Wu, Q. (2021). How to deform an egg yolk? On the study of soft matter deformation in a liquid environment. Physics of Fluids, 33(1), 011903.