For all of you who drove the picture of the skull away from this space, Supratim Dutta has his story to tell. Mr Dutta, if you recall, is the 23-year-old executive who found his chest pierced by a five-foot long, six kg iron rod that crashed through his car’s windscreen. Not only did he survive the impalement, but he has also made medical history by making it through a difficult operation. Even doctors consider it to be a miracle that the rod did not pierce his heart — which was a mere three mm away from the entry point. Still recovering, Mr Dutta is otherwise unharmed and will live to tell his tale.
So what has Mr Dutta’s lucky escape got to do with the picture of the skull that’s no longer on this page? Well, it belonged to a gentleman by the name of Phineas Gage. He was an American railroad worker in the 19th century — noted by his colleagues for his rowdy behaviour — until in an explosion on September 13, 1848, a 6 kg, 3 ft 7 inch long iron rod pierced through his skull and landed some 80 feet away. Gage miraculously survived but his personality changed radically. The damage to his frontal lobes made him a more affable man.
It is a miracle that Mr Dutta and Gage survived their accidents. As is the fact that Gage’s skull appeared on this page for more than a month.