By Jon Hamilton

May 21, 2017

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It took an explosion and 13 pounds of iron to usher in the modern era of

neuroscience.

 

In 1848, a 25-year-old railroad worker named Phineas Gage was blowing up

rocks to clear the way for a new rail line in Cavendish, Vt. He would drill

a hole, place an explosive charge, then pack in sand using a 13-pound metal

bar known as a tamping iron.