The University Of Texas' 100 Missing Brains Mystery Has Been Solved! — UPDATE
UPDATE - The University of Texas released a statement to say the missing brains had been disposed of in 2002. From the creepiest statement ever:
A preliminary university investigation has revealed that UT environmental health and safety officials disposed of multiple brain specimens in approximately 2002 in accordance with protocols concerning biological waste.
This was done in coordination with faculty members who determined that the specimens had been in poor condition when the university received them in the 1980s and were not suitable for research or teaching. Faculty members then maintained possession of other brain specimens in the collection that the university continues to own.
This occurred prior to the renovation of the Animal Resources Center, where the specimens had been stored in a secure location. We believe the workers disposed of between 40 and 60 jars, some of which contained multiple human brains, and worked with a biological waste contractor to do so safely.
In one of the more bizarre stories you've probably read this week, almost 100 brains have gone missing from the University of Texas. And no, that isn't what it sounds like. While at UT, I often felt like my brain was missing, too. But the swiped specimens weren't those of current students drudging toward finals week, but represent nearly half of a collection preserved in formaldehyde.
The Austin State Hospital transferred nearly 200 brains to the university 28 years ago for research purposes. Tim Schallert, psychology professor and co-curator of the collection, had about 100 of the brains in his lab. The other half, which had been stored in a basement, are now missing.
And here's the really creepy part: They have little to no leads on where these brains have disappeared to. Schallert told the Austin American-Statesman:
We think somebody may have taken the brains, but we don't know at all for sure.
Uh, well, that seems like a pretty casual way to address a collection of human brains essentially vanishing. This isn't your favorite cardigan that you've misplaced. This is a collection of noodles that once belonged to living, breathing humans.
Professor Lawrence Cormack, Schallert's co-curator, suspects that it could be some pesky and very ballsy undergrads.
It's entirely possible word got around among undergraduates and people started swiping them for living rooms or Halloween pranks.
While I do tend to prefer gently used living room decorations, I will go ahead and say that a formaldehyde brain doesn't fit with the whole feng shui of my place. I'll pass on those.
One of the brains might have belonged to 25-year-old Charles Whitman, the infamous shooter that terrorized UT's campus in 1966. Whitman stormed the UT tower and began sniping people from the 28th floor observation deck. It was the deadliest university shooting until Virginia Tech in 2007. So think about that, brain swipers. You could have the very inner-workings of the guy that inflicted the worst tragedy your campus has ever experienced. Cool.
The remaining brains have been moved to a separate laboratory where they are being scanned for MRI images. Hopefully someone has now put a lock on the door.
As crazy and awful as it sounds, you can't help but think of how the logistics of this is pretty impressive. How did someone manage to smuggle 100 brains out of a campus building? Was this a long game or just a really long night? How much does a brain in formaldehyde weigh? Also, and this is the really important question: Why?!
Images: Getty Images