Brainwaves and Death (a novel)

During the 1930s, philanthropist physicist and Microwaves101 Hall-of-Famer Alfred Lee Loomis established a research facility near his home in "Tuxedo Park", New York (you can pick up a copy from our book page).  Wealthy and generous, he paid to bring together the best and brightest scientists from all over the world, including Albert Einstein, Werner Heisenberg, Niels Bohr, James Franck, and Enrico Fermi, to study a wide range of scientific topics, including radar, spectrometry, sound waves, chronometry, and more.  Loomis was instrumental in starting the MIT Rad Lab, which developed radar technology during WWII. That's why he's in the Microwaves101 Hall of Fame.

Along with zoologist E. Newton Harvey, Loomis also began a series of studies into how the human brain works, and was instrumental in the development of early electroencephalography.

Right about this time, William T. Richards, a scientist who worked at Tuxedo Park, wrote his first and only novel called "Brainwaves and Death" under the pseudonym Willard Rich. It's set in a laboratory doing experiments with (duh) brain waves.  We won't spoil the ending for you, but it's a pretty good read if you like mysteries. Not that this necessarily has anything to do with the lab, but at the time, Loomis did threaten to sue to prevent publication of the book. Sadly, Richards committed suicide shortly before the book was published in 1940, and almost all the copies of the book were quickly purchased and have since disappeared.  The few remaining copies are quite rare, and currently (2109) selling in the $1000 -$1600 range. Yeah, the Unknown Editor has a personal copy... and more money than brain waves.

The good news for the rest of us, is that Google Books has digitized the entire novel.  You can find it over at:

Brain Waves and Death by Willard Rich

You can read it online (click the red READ EBOOK button), or order print-on-demand copies for around $15.

For those wondering about how this could possibly relate to microwave engineering, here is a brief extract from the wikipedia entry on electroencephalography:

Each electrode is connected to one input of a differential amplifier (one amplifier per pair of electrodes); a common system reference electrode is connected to the other input of each differential amplifier. These amplifiers amplify the voltage between the active electrode and the reference (typically 1,000–100,000 times, or 60–100 dB of voltage gain). In analog EEG, the signal is then filtered (next paragraph), and the EEG signal is output as the deflection of pens as paper passes underneath. Most EEG systems these days, however, are digital, and the amplified signal is digitized via an analog-to-digital converter, after being passed through an anti-aliasing filter. Analog-to-digital sampling typically occurs at 256–512 Hz in clinical scalp EEG; sampling rates of up to 20 kHz are used in some research applications.

The digital EEG signal is stored electronically and can be filtered for display. Typical settings for the high-pass filter and a low-pass filter are 0.5–1 Hz and 35–70 Hz respectively. The high-pass filter typically filters out slow artifact, such as electrogalvanic signals and movement artifact, whereas the low-pass filter filters out high-frequency artifacts, such as electromyographic signals. An additional notch filter is typically used to remove artifact caused by electrical power lines (60 Hz in the United States and 50 Hz in many other countries).[1]

Author : Brenda