Friday, May 2, 2008
Fascinating story about Beethoven, a fellow named Ferdinand Hiller, and 582 strands of Beethoven's head hair purloined the day after Beethoven died known as the "Guevara Lock", and the Argonne National Laboratory. The event took place in 1827...the hair was given to Paul Hiller [Ferdinand Hiller' son] on his birthday in 1883...wound up in the possession of Danish Dr. Kay Alexander Fremming [for his assistance in helping fleeing Jews from Nazi Germany]...sold in 1994 at Sotheby [London] to four members of the American Beethoven Society [Ira F. Brilliant, Caroline Crummey, Alfredo Guevara, and Thomas Wendel]...donated to the Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies [minus 160 strands retained by Alfredo Guevara]...Dr. William J. Walsh from the Health Research Institute and Pfeiffer Treatment Center announced DNA analysis from the "Guevara Lock" lock samples...nonfiction book by Martin, Russell released worldwide. That's most of the story in thumbnail form, but what does that have to do with the Argonne National Laboratory. It was stipulated from the DNA analysis that Beethoven most likely was a victim of plumbism--lead poisoning and was a direct accumulated precipitating factor for Beethoven's illness and demise. In 2000 at the Argonne National Laboratory a hair sample was subjected to Advanced Photon Source [APS] X-ray emissions and confirmed that there was substantial lead content; that the sample contained 60ppm of lead--100 times more than normal human concentrations.
Beethoven's Hair : An Extraordinary Historical Odyssey and a Scientific Mystery Solved