Thursday, August 10, 2023

Stories From Beethoven's Hair

From ScienceAlert, August 4:

DNA From Beethoven's Hair Reveals Surprise Almost 200 Years Later

One stormy Monday in March, 1827, the German composer Ludwig van Beethoven passed away after a protracted illness. Bedridden since the previous Christmas, he was attacked by jaundice, his limbs and abdomen swollen, each breath a struggle.

As his associates went about the task of sorting through personal belongings, they uncovered a document Beethoven had written a quarter of a century earlier – a will beseeching his brothers make details of his condition known to the public.

Today it is no secret that one of the greatest musicians the world has ever known was functionally deaf by his mid-40s. It was a tragic irony Beethoven wished the world understood, not just from a personal perspective, but a medical one.

The composer would outlive his doctor by nearly two decades, yet close to two centuries after Beethoven's death a team of researchers set out to fulfill his testament in ways he would never have dreamed possible, by genetically analyzing the DNA in authenticated samples of his hair.....