stories from the wilder side of science


The Science of Keith Richards

Posted on March 1, 2011 at 5:22 PM

In 1969 Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards and his partner Anita Pallenburg had a car accident near their home in Sussex. Richards escaped serious injury but Pallenburg was taken to the hospital with a broken collarbone. According to his biography "Life" Richards turned over his Mercedes because of a hydraulic fault. The police suspected the involvement of drugs though. Be that as it may, there is an interesting neurological aspect to Richards accident. On page 269 of his biography he writes:

"I watched that thing (the car) roll over in slow motion three times..."

Which ever substances Richards had in his blood as his car teetered on a patch of slippery grass in one respect his perception remained completely normal: he remembered the situation later in slow motion. The slowing down of time in frightening moments is reported very often. It is actually quite surprising that it took until 2006 before science did get interested in it. Watch how neuroscientist David Eagleman tried to solve the mystery.

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