SkullAges ago I was swimming in a hotel pool in northern Kenya when a friend came up and dumped a fossil tooth in my hand. He'd just found it, and didn't yet know much about it. "Hominid?" I asked, not all that tentatively. "Yes. Probably around 6 million years old." And I have to confess a little shiver ran through me. Daft, of course. But there I was, holding a very old tooth that almost certainly was nothing to do with me personally, and yet …

Something a little bit similar happens when the doctor slides a piece of film onto a lightbox and the skull that's been sliced through is your own. Sure, you've seen CAT scans before. And you could probably vaguely explain how they work to someone who wouldn't be too nit-picky about the details. But even though the only proof you have that its your own skull is the name on the film, which would be easy enough to fake, there's still that little shiver.

Is it recognition? Cannot be. Is it, then, the thrill of the forbidden, of seeing stuff one shouldn't? Maybe. I've seen X-rays of other bits of me, and I do not remember them setting off the same reaction. So maybe it is something to do with the head, the brain, the seat of reason, all that? In which case, how fine that the seat in question is a featureless gray blob. Anyway, after another fine sluice-out, the doctor handed me my scans for safe-keeping. Naturally I wanted to share.

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