Steven Keating’s appetite for knowledge may well be the reason he’s alive.
In 2007, his high-minded curiosity drove him to get his brain scanned while studying mechanical engineering at Queens University in Canada. The scans revealed a faint abnormality near the part of his brain responsible for processing the sense of smell. But since his health otherwise seemed normal, Keating thought nothing of it.
But seven years later, while a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, Keating experienced an odd sensation: Several times he detected a whiff of vinegar — a phantom odor, it would turn out — but the feeling would quickly pass.
With those earlier images in mind, Keating urged doctors to again scan his brain, and this time the results revealed a fist-size tumor. Within three weeks, Keating underwent a 10-hour surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where doctors extracted the tumor in golf ball-size chunks.More →