inspiration to inflation, "The World's Largest Brain"
balloon is making a soft landing at The University of Southern Mississippi
March 26-27 in honor of International Brain Awareness Week.
event is truly a community effort intended to provide information
about health and science issues related to the brain," said
Dr. Joan Exline, interim dean of the Southern Miss College of Health.
"We think people of all ages will learn something new and have
a good time."
to the Southern Miss campus will get a chance to see the spectacular,
nine-story balloon - as tall as the Johnson Science Tower - they
will also have the opportunity to learn about keeping the brain
healthy. Six tents will be set up on campus grounds during an "Investigating
Brain and Science Health" event sponsored by Southern Miss'
College of Science and Technology and College of Health.
watch the brain balloon's inflation each day from 7-9 a.m., and
from 4-6 p.m. In between, they can visit tents where professionals
from the medical community will discuss such topics as the parts
of the brain; functions and interaction of the brain; bicycle helmet
safety; the brain and food and exercise; the sleepy brain; the science
of addiction and disease; the interaction of the senses; cranial
nerve assessment of athletic injuries; seizures; infectious diseases
of the central nervous system; and stroke awareness.
The sixth tent
will have representatives from Southern Miss' five colleges available
to discuss career programs for those wanting a career involving
working with the brain. Snacks will also be available on the grounds,
as well as blood pressure and cholesterol screening.
will be a dynamic, collaborative event brought together by the Southern
Miss community and the health industry community in an effort to
build awareness and understanding of the brain and its functions,"
said Will Hansen, development officer for the College of Health.
"The entire community - anyone from small children to retirees
- will have the opportunity to be engaged and educated on many related
topics. Certainly, the hot-air brain balloon will provide an interesting
backdrop and conversation piece for the event."
claim "The World's Largest Brain" as the most complex
special-shaped hot-air balloon ever designed and manufactured. The
culmination of a five-year effort spearheaded by neurosurgeon Dr.
Scott Gibbs, the balloon is presented by BrainLAB, the "world's
foremost developer of neurosurgical navigation technology."
for the balloon came from witnessing the overwhelming crowd appeal
of special-shaped balloons at the National Balloon Championship
in 1995. This sparked his vision of a larger-than-life icon to effectively
capture the attention of all and elevate public understanding about
the brain. Gibbs felt he had discovered the perfect vehicle to supersize
the message for everyone with a neurological disease, disorder or
a leading hot-air balloon manufacturer, constructed the gigantic
icon, working with large clay models, and more than 900 complex
engineering renderings. After months of planning, and thousands
of yards of precision-cut and sewn balloon fabric, with a team of
150 people, and more than 15,500 hours of labor, the brain balloon
was first inflated March 5, 2001. Its massive structure captures
imaginations and creates an atmosphere that quickly lends itself
to the brain balloon's mission: to raise public awareness about
the importance of the brain and the diseases that afflict it, while
promoting education, and encouraging all people to live their lives
with high purpose.
is the organ of discovery, hope and human possibility," Gibbs
said. "We're not just flying a balloon; we're flying a mission
for education and inspiration (in) a celebration of human intelligence."
the event will be a site of swarming children from local schools.
"Invitations have been sent out and we've been putting teachers'
classes in the time slots," said event coordinator, Julie Smith,
a doctoral candidate in the Department of Biological Sciences at
Southern Miss. "We've had a huge response."
the Brain Injury Association of Mississippi will give away 500 safety
helmets from size 3T to adult from 1 p.m. until all are gone. Cholesterol
and blood pressure screening will continue to be available most
of the day.
up with the idea of inviting the balloon to Hattiesburg after realizing
that no one in Mississippi was hosting the brain balloon.
in neuroscience and Alzheimer's research and thought this was a
way to encourage children's interest in science and donors' interest
in supporting science research here at the university."
Brain Awareness Week is recognized in 55 countries, and when people
see the value of science and research, they understand how important
it is to their everyday lives," she added. "This community
outreach will show how the university works together as a whole
and with the community. It's really exciting."
from an idea of neurosurgeon Dr. Scott R. Gibbs
and manufactured by Aerostar International Inc.
- Nine stories
tall, 100 feet long, 80 feet wide, weighs 1,100 pounds
- 1,200 internal
catenary tension lines (2,400 knots)
- 155,000 cubic
feet double-envelope balloon
- Unique "balloon
within a balloon" double-wall construction with a record-
setting 50,000 cubic feet between its inner and outer balloons
accurate, as each of the various lobes are defined and brightly
colored for distinction
- IT'S HUGE!
If Abraham Lincoln's head on Mt. Rushmore had a brain inside it,
"The World's Largest Brain" would be more than five
- If the Statue
of Liberty had a brain, "The World's Largest Brain"
would be more than seven times larger.
World's Largest Brain" is the size of 3 million human brains,
more brains than populate the metropolitan St. Louis area.