This is Your Brain on Ping Pong

Susan Sarandon, Jonathan Bricklin, Rob DeSalle, and Will Shortz at the Museum of Natural History

On January 19th at the American Museum of Natural History, Susan Sarandon, Jonathan Bricklin, Will Shortz, Rob DeSalle, and Wendy A. Suzuki lead a panel discussion appropriately called ‘Your Brain on Ping Pong’, on what’s so great about the sport and the effects it has on your brain.

Quality time with Jonathan Bricklin

Ping pong is pretty remarkable when you think about it. What other sport is physical, mental, and social, where weight, size, age, gender has no determinant on your skill level –and you can basically play it until you die? And anyone who doesn’t think table tennis can make you sweat, I recommend you head over to Susan Sarandon and Jonathan Bricklin’s table tennis social club, SPiN for a lesson.

So what I’m holding in my hands (I wore rubber gloves) is your brain on ping pong! Actually, they have no idea who’s brain it is; ping pong player or otherwise, only that it’s human. On that note, OH MY GOODNESS I’M HOLDING A HUMAN BRAIN!

Lara holding a brain

What can I say? When table tennis is involved, anything can happen! Or at least that’s my experience, so I should not have been that surprised. Although, I anticipated the randomist thing that would happen to me that evening would be getting to play ping pong under the 94-foot Giant Blue Whale at the museum (I got to do that too!).  The other highlight was seeing my good friend Jonathan Bricklin take charge of the panel and the look on his face when the moderator called him an ‘international man of mystery’; then getting to geek out with Will Shortz over our mutual admiration for table tennis. I’m such a huge fan of his! I’ve been listening to him as the puzzle master for NPR’s Weekend Edition since I was a little girl. The whole time I was talking to him, I was so excited to call my mom.

Fascinated by brains? The American Museum of Natural History currently has a special exhibition called Brain: The Inside Story. Check it out! It’s running until August 14, 2011.