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Posts Tagged ‘anatomy

“Anatomy is destiny”*…

 

For much of recorded history the human body was a black box—a highly capable yet mysterious assemblage of organs, muscles and bones. Even Hippocrates, a man who declared anatomy to be the foundation of medicine, had some interesting ideas about our insides.

By the early Renaissance, scientists and artists were chipping away at this anatomical inscrutability, and illustration was proving a particularly effective way to spread what was being learned via human dissection. There remained one nagging issue, however: accurately representing the body’s three-dimensional structure on a flat, two-dimensional piece of paper. Some artists relied on creative uses of perspective to solve the problem. Others began using flaps…

See 16th century scholars peel away anatomical ignorance one layer at a time at “How Flap Illustrations Helped Reveal the Body’s Inner Secrets.”

* Sigmund Freud

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As we peek inside, we might send verbose birthday greetings to Josef Breuer; he was born on this date in 1842.  A physician, he made key discoveries in neurophysiology.  His work in the 1880s with his patient Bertha Pappenheim, known as Anna O., developed the talking cure (cathartic method) and laid the foundation to psychoanalysis as developed by his protégé, Sigmund Freud.

(Though Breuer’s treatment of Anna O. was not nearly as successful as he and Freud claimed, she eventually overcame her symptoms to become an innovative social worker and a leader of the women’s movement in Germany.)

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Written by LW

January 15, 2017 at 1:01 am

“Count your blessings, but count your calories too”*…

 

We’re skating into that time year…  the onslaught of celebratory meals and Holiday parties that promise to test our waistbands.  But help– or at least a nagging caution– is at hand.  The app Calorific uses simple, pastel images to reveal how much of virtually any food adds up to 200 calories.

From God’s condiment…

…to rabbit food…

More at “What 200 Calories of Every Food Looks Like.”

* Erma Bombeck

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As we go down for the count, we might send well-digested birthday greetings to William Beaumont; he was born on this date in 1785.  An American army surgeon, Beaumont was the first person to observe and study human digestion as it occurs in the stomach.  As a young medic stationed on Mackinac Island in Michigan, Beaumont was asked to treat a shotgun wound “more than the size of the palm of a man’s hand” (as Beaumont wrote).  The patient, Alexis St. Martin, survived, but was left with a permanent opening into his stomach from the outside.  Over the next few years, Dr. Beaumont used this crude fistula to sample gastric secretions.  He identified hydrochloric acid as the principal agent in gastric juice and recognized its digestive and bacteriostatic functions.  Many of his conclusions about the regulation of secretion and motility remain valid to this day.

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Written by LW

November 21, 2014 at 1:01 am

“If you’re shopping for a home entertainment system you can’t do better than a good dissecting microscope”*…

 

Harris P. Mosher lecturing at Harvard Medical School in 1929, with a giant skull made in the 1890s

In their introduction to the book version of Charles and Ray Eames’ Powers of Ten, Philip and Phyllis Morrison wrote elegantly of the importance of the evolution of the tools of science to scientific progress.  It’s the continuous improvement in these “instruments of vision” that pushes back the frontiers of knowledge, and allows us to know, ultimately to understand, more and more of the universe around us.  In an essential way, then, the history of scientific tools is the history of science.

Harvard’s Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments allows one literally to browse through that history.

The permanent collection includes over 20,000 instruments and artifacts, (including an incredible collection of  microscopes, partially pictured above).

Now through December 5, the Collection is mounting “Body of Knowledge,” an exhibition that focuses on the devices, publications, and tools that have contributed to our (still-)expanding understanding of the human body.

The title page of Andreas Vesalius’s 1543 anatomy textbook, De humani corporis fabrica (On the Fabric of the Human Body), depicting a public dissection.

It includes a copy of Vesalius’s masterpiece (as above) and anatomical models (the 78-inch-tall skull shown at the top of this post, plus a 48-in-long skeleton of a foot).  In all, it showcases the social and cultural practices of anatomy through the centuries.

For more background on the Collection, visit its site, and check out this Harvard Magazine piece; for more on the exhibit, click here and here.  Browse the collection (from whence, all of the images above) here.

* Jack Longino

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As we polish our lens, we might send birthday greetings in the form of a question to Jeopardy; the brainchild of talk-show host and game show maven Merv Griffin, it was first broadcast on this date 50 years ago, in 1964.  At sign-on, Jeopardy was an afternoon game show hosted by Art Fleming; after a decade before dinner, it moved after, as a weekly syndicated show.  Then, in 1984, the syndicated version got a facelift– Fleming was replaced by Alex Trebek– and the show went nightly…  where it’s prospered ever since.

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Written by LW

March 30, 2014 at 1:01 am

The Art of Drawing Science…

Horse Anatomy
From: Anatomia del cavallo, infermità e suoi rimedi by Carlo Ruini, Published in Venice, 1618.

Many more lovely lessons at Scientific Illustration.

As we sharpen our pencils, we might wish a feathery farewell to zoologist Alfred Newton; he died on this date in 1907.  One of the foremost ornithologists of his day, he was appointed (in 1866) the first Professor of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy at Cambridge University. Though he suffered from injured hip joints and walked with the aid of two sticks, he traveled throughout Lapland, Iceland, the West Indies, and North America 1854-63.  During these expeditions he became particularly interested in the great auk– and was instrumental in having the first Acts of Parliament passed for the protection of birds.  He wrote extensively, including a four-volume Dictionary of Birds, and the articles on Ornithology in several 19th century editions of the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

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