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Posts Tagged ‘Sir William Osler

“There is no frigate like a book to take us lands away”*…

 

BQR-Vol.-1-No.-12-1916-Bookworm

 

Nor indeed, to transport pests, it seems…

In Micrographia, a “study of the Minute Bodies made by the Magnifying Glass”, London, MDCLXVII, one of the earliest publications issued under the authority of the newly-formed Royal Society, Robert Hooke described in Observation LII the “small silver-colour’d Book-worm”, “which upon the removal of Books and Papers in the Summer, is often observed very nimbly to scud, and pack away to some lurking cranny”. The third figure of the 33rd scheme pictures a monster so formidable-looking that Blades (Enemies of Books, 1896) may be forgiven the suggestion that Hooke “evolved both engraving and description from his inner consciousness”… [source]

Hooke

Bookworm (Fig. 3, top) in Hooke’s Micrographia

But as later observation confirmed, Hooke was on the money…  Sir William Osler, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford and one of the board of trustees of the Bodleian Library — called the Curators — of the Library reported in the first Volume of the Bodleian’s Quarterly Record

‘In October 1915 I received from a Paris bookseller, M. Lucien Gougy, three volumes of the Histoire abregie de la derniere persecution de Port-Royal. Edition Royale, MDCCL.’ In one of the volumes Osler found a living book-worm, of species Anobium hirtum, ‘not a native of England, but met with occasionally in the centre and south of France.’

In true scientific fashion, Osler arranged for a portrait of the larva [the image at the top of this post] to be made by Horace Knight, natural history illustrator of the British Museum. Knight sent the picture in September 1916, apologising that he had ‘been waiting in hopes the larva would pupate, but it has not even commenced to make a case…’.

Bookworms and the Bodleian: “The Bodleian Quarterly Record, Vol. I (1914-16); and Osler’s ‘Illustrations of the book-worm’.”

* Emily Dickinson

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As we devour books, we might recall that it was on this date in 1890 that Alfred Harmsworth published the first edition of Comic Cuts, the first British weekly comic paper.  A savvy publicist, Harmsworth relentlessly advertised the then-amazing fact that his paper was only a halfpenny an issue.  Indeed in his manifesto in the first issue he wrote:

How is it possible for any one to provide an illustrated paper… for a halfpenny? Well, it is possible to do it, but that is all. I feel sure that the public will appreciate the fact that they are getting full value for their money, and will therefore buy the paper in immense numbers weekly.

And indeed his comic book was published from 1890 to 1953, lasting for 3006 issues– during which time it inspired the birth of an industry, as other publishers began to emulate him,  producing rival comic magazines.

 

“… like a dog’s walking on his hinder legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all”*…

Dr. James Porter of Swedish Hospital in Seattle did the video below– in which the da Vinci surgical robot (pictured above with someone who is not Dr. Porter) folds and flies a paper airplane– to demonstrate how delicately it can work.

Still, as one worries that yet another traditionally-human domain is being colonized by machines, one can console oneself that the da Vinci can’t even think about doing spitballs.

[TotH to Nerdist]

* Samuel Johnson, 1763

 

As we wonder wistfully if the robotic anesthesiologist looks like a vending machine, we might wish a incisive Happy Birthday to Harvey Cushing, “father of modern neurosurgery”; he was born on this date in 1869.  Cushing is rightly remembered for such advances as the use of x-rays and physiological saline as irrigation during surgery, the founding the clinical specialty of endocrinology (and the discovery of the pituitary as the master hormone gland), the anesthesia record, and the identification of the physiological consequences of increased intracranial pressure.  But he is probably most renown for developing microsurgery to treat aneurysms and for effectively founding the new discipline of neurosurgery.  (That said, there are those who believe that he should be best remembered for introducing blood pressure measurement to North America, and still others who believe that it should be for the Pulitzer Prize he won for his biography of Sir William Osler.)

Edmund Tarbell’s portrait of Cushing (source)

 

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