About

I'm Mike Pope. I live in the Seattle area. I've been a technical writer and editor for over 30 years. I'm interested in software, language, music, movies, books, motorcycles, travel, and ... well, lots of stuff.

Read more ...

Blog Search


(Supports AND)

Google Ads

Feed

Subscribe to the RSS feed for this blog.

See this post for info on full versus truncated feeds.

Quote

Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than in the one where they sprung up.

— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.



Navigation





<September 2018>
SMTWTFS
2627282930311
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30123456

Categories

  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  

Contact

Email me

Blog Statistics

Dates
First entry - 6/27/2003
Most recent entry - 9/21/2018

Totals
Posts - 2522
Comments - 2582
Hits - 2,081,911

Averages
Entries/day - 0.45
Comments/entry - 1.02
Hits/day - 374

Updated every 30 minutes. Last: 12:17 PM Pacific


  09:37 PM

The offsprung have returned to their respective institutions of "higher" "learning" and presumably resumed their scholarly ways. It was interesting to have them around over the break. It was like having visitors, only different. Better, if you were wondering.

We had some outings en famille, for the most part involving eating. Conversation was lively, because it combined the now adult sensibilities of the kids along with the usual gossip and remember-when of any family get-together.

I digress. Sabrina suggested that we go see Bodies: The Exhibition, which is in the middle of a six-month run here in Seattle. I had registered that there was some controversy when the exhibit first arrived, but hadn't otherwise given it much thought. Zack, of course, knew that it had had a role in the latest Bond film.[1] It sounded like a good idea, anyway, so the kids and the mom and I betook ourselves to the exhibition hall and parted with the breathtaking sum demanded for entry.

The big selling point of the exhibition, for those who don't know, is that the bodies are real. Sort of. They've been "plasticized" through a complicated process that basically replaces the, um, corporal elements with silicone. As someone standing in front of me explained, it's like fossils -- the original material is replaced with something else, but leaving a good replica.

The controversy around the exhibition, as I understand it (#), is two-and-a-half fold. Issue #1 is whether the people represented gave their permission to have their cadavers used in this way. Issue #1-1/2 is that the bodies are from China, and there is some skepticism that the process of obtaining the bodies was all entirely aboveboard.

The second controversy is around whether the exhibition treats the bodies in a dignified manner. Some of the bodies are posed as if playing football or basketball or in some other way, and some people think this is tacky at best if not even perhaps ethically questionable. As it happens, Sarah falls into this camp, pretty much, and had no interest in attending the exhibition.

To my mind, at least, there was no indignity in what they've done with the bodies. It does sound odd to say that a dissected body was posed with a basketball, but the goal was (at least nominally) to show some aspect of anatomy like bones or muscles as they are when people are inhabiting the bodies. I thought it was interesting and educational to see how joints flex and muscles bunch when people are standing and running and so on.

Ok, so that's the controversy. Was it worth going to? For me, yes. This is the closest that I'll probably get to seeing the insides of a human, since I have little chance (or desire) to be attending any dissections. The exhibit gives you a tour of the whole body from the inside out, so to speak. They start with the bones and then add muscles and tendons and ligaments. This was the first time I could picture how the muscles are attached to their skeletal framework, and it gave me a peculiar sense of how deeply some bones (thigh bone, for example) are embedded in the body.

There are separate areas for each major system -- circulation, lungs, GI tract, brain, all that. In each section, there were exhibits of individual organs and displays that showed you where the organ was in relationship to the rest of the body. For example, have you ever wondered how the diaphragm separates the pulmonary and alimentary chambers? You can see it right there. They had numerous exhibits of bodies gone wrong, such as the probably inevitable lung-of-a-smoker and examples of cancers and polyps and other less-than-charming problems that the flesh is heir to.

Some bits were particularly well done. In the part about circulation, they had managed to plasticize just the blood vessels of different parts of the body and then remove everything else. You can see the network of vessels (in a few cases, down to the level of capillaries) that permeate the kidney or a part of the intestine, or the vessels in a hand or foot, all of them leaving a ghostly outline of the organ they came from. There was also a fascinating section on fetal development (and, um, misdevelopment), which people were given the option of bypassing if they felt uncomfortable.

As you might expect, it can be startling to see parts as they really are. Kidneys are so small! The liver is so big! So that's where the pancreas is! Although I've heard forever the the heart is "the size of your fist," you get a better sense of its size by, like, looking at one.

As for the big draw of the exhibit -- real bodies! -- well, that was interesting, I suppose. The plasticization process results in bodies that look a bit like they're made out of wax. Any colors that you see are, I assume, artificial, since I doubt that the silicone can magically take on the color of the tissue it is replacing. This was most evident in the blood vessels, most of which were colored bright red, except for some veins that had pretty obviously been colored blue. They'd certainly done a good job with this colorization -- not necessarily in getting the colors right (that I know of), but in making different organs different colors so that you could see everything clearly. (Sarah assured me that when you see a body undergoing surgery, things can look quite muddled.)

I'd have to conclude, though, that although there is a kind of psychological edge to knowing that the bodies are (were) real, what you actually learn from seeing the exhibition could be done with well-crafted models. Still, my recommendation, for those who have a chance and are willing to part with the substantial entry fee, is that anyone who's wondered what things look like inside would probably find the exhibition quite interesting. Dunno about kids, tho. Except my own, who thought it was great. Then again, they're pretty much grownups. Which is sort of where we started.


[1] Or one like it.

[categories]   ,

[1] |