Sunday, February 05, 2006

Get your mind blown!

First mind-blowing thing. I think this astronomy picture is the wildest and most amazingest thing I have seen in a long time.

Another mind-blowing thing is that my coffee grinder is working again. Having been disassembled and reassembled by at least four people, including an engineer (okay, her PhD is in Chem. Eng. but you'd still expect some kind of mechanical aptitude), the grinder was finally fixed by the Dude's best friend, an 11-year-old supergenius (and son of the aforementioned engineer) who is, from this day forward, my Best Friend for Life.

Third mind-blowing thing: yesterday the Aforementioned Engineer and I went to see the Amazing Human Body show at the Superdome at Olympic Park. We went with a mixture of trepidation and macabre fascination: there's a kind of reluctance to come face-to-face with dead people, even if they have been plastinated. I had read a couple of newspaper articles about similar exhibitions in Europe and the US and there seems to be a certain amount of controversy over whether the people who donated their bodies really meant for them to be put on display like this. One article I read even alleged a kind of Frankensteinian body collection process. For the purposes of this blog I choose to believe that the bodies have been obtained legally and with full consent, as we were assured by the curator at the beginning of the exhibition.
Having bidden goodbye to the Fun Policeman, the Dude and my Best Friend for Life (the boys sent us off with the words "Bring home something for dinner, okay?") we went off to have our minds blown. I loved the cast of the blood vessels of the kidneys, looking liike fluffy kidney-shaped pompoms. I was fascinated by the tendons of the feet (for those of you who don't know, the Dude was born with Talipes equinovarus and has had two lots of corrective surgery on the tendons, bones and muscles of his feet, so seeing a foot's internal structure gave me even more respect for his wonderful orthopedic surgeon). There was a marvellous display of plastinated blood vessels of the arm, with all the flesh, bone and skin dissolved away so it was just a lacy network of amazingly fine vessels in the shape of an arm.
The biggest complaint I had heard about the exhibition was the lack of female bodies. The curator explained that this was to deter the voyeurs who had apparently ruined early exhibitions. I am not sure if I accept this argument: I mean, couldn't you just have the wankers escorted out by security guards? There is only one female (full) body in the exhibition, although there are several uteruses (uteri?) and a pelvis. There are no breasts. Not even on the full female body. This was disappointing. Having seen the amazing internal structures of other parts of the body, the Aforementioned Engineer and I were bewailing the missed opportunity to look at, say, the mammary glands and milk ducts or the blood supply of a breast. The other annoying thing was the labelling of a "Pelvis" and a "Female Pelvis". Yes, it was good to be able to compare the two, but why not say "Male Pelvis" and "Female Pelvis"? The current labelling implies "here is a pelvis and here is a female pelvis, which is not like a normal pelvis".
It took nearly two hours to get through the exhibition, we were surprised to note as we exited. We had been fascinated and horrified by turns, but managed to hold on to our lunch. In fact, we laughed quite a lot, making irreverent statements about the way plastination is not kind to the penis (the limply hanging testicles brought back memories of dissecting rats in year 11 biology class). We also decided not to get pate de foie gras, steak and kidney, lamb's fry or osso bucco for dinner (a horizontally sliced-up human leg looks just like chump chops, we decided) so the boys had to settle for chicken and salad that we picked up on the way home.

1 comment:

Ian Orchard said...

I'm quite relaxed about a 15B year old universe suddenly appearing 6000 years ago, complete with layered fossils, ancient light and radioactive isotopes.

Of course, if you accept that, there's no reason why it couldn't have appeared 20 minutes ago. (I'm sure I heard a "POIT!!" sound about then. It might have been a drip from the tap into my coffee mug, but it could have been the sound of a universe springing into existance.)