Monday, July 20, 2009

Body Worlds

Blood Vessel Configuration of the Thoracic Organs
Copyright: Gunther von Hagens, Institute for Plastination, Heidelberg, Germany,


My education has included a number of biology-related courses and texts, but NOTHING compares to this. Better than any video or model, Body Worlds is an amazing anatomy lesson!

From the Body Worlds website (HERE) the purpose of the exhibit is: "The BODY WORLDS exhibitions aim to educate the public about the inner workings of the human body and show the effects of poor health, good health and lifestyle choices. They are also meant to create interest in and increase knowledge of anatomy and physiology among the public."

If you don't already know - these are REAL bodies. Humans (and animals) have donated their bodies upon death to be turned into educational exhibits. Dr. Gunther von Hagens uses a process called Plastination on the subjects to preserve each and every fiber or tissue or vessel.

I was incredibly impressed with this exhibit. Not only was the science evident, but it was presented in an artful way. I was drawn to each specimen - wanting to see each of the intricacies it presented. The whole bodies were fascinating! Musculature, nerve endings, connective tissue - all there to see in their real shapes and colors. But my favorite part had to be the blood vessels. Never before have I been able to SEE capillaries in their proper perspective. Yes, I know - some capillaries are so small that only one red blood cell can pass through at a time - but what does that look like? This weekend, I saw what it looks like "in real life".

About a quarter of the way through the exhibit, I asked "why aren't there any fat people? What about defective parts? All these bodies are perfect"... then I came to the various examples of diseased or "destroyed" body parts. Things like: the black lungs of a smoker, livers destroyed by cirrhosis, and then the cross-section of a morbidly obese man (I learned today, when visiting the Body Worlds website to write this blog, that skin and fat are usually eliminated during the Plastination process; so they wouldn't be found in the "statues" in the exhibit).

I could probably go on for a lot longer, but I need to stop now and get on with my day. However... If this exhibit is traveling through your town, GO SEE IT! It's a wonderful display - enjoyable as well as highly educational.

No comments: