a little east of reality

Saturday, October 14, 2006

things I realised at the amazing human body exhibition

We are really compacted.
I always had a mental picture of the internal organs of the body being isolated from each other, but actually there really isn’t any space that isn’t crammed full of body parts all around and on top of each other.

The uterus is really small.
The uterus in a non-pregnant woman is about the size of a really small apple. The heart was also smaller than I imagined. The spinal cord was bigger (in diameter) than I thought it would be.

‘Ball and socket’ joints are fantastic.
Shoulders, knees – the range of mobility and the kinds of activities it allows us to do are actually pretty amazing. Right up there with opposable thumbs, seriously.

Skin is creepy.
I walked around the whole exhibit. I saw 18 whole bodies that had been dissected in various ways, and a number of other bodies or body parts that had been cross-sectioned in 1 or 2-inch slices. It was interesting but not creepy – not even the six year old with us found it disturbing. In fact, the specimens were so altered that they didn’t seem like real people anyway. The only thing that truly gave me the shivers was a display consisting only of a sheet of skin.

Finger tips really are tips.
The rounded ends of our fingers are all about what is over the skeleton. The bones themselves taper down to a small tip.

One thing I still don't understand has to do with the brain. The reason the brain has the walnut-like shape it does is because it folds as it grows to fit into our heads. My question is, why does the brain grow so big that it needs to be folded up to fit, if we are only using less than 10% of it anyway?

And does this mean a walnut looks like it does because it's too big for its shell?