Sir Nicholas Gimcrack rides again

In today’s New York Times there is a report on some new experiments on rejuvenation. Blood from young mice, it appears, can reverse signs of aging in old mice. The article cites experiments in the 1950s by Clive McCay (famous for his experiments showing that calorie restriction extends life)  that joined rats together by their …

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An Ostrich for the New Year

Aristotle had not been entirely certain that the ostrich was a bird, but it took pride of place among the birds in the Versailles menagerie and in the 1676 Mémoires pour servir à l’histoire naturelle des animaux.   Ostriches had first made the long journey from Africa to Paris in the early seventeenth century; the young …

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Montmor’s House

Paris, 26 November 2013 This morning I decided to find Montmor’s house.  Henri-Louis Habert de Montmor (1603-1679) was the Master of Requests for  Louis XIII and XIV, and ran a much-fabled scientific salon from his home in the 1650s and 60s.  His hôtel still stands at the edge of the Marais at 79 rue du …

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The Ghastly Kitchen

Next month, I'll be giving a talk at the International Congress of History of Science, Technology, and Medicine (ICHSTM) in Manchester, UK.  I recently blogged about it on the conference blog: In 1865, the physiologist Claude Bernard described the life sciences as “a superb and dazzlingly lighted hall which may be reached only by passing …

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“M. Couplet will find one”

When the anatomists at the seventeenth-century Paris Academy of Sciences wished to dissect an animal – which was often – they called on Claude-Antoine Couplet (1642-1722). Couplet was an élève (literally, a student) of the Academy, although he was hardly an adolescent.  When the Paris Observatory opened in 1672, Couplet moved in as its concierge, …

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The King’s Elephant

Last month, someone broke into the Paleontology wing of the Paris Museum of Natural History, and used a chain saw to cut off one of the tusks of the elephant skeleton there.  The skeleton dates from 1681 and is the oldest specimen at the museum.  Here is a little on the skeleton’s origins, from my …

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Anatomy vs natural history?

"...Anatomy... differs essentially from natural history. ....natural history dwells upon forms, upon the exterior qualities of bodies, and is restricted, in whatever guise, to skimming their surfaces. Anatomy goes further: it penetrates bodies, divides them, isolates the parts of which they are composed, and seeks to lift the veil hiding the secret of their organization." …

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THE LEIDEN DECLARATION ON HUMAN ANATOMY/ANATOMICAL COLLECTIONS

If you would like to sign, please contact Rina Knoeff, rknoeff@hum.leidenuniv.nl   THE LEIDEN DECLARATION ON HUMAN ANATOMY/ANATOMICAL COLLECTIONS CONCERNING THE CONSERVATION & PRESERVATION OF ANATOMICAL & PATHOLOGICAL COLLECTIONS       THIS DECLARATION IS ADDRESSED TO THOSE RESPONSIBLE FOR ANATOMICAL  & PATHOLOGICAL MUSEUMS  & COLLECTIONS WORLDWIDE From: Participants, delegates and supporters of the International …

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Cultures of anatomical collections

A few weeks ago, I attended the conference “Cultures of Anatomical Collections” in Leiden, the Netherlands.  I’m still thinking about and absorbing all the things I learned there.  It was the kind of conference where you are still up at midnight talking about things – in this case, dead bodies, anatomical waxes, anatomical preparations, anatomical …

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