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Anatomy Chats on Ted Talk

We went wandering down the Ted Talk aisle here on the internet last week and ran across a few fun clips.


And thought we should share.


First, check out Vanessa Ruiz and this talk about “The Spellbinding Art of Human Anatomy.” (What a title! We couldn’t agree more.) Ruiz provides a quick illustrated journey of human anatomical art, showing how artists have helped students visualize anatomical structures. She calls those illustrations “a manual of our very selves.” Again, we agree!


Vanessa Ruiz from her Ted Talk, “The Spellbinding Art of Human Anatomy”

Ruiz, who is a medical illustrator, goes on to show how artists are breaking anatomical art out of the “confines” of medical textbooks and “thrusting it into the public space.”


She also talks about how art influenced anatomical science. At first, the study of anatomy was caught in the struggle between art, science, and culture that lasted for more than 500 years.


Today, she notes, artists look to anatomy for inspiration. She notes Spanish artist Fernando Vicente, who “takes 19th century anatomical illustrations of the male body and envelops them in a female sensuality. The women in his paintings taunt us to look beyond their surface femininity.”


She also highlights Michael Reedy and Jason Freeny, who does anatomical dissections of children’s toys, and Danny Quirk.


"Anatomical art has the power to reach far beyond the pages of a medical textbook," says Ruiz, "connecting our innermost selves with our bodies through art."


Ruiz has been singing the praises of anatomical artists for a long time. In 2007, she started Street Anatomy (based in Chicago), promoting “artists who find innovative ways to portray anatomy in contemporary art, street art, tattoos, fashion, and beyond.”


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This was fascinating, an illustrated video entitled “Ancient Rome's Most Notorious Doctor.”


Ramon Glazov (on TedEd, a branch of Ted Talk) tells the story of 16th century anatomist named Andreas Vesalius, who was the first to buck centuries of teachings about blood circulation. Vesalius stood up to the most famous human anatomy texts (at the time) by Galen of Pergamon.


Glazov takes us back 1,300 years to Galen of Pergamon’s work and research. Galen’s analysis, in most cases, was pretty darn accurate. He was the first to theorize that each organ had a specific function. He also figured out that the brain (not the heart) controlled the body. But he wasn’t right about everything. And Vesalius was the first to assert that one key Galen claim was flat-out wrong.


The whole video makes us wonder: what misconceptions are we living under today?


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We’ll never get tired of watching videos such as “Conception to Birth—Visualized,” the fairly mind-blowing look, using MRI technology, that tracks the moment of conception to crying baby born into the world.


Even though this footage and a related book have been around for a long time, it’s never a bad day when you stop to truly ponder this particular wonder of human anatomy. The presenter is Alexander Tsiaris. “Pretty spectacular,” he says.


Hard to argue! His close-up walk-through of the development of the human heart, alone, is riveting stuff.

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