A Daily History of Holes, Dots, Lines, Science, History, Math, the Unintentional Absurd & Nothing |1.6 million words, 7500 images, 4 million hits| Press & appearances in The Times, Le Figaro, MENSA, The Economist, The Guardian, Discovery News, Slate, Le Monde, Sci American Blogs, Le Point, and many other places... 4,200+ total posts
I uncovered an interesting manuscript, a student's set of observations and notes, written in America at the end of the 19th century. The notebook--and I think clearly not a lecturing book--is interesting for what it has to say about its subjects, and in the selection of the subjects themselves. There are 223 pages, with approximately 22 lines per page, 8 words per line, making 176 words per page or about 25,000 words in the manuscript.
I dealt finally with something that I had overlooked for a long time: a medical manuscript written at about the turn of the 18th century, somewhere in the first decade or so, 1800-1810. Its a nicely written, neat journal, but with no identification for the writer or for the time, or place. Reading it through somewhat gives me the impression that it is a lecture book more so than a student's notebook--it is certainly something in the professional arena, though, and not a work put together by an amateur.
The work is interesting and is dedicated mainly to suppuration and ulcers and fever and wounds (including a longish section on gunshot wounds). In the middle section of section dedicated to wounds is a section on wounds and incision, and there begins a short, three-page consideration of what we know today as rhinoplasty. And it is in this section that the author includes a then-famous and somewhat bawdy poem on plastic surgery--specifically, a failure in the surgery of one of the early founding surgeons in the field.
The quote is from Samuel Butler's popular and appreciated poem, Hudibras, and goes so:
To learned Taliacotius
the brawny part of porter's bum,
cut supplemental noses, which
would last as long as parents breech,
but when the date of nock was out
off dropped the sympathetic snout...
--Samuel Butler, Hudibras, Canto 1, volume 1, page 89. Source for full text via Google Books, here, the annotated and edited version by Zachary Grey, published in London in 1806 following the initial publication in 1674-1678.
The author referred to the mocking Butler's (in his mock-historical-epic) stab at the Italian surgeon Gaspar Taliacotius (1546-1599), who at the very least wrote about surgical procedures that would restore the appearance of lost noses and other body parts, and this mainly in his Chirurgie Nota, in the second edition of 1597. He may have claimed to be the first at this particular surgical procedure, though he wasn't (with a number of other medical folks reporting on it, including the great Vesalius who did so almost 50 years earlier); and he also clai8med to have performed the procedure, though perhaps he actually didn't. No matter for right now--the treatment was extraordinary, and during this period was utilized by a number of different doctors with varying degrees of success. Butler, on the other hand, had a pretty low opinion of the practice, and our unidentified author carried forward Butler's sentiments in his notes.
Here's an image of the Taliacotius procedure:
Illustration from Tagliacozzi's De Curtorum Chirurgia per Insitionem., plate 8, depicting the “Italian method” of total nasal reconstruction.
It should be noted that there was a statue of Taliacotius dedicated in the medical school at Bologna where he taught--a full, standing sculpture, with the doctor holding a nose in his hand.
Anyone interested in purchasing this medical manuscript can read about it in more detail, below:
"...something might perhaps be made out on this question..."
"WHEN on board H.M.S. 'Beagle,' as naturalist, I was much struck with
certain facts in the distribution of the organic beings inhabiting South
America, and in the geological relations of the present to the past
inhabitants of that continent. These facts, as will be seen in the
latter chapters of this volume, seemed to throw some light on the origin
of species—that mystery of mysteries, as it has been called by one of
our greatest philosophers. On my return home, it occurred to me, in
1837, that something might perhaps be made out on this question by
patiently accumulating and reflecting on all sorts of facts which could
possibly have any bearing on it."--from the introduction to On the Origin of Species..., fourth edition, 1866
These eyes belong to Pierre-Louis Moreau Maupertuis (1698-1759), a French mathematician/philosophe who worked himself wide and deep across many fields, from mud to blood (geology, physics, math, bio).
But what he saw particularly in regards to Darwin was the matter of relationship in bi-parental inheritance, that there was genetic basis for the inheritance of physical traits. Now he didn't use these terms of course , but he made this sexual generation argument in his Dissertation Physique a l'Occassion du Negre Blanc written in 1744 (and published in Leiden). There is an expanded version of this thought in his Venus physique (printed in 1745, and which is translated as The Earthly Venus), which was a direct confrontation with the belief and theories of the preformationists, who claimed that a being was preformed in either the spermatozoa or the egg. Maupertuis argued that the only way for the characteristics of both parents to be inherent in offspring was for the material to be a combination of the mother and father, and that the preformed theory did not allow for the equal distribution of hereditary characteristics1. Maupertuis is now generally seen as having anticipated the theory of nutation (according to the standard history of medicine bibliography by Garrison and Morton2, appearing in that work as number 215.1).
Darwin published the Origin of Species in a hurry in 1859--after having the idea in his head for 20 years, he was suddenly in the need to quick-publish given the fact that the very young Alfred Russell Wallace was about to scoop his great idea. Part of that quickness evidently resulted in Darwin leaving out his debt to history, not addressing the precursors to his idea, leaving out the bibliographic part. He heard about that very quickly upon the very successful publication of the Origin, which was sold out almost immediately upon publication. Over the next few months he heard from a number of quarters about those who came before whose ideas may well have presaged his own--which of course was the case, and Darwin made basically no mention of work that had come before his own, even though it seems as though he had made am effort to do so at least in notes more than a decade before the publication of the great book. This is a much longer story than I want to deal with right here, but Darwin set to work on addressing this issue and published an "Historical Sketch" which appeared in the authorized first American edition and the first German edition of the Origin in 1860. As Rebeccca Stott points out in the first chapter of her surprisingly good popular history of evolution, Darwin's Ghosts (2012), Darwin included 18 names in his intellectual legacy. Six years later in the fourth edition of the Origin of 1866, the list had expanded to 37 names. The vast majority of those included in the survey were modern to Darwin; generally all of the ancients were left out with but a scant nod to Aristotle, and there were two mentions of works before the 19th century, (which includes Geoffroy Saint Hilaire (1744-1829), who dips just slightly into the 18th century and Darwin's own grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, with his great two-volume work of semi-revolutionary poetry medico-philosophico-botanico
Zoonomia; or the Laws of Organic Life, which was published in 1794 though formulated decades before).
I cannot think of another illustration by a scientist or philosopher who attempts to explain their own, literal, view of the world and then offer what this looks like to the reader from inside his own head, looking out through his own eye. That's exactly what Ernst Mach is doing right here on page 15 of his influential book Die Analyse der Empfindungen, the fourth German edition ("The Analysis of Sensations and the Relation of the Physical to the Psychical", published in Jena in 1903).
There is nothing in this world for Mach that is not admissible to the human brain that is not empirically verifiable--that is, the world is nothing but awash in sensation and that sensation itself forms part of the experience of, well, experience. I've actually never been interested in the philosophy of science, and this is one of the reasons why. Nevertheless I boldly break through my own prejudices to enjoy this phenomenally original image, drawn from the inside of Mach's working mind, looking out through his eye socket, over his mustache, under his eyebrow, around his nose, out across his body and then leaping into the rest of the world. I think he does make his point about the essential.
Another interesting perspective is achieved by the one-and-only Fritz Kahn in 1926 with his imagery of viewing the world from deep within a human nostril.
This is a different sort of interpretation (from his Das Leben des Menschen/"The Life of Man", printed in Stuttgart in 1931, volume 5) from the Machian view, Dr. Kahn's (1888-1968, a gynecologist and a reknowned popular science communicator) being more of a landscape with the solar apogee of the nostril opening to the outside world.
ANd similar in a way to the Mach's internal view of the outside world is this classic Saul Steinberg New Yorker cartoon of the world view of the New Yorker (and of course this includes only Manhattan). I know some number of people who have transposed their bodies much like Herr Mach into the Steinberg map--except that their worldview ends basically at the Hudson River (Mach's feet) with the rest of the world being the sliver out there beyond the river (Mach's window) until you go 359 degrees around the world to get back to the East River (and back inside Mach's noggin). It is an unusual world view to have, but someone has to have it so that we can at least identify it so.
This is fascinating--the anatomist Francis Sibson (1814-1876) in his Medical Anatomy (London, 1869) provided descriptive/illustrative examples of what the body's internal organs look like in cadavers and in living patients. Offhand I am not aware of such a comparison being done before this date, and as he clearly demonstrates (and which you can see more clearly by expanding the above example) there is of course a huge difference in the anatomy of the living and the deceased.
This is an enormous observation that seems as though it should have been made earlier, but perhaps it wasn't--though it must be admitted that "the obvious" isn't until it is. For example, Etienne Durand was the first architect to include examples of plans of different buildings on the same scale side-by-side, and that wasn't until the mid-19th century--clearly this would be pro forma for just about describing two elements of anything, but it just simply wasn't done until 160 years ago or so. This also applies in a way (though there are more complexities involved as to why this is different) to the antisepsis practices of Joseph Lister who in simply washing surgical tools between use on different patients (and hand-washing and the use of surgical masks and so on) increased the chances of surviving surgery by at least 50% (though I think that number is much bigger than that), and these practices weren't begun until the mid-19th century.
So the business of identifying "the obvious" is very tricky, because, well, something isn't obvious if it hasn't been done/seen before. Or, if it has been seen, it hasn't been seen seen. As in clouds--as present as they have been for the whole of human history they basically escaped classification by the great human natural history classifiers until the very early 19th century.
And when I looked at the history of the word "obvious" it seems to have made its first appearance in print in 1603, so I went naturally to William Shakespeare for a quote using the new word. Evidently, the great wordweaver never used "obvious". (See here for an index of all the words of Shakespeare.)
This "dancing" skeleton is the work of artist/anatomical illustrator Pietro Berrettini da Cortona (1596-1669) and appears as a copperplate engraving in his book Tabulae anatomicae...which was printed in Rome in 1741.
He complete this work around 1618 and it was neglected for more than a century, finally seeing publication in 1741. It may be because Mr. da Cortona was busy being an architect and artist-outside-of-anatomy, For example, he did this:
A not-armless dancing anatomical figure that isn't nearly as aggressive as the figure above--and in fact seems to have a bit of a "come hither" attitude" is this example from A compleat treatise of the muscles, as they appear in the humane body, and arise in dissection...by John Brown (ca.1642-1702) and which was published in London in 1681:
I have read and seen my share of quack advertisements, eletro-luxurious machines to cure gouty embolisms, powdery powders that cure powder and things like power, cocaine bibs for infants, radium suppositories that will work to help make you "regular", grease baths to make you fertile, electric chairs with special devices for the "sensitive organ" to deliver small dosages of electricity to do g_d-knows-what,and so on, as these mostly-knowing shyster/huckster productions fade into the cold black sea.
[Sere here for a short post on this blog, "The Gift that Keeps on Giving: Radium Suppositories"]
But tonight I've read an absolutely lovely concoction for ready-made remedies, one of the best--if not the most entirely best--ever. All brought to me via the insistence of our 9-year-old on reading Roald Dahl's George's Marvelous Medicine. George, you see, was a young boy anchored to a coarse oblivion by a witcherly grandmother, a venal, foul, bullying and hateful woman who gave George no end of mind-abuse when the parents were away. And so it came to be the day that George was to do something about Grandma.
What he did was to replace her special medicine with his own, marvelous, medicine. And feed it to her. And see what happened.
So he got a big cauldron and created his brew, which included the following lovely list: one bottle Goldegloss Hair Shampoo, toothpaste, superfoam shaving soap, a jar of vitamin enriched face cream, nail polish, hair remover, dandruff cure, false teeth cleaner, nevermore ponging deodorant spray, liquid parafin, Helga's Hairset, Flower of Turnip Perfume, pink plaster, several tubes of lipstick, one large box of "Superwhite for automatic washing machines, Waxwell floor polish, flea powder for dogs, canary seed, brown shoe polish, curry powder, mustard powder, extra hot chili sauce, black peppercorns, horseradish sauce, powder to cure chickens of foul pest & hen gripe, horse pills for hoarse horses, thick yellow liquid to cure cow pox, sheep dip for sheep with sheep rot, pig pills (for pigs with pork prickles), a handful of grease, and a little antifreeze.
Then it was boiled up and served to Grandma on a silver spoon, with some gin.
Things happen that I won't go into here--I'd advise reading the book. Thanks, Tessie!
Extract from "On Ancient Medicine", by Hippocrates, translated by Francis Adams, (1891), from his The Genuine Works of Hippocrates, published in New York by the medical publisher William Wood and Company.
Hippocrates, Hippocrates of Cos, Hippocrates of Kos, a man of enormous and justified fame, is considered the father of modern medicine. He lived during the age of Pericles, this great physician, (ca. 460-370 BCE), though his life per se, and perhaps even his works, are more of an accumulation of efforts of others through addition and edit than the work of the one man known as Hippocrates. Still he is the outstanding figure in antiquity in the history of medicine, and perhaps it really doesn't matter if people could ever know his absolutely original works, or not. Part of his life may be legendary, but his lasting importance to the practice of medicine is all that really matters.
[Image of a "plague doctor" trying to protect himself from the disease with long robes and a mask.]
Ordinances For Sanitation In A Time Of Mortality
Pistoria is a town about 40km northwest of Florence, and was visited by plague a number of times between the 13th and 18th centuries. In this instance, below, in the plague season of 1347/8, the governance of the city issued a 23-point, nine-page proclamation, trying to protect the citizens from the vast threat that would cost the lives of a quarter of the residents of the town. The text of the document treated the matter of plague at all levels, from an attempt at scientific treatment to regulations about how a person could be allowed back into Pistoria after visiting a plague area.
1901 "EMIL ADOLF VON BEHRING for his work on serum therapy, especially its application against diphtheria, by which he has opened a new road in the domain of medical science and thereby placed in the hands of the physician a victorious weapon against illness and deaths."
See the full listing (with summary text from the Nobel foundation) located in the "pages" section of this blog, here.
In Agustus Niphus, Libri Duo de pulchro liber primus, de amore librer secundus, and printed in Lyon by Beringen in 1549, the scholar and Aritotelian Agostino Nifo of Sessa (1473-1546) wrote two significant treatises on the nature of beauty and love (liber primus and secundus, respectively).
The amazing thing about this work is that Nifo analyzes the conditions of love and sexual expression as respondents to a psychological basis, and since this was so, that love and sex are a product of the mind and not necessarily a simple undisclosed deire, that the act and thought coul dno tbe considered to be of siunful natures--basically, the two were as natural a thing as could be, and one does not condemn the acts of nature.
What is mostly missing in this fantastic illustration from Tratado de vendages.... (Madrid, 1785) are people. These multi-image plates of various dressings usually did not address people directly, and so looking at them out of context gives them a very heavy taste of the found-absurd.
For the time, of course, the book was an essential text on treating wounds, especially military ones. The author, Francisco Vila Canivell was born in 1721 in Barcelona. By 1749 at only 28 years old, he had been educated in France and received his medical education back in Spain at the Universtiy of Cervera, had fought in the Italian campaign (as a surgeon), became Surgeon Major of the regiment of Astiurias, and then on to keep charge of the Library of the Royal College of Surgeons in Cadiz. He was professor of osteology (and bandages!), as well as an obstetrician, ophthalmologist and midwife, until 1769 when he became Sugeon Major of the Army, and then proceeded on to other more esteemed positons, dying in 1797.
JF Ptak Science Books Post 1879 (Following an earlier post on the appearance of the first (?) suicide on a title page, here.)
No doubt there are many examples of finding people in bed on title pages of books printed in the high Renaissance and Baroque--I found two pretty quickly. Of course it would make sense to look at medical titles, as in the case of many examples where the borderland images of decorated title pages surrounding the text describing the book were often filled with allegrocial tales, which means that at some point in the allegroy involving medicine that sooner or later someone is going to wind up in bed, overseen by their physician.
This is definitely the case with the following image (found at the National Library of Medicine, here):
The book is by Maritn Pansa (b. 1580), and the title to the Appendix consilii antipodagrici specialis darinnen X consilia specialissima (printed in 1615) shows lives that were led basically in pursuit of pleasures and vice and crime that would eventually lead to the big bad straight bed at the end of their perceived crooked road. The title page tells of lives lived in pursuit of hunting, and wine, and women and song, as well as the abuse of children--creature comforts and vices which would eventually lead the practionner to a sick-bed for their pursuit of foul ends. The baseline here is a warning for those living a High Life in perhaps-exalted states would more than likely pay for their lifestyles with sickness in the end.
Another good example is fond in Galen's Tertia Classis uarias morborum differnetias, obseruationes, tempora, successius, causasqe & signficatio nes amplectitur..., which was published in Venice in 1541 with a beautfiul woodcut title page illustrated by a follower of Titian. First and foremost, the capstone of the border images shows a sick patient being attended by doctors of classical greatness including Galen himself (at the extreme right of the first image, above).
Galen (Aelius Galenus or Claudius Galenus (AD 129– c. 200)), was an ancient too, and taking this little trip through time he must've seen some surprising things, not the least of which would have included this bed. It should be noted that until the publication of the revolutionary work of Vesalius, Galen was the largely-unimpeachable source of medical knowledge for some 1300 years.
And of course there is another sort of bed in the Vesalius book's (De humani corporis fabrica libri septum...) title page, though this is the most uncomfortable of all:
The remarkable engravings below are even more so when you consider that they were published more than two hundred years afer the death of their originator. Bartolomeo Eustachi (1500/1524-1574) was one of the founding member of a very small school of modern anatomy (another being Vesalius) who undertook very careful dissections in his study of the body, finishing (in 1552) a work of paramount importance just nine years after the publication of Vesalius' revolutionary work--it was a work that would remain unpublished for 162 years. The threat and fear of excommunication and other reprisals at the hands of the Catholic Church prevented its publication, the full work not seeing the light of day until 1714. It would be published several times more in the 18th century, a great tribute to an anatomist whose work was still being studied more than 200 years after its completion.
One of the great missing books then belongs to Eustachi, his Romanae archetypae tabulae anatomicae novis...(with the examples of images below being published in Rome in 1783) belongs to a very small class of technical/medical books published long after they should have been and which still were found to be of great and substantial use. He was an absolutely superb anatomist, using dyes and injections for visually troublesome areas, as well as early versions of "microscopes" to observe miniscule bits. He was a fine student of his physician father, well-versed in classical education, and by 1549 he was the professor of anatomy at the Archiginnasiodella Sapienza, where he was also able to avail himself of a number of cadavers for dissection.
He worked on his anatomy for several years, readying 47 plates for publication. It would come to pass that only eight of them were published during his lifetime--those on the kidney and teeth, published as De Renum structura (the first work dedicated to that organ), and De dentibus (for the teeth), respectively.
The engravings--rather, the incised plates of the engravings--went missing after Eustachi's death, and stayed so until (as noted above) 1714. According to faqs.org , Eustachi's work was still prized 160+ years later for their elegance and beauty and detail because:
"... they provided some of the best descriptions of the base of the brain, the sympathetic nervous system (the nerves that control the constriction of blood vessels, among other things), the vascular system, and the structure of the larynx."
[More images below] among many other reasons.
I can't help but wonder what the result of the publication of this book would have affected if it had been available in 1552. It stands to reason that if it was still being used in 1789, and still useful and respect and "current", then it would lead me to believe that it would have had a major impact 227 years earlier.
"Colour Blindess in Relation to the Homeric Expressions for Colour", from Nature Magazine, volume 18, p. 676, 1878.
"In an article on "The Colour Sense" in the Number of the Nineteenth Century for October last, Mr. Gladstone points out certain peculiarities…in the expressions of colour used by Homer. "Although" he says "this writer has used light in various forms for his purposes with perhaps greater splendor and effect than any other poet, yet the colour adjectives and colour descriptions of the poems are not only imperfect but highly ambiguous and confused". And again-"we find that his sense of colour was not only narrow, but also vague, and wanting in description".