Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Body Worlds

When we were still living in the UK we went to see the Body Worlds exhibition. It was absolutely mind-blowing. When it came to Cape Town, we wanted to go and see it, but couldn't afford to. After a few months, we managed to get free tickets, so went along to see it.

After the incredible experience we'd had in the UK, the CPT exhibition was very disappointing. It was far too small, and showed far too few exhibits. (There were also far too many people cramped into far too small a space, but that's another story.)

However, despite our disappointment, I still managed to learn a few things. For example, I was amazed by how tiny the uterus is normally. It's smaller than the bladder, and the bladder is smaller than your fist.

I was amazed at the animal exhibition they had - made up just of blood vessels - so many you could still see the entire animal. The nerve display was incredible. I always thought there were a LOT more nerves than that... I'm guessing that the nerve endings were too small to be effectively dissected out of the cadaver. I was also amazed by the display where the intestines had been uncoiled and laid out. The whole alimentary canal is about 8m long, of which about 7.5m is the intestines. I've known that for a long time, but seeing it laid out like that... it made an impression.

One of the exhibitions was a section (slice) from the body of a very obese man. I was amazed by how much fat he had, and where it was positioned. I mean, when you see a fat person walking away from you, you can see that they have back fat, but somehow, it never really registered with me that the sub-cutaneous fat layer was so large. Given that I recently discovered that women with belly fat (that would be me) are 27% more likely to develop heart disease and diabetes than women who carry their fat on their thighs, I'm currently rather fascinated by fat distribution and production/ metabolism.

Despite my disappointment, I would still recommend you see it, if you haven't. It's still mind-blowing. The whole process is incredible. I was thrilled to learn that UCT has a plastination unit which they use to create samples and specimens for their students to use (not for display). Here's hoping it helps to revolutionise the training medical students receive.
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