Stethoscopes, Auctions, 1492, Chimeras, Planeta, Philip De Montebello

Hic sunt camelopardus: this historical edition of The Browser is presented for archaeological purposes; links and formatting may be broken.

The Stethoscope

Emmmett FitzGerald | 99% Invisible | 6th August 2017

The invention of the stethoscope in the early 19C changed the fundamentals of medicine. Before the stethoscope, “the only way for a doctor to figure out what was wrong with a patient was to ask them. Patients’ symptoms were seen as diseases in themselves.” After the stethoscope, “it didn’t matter what patients thought was wrong with them, it mattered what the doctor found. Our understanding of disease shifted from one centered on symptoms to one centered on objective observation of the body” (1,400 words)

How It Feels To Be An Auctioneer

Dan Davies | Christies | 20th July 2017

Notes from an introductory course for auctioneers at Christie’s. Clenching the buttocks helps to steady the hands. A good auctioneer will add 10 to 20 per cent to the value of a lot by nudging the underbidder. Absentee bidders take priority over bidders in the room. “Recommended warm-up exercises include reciting Humpty Dumpty with your tongue extended out as far as possible, and speaking with a big smile on your face, which makes your voice sound better” (1,400 words)

The Most Interesting Century

Medieval Indonesia | 26th July 2017

The 15th century was modernity’s watershed. “Before 1492 CE the world was divided in two. One part consisted of the Americas, representing a hundred million people. They had bell peppers, syphilis, tobacco, and turkey, but no measles, onions, or beef. The other part consisted of Afro-Eurasia, an enormously diverse series of societies from Iceland to New Guinea. These people had wheat, rice, millet, garlic, peas, and aubergines, but before 1492 none of them had ever seen a tomato” (1,500 words)

The Pig-Human Chimera

Usha Lee McFarling | Stat | 7th August 2017

Profile of genetic engineer Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, whose team at the Salk Institute in California is creating “pig-human chimeras” — fetal pigs with human cells mixed in. The aim is to have the chimeras grow human-like organs that can be transplanted into humans. The procedure has already worked for mice-rat chimeras. “There are no policies in place for what he’s working on. It’s all uncharted territory, and he’s one of the folks who are pushing us into that territory” (3,100 words)

A Giant Planet Lurking Beyond Pluto

W. Wayt Gibbs | IEEE Spectrum | 31st July 2017

Is there a ninth great planet on the outer edges of our solar system? Close study of orbiting objects beyond Neptune suggests the gravitational influence of a “massive outer Solar System perturber” at least four times the size of the Earth, but at such a distance from the Earth that no existing telescope could spot it reliably even if astronomers knew roughly where to look. “Even if we get only one false hit for every million searches, we’ll still get 10,000 fake planets” (3,600 words)

A Conversation With Philippe De Montebello

Andrew Goldstein | Artnet | 1st August 2017

Interesting throughout, on museums in general and on the Met in particular. “I would not equate a motorcycle with a painting by Mantegna. They are different categories of things. There are many layers in a painting by Mantegna. There is only one major layer in a motorcycle, or a costume, but that is a legitimate layer — which is why we have the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum, et cetera. There’s room for every major kind of human expression in visual terms” (3,700 words)

Video of the day: Colour On Colour

What to expect:

Shifting abstract patterns of colour and texture (1’13”)

Thought for the day

No matter how thin you slice it, there will always be two sides
Baruch Spinoza

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