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Another View of What to Do About Aging

Posted: April 20, 2010 at 8:16 am

An interesting paper: "The idea that bodies wear out with age is so ancient, so pervasive, and so deeply rooted that it affects our thought in unconscious ways. Undeniably, many aspects of aging, e.g., oxidative damage, somatic mutations, and protein cross-linkage are characterized by increased entropy in biomolecules. However, it has been a scientific consensus for more than a century that there is no physical necessity for such damage. Living systems are defined by their capacity to gather order from their environment, concentrate it, and shed entropy with their waste. Organisms in their growth phase become stronger and more robust; no physical law prohibits this progress from continuing indefinitely. Indeed, some animals and many plants are known to grow indefinitely larger and more fertile through their lives. The same conclusion is underscored by experimental findings that various insults and challenges that directly damage the body or increase the rate of wear and tear have the paradoxical effect of extending life span. Hyperactive mice live longer than controls, and worms with their antioxidant systems impaired live longer than wild type. A fundamental understanding of aging must proceed not from physics but from an evolutionary perspective: The body is being permitted to decay because systems of repair and regeneration that are perfectly adequate to build and rebuild a body of ever-increasing resilience are being held back. Regardless of the reason for this retreat, it should be more fruitful to focus on signaling to effect the ongoing activity of systems of repair and regeneration than to attempt repair of the manifold damage left in the wake of their failure."

View the Article Under Discussion: http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/rej.2009.0967

Read More Longevity Meme Commentary: http://www.longevitymeme.org/news/

Recommendation and review posted by Fredricko

Steps Towards Controlling Regeneration

Posted: April 20, 2010 at 8:16 am

Spurring regeneration by use of signalling molecules is a promising field of medical development. Here is an example from the Technology Review: "scientists have identified a pair of peptides that can stimulate new cell growth and improve heart function in rodents induced to have heart attacks. [Researchers are] now testing one of the peptides, periostin, in pigs induced to have heart attacks. Because these animals have hearts similar in size to humans, they provide a good model for testing new therapies prior to human clinical trials. Preliminary results show that injecting the peptide into the pericardium, the lining around the heart, seems to help. ... [This] approach is, to some degree, in competition with stem-cell therapy, which is already being tested in humans. Scientists are working on different ways of harvesting and delivering stem cells to patients with heart disease, and clinical trials have so far yielded mixed results. Transplanted cells appear to have difficulty surviving and integrating into their new environment. In fact, some scientists suggests that benefit of cell transplants comes from the cells ability to stimulate innate growth. Triggering this process with peptides [may] be a simpler method of treatment of certain conditions such as cardiomyopathy [an enlarged heart] where the problem is lack of viable, contractile heart muscle cells."

View the Article Under Discussion: http://www.technologyreview.com/printer_friendly_article.aspx?id=25139

Read More Longevity Meme Commentary: http://www.longevitymeme.org/news/

Recommendation and review posted by Fredricko

Rare flowers and common herbal supplements get unmasked with plant DNA barcoding

Posted: April 20, 2010 at 8:16 am

NEW YORK--Will exotic orchids soon be subjected to the same genetic scrutiny as some luxury caviars? That is just one of the coding conundrums that scientists convened at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx to discuss on a cloudy mid-April afternoon. [More]

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Recommendation and review posted by Fredricko

Marylin Monroe Exposed

Posted: April 20, 2010 at 8:14 am

Marylin Monroe chest x-ray

This apparent xray of Marylin Monroe’s chest, taken in 1952 at a Florida hospital when she was treated for endometriosis, is set to sell at a Hollywood auction this summer.  While some people may think this is another ridiculous celebrity auction piece and may wonder who in the world would want an xray of Marylin Monroe’s chest, I actually think it’s quite interesting.  Even the xray exemplifies that classic Marylin Monroe contour!

[spotted by Benoit via news:lite]

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

"The Silken Web: The Erotic World of Paris, 1920-1946," Mel Gordon Lecture at Observatory, Tomorrow April 20th

Posted: April 20, 2010 at 8:14 am


Tomorrow night! At Observatory!

The Silken Web: The Erotic World of Paris, 1920-1946
An illustrated lecture by Professor Mel Gordon, author of Voluptuous Panic: The Erotic World of Wiemar Berlin

Date: Tuesday, April 20

Time: 8:00 PM

Admission: $5

Presented by Morbid Anatomy

In tonight’s illustrated lecture, Professor Mel Gordon–author of Voluptious Panic: The Erotic World of Weimar Berlin and Grand Guiginol: Theatre of Fear and Terror–will present a graphic look at the brothel worlds of interwar Paris. Each of the 221 registered maisons closes–French for “closed house”–had its own unique attractions for its specialized clientele: theatricalized sex, live music, pornographic entertainments, aphrodisiac restaurants, even American-style playrooms and wife-friendly lounges for the customers’ families and bored mistresses. Tonight, have some wine and partake in authentic French culture and their Greatest Generation, complements of Mel Gordon and Observatory.

Mel Gordon is the author of Voluptious Panic: The Erotic World of Weimar Berlin, Grand Guiginol: Theatre of Fear and Terror, and many other books. Voluptuous Panic was the first in-depth and illustrated book on the topic of erotic Weimar; The lavish tome was praised by academics and inspired the establishment of eight neo-Weimar nightclubs as well as the Dresden Dolls and a Marilyn Manson album. Now, Mel Gordon is completing a companion volume for Feral House Press, entitled The Silken Web: The Erotic World of Paris, 1920-1946. He also teaches directing, acting, and history of theater at University of California at Berkeley.

You can find out more about this presentation here. You can get directions to Observatory--which is next door to the Morbid Anatomy Library--by clicking here. You can find out more about Observatory here, join our mailing list by clicking here, and join us on Facebook by clicking here. To find out more about Gordon's books, click here and here.

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

"Stuffed Animals and Pickled Heads" Book and Lecture by Stephen Asma, Thursday April 22, Observatory

Posted: April 20, 2010 at 8:14 am


People often ask me how I first became interested in the topics that would lead me to launch the Morbid Anatomy blog and related projects, such as The Secret Museum and Anatomical Theatre exhibitions. When I am asked this question, I usually rattle off a few of my major serendipitous inspirations: my first trip to Europe and the death-symbolism-packed churches and osteo-architecture I was surprised to find there; The gift of a Mütter Museum Calendar for my birthday one year from a well-meaning friend; And, last but never least, the discovery of Stephen Asma's wonderful, incredible, perfect book Stuffed Animals and Pickled Heads: the Culture and History of Natural History Museums.

Asma's book has had such a profound impact on my work that it is difficult to exaggerate its importance. The book is a conversationally toned yet extremely scholarly "natural history of natural history museums," covering, with wit and intelligence, the history of specimens preparation and the artists and pioneers of the medium, the evolution of the museum from Cabinet to comparative anatomy collection to today's science museum, the history and follies of taxonomy, and what the drive to order the world reveals about human nature. Over the course of the book, Asma introduces us to a number of incredible museums I have now--inspired largely by this book!--visited and photographed many times, such as London's Hunterian Museum and Paris' Hall of Comparative Anatomy, and all this in an accessible, enthralling, humorous, and fascinating way.

This is why I am so extremely delighted that Stephen Asma will be visiting Observatory this Thursday, April 22, to deliver his much-anticipated lecture "Museums, Monsters and the Moral Imagination." This heavily-illustrated lecture will draw on the scholarship of both Stuffed Animals and Pickled Heads and new book, On Monsters, to examine how science museums and monsters both illustrate the essential yet problematic human "urge to classify, set boundaries, and draw lines between the natural and the unnatural the human" and to "try to excavate some of the moral uses and abuses of this impulse."

Both of Dr. Asma's books will be available for sale and signing at the event. Full details follow; hope very much to see you there!

Museums, Monsters and the Moral Imagination
An Illustrated lecture with Professor Stephen Asma, author of Stuffed Animals and Pickled Heads: the Culture and History of Natural History Museums and On Monsters.
Date: Thursday, April 22
Time: 8:00 PM
Admission: $5
Presented by Morbid Anatomy

In this illustrated lecture, professor Stephen Asma–author of the the definitive study of the natural history museum Stuffed Animals and Pickled Heads: the Culture and History of Natural History Museums–will draw upon his studies of science museums and monsters to reflect on their often hidden moral aspects. Museums are saying more about values than many people notice, and the same can be said about our cultural fascinations with monsters. The urge to classify, set boundaries, and draw lines between the natural and the unnatural are age-old impulses. In this lecture, Dr. Asma will try to excavate some of the moral uses and abuses of this impulse.

Stephen T. Asma is the author of Stuffed Animals and Pickled Heads: the Culture and History of Natural History Museums (Oxford) and more recently On Monsters: an Unnatural History of Our Worst Fears (Oxford). He is Professor of Philosophy at Columbia College Chicago and Fellow of the LAS Research Group in Mind, Science and Culture at Columbia. You can find out more about him at his website, http://www.stephenasma.com.

You can find out more about this presentation here. You can get directions to Observatory--which is next door to the Morbid Anatomy Library--by clicking here. You can find out more about Observatory here, join our mailing list by clicking here, and join us on Facebook by clicking here. To find out more about Asma's fantastic books, click here and here.

Image: From The Secret Museum; Pathological Cabinet, the Museum of the Faculty of Medicine at the Jagiellonian University, Krakow. © Joanna Ebenstein

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith


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