Very few places have impressed me as deeply as Philadelphia's Mütter Museum, the College of Physicians' permanent pathology museum, build on the collection of a Victorian pathologist, since expanded and improved upon.
The Mütter's collection is devoted to preserved remains of human oddities. There are walls of syphilitic skulls (even a phrenologist's collection of suicide's skulls, annotated in crabbed handwriting with notes like OBSERVE SLOPING BROW -- EVIDENCE OF CRIMINAL MENTALITY). There's a woman whose body was converted to soap by the alkali soil in which she was buried. Cabinets of thousands of jacks, rings, coins and pins extracted from chokers' windpipes by a celebrated specialist whose main claim to fame was the invention of a device that could fasten a safety pin lodged in a patient's windpipe prior to extraction, thus making the removal much safer.
All this is collected in lifelong curator Gretchen Worden's magnificent, lavishly illustrated Mutter Museum: Of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.
Worden died last year after giving a lifetime of service to improving and promoting the Mütter. Worden's sensibility turned the place into a shrine to its inhabitants, and a gripping, endlessly haunting exploration of how we human beings understand our own bodies. The Mütter has just unveiled a new exhibit room named in her honor.
There are jars of preserved human kidneys and livers, and a man's skull so eaten away by tertiary syphilis that it looks like pounded rock. There are dried severed hands shiny as lacquered wood, showing their veins like leaves; a distended ovary larger than a soccer ball; spines and leg bones so twisted by rickets they're painful just to see; the skeleton of a dwarf who stood 3 feet 6 inches small, next to that of a giant who towered seven and a half feet. And "Jim and Joe," the green-tinged corpse of a two-headed baby, sleeping in a bath of formaldehyde.
It’s the end of an era, sort of: Fraunhofer IIS, the developers of the MP3 audio compression format, announced that they are ceasing their licensing program. In a blog post, spokesman Matthias Rose says that it’s had a good 20-year run and is obsolete. But it’s also true that the decoding patents expired last year, […]
Freddy deBoer writes that he’s been telling the same joke for years about Silicon Valley’s only product, which might be universalized as “At last, a way to verb with nouns on the internet!” But the social-media techopoly is stable, now, and so the venture capitalists have moved on to the three terrible trends that will […]
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If you are camping during rainy season, or just want a TSA-approved lighter, these plasma torches make perfect travel companions. These gas-free lighters create a small plasma beam that’s safer than butane to use and more environmentally friendly. It creates a super-hot, splashproof flame so you can get a campfire going, or have a smoke […]
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While some people still maintain that everything in Apple’s walled garden “just works” and is immune to the rampant malware of the Windows world, the reality is different. The Mac’s growing market share has made it a much more viable target for malicious actors, and its built-in tools aren’t always enough to fix things. Drive […]